Thursday, October 25, 2007

Everything will come back to bite you in the ass, no matter how lightly.

I have, over the years, been a cheerfully savage critic of Volvo drivers. Not the cars themselves, mind; I've got a soft spot for well-built cars that stand out in a world full of crap, even if those designers are more in love with linear rather than curvilinear symmetry.

No, I mocked the drivers. There is such a thing as loving something too much and in my opinion Volvo drivers were a little too much in love with Safety. Now safety's a very nice thing. When I shave, I never use a whirling fan with cutthroat razors attached. When I play Russian roulette I do so with a revolver with six empty cylinders rather than the customary five. I have jumped off a cliff only once in my life, and have no plans to repeat the experience. And when I drive I don't take mad risks or use unsafe vehicles. But, in my oft-expressed view, Volvo drivers were different. They loved safety in way that went beyond love into the realm of fetish. The driving styles of many Volvo-drivers did little to disabuse me of this cheerful prejudice. They were frequently slower than other drivers. They took turns as if there were glasses of acid balanced on the dash. They went over low curbs into lots and driveways as if the suspension were made of Dresden china. They were the first ones to slow down for green lights that might turn yellow and then, joy of joys, red! There was something about them, I felt, which sucked the fun out of driving and turned it into a mere statistical exercise in self-preservation. Fine. We are all entitled to our little bigotries. A mocking disdain for Volvo drivers is certainly a minor little vice compared to the more traditional forms of en masse loathing, so I was comfortable with my disdain and gave voice to it with a freedom and frequency denied people with other, less acceptable hatreds.

Which brings us to today. My much abused, very old (1991) Honda is definitely on its last legs. Now, a Honda engine is a wonderful thing, and will generally last longer than most marriages. But the engine does not float there as unsupported by machinery as The Rapture is by scripture. No, the rest of the car is like the rest of the Bible: showing its age, inclined to fall apart if you ask it to carry too much and very unwise for a person of good sense to rely upon.

I have been going to the same mechanic for years. A wonderful man, given to honesty and low bills. He tells me what I need to know and I extend him a courtesy I extend to few others: I admit my ignorance, shut up and listen. (Actually, I admit my ignorance frequently, but my "shut up" is a rare bird and the "listen" even rarer.) He is the only reason that my old and much-abused Civic is still on the road, and has given me chapter and verse on what's wrong with the car and what will get worse,

He also sells cars. Some days ago suggested a Volvo 940 (like this one, but a dark emerald green) that's on his lot. I protested:
"I've been slagging Volvo drivers for years, especially to one friend. I'd never hear the end of it."
"But it's a great car, man!"
"I don't doubt that for a second. But I would never hear the end of it."
"I. Would. Never. Hear. The. End. Of. It."

Despite that, I took the car for a test drive today. Looks great, drives well. Fits the whole Professional look that I will need for my business. But I miss the panache of a smaller car, the nimbleness and size convenience and I will, if I buy it, sulk for months that I no longer drive a manual. I like changing gears.

Who knows, I might buy it.

But I will never hear the end of it.

1 comment:

Interrobang said...

Get over it, buy the damn Volvo already. That's a great-looking car, and all the Volvo drivers I know are insanely happy with them. (Who knows, maybe a lot of them do drive around with petri dishes of acid on the dash. You are a bit heavy on the gas off the dime at times, amigo.)

I also completely don't understand your obsession with manual transmissions, either, but I have two advantages you don't: I rode horses for 20 years, and I gave up gender essentialism for Lent years ago. ;)

Keep in mind, Volvo is the company that built the P1800... :)