Sunday, November 10, 2013

New car smell

“If I were a dog I would be riding with my head out of the window right now,” the Champ said emphatically … but in disgust.

The offending odor was New Car Smell. More precisely, the stench was New Car Smell Spray Freshener, which, as many of you know, is a detailing chemical specifically formulated for use in pre-owned cars. And it is cloying.

Even I wanted to roll down the windows of the new-to-us micro-van (a miniature version of the mini-van if you can believe such a thing exists) as we took our post-sale, matron voyage home. I'd have called it a maiden voyage, but this is, after all, a Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle and it's already been around the block a few times if you know what I mean.

Not that I am biased against used cars. The pragmatist in me is all for them, not to mention the thousands of dollars they save in sticker shock.

This baby had fewer miles and more bells and whistles than any vehicle we've parked in our driveway during the past decade. What's not to love? It has room for six, leather seats, Bluetooth, a 6-CD changer, fog lights, a digital compass in the rearview mirror and a moonroof. There is even an indicator on the dashboard that, if I had, in fact, rolled down the windows to let out the NEW CAR SMELL, would have told me we might all freeze to death.

Behind the wheel, just sitting there in the car lot -- adjusting the mirrors and programming the radio -- I felt like a kid in a candy shop. The fact that it had an automatic transmission – the thing I despise most in a car – didn't even spoil the sweetness.

And despite the state of the air in our passenger compartment, the kids were excited, too. This is the first “new” car my children have ever been a part of procuring.

At ages nine and six, my kids are a rarity among their peers, whose families have updated their modes of transportation every three to four years on average.

Not that they didn't corner the car-buying learning curve like it was on rails.

Before we even had scheduled our first test drive, the kids were kicking tires and comparing options. At the supermarket parking lot, they'd even stop strangers climbing down from SUVs to ask “How'do yah like that car, mister?”

In fact, my daughter could distinguish a Honda Odyssey from a Mazda 7 from six car lengths away. And my son was well aware of all the kid-friendly luxury add-ons that these dreamboats could have, such as on-board DVD players, dual cup holders and built-in vacuum cleaning systems. They even knew which celebrity starred as the Gummy Bear who got to ride in the much-hyped suction device, in a recent mini-van commercial.

“He was Gallaxhar in 'Monsters vs. Aliens'!”

Listening to them prattle on about the wonders of automatic seats and in-floor storage compartments that will fit ALL THEIR TOYS! I can't help but wonder, and fret, about how they will take the news:

We didn't buy THAT car.

We bought the car we could afford.

The one that had seat warmers (in the front seats only); no built-in entertainment systems other than the 6-CD changer, which may cause WWIII when one of them wants to listen to the radio and the other wants to hear an audio book; and certainly no on-board vacuum cleaner, which they no doubt had decided would be a hilarious toy with which to torment the dog during long trips.

They didn't listen to my warning. They didn't even care.

They only heard: “We bought the car ...”

And they had more pressing things to decide between themselves. … like who was going to get the seat in the “way, way back?”

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