We suburban parents have something in common with a famous American icon. Because whether you’re fighting outlaws in the wild west or the Costco parking lot, everyone needs a trusty steed. The Lone Ranger had Silver; we have Burgundy. Ok, his was a horse, ours is a minivan. But still.
According to lore (the old-fashioned word for Wikipedia), the Lone Ranger saved Silver from an enraged buffalo, and in gratitude Silver gave up the wild life to accompany her new master.
There’s no Wikipedia entry for my particular 2006 minivan. She’s named Odyssey, which suggests she got around, perhaps had some wild times with her pack. Her promo materials show her zipping jauntily through a canyon. In that world she’s not burgundy, she’s “Redrock Pearl.” All I know is, when we traded in our far more sporty CRV for the Odyssey she came willingingly, without complaint. And we were not gracious.
We were bound to her, of course, the way anyone who has multiple booster seats, no middle shoulder strap and a need to carpool is bound to a minivan. And despite our ambivalence, she’s done everything right:
- She’s driven to thirteen states without a single mishap.
- She never loses her temper, even on that road trip when the kids started fighting the second we left the house (the portable DVD player stopped working) and did not let up until we arrived in Tennessee a day later. She didn’t even say “I told you so” about the fact we chose to skimp on the built-in player. (Someone else may have mentioned that.)
- She’s not fazed by carpools of up to six kids. “Bring it,” she says. And they do: soccer bags and band instruments, basketballs and baseball gloves, half empty gatorade bottles and gum and stinky shin guards and ground-in mud. “Whatever,” she says. “That’s life with kids.”
- She’s hauled everything. A roomful of porch furniture purchased from Craig’s list. Hundreds of books from a book drive, a gift from one group of sweet elementary school kids to another. And our favorite, a half acre of hay, because–true story–my husband couldn’t read my shopping list and interpreted one scrawl (kale & tray? pail of old bay?) as bales of hay. The Odyssey stood loyally by as the rest of the family lost it.
So what have we given our minivan in return for her faithful service?
- A truly atrocious amount of smashed berries, mud and cheerios; magic marker scrawlings on the third row, sticky cupholders and years of scrapes up and down her sleek sides. Decals plastered on her rear.
- The same meal every. single. week. Regular unleaded. Always the cheapest–no splurging for our old girl.
- Missed check-ups, driving on empty, harrowing road trips on I-95, that most dreaded of highways.
- The added humiliation of a smashed tweety bird in the front window, ensuring we can always find her, as there tend to be a lot of burgundy minivans in the places we frequent. (Soccer fields. Costco. Places that sell bales of hay.)
My husband recently suggested maybe it’s time for a new car. It’s true, the Odyssey’s got a lot of miles; she’s had her share of wear and tear. It’s also true that I’m not ready to let her go. Some of it’s practical–my son’s chief goal at his baseball games seems to be smuggling home a small chunk of the field in the folds of his uniform and the floor of the van. One day we’re going to wake up and find that he and the Odyssey have conspired to build their own field of dreams out back. A new car and I might not go along so easily.
And like the Lone Ranger and Silver, we’ve got that loyalty thing going. Except maybe our stories are switched. I’m not sure that we rescued shiny “Redrock Pearl”–she was living the cushy life before our family came along. Rather, our Odyssey’s rescued us so many times that we owe her some loyalty.
I told my husband it’s his turn to get a new car. His Accord’s been a faithful steed too, eleven years strong. But he also stalls, says he’s saving it for our daughter to drive some day. It should come as no surprise: he’s got a Silver.
We say we aren’t car people. But maybe, in our own way, we are. Because we can’t quit these two. Trusty steeds are worth their weight in steel. Plus if the minivan and my son do sneak in enough dirt to build that field of dreams? We’ll need someone to pick up the team. Thanks old girl.