Car Wars, Part 2

I believe I have explained my little obsession with driving.

In short, I am a Texan and many of the most important moments of my life have taken place in a car. You can fill in the blanks yourself, since I don’t write one of those smutty, tell-all blogs. No, except for my fondness for certain four-letter words and blatant exaggeration, I am all about nuance.

But, back to this driving business. I believe my husband and I have reached a tipping point.

We’ve now been in our downtown condo for 15 months. He rides the bus to work. I stroll down the hall to work. We walk a lot. We go for days without using either of our two cars, which sit in the condo garage.

The truth is pretty obvious: We don’t really need two cars. This has been an occasional topic of conversation between us recently.

We are in total agreement: This is crazy. We don’t need two cars. We should get rid of one.

We are also in total disagreement: “What do you mean, I should sell my car? Why don’t you sell yours?” You know, the kind of discussion that deteriorates rapidly into bared teeth and slurs on the lack of reasoning power of the opposite sex.

Buying real property, you see, we have learned to compromise without drawing blood. Or much blood, anyway. We have learned to appreciate each other’s little quirks such as, for example, the fact I have really good taste and my husband does not. But, whatever!

When it comes to cars, though, we haven’t had to share or compromise. For 30 years, we’ve been able to — how should I say it? — express our individuality through our cars. We’ve driven an assortment of vehicles ranging from absolute junkers to luxury vehicles — VW bugs, one Plymouth, one Cadillac, Toyotas, Volvos, BMWs, Lexuses, Infinitis.

Most recently, he’s been able to salve his social conscience by buying a Prius. Since I prefer a bit more freeway power than a lawnmower, I drive a sportier Japanese model.

I consider everything we’ve shared over the years: apartments, houses, condos, beds, toothbrushes, trips, sabbaticals, childbirth, children, pets, meals, movies, money, tax returns, illnesses, surgeries, deaths, jokes, conversations, laughs, meltdowns, politics, secrets, disagreements, triumphs, disappointments, droughts, ticks, head lice, rodent infestations, deluges, tennis, racquetball, graduations, funerals, weddings, pink eye.

You would think, given all this history, sharing a car would be a snap. But maybe that’s the beauty of a long marriage: Now and then, a stealthy undertow can still surprise you and you realize too-tranquil waters are really overrated.

He says driving an Infiniti wouldn’t kill him, as long as it’s a hybrid. I tell him an Infiniti hybrid costs too much. The new, bigger Prius, though — we could maybe negotiate about that.

(Copyright 2012 by Ruth Pennebaker)

Read a loosely related post that struggles to use driving as a metaphor

19 comments… add one
  • Oh, do I ever get understand you mean! Several years ago I was able to convince my husband to give up our second car due to the insurance money we would save, but it was a battle.

  • Once upon a time, we shared a computer … if you can imagine. Anytime I even looked like I was getting out of the chair, he pounced and/or slid beneath me into driving position. We do share one cell phone (believe it or not), but I don’t think a single car would be a good idea for us.

  • I went into the car-sharing thing kicking and screaming—-found out while you may need two toothbrushes, you really don’t need two cars.
    Nice essay!

  • Too-tranquil waters are overrated.

  • I gave up my car and began sharing one with my husband back in 1994. I didn’t have the battle you are having because I don’t much care what kind of car I drive as long as it runs, but I did feel terrified that I would lose my independence. I couldn’t help harking back to my mother, who didn’t drive and had to depend on my dad all the time.

    However, I can truthfully say my husband and I have always been able to work out ways to get us both where we need to go, and we have save a ton of money by only having one car!

  • Living where you do in Austin, one car seems sane. We have one car. Plus a pick-up truck, for hauling things that gets used every few months. Mostly it sits. We talk about getting rid of it, then we need to haul something…

  • Sheryl

    I’m getting ready to downsize, and would love to give up a car. Of course, that would mean being stuck in the apartment without a vehicle for those times I really want to get behind the wheel. So, I don’t think it’s happening…not just yet.

  • Robin

    I see a golf cart in your future…

  • That new Prius is looking mighty tempting to this one-car family – and we live in New Joisey, where cars are valued just as highly as they are to the Texans, I think!

  • We downsized to one car when I retired in May 2008. I did on occasion feel like my wings had been clipped a bit. Yeah, I know that is a totally lame comparison. Hubby rode his bike to work most days at first, though, and things worked out. Then I had a stroke last year and I became more focused on relearning to walk than on driving, although hubby has brought up the possibility of having me give a try behind the wheel in a vacant parking lot.

    Thank you for my dose of laughing out loud this a.m.

  • I can think of three possible solutions. 1. You sell both cars and then buy a new one together. 2) You sell both cars and rent a car from time to time when you really need one 3) You hold onto both cars until one of them gets so old that it no longer runs, in which case you resort to sharing the other one.

  • Cindy A

    No way could we do this, and I admire your ability to even discuss it. We have one SUV, three pickups, a Suburban, and two tractors (do they count?) All but the SUV are more than ten years old, and my husband spends his days cruising Craig’s List for the next good deal. I keep telling him that we could sell two vehicles and buy A NEW ONE, but to no avail. Me, I would love one of those cute little Coopers — but it is not to be!

  • This post made me laugh hysterically. Back in the day I shared a car with Husband #1. Unfun. But many years later when New Husband and I first started dating, we shared one car when I visited him for several days at a time. It was actually kinda fun and forced us to talk more and coordinate our day. Somehow I found myself at a lot more of his customer meetings and tennis games than I otherwise would have. (I kinda miss it!)

  • When Jerry and I got married 6 years ago I had one little, cheap car. He had a van, a sedan, a big pick-up truck, a boat, a back-hoe and 2 riding lawn mowers. We have been talking about down-sizing ever since but it hasn’t happened yet. Good luck.

  • I absolutely love your sense of humor. We’ve got three vehicles right now for two people, but it’s better than two motorcycles and two cars, which is what we’ve downsized from. Personally I think it’s crazy, but I know better than to say anything.

  • With the husband retired and me working from home, we fretted about the two cars eating their heads off while sitting in the garage most of the time. So last year, when my car’s lease was up, we went the one car route. Worked great for a month or two, then the MIL had a fall, spent months in hospital and rehab, and he was up and down the highway every second day leaving me at home feeling cabin-crazy. (We live in the back end of nowhere.) So we caved, bought a second car and all is sweetness and light again. And the two cars are back to eating their heads off in the garage …

  • Curious to hear how this all plays out but it does seem time to downsize to one vehicle — just which one or what kind???

  • Cars lately have been the bane of our existence. There’s a bunch sitting in the driveway, all in various states of disrepair. But I do love to drive. There’s just something about getting in a car and just driving. You can’t do much else while you’re driving – it’s like an escape from work and worry.

  • Get a golf cart and its good for the environment. lol

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