Thus far my efforts to be socially popular have been modestly successful (only three restraining orders), so I decided to get a vehicle that bursts with flair, hipness, and societal envy. Since I have children, I am unfortunately constrained to what I can purchase. I was going to buy a nice two-seater sports car, then I would have endless reasons to shirk my fatherly responsibilities. Initially, I thought I struck pay dirt. It seems Aston Martin realized that rich people procreate every now and then, so the company finally decided to put car seat anchors into their DB11. Now you can bring your infants and toddlers with you as you careen around at eighty billion miles an hour and look like James Bond at the same time. After a rigorous analysis of my financial status that involved a lot of smart people math, I was able to determine that I could afford an Aston Martin provided I didn’t pay my mortgage, spend money on food, or buy anything for the next several centuries.
Undeterred, I pushed forward until a much more pressing issue presented itself: the DB11 only has room for two car seats. Since I have three kids, this presented a bit of a problem. For a brief moment I considered buying his and hers DB11s, but my wife informed me that she and the kids were rather fond of eating, so that put an end to that. No, I had to look elsewhere, and that journey led me to a place about as enjoyable as riding into a car wash with the windows down, then having a giraffe puke through the sunroof: the minivan section.
Minivans are like the island of unwanted toys for car owners. People view them with such a high level of disgust that is unparalleled even compared to Pintos (that’s an old person reference). Even if minivans could somehow teleport entire families, society at large would still find ways to hate them. For years, the dread that I’d one day have to own one haunted me much in the way that hairy Japanese girls seem to haunt every horror movie that comes out. I told myself I’d never look at a minivan, even if averting my eyes would cause me to wreck my car. No self-respecting guy wants to drive a minivan (I have since found that I lack any self-respect). I’d try to rationalize, but I’d always find myself depressed afterwards and listening to mopey music that sounds like a socially confused mourning dove with really loud guitars in its voice box.
Plus, there were social consequences to consider. People see minivans and think, “Well, that guy probably has a stable marriage and is trying to raise more than one kid, what a loser.” If I drove the Aston Martin though, people would think, “That guy is probably James Bond except he probably doesn’t kill people for a living.”
As bad as that was, I got the full effect of how people look at minivans once I started shopping for them. It’s the only vehicle I’ve ever encountered that’s criticized for looking exactly like what it is. Almost every review I read would make an effort to bemoan the fact that a minivans look like minivans. “It’s very practical,” they’d say, “for the whole family. But when you see it, sit in it, or are in the same state as it, it looks and feels like a minivan.” So now minivans are trying to be posers, i.e. they are trying to not look like minivans, which undoubtedly leads to all sorts of identity crises and depression. And it never fools anyone, except people who’ve never seen minivans before (that’s three people in Indonesia). It’s the ultimate catch-22: look like yourself and we hate you, try to look like something else and we hate you. It occurred to me that we don’t do that with any other vehicle. Consider the following:
Lamborghini Executive: What’s that?
Designer: That’s the prototype for the new Lamborghini
Lamborghini Executive: Hmm.
Lamborghini Executive: It looks too much like an expensive sports car.
Designer: It is an expensive sports car.
Lamborghini Executive: Scrap that look entirely and make it look more like a horse and carriage.
One could rightly assume that the hypothetical executive had probably had a not-so-hypothetical stroke. Dream though I can, Lamborghini will never make a minivan, and even if they did, there would still be the whole “how will I eat” problem. Perhaps if Aston Martin made a minivan, James Bond could be in a car chase and take all his illegitimate kids to daycare at the same time.
To help change our perceptions, i.e. lie to us, every now and then car companies put out ads trying to make minivans look as cool as those other cars that always drift in slow motion across the TV screen. I actually found an old commercial with a drifting Sienna, which automatically elevates vans above anything those cut-rate Italian car manufacturers could ever come up with. I also found a Sienna Swagger Wagon rap ad that feeds my soul in ways I never thought possible. And yes, I bought a Sienna. Sue me.Follow me in a completely non-creepy way: