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Tuesday, February 17, 2009


My college-age niece has a second-hand car that she received as a gift from one of my other nieces. Of late she’s been having some mechanical troubles with it, as is to be expected with an aging vehicle, and she’s been talking about getting another car to replace it, as is natural. One day a few years from now, I imagine her having the experience of buying her first car, one of those great rites of passage. She expresses an interest in mini vans, which I really can’t see her driving, but it’s her taste, not mine.

Of course, it’s a different world for her than it was for me. When I was her age there was no such thing as a Website where you could log on and shop for a car with your computer. When I was her age I didn’t even use computers yet!  My mother and sister both have Hondas; that may sway her.  I imagine her going onto some Website and looking up "honda cr v," "ford taurus," "audi q7," or some such thing and pondering what she sees.

There is a particular style of minivan that I know she doesn’t care for; the other evening we were watching TV and she saw a commercial for that type of vehicle and she said it was “just a big box” and didn’t like it. Neither did I. My taste runs more to slippery, streamlined vehicles that ride low to the ground. My great rite of passage, and one of my favorite father/son memories, was the day in July during a summer break from college when my Dad took me out car shopping and I at once fell in love with a red Datsun 200SX Hatchback with cruise control. (Datsun: That’s Nissan to you youngsters.) All it took was the test drive to clinch it. I can still hear my voice saying, “Dad, I want it!” And I got it. That first summer with my first car was one of the best summers of my life.

Still, my niece is at an age when she has everything in life to look forward to, and this experience of buying a car for the first time is one of them. Sometimes I envy her.

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