Friday, May 30, 2008

I Want a New Drug Car

If it's considered romantic to continue to learn things about one's spouse long after the nuptials, consider this: I realized not long ago that I happened to have married a man with a very interesting feature. Somewhere in Alex's head is a little invisible clock, a timer that is constantly counting down to zero the minutes and seconds in which it will be time to rid ourselves of each of our worldly possessions. He seems to own one of these little clocks for everything material thing--mine, his, ours. Nothing escapes his timer; even the houses we've lived in have been on the clock, and in fact, deciding on a dime to sell our first home was how I learned of his expire-o-meter in the first place.

A few months ago, Alex began making little noises about my car, a Subaru sedan. They were little, introductory-type messages that indicated that it was becoming time to sell my car, as opposed to the statement, "I sold your car today." I appreciated the warm up to the main event. I , of course, dug my heels in and proceeded to drag my feet, kicking and screaming all the way to Craigslist the day we put it up for sale. Someone bought it the next day. I cried, wee wee wee, all the way home.

I enjoy forming attachments to my things, and keeping them until death do us part, which is why Sophie is using my childhood bedroom furniture, and--no kidding--sleeping on my Snoopy sheets from 1974. Apart from finding this sort of conservationist quality in myself a strength, I also know that I do it because that's how much I really hate shopping to replace the stuff we've parted with. I think I may also have contracted a case of Being Old Fashioned, which makes buying new things with new features and shiny buttons and knobs a lot like putting the cast of Hee Haw on the space shuttle: an embarrassment to those who have spent their lives and enthusiasm furthering technology's advances, and a plea for space aliens to just shoot us all and eat our brains--NOW.

I say all that, knowing I'm a little sad that I'm no longer such a gadgety gal. The truth is, technology doesn't do it for me like it used to, and that's perhaps because I live in a house full of nutjobs intent on ruining everything I care too much about. Motherhood has done things to me, beyond the obvious, physical things that it does to all of us, and I'm afraid that it's shown me that anything with buttons on it, anything mechanical or digital or electrical, is soon rendered inoperable with extreme and swift prejudice.

I also know that I've inherited a lot of my no-nonsense, frugal behaviors from a long line of people who had just enough, and needed to save every bit of it for as long as they could. Just today, I built a fort for Sophie out of the same (reupholstered) couch cushions with which my dad made countless forts for me. My first car, which made it past college graduation, was the 1971 Camaro my dad bought when I was two years old. Mom and Dad still live in the same house they bought when they married in 1968; they probably always will.

Without entering territory that I would call stingy or cheap, my family's Depression-era thinking has rubbed off on me, a fact that I'm almost proud of, in a noble way; a kind of waste-not-want-not kind of way. In a way that makes my husband, a person I also plan to keep as long as possible, dizzy with anxiety. Funny, that.

So in addition to calling him Rapunzel (behind his back), I shall now refer to Alex as Chronos, Timekeeper of All Our Things. It's a good thing, and an annoying thing, and I'll take it because at least the man is the buying type in addition to being the selling type. Yesterday he bought me a car--a "pre-owned" one, as I like to call it--at my urging. It's just like my old car, only newer, and neater, and in much better shape. No, Dr. Freud, it's just a cigar.

I told Alex that I wanted a newer car that was modestly priced, and that got good gas mileage. I wasn't looking for anything fancy, understanding that fancy is relative; I reminded him that my cell phone only does two things: takes phone calls and makes them. (I think I actually had to pay extra for that.) And now I have exactly what I asked for. For now.

Now it's time to wait and see. Because maybe the clock that governs his clocks is going to wind down to 0:00:00, and he will forget to stop me from keeping and loving every single thing that has ever served me, and we will finally see each other for who we are: People who need deserve each another.


amy said...

i don't like the process of buying new cars, or even pre-owned cars that are new to me. because this takes a certain amount of finesse, a lot of patience, and the willingness to put up with another (car sales)person's b.s. and if there is one thing in the world i simply don't put up well with, it is (car sales)people's b.s.

this is why, now that i have to get another car since mine was destroyed, i find that i leave charles with the truth-making-uppers (or: salespeople) while i wander off to look at the super expensive cars with ALL the options i will never be able to afford.

when britney spears parked her bmw and couldn't find it, and then just bought another one at full price/no negotiating to replace it, i totally got where she was coming from. everybody else thought britney was butt crazy, but amy from atlanta was thinking: "I'm with you, girlfriend."

Megan (FriedOkra) said...

Thanks for replying to me on Twitter! Enjoyed this post and can identify with it quite a bit. My own daughter slept away on sheets my grandmother bought when her grandbabies were born, and they worked great and had HISTORY! Yay! I'll be back even though I'm a SAHM and don't even HAVE a lunch hour!