Our usual reaction to other people's revelations tends to be "duh". But in the interests of fairness, I'm going to share this one with you: some people feel about cars the way I do about personal style, and - this is the crucial point - there's not a single argument against doing so that I don't freely employ in defence of my own obsession.
This became clear to me rather late in life. Just the other day, in fact. G pointed out a sporty red Mazda for sale down the road and urged me to buy it. His preliminary arguments were three-fold:
- it was a good buy, and these little numbers are hard to find
- if I didn't have enough spare cash, he would lend it to me
- my current car is scruffy.
This is not my current car, but a well-cared for version of it - a 1999 Mazda Demio. Mine is much less shiny, to the point that spiders make their homes in and around the bumpers. It has a few minor dings, a bashed-in number plate, and a missing hubcap.
On the plus side, as I briskly informed G, it's what's known as a great little runner. It's just flown through its latest warrant, and in the five years it's waited patiently at the end of the path to do my bidding, it hasn't once let me down. Why would I want to get rid of it?
This is when reason number 4 (and what I soon sensed was the real reason for G's concern) came into play: my shabby Demio was inappropriate to one of my general stylishness and good taste (sorry, but this is a direct quote, and yes, of course he's biased); I ought to be at the wheel of something much classier.
Interesting, that moral imperative. Millions of Americans know, of course, that by their car they shall be judged, and I daresay a good number of New Zealanders too.
But also interesting was that up to this point in my life I'd never considered the vehicle I (or anyone else) drove represented - or should that be "presented"? - me. I'm perfectly happy to step out of my little car dressed up to the nines - outside a milonga, for instance. And if other people find that odd or wrong or ... whatever, it's not my problem.
Which is exactly how many feel about clothes, shoes, hair and the rest of it. They'll wear what's cheap/easy/comfortable, thanks very much, and they're not going to give a toss about whether it makes them look good. Why waste time and money on such frivolities? Aren't those who do, a little ... well, suspect? Possibly even shallow? And isn't this the kind of rampant consumerism that's bringing the world to its knees? And so on.
|Grace Kelly at the wheel|
After several days' consideration my answer to these questions is a firm yes and no.