Sunday, December 02, 2007

Checking In & Flipping Out

So now I've disappeared even on weekends, eh?

Yes, it is true. Now not only has my never far from tenuous day job completely taken over my life (again) but the personal life of which I have virtually none anymore is completely crowded out every last remaining second of blogging time I could possibly scrounge up without literally giving up sleeping.

How can this be, you ask? Because our minivan died last week and we're down to one functioning vehicle. This means I am now the ubiquitous family chauffer, ferrying my wife to and from work every day, taxi-ing my daughter to school events, my son anywhere he has to go, on top of working an endless marathon of sixteen-hour days - and, oh yes, I clean forgot, volunteering with our church's AWANA club and teaching a dozen or two unruly upper primary children about the fascinating life of the Israeli patriarch Joseph.

And leave us not neglect to mention car-shopping with a spouse whose level of irresolution makes John Kerry look like the Rock of Gibralter. Yesterday, after my award-deserving radio program, my son and I picked up Mrs. Hard Starboard from work with what I thought was the intention of visiting a particular car lot to reconnoiter for an hour or two and then go home.

Well, I either have as bad a memory as I self-deprecatingly put over, or I am incapable of curing myself of irrational optimism, because last night's sortie turned into a five hour debacle that took us and that poor salesman all over that lot during a driving snow/rain/snow/rain storm and did not end until past 11 PM, or three and a half hours past their closing time. To say nothing of at least two hours past mini-me's bed time, which has me indebted to him for dragging him along on it, which I would not have done if I'd anticipated such an outcome as I should have (and if I'd known that my daughter was going to be home instead of coming with us as well - guess she drew the long straw, or palmed it....). Hint: that KFC popcorn chicken and litre of Mountain Dew Code Red isn't even a downpayment on the downpayment. Arrrrrgh.

And, naturally, to the degree that wifey is not paralyzed like the proverbial starving donkey trapped between two bales of hay, we're at our usual "big decision" impasse, as I am leaning toward the 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan and she got sold on a 2007 Chrysler PT Cruiser that looks like a 1940s version of the Herman-Munster-mobile. It was all I could do not to laugh in the sales guy's face when he pulled up in that eyesore. Not that I cared about his feelings, but rather I didn't want to end up sleeping on the couch (which is actually immensely more comfortable than our bed, but that's another topic).

I figure we need one larger vehicle with ample cargo space even after our kids (who are both teenagers) eventually leave the nest, and the Grand Caravan provides that within our price range (a continuum that doesn't include a whole lot of that sort of vehicle). The PT Cruiser (PT as in Barnum, I'm guessing) isn't even classified as a van, mini or otherwise, but as a "mid-size," subdesignation "sport wagon," which is either the most garish automotive oxymoron in the English language or some manufacturer actually came up with a successor to the Wagon Queen Family Truckster. If we're going to purchase a mid-size car, I'd prefer it to look like something that wouldn't lead people to suspect that its driver has bolts sticking out the side of her (or my) neck - say, a Ford Taurus or a Chevy Impala, whose trunks are actually separate from the passenger compartment and have real, honest-to-goodness lids that no-foolin' shut.

Of course, if we were shopping for MY next car, we'd be looking at compacts and this wouldn't even be an issue. But we're not looking for my next car, but my wife's, so I'm limited to telling her that I think the PT Cruiser easily deposes the Ford Focus and AMC Pacer for the title of "ugliest automobile ever spawned," but she'll be driving it, so it's her decision. Which will, of course, paralyze her volition even more, and extend the duration of my stint as ubiquitous family chauffer even longer.

How's that for "sweet torture"? And does it beat the couch? Which, come to think of it, would be less embarrassing to drive down the road than the PT Cruiser.

I don't know that it matters in any practical sense, other than which will give me back weekends to catch up on the blogging of which I've been robbed during the week by the accursed need to earn a living, which seems like it's never far from hanging by a thread.

There's an old Chinese saying: "May you live in interesting times." Guess I need to cut back on the lunches at Peking Gardens, and for other reasons beyond lowering my sodium intake.