I grew up in a family that drove what one might call "character-building cars." Translation: they were revolting. Whatever everyone else drove, the Hoffs chugged around in the model that was cool 10 years earlier.
First there was the Escort we drove while we lived in Kentucky. It was puke colored. Like I'm pretty sure if my dad was going anywhere, my mom would say "Hey Bill, you taking the puke car?" Of course he was.
Sadly, this car bit the dust after, during an evening commute, the drivers seatback decided to give out leaving my 6'4", 250 pound dad laying down in the front seat. Why my family of giants got the smallest car we could fit our gams into remains a mystery.
Then came "the boat." It was a white Cadillac or Chevy Oldsmobile or something. Driving this car was super convenient because now I know how to parallel park a yacht if the need ever arises.
For a while, we were driving my grandpa's old car, which I'm pretty sure was a major upgrade in our eyes...until the ceiling fabric started to come loose and my dad had to take a staple gun to it. The staples didn't stick that well so he would have to position the hanging fabric behind his head in order to drive like a real person. Grandpa was generous enough to also pass along his pee jar, which was a rusty coffee can that my little sister found rolling around in the back seat.
Shortly after these guys kicked the bucket, my parents came home and excitedly informed my sister and I that we would have the good fortune of choosing the color of our new mini van. Yay!
"Red or Blue?" my dad asked.
"Like maroon or fire engine red?" we asked.
"I don't know, it's red" my dad replied, like a dude always replies.
"Like navy blue or robins egg blue?" we asked.
"Girls, it's blue."
"Ok, fine. Blue."
Biggest. mistake. of our teenage. lives.
The first lie was that this was a mini van. It was no mini van. When I hear mini van I think Dodge Caravan, orange slices, sweet TVs that magically appear on the back of seats, me hopefully making out in the backseat with that summer camp counselor. What my parents had so proudly purchased was a Chevy Astro Van....a box on wheels. On more than one occasion I'm pretty sure I got that thing to ride on two wheels.
The second shocker was the color. Pops wasn't lying, it was most definitely blue...a blue I had never seen in my life. This blue could melt your eyelids to your pupils. If you took fifty smirfs, melted them down and threw in a bunch of toxic sparkly shit, that's what our van was covered in. To their credit, my parents did succeed in something - buying the one van on the planet that guaranteed the absensce of back seat makeouts.
To us, a car was and always will be a way to get you from point A to point B. It wasn't about status, or speed, and it sure as hell wasn't about safety, as exhibited by the top heavy Astro van. The truth is that I really wouldn't have wanted to be carted around in anything else. Some of my best memories growing up took place in these cars. They shuttled my buddies and I back and forth to many a field hockey, basketball, and softball practice. They carried my sister and I and our friends down the Taconic and back to spend weekends exploring New York City. And they toated my mom, dad, two sisters, and me and everything I owned from West Hebron, New York on a 900 mile drive to Chicago, Illinois where I started a new chapter in my life...and then vowed to stick with public transportation.