It's About Damn Time

Getting my mom to try or in any way shift to something new is nearly impossible.

It's not that she's closed-minded - she's more just set in her ways, is painfully shy, and dreads change with the force of a deathrow inmate swallowing the last bite of his last meal.

While mom being dragged into the 21st century has been accomplished (she has a modern computer, for example, that she actually uses and she finally got a cell phone last year that she doesn't), it's the process of making the change that's truly painful.

It entails an elaborate dance of presentation, familiarization, coaxing, persuasion, sleight of hand, testimonials from alternate sources, justification, confirmation, cajoling, stroking, trial periods, irritable blow-ups ("Just get off it, will you?!") - and inevitably, acquiesence, surprise/delight, self-denigration ("Why the hell didn't I try this sooner?") and finally, self-congratulation ("I'm so glad I thought of this!"). It can literally take years.

For us kids, it's like trying to stuff a stubborn elephant into a boxcar: It's the only way to get from Point A to Point B, but unless there's a damn good reason to make the trip, it hardly seems worth it. 

Mom_NewCar.jpgEnter the car issue. Mom's been driving around a hideous, ancient piece-of-crap white Ford Taurus for years. It's an unappealing car in every way, an uncomfortable, hot, nausea-inducing ride more suitable for the transportation of livestock than human beings. No, I take that back: Even cows would be insulted by the car's total lack of character - after all, even they sport some pretty hip and interesting-looking spots that would permit you to tell one cow from another.

And the thing is, mom loves cars. She's always, ALWAYS wanted a new one of her very own. Nothing fancy. Not a Cadillac or a Lexus - though if she wanted one she could have it. She just wanted something pragmatic and comfortable - maybe something "with a little pep" (mom's no putt-putt driver - the woman's got a lead foot). In short, she wanted a car she could drive that would be hers, and hers alone.

Naturally, whenever she voiced her desire, my brother and I encouraged her: "Buy a new one, mom - you deserve it!" That was about 5 years ago. Since then, my husband, my friends, sister-in-law, neighbors, distant acquaintances, even grocery store clerks and exes have all jumped aboard the "Get a New Car, Dammit" bandwagon. I would estimate that at least once a week for the last five years, the topic would come up. She'd just slap her jaw shut and grumble angrily, almost as if it were YOUR idea, "No, no, no. The Taurus is just fine!" (This would inevitably come directly after she'd just said, seconds ago, how the Taurus' "insert equipment of choice here" broke down or even - and this is my favorite mom-thing, the one where she pretends amnesia - actually voiced that she'd "really, really love to have a new car.") 

Mom_NewCar2.jpgWell, people, roll out the beer barrels, because GranJan, God Help Her, finally got off her ass and got herself a brand-spankin' new set of wheels. (Which also meant I lost 20 bucks to Shannon.)

Enter the Silver Fox in the silver 2006 RAV4 Sport, V6, fully trimmed out, with a honkin' sound system, kickass rims and low-profile tires. In the end, I guess it was all worth it, because when the thing was finally delivered to her door and she was handed the keys, my tough-as-nails, Kansas-farmgirl mum actually broke down and cried.

Now, as a result of my telling you this, I will have to go underground and hide out, before she hunts me down and kills me. (But God help me, it's the truth... and I'm always supposed to tell the truth - right mom? Right?!)

Anyway, I'd love to sit and chat a bit longer, but if you'll excuse me, I have to go lock the doors and unplug the phone. Congrats on the car, mum.


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I am a writer and lazy artist who loves travel, architecture and design. Right now, I'm into photography. My fabulous husband (a.k.a. The Varmint) and I are also the principals of a San Diego-based creative agency - and new parents to the divine Baby Mak. Read More >