I’m really not the biggest fan of my car. On the plus side, it’s easy to park and runs on about a dollar’s worth of petrol a day. On the minus side, it’s tiny, incredibly ugly and the colour of polished baby poop.
“Here comes the mustard-mobile!” crowed my neighbour as I did the slink of shame into our shared driveway after collecting it from the dealership. The dealer had done his best, but presenting it with a big pink ribbon on the bonnet was a bit similar to sprinkling a dog turd with glitter. Nice thought, but not all that effective.
The problem was I had one of those moments where I got all sensible. “Looks don’t matter!” I told myself firmly at the time, marching manfully past all the cute little silver and red cars towards the back of the lot, which was an elephant’s graveyard of heavily discounted, eyeball-searing ex-demonstrators. I chose to ignore any lessons that I’d learned in my dating life about that fact that looks actually do matter. Not that someone has to look like Brad Pitt to tickle your fancy, but if you fancy them about as much as having a fork poked in your eye, there’s an issue.
I’ve owned this car for two years, and it’s still my eye fork.
This week I grimly handed over the best part of a thousand dollars for mandatory registration and insurance fees. The mustard-mobile is all paid up to torture the public eye for another year. I was feeling so carried away with my sense of organisation that I even booked it in for a service.
The mechanics reeled back a couple of steps when I pulled into the driveway of their yard. Reverently, they approached it with hushed voices. “Look, it’s one of those Suzukis… I heard they never actually sold any of this model… EJ, have you serviced one of these before? No man, I wouldn’t even know where to get the parts. Look, that paint job’s original, they’ve done it deliberately.”
At length, they shuffled over to me, en masse. Safety in numbers from the crazy lady who paid good money to drive round in that thing. Nobody, they explained, drove this model of car. They would have to specially order in some small, ugly spark plugs to put in my small, ugly car. I should return the next day. Preferably under a blanket.
The following afternoon I picked up the car and was presented with a bill and a round of sympathetic murmurs. As I drove away I looked in my rearview mirror and saw them shake their heads sadly as they returned to working on their proper, grown up cars. No doubt my little yellow buzzbox would be the stuff of legends in years to come.
I went straight to pick up the kids. They tumbled into the car, hurling bags into the boot and contentedly spreading crumbs hither and yon from the cake they got given at after school care.
“Hey, do you like this car?” I asked casually.
There was a period of brief consideration.
“Yup!” proclaimed my daughter. “Everyone else has boring cars! We can always find ours in the car park! And that time you drove it into the garage wall you gave a big shrug and said ‘probably just improved it’. Dad would have gone SPARE!”
This is true. My little mustard yellow car is nothing to be precious over. And every day it gets us safely – albeit slowly – from A to B. So tomorrow I am going to go through the car wash (paying for the extra spray wax), get the hell over myself, and show off that polished baby poop with pride.
After all, you can pull off just about any look, if you work it with enough confidence 😉