October 3, 2005

"I Got A $70,000 Minivan."

dunes_lv.jpgI was a too young 17, and trying hard to prove my post-punk North Carolina bona fides to all the so-cool Southern Californians at Brigham Young University. It was long after the Rat Pack, but long before Swingers when, on a whim, some dormies and I set off from Provo one Friday night for a swingin' weekend in Las Vegas. We arrived by about 1:00 and changed into our thrift shop tuxedos in the parking lot of the Dunes and swaggered into the casino, more The Four Freshman than Frank & the boys, but still.

Highrollers all, we thumbed our noses at the $2 blackjack tables and headed straight for the $5 tables. The rebellious and/or non-Mormon among us ordered watered down drinks [FREE!?] and the waitress wearily obliged. After a couple of hours, the drinkers peeled off, and I, not wishing to reveal my Southern ignorance of craps, stayed behind, nursing a Perrier.

After a few minutes, my tablemate, a woman I remember as a Plenty O'Toole-type and I were joined an extremely fat man (Minnesota Very Fats?) in a cowboy outfit. He got our attention immediately by getting $100 worth of chips. At once. With a $100 bill.

We played a few hands in silence, when the fat cowboy made it clear why he had chosen our table to play. He turned to the woman and said, "Hey baby, I got a $100,000 motor home." His voice rose on the 'thousand dollar' and coasted back down deep on the 'motah hooome,' and I was dumbstruck. Back where I was from, motor homes were like mobile homes, which were only for poor people and tornados. They NEVER cost $100K, and they were NEVER something to talk about, much less to brag about in your opening line.

mercedes_r-class_thumb.jpgVery Fat Man's pickup line has stuck with me all these years as a valuable reminder that my circumscribed existence often leaves me utterly clueless to all the ways people perceive status, money, taste, and class. I learned this lesson again Saturday, when I took a trip to a Virginia Mercedes dealer to check out the new R-Class.

I poked around an R500 in the showroom, and the friendly dealer, sensing my skepticism, told me a reassuring story: he'd just sold one to a guy in Potomac, two kids, who took it to the tennis club and all the other dads wanted to try it out [emphasis his]. This was a dad's car, he said. I saw that the sticker price--without the second row console, which contains the all-important cupholders--was $69,890. And the title of this post flashed into my mind.


We're planning on checking out the R class one day soon. Somehow the RX and X5 don't seem big enough anymore. And this is our first baby!

[Each seat has LATCH and a top-hook, so you can fit four car seats in the R-Class. And yet, there's no DVD option. -ed.]

I have to laugh when I drop off the little one at day care and the parent's who drop off at the same time as I do drive a BMW something, Mercedes 300 something and a Volvo X something...and I'm there in my 1995 Mazda Protege (closely approaching 132K miles, hey, its paid for, really!) Its only a 1 1/2 mile, very safe ride so it doesn't bother me that my car predates the internet. I just want to know if they think I'm some uber loser or really that cheap (neither really). To be honest, our "new car" is currently at work right now looking at her Yale masters on the wall, it still has the new car smell and only about 1,000 payments left.

A $70,000 minivan, that's just silly. Losers.

I'm waiting for the AMG version of the R-class. 500 horsepower, 0-60 in 5 seconds, I figure $95,000 or so should take it home.

And for when Greg gets to ride in the back, dual DVD screens.

And if, while me and my three little girls are cruising around, listening to the "Wheels on the Bus" or maybe The Beastie Boys, and that sucker Seal pulls up alongside me at a light, I hope Heidi and Leni are strapped in and he's got his pink slip handy......

[the salesman told me it was "due out next year." In fact, everything I asked about--the US-legal B-class, the DVD option, the AMG--was "due out next year." I figured he was gauging my reaction to see if I was ready to buy now--or content to gawk and shoot the breeze for another 12 months. -ed.]

You went to BYU??

It's a fancied up Chrysler Pacifica...which seem to be very popular here in Portland (and are half the price.) The R-class is my "if I ever won the lottery" car. I dont care what anyone thinks. I heart it.

[Good call on the Pacifica. From the rear 3/4 view, and the roofline, it's a dead ringer for the R-class. But does the Pacifica have a glass roof option? -ed.]

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