"Darth" was a black Ford Aerostar with a blue hood, which 5 of my buddies and I took on a road trip to Virginia Beach one summer in college during one of our annual adventures known as "Shaft Weekend." Each of us took a turn at the wheel beating the crap out of Darth while the others slept, farted, laughed, joked, and hazed the driver. In other words, we were having such a good time that I didn't consider how emasculating it was to be driving a minivan.
I thought of Darth last weekend while I was driving on I-95. The reverse image of a minivan caught my eye as I glanced in the rear view mirror and observed the driver in his attempt to mount my Honda from behind. I held my breath while pulling into the middle lane.
One might assume that an insecure 40 year-old driving a Hummer trying to impress his date or a drunken teenager speeding in his parents' Porsche is the most dangerous vehicle on the road. Not in my book. Minivans scare the bejeezus out of me. I pull over faster to let them pass than I do for police cars or ambulances.
Think about it. A parent behind the wheel of a minivan is probably more volatile than Elizabeth Hasselbeck before a presidential election. If kids are in the car, then chances are at least one of them is melting down, or the cartoon DVD playing is lulling the driver to sleep along with the kids. If no kids are in the car, dad temporarily believes that he's driving his Mustang from college and he's on his way to his girlfriend's house because her parents are gone for the weekend. In other words, stay far away from minivans on the highway.
I know what the dads who drank the Kool Aid are thinking. Some of them have tried to get me to drink from their minivan pint glass. "It's a really smooth ride." "The cargo room is great." Or maybe, "We can use it for road trips - if my wife lets me."
Not me, man. Driving a minivan would seriously cramp my male mystique. My prior wheels included hotrods such as a 1978 Chevrolet Malibu (the "Bubonic"), a 1989 Plymouth Reliant (the "K Car"), and a 1996 Ford Escort (the "Scrat.") Obviously, people's heads were always turning when my rides rolled through town.
However, we do need to buy a family car. If we take the plunge, it's got to be in style. (Contemplating) I wonder if Darth is for sale...