In honor of hitting 10K miles on the Prius (which is nothing to crow about; I swore to reduce my driving to 6K a year when I bought the car), I would like to say a few things about my car. First, Prius, I love you. You are ugly, with a butt that looks like it was lopped off in an unfortunate factory accident, and a hunched over Quasimodo stance, and you’re blue when I wanted black, but I love you terribly. I love your 40 miles a gallon (I don’t where they got that 60 number), I love the way you cheerfully beep and unlock the door when I walk up to you, and I love your sunglasses holder, big enough to fit my big funky tacky frames. I love the way you came with several very annoying habits, and all I had to do to change them was to look up the magic spells on the Interweb and perform them with accuracy and conviction. If this mechanism could possibly be extended to the other important people in my life…
Second, you are different, and not everyone understands you and accepts you. You are quiet, and that is different from most cars. Seems the people who created you didn’t think through the implications of this to blind people, who have an actual logistical problem with quiet cars.* But the non-blind people who feel it necessary to say “wow, it’s so quiet, I can’t get over it” for the fifth time…well, they are starting to bug me.
Also, you have a back up camera in your very ugly butt. This is necessary because of the limited visibility out of your oddly designed rear. It has been a godsend in the chaotic parking lot of Clementine’s school, since the rear view mirror totally misses people under four feet tall. However, other people don’t know that you have a back up camera, and that I am looking THERE, on the console, and NOT in the rear view mirror, when I am backing up. The driver of the car behind me doesn’t know that even though I am not looking up, I can see what’s behind us quite clearly, and when I start to move backwards, he or she begins honking desperately, as if to save his or her life, which is quite disconcerting. As of yet there is no universally recognized hand signal for “it’s okay, I have a back up camera!” so typically I do something retarded like a thumbs up into the rearview mirror, which has occasionally been taken to mean “it’s okay, I WANT to back up into your car! Wouldn’t an accident be really fun right now?” and sent the other driver into absolute seizures of honking and hand waving. These are just the little wrinkles of personal interaction we as a society need to work out when new technology comes along, like when cell phone headsets came out, and the luddites thought the hipsters had started taking acid and talking to themselves in public, and were afraid.
Lastly, you are different, but you are also extremely popular. Clementine and I have progressed from shouting “Blue Pruis!” when we see one of your kin, to doing it only when we see two at one time, and now pretty much only when we see three in a row at a stoplight. I frequently have to pick you out from a half dozen other identical blue Priuses in a parking lot. This is why I put the large white gash on your passenger side door, and have still not removed the temporary registration papers the dealership taped to the inside front window. Yes, mean people have said things like “you should really fix that,” but I am here to tell you those things make you SPECIAL. Not that you weren’t already special to me.
You are popular because you are the car of the future. You were one of the first, and you are the best. Fuck the Tesla. Yes, I know, you are still a bit self-conscious about your poky acceleration on an uphill, and the Tesla can go from zero to 60 in 3.9 seconds, but you are smart and cheap, like your owner. The Telsa is Paris Hilton. You are Terry Gross: you are very good at what you do, and you are there for me every day.
* I’m not sure whether this is an unintentionally funny embarrassment or a piece of pure PR genius, but I found this in last month’s Harpers. These are the lyrics to to “The Hybrid Car Song” by Mary Ellen Gabias, originally published in March in Braille Monitor, the newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind. The song is sung to the tune of “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top.”
Kids and dogs won’t know when to scurry.
Silent death arrives in a hurry.
All who walk have reason to worry
‘Bout the hybrid car.
We all want to stop the polluting,
Save a lot of gas while commuting.
If they made sound there’d be no disputing
With the hybrid car.
Saving the planet we all hold dear,
Nobody wants to destroy it.
Please make cars pedestrians can hear
‘Cause we want to be ’round to enjoy it.
We don’t need a noisy vrum-vrumming,
Just a simple audible humming,
So that we can know when you’re coming
In a hybrid car.
Then we all can walk with safety on the street
Without fear that we will accidentally meet
A hybrid car.