Who's buying all those ugly Honda Elements? Musicians.

While I’m sitting here burning and burning and burning stuff off onto disks (spurred to do so by realizing I did indeed lose several digital painted portraits of H.o.p. sometime during the latest computer drama that lasted several months and is still ongoing as this thing is freezing up all the time and has me scared) I’ll write a post on our new vehicle.

Yes, we now do indeed have a new vehicle. By the time our old falling apart Ford van made it out to the dealership on Wednesday, as is now usual, fatigued by rush hour traffic, it wouldn’t start again once it was cut off. We’d already sunk thousands into it over the years keeping it running. No more. Not as if it has sentimental value. The why of keeping the van running as long as we did was for getting equipment to gigs and it was no longer reliable to us even for getting around town as a one vehicle family.

The dealership told us that they didn’t want it but that they wouldn’t charge us to dispose of it. Instead we will try to sell it. If we make enough cash to buy a bag of groceries, it’ll be wroth selling it, considering how much we put ourselves in hock for our new vehicle, which we bit the bullet and bought outright new because the thought of spending a lot of money for a used car and crossing fingers the transmission or something major wouldn’t go out in a couple of months was just too much for us right now. The last several years of driving around in Atlanta’s rush hour mess with no AC has burned our brains–and we even live close to Marty’s studio which means we’re not daily in rush hour traffic, yet still our brains are charred.

I didn’t even say good-bye to the van, that’s how much of an emotional attachment I have. Of course I didn’t say goodbye to it. This was the van that broke down on Spaghetti Junction last fall and put us through our own very special Halloween horror. H.o.p. didn’t even say good-bye to the van. When we first started talking a new vehicle he was briefly, “Oh, no! I love the van!” because nearly everything that enters his personal sphere becomes immediately a lifelong friend…or enemy. However, it only took my singing the virtues of a new vehicle for less than five seconds for him to be going, “Wow, yes!” to the new vehicle. Like the fact we’d be all able to hear each other in it instead of the roar of the engine and the road. And we’d have air conditioning. I told him those two things and he was sold.

Stan Cox writes in the article Air Conditioning, our Cross to Bear” at Alternet:

Driving from a cool home to a bracing workplace to a chilly supermarket would be a severe shock to the system if done in a non-air-conditioned car, so you’ll find such cars only on “vintage” lots. Government tests have shown that running an air-conditioner can decrease a car’s fuel efficiency by 4 miles per gallon. Excess fuel consumption is lower on the highway, higher in the city and incalculable when the engine and AC are left running in a parked pickup truck to keep a Dachshund comfortable.

Sorry, but after thirty years of driving around with no ac, we gotta have it here in Atlanta. Getting stranded in rush hour without air is traumatic, not only heat-wise but lung-wise.

We went with the Honda Element. It’s not a miracle Prius but for serving as a family vehicle plus business, where you have to have room for hauling around keyboards etc., it’s a pretty good deal.

Several of our friends who are also musicians lugging gear have one and love it. Which is what got us interested. Marty is the one who went to pick the Element up and the dealer, when he learned Marty was a musician, said they sell a lot of them to musicians. He told Marty some Athens’ band that had been in the day before to buy one. And I believe it that they sell a lot of them to musicians, that it wasn’t just a line. Because we know musicians who have been buying these things for the past several years. They’re perfect for transporting gear.

A lot of people think the Honda Element is an ugly car. They think it’s too boxy. I think it looks like a suitably utilitarian vehicle for transporting gear. And an 8 year old. It’s a good car for kids because the seating and floor are totally washable. And a good car for me because I spill coffee all the time in cars. Not that we had any carpet in our old van to worry about. We didn’t. Like I said, that van was just a big stripped down box. Before we got the van it had been a nursing home passenger transport vehicle. It was ruined when we got it. Which is why we paid very little for it, then spent thousands keeping it running after the brief warrenty ran out.

I like the way the Honda Element looks. I wanted black. I had even decided I liked orange. I was even looking forward to orange if we couldn’t get black. Instead we have silver. It’s what the dealership had, the one which gave us the best price. It was a great price (for a new car). I think silver is boring, especially after years in a gray van but I’ll adjust. Marty likes it and likes it that the trim is silver and so looks less like a clown car.

I liked the clown car look.

At least it’s not blue. For some reason I have a thing against blue cars. I have no trouble with you having a blue car. But for me to own one would be depressing. Life is severe enough without making me ride around in a blue car.

I would have been immediately emotionally attached to the new vehicle had it been orange. I would have felt like, “That’s my orange car!” Since it’s silver I more feel like, “That’s the vehicle we’ll be using for a number of years. Thank god it has air conditioning. I’m going to like having a comfortable, reliable vehicle.” But no, “Ah, gee, you cutie you” emotional attachment.

Not that I’ve ever named a car. Never have. Have never been one for naming cars. I’ve known people who name all their cars.

I find it funny that I would have been attached to an orange vehicle because orange is not a “favorite” color. There is nothing orange in the apartment. No orange clothing. No orange anything. It’s kind of odd that I had deep down decided that an orange Element was something I would like in such a way that I’d have been immediately emotionally attached to it.

Despite that, I’m going to be waiting for the First Dent Trauma. When we got our old van it was already old and was totally stripped down, basically a big box with an engine and transmission, that was about it, but the exterior looked pretty ok. It proved to be a magnet for abuse, however. Within the first week, Marty getting ready to leave a gig found that one side of the van had been crunched by someone in the parking lot. The van was very regularly hit by people in gig parking lots.

Marty now admits this AM that he’s glad we have the silver rather than orange as he would have felt emotionally attached to the orange and suffered horribly waiting for the first scratch, whereas he’s not going to feel that way about the silver.

It will be nice just to have cup holders. We had no cup holders in the van. I tried out purchasing several versions of cup holders that you hung from the door etc. but none worked very well and one always ended up with spilled coffee.

It will be nice to have a glove compartment. We had no pockets or little storage areas/compartments in the old van and that was a pain.

It will be nice to have a clock. We didn’t have a clock in the van. It will be nice to have an ok sound system. The speakers were blown out of the old van and being a musician family we of course never equipped it to have a good sound system. It will be nice to see what radio we’re dialing too as in the old van the LED for the radio was burned out. All of this stuff in a way really doesn’t mattter but it’s nice when it’s there.

The local hookers used to use our van’s side mirrors as their personal make-up vanity. It took us a while to figure out why they were always out of adjustment in the morning, but we finally figured that one out. They will perhaps miss the van. We will not.

Anyway, I’m hoping that I don’t have to undergo First Dent/First Scratch Trauma too soon, and that by the time it happens I’ll be very over, “New car!” and not care.

Need to make up a bumper sticker so that I’ll be able to pick it out from all the other silver cars in parking lots. That’s another reason an orange car would have been nice. There are too many silver cars out there. Or maybe just go ahead and renew my membership with the ACLU and use their bumper sticker. We seem to have made a habit of getting membershps for things around June. In the past few weeks we are suddenly flooded with “Renew! Renew!” from the zoo, from Fernbank etc. Overwhelming. One ought to space these things out. Apparently around June has been the month of a more secure cash flow for a while.

Now back to burning CDs. I have burnt and burnt and burnt CDs and am nowhere near done. And in the meanwhile I argue with H.o.p.

“You stink,” he says to me, mad because I got mad at him for trashing the apartment.

“You stink,” I reply, behing mad at him for totally trashing the apartment.

I wonder if when he’s twenty-one we’ll be on this level of mature communication.

I stick out my tongue at him, making a nice fat fbbbtttt sound and make a face. He sticks out his tongue at me and laughs. “I guess I’m not mad at you any more,” he says. “Let’s make silly faces.”

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Juli Kearns

Juli Kearns is the author of Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine and Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin. She is also an artist/photographer, and the person behind the web alter of "Idyllopus Press".

2 thoughts on “Who's buying all those ugly Honda Elements? Musicians.”

  1. I’m so happy for your new vehicle…it now has wonderful, talented, cool [with the new AC, even to the touch]people cruising around in it …..I know you’ll come up with a bumper sticker, however I wanted you to know my favorite one…it was also Thumb’s……”SUPPORT MENTAL HEALTH, OR I’LL KILL YOU”…….He also just loved the smell of a new car….I never could tell the difference…he once bought a gray car with gray interior, so that my spilled ashes would’nt look so bad…at least that was his excuse for it being gray…anyway….
    …………”HONDA RULES !!!!!”

  2. That’s what I hear, that Honda rules. Other friends say so. My brother was telling me today that Honda rules. I don’t think we’ve ever owned a Honda before. My favorite cars to date remain the 1966 BMW we scrounged up somewhere when we were first married (what a cool car) and a slightly older BMW that we got after that. From the era when BMWs were still nice and boxy funky cars. I loved the way they sat you and I loved the feel of the engines in those things.

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