The New Adventures of Old Christine

Considering how memorable the stories are, it’s obvious Stephen King and the fearmeisters responsible for The Car were tapping into something primal and universal with the idea of an evil car. I just think that by having the car totally flip out and kill people, they missed out on a prime opportunity for dread and […]

Considering how memorable the stories are, it’s obvious Stephen King and the fearmeisters responsible for The Car were tapping into something primal and universal with the idea of an evil car.

I just think that by having the car totally flip out and kill people, they missed out on a prime opportunity for dread and true horror. A murderous demon car jumping through windows to run over girlfriends? That’s just a quick, cheap cat-jumping-out-of-the-cupboard scare. How come nobody’s captured the true long-term dread and despair? The kind you only get from owning a no-less evil, but passive-aggressive car?

Like, for instance, a POS Jetta that’s so boring and practical it latches onto your soul like a deer tick, slowly sucking the life out of you over eight long years. And lets every convenience feature break in the first year or two, but refuses to die. And goes dead in the middle of 70mph freeway traffic. And then its alternator goes out and kills the battery, stranding you in a ditch on the side of 101 north where you have to get towed to pay over 800 bucks for a repair on a car you don’t even want anymore.

It’s not just soul-draining and money-draining, but it does weird things to you, psychologically: I’m so fed up with it now that I’m ready to take a Bullitt. I’ve never seen the movie, and I’ve never been into muscle cars, but damn that’s a nice-looking car.

At this point, I’m ready to just get a big, stupid, impractical and irresponsible car. So what if the planet’s running out of oil? Haven’t I offset my carbon footprint enough over the past eight years, driving a car that gets 28 mpg? What’s the harm in going back into debt to get an overpriced car that’s bad for the environment? Or a convertible that’s completely impractical for the San Francisco bay area?


  1. Rain Avatar

    Well, I’m not one to talk about enviromental issues since I once owned a car that literally got about 5 mpg, but it just seems to me at this point that getting a gas guzzler would just be friggin expensive. I can’t imagine having to fill up the tank in my old Firebird if I had it now. Especially since it took premium. (Doood! PREEEMIUM!) Don’t you want something that won’t cost you 300 bucks a month in gas, and also allows you to drive in the carpool lane alone? Especially since you use it to commute to work?

  2. Chuck Avatar

    I’m still waiting for the little devil conscience to show up. Anyone?

    I’m all for getting better gas mileage, but as far as I can tell there’s not really a huge dramatic difference among the cars I’d conceivably get. My current car gets pretty good mpg, but I’m still paying 300 bucks a month in gas. It’s not like there’s anything out there now that gets 40-50 mpg, especially with the way I drive — hybrids don’t pay off if you drive mostly on highways, and if you make impatient starts and go over the speed limit, like I tend to do.

    As far as I can tell, my options are:
    a hybrid that’s boring and doesn’t actually have much benefit other than making me feel like I’m “helping” the environment

    a regular Camry/Accord/Corolla/whatever type sedan, for another 8-10 years of driving boredom

    a white trash convertible Mustang, that gets fairly lousy MPG, a cheap-feeling interior, and would only pay off for the 10 or so days out of the year when there’s nice weather in the bay area

    a roadster like a Miata or a VW EOS or the Honda one, which isn’t all that cheap, and would mean sacrificing any pretense that I’m still a man

    blowing all my EA savings on a used BMW convertible, which would have the advantage that I could use my iPhone while I’m driving around Marin County to the Apple Store and look like the world’s biggest douchebag.

  3. Rain Avatar

    Well, again, the only thing missing from the non-hybrid options is being able to drive in the carpool lane, which to me, if I had to drive to work every day alone, would be a huge boon….but then again I don’t know how the carpool lane stuff is going to north Marin. I only know going south, if you don’t have that advantage, it’s a total nightmare.

    Also, I think you should get a hybrid because then you’d be forced to get an automatic, and then we could use it to go to Disneyland and I could do all the I-5 driving!

  4. Mac Avatar

    Apparently, my car recently decided that it doesn’t really need all that pesky fluid in its radiator, and has been surreptiously disposing of it over the last week or so. This problem was only made manifest Sunday night, when it decided that a freeway on-ramp was the perfect place to stop working entirely and emit a really impressive amount of steam from under the hood. Surprisingly for a busy on-ramp in Marin County, the ratio of people slowing down to ask if I needed help versus the people slowing down to yell at me to move my car was about 3:1.

  5. Chuck Avatar

    Mac: They were probably from out of town, in Marin for Christmas shopping. Or maybe there’s a tax credit on offering to help stranded motorists now? Seriously, sucks about the car, though — is that the new one?

    Rain: Traffic to Marin isn’t usually a problem, because I usually go to work and back home at really weird hours. But traffic around San Rafael is just crazy nuts. Sometimes it’s backed up from the Sausalito exit all the way up to Central San Rafael, and can take over an hour and a half to get to San Rafael from San Francisco!

    So getting stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic is what’s got me more inclined to go automatic; it’s not like I’m a particularly good driver, anyway, so I’m not getting the most out of a 5-speed.

    I finally test drove a Mustang convertible, and it was about like I’d heard: great looking outside, nice-enough looking but bare bones inside (to make them more like the originals, I guess), with a lot of power that you have to be a better driver than I am to really appreciate. The biggest problem with the Mustang, for somebody like me, is that they don’t make a version with the GT’s body but the V6 engine. I’m not a good enough driver to make use of the V8. And once you add the GT stuff, it stops being an “affordable convertible” and starts being “as much as a used BMW, for Ford aficionados.”

    The only ones that are really in my price range, and not “I could do it but I’d be feeling it for the next few years,” would be either an ugly-ass Toyota Camry, or one of those ambiguously gay roadsters. Plus, any convertible is going to pretty much double my insurance cost, too. So I think I’d be better off just waiting for nice weather and renting a Mustang for a few days.

    If anyone’s interested: I’ve pretty much decided on the Nissan Altima Hybrid. They’re overpriced for what they are, especially when you add the fancy screen (and why would anybody want a hybrid without the fancy screen?) but the tax credit knocks down the price a good bit, and an extra 6 or 7 miles per gallon should help in the long-term. Plus I can pat myself on the back for being earth-friendly without making any genuine sacrifice at all, which really is the American way.

    And I can get the sunroof and pretend that it’s a convertible.

  6. Rain Avatar

    The Altima looks a lot nicer than the Pius–ur, PRius–that’s for sure, especially because it doesn’t have that stupid, tiny little gear shift on the dashboard. That and that alone would keep me from buying a Prius.

    Does this Altima have that weird pseudo-manual gear system? I’ve driven a few cars that have that, including the Mini, and it was just weird. If you drive it in that mode, it was like driving a stick without a clutch, so basically it was just a really jerky ride. I don’t get the point of it at all.

    And the screen thing is awesome, especially if it comes with a camera that turns on when you put it in reverse. Particularly good for spotting little children who decide to sit behind your car and play jacks right before you back out of a spot. Happens more than you’d think.

  7. Chuck Avatar

    From what I’ve read online, the Altima is basically a Prius without the goofy body and a less goofy interior. I’ve never driven a hybrid of any kind, so I don’t know about the shifting. They claim that it’s smooth throughout, except you get a shudder when it switches between electric and gas.

    The backup camera is kind of a drag, since it could hurt my credibility when I claim I back over children “by accident.” It’s hard enough explaining why I have all that candy taped to my rear bumper. But on the plus side, if I get the car, it’ll be easier to sneak up on blind people.