So I went out with this guy. He looked good. He was older, but he was in pretty good shape. After his buddy had checked me out, we zipped around the corner and started getting to know each other. I slid from one gear to another, and I thought we were getting somewhere. Now we were on our way.
Suddenly, he started to sputter and his lights flashed. Luckily my dad was chaperoning, and as I cried out, “Is it me?” I had a witness to reassure me. “No, it’s not you,” he said firmly. “Something is wrong.” (Also, my guy was a Miata, so he might have been gay.)
It took me the rest of the evening to shake off the nerves. The whole reason I was car shopping was to buy something safer and more reliable than the old car I already owned. And then I go and pick a loser off the lot, my first go-round.
Would you rather go test driving cars, or on a first date, or apartment hunting? This was the little game I played with myself to evaluate my stress level on the way home.
On a test drive, you only have to slightly offend the seller when things go wrong. The guy at the dealership didn’t look happy when we explained that the cute roadster was bucking. It’s certainly easier to turn down a car salesman than a second date, and you don’t have to worry too much that the seller will reject you. On the other hand, there is usually alcohol offered on a date, which is soothing. Test driving cars doesn’t jibe well with moderate drinking, at least from a legal perspective.
I was apartment hunting a year and a half ago. If I did not have a deadline for the move (they were clearing the whole building), it would not have been so bad. But I was about to lose my home. Standing in a dark apartment with a potential landlord, being visually assaulted by hideous fake walnut 1970s kitchen and a view of a condemned, collapsing house was awkward. I wanted to say, “Whoa, I’m not this poor.” I ended up paying less rent for a nicer place. And my chosen landlord volunteered to renovate the kitchen before I moved in. So poverty wasn’t even the issue.
I have is an extreme bias in favor of the status quo. Even if my new apartment has an adorable niche for a writing desk, or my own parking spot off the street, it’s hard for me to imagine any place my home except, you know, my home. My car now, dilapidated as it is, has a familiarly soft clutch, and I know just how to set my coffee cup in there so that it won’t spill too much. Things are prettier, shinier, when you first meet them. Unfortunately, I’m too nervous and skeptical to smile at shine.
Even with all these hangups as distraction, I am still seeking that special manual transmission Japanese convertible. So if you run into one, please give him my number.