The Texture Of Things

It’s All About Meme

November 16th, 2006

So my “I’ve never” meme has instigated quite a bit of conversation here at Ye Olde Tot House. My “Casino Windsor is not the same as Canada” comment first drew HG out of hiding (at home, not in the comments), leading him to call the statement “rude” and to imply that I’m prejudiced. I think. I wasn’t quite clear on what he wanted to call me, just that I ought to address that and correct myself. I did, I think. I’m not sure that what I edited the entry to say was any better, though. I’m trying, is all I can say, to be specific and of course not to offend, but the harder I try, the worse it gets. Such is my life. Welcome to it.

The very next day, HG approached me in disbelief. “Do you want to drive a foreign car? How have you never driven a foreign car?” (Or something like that. Frankly, I’m surprised he’s even reading this blog.) No, it’s not that, it’s just that I haven’t. I have ridden in them, but I’ve never driven one. No biggie. It is what it is.

It led me to think about cars, where I live, how I was raised, who I married, etc.

My whole life up until I went to college, the cars in my family were all F*ords. My grandfather was the local dealer, and even when he retired he maintained ownership of the dealership and leased it out. Part of the lease agreement was that all his kids and their immediate families would get killer deals on new F*ords from that dealer. So, it follows only logically that we all drove F*ords. They were cheap, and because my aunts and uncles all grew up working in the dealership, they knew all the people in the service department. For the only time in history, repairs done at a dealership were done quickly and cheaply.

Slowly, though, Grandpa’s reign of F*ord-ness lifted, and my uncle bought an Oldsm*obile. My mom and my aunt each got a P*ontiac. They all came back to F*ord for their next cars, but it was a start of an end. In the last few years of my Grandpa’s life, my mom temporarily drove a D*odge, my uncle bought his wife a Sub*aru (she liked the ads), my other uncle has a Ch*evy and his kids have owned an Oldsm*obile and a Ch*evy. None of these were to the exclusion of F*ords, merely in addition to them.

Looking at it now, I wonder what kind of power my Grandpa had over us all that the most adventurous we got was to buy GM. (The D*odge was a used Colt that my mom only had for a few months, until my Grandma told her they were worried about her in “that little car,” so instead of selling their T*aurus, they gave it to her, just to get her out of the D*odge.) For me, I married into a GM-loyal family and have had to withstand no end of hassling about my F*ords.

But where am I now? Before the tot was born, I was determined to get a H*onda Ci-vic Hy*brid. I didn’t care that it was Japanese, or maybe I did. I wanted a hybrid, and I knew that Japanese had the best hybrid technology, circa 2002-4. I am still determined that my next car will be a hybrid or will utilize alternative fuel in one way or another, but the acquisition of that car is a long way off. For now, I’m driving domestic. Old school fuel.

Maybe it wasn’t just my Grandpa’s influence, though. Maybe his iron fist merged with our regional influence to create an all-domestic-all-the-time approach to vehicle purchases.

Bloggers who live in other areas of the country and the world see Detroit with differently biased eyes**, particularly when it comes to transportation. We in Michigan depend on our cars, our cars are a part of us and an expression of us, our cities and land are sculpted by the roads we have built for our cars. And we love them. And we thirty-somethings have had it drilled into us our whole lives that we are supposed to support our state, support our people, support the businesses that keep them working, even if it’s just an entry level job at a nearby plant.

So every time I have gotten ready to buy a car (which has only been two so far in my adult life), I have ended up with domestic at or near the top of my list, and eventually in my driveway. I haven’t meant to, but I have done it. But it has, lately anyways, been accompanied by talk of disintigrating boundaries. So many “domestic” cars are built in other countries that it’s about time to consider buying foreign in order to support people in our neighborhoods, those working for “foreign” companies but making cars “domestically.” Assuming that’s still my primary goal, of course.

This is my moment in time. I wonder what we will think about manufacturing, transportation, industry, and geography in twenty years. I wonder what the future holds for Detroit, for Michigan.

**I think people who live in cities with mass transit are less likely to understand our relationship with our cars, here in the Motor City. That’s okay, but I hope that when people make suggestions about getting people here out of cars and into mass transit, they realize how difficult a change it would be for us. For pete’s sake, we don’t even have carpool lanes. (At least not any that reach all the way out to the ‘burbs.)

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