Despite her thinking that the De Tomaso Pantera is an ’80s heavy metal band, my wife recently gave me the best car-related advice I’ve ever heard.
Now, my wife knows plenty about a lot of things. She’s more than qualified to give me advice on which wine to order at a fancy restaurant. Or on the most efficient path through Whole Foods that takes me past the cold beer before check-out. Or how to stay cool and have a constructive conversation after my son splashes out half the bath water onto the floor for the 3,687,241st time.
I’d trust her advice on almost anything in the world.
But not when it comes to cars.
She knows next to nothing about them. Other than she prefers silver ones and thinks I drive way too fast. Which to be fair, maybe I do.
But that overpriced 4-pack of craft beer isn’t going to stay cold on its own.
It happened on the way home from dinner 3 months ago. I’d been eyeing a new car, and decided it was time to present my case. Not for the Corvette she knew I’d been pining after for the better part of a year. No, I’d decided it was time to make the “right” choice.
And that choice was a handsome, practical, four-door, midsize 2010 BMW 535i.
It was THE car. The do-it-all’er.
The car we could comfortably drive down to visit my parents every weekend. The car that could swallow all the kids’ basketball and soccer gear with room to spare. The car we could road-trip to Maryland in this winter.
And – thanks to the twin-turbocharged inline six and M Sport package – THE car that would put a smile on my face with every wide open throttle pull…which would only take place in a completely legal and controlled environment, of course.
I had finally (sorta) put my responsibilities to my family over my own immature desires. I was expecting praise and adulation.
But before I’d even made it past “…handsome, practical -” she cut me off with an exasperated “Are you serious?!”
Well…yeah. See honey, I’ve done some soul-searching – a kind of spirit quest if you will – to find my inner adult, and –
“There is NO WAY I’m letting you buy that car.”
Luckily, before my pride wrote a check that the living room couch would have to cash, she said something that would change our lives forever.
And for once, she wasn’t holding a pregnancy test.
She reminded me that I’d performed this little song and dance before. After learning we were pregnant four years ago, I traded in my Honda S2000 (and a small piece of my soul) for a Volkswagen Passat. It was, at the time, the “right” choice. It was “practical.”
And she had seen what “practical” had done to me.
How my shoulders would slump as I left in the mornings. How new forehead wrinkles would appear every time a french fry fell between a seat. How I’d stifle a yawn every time we merged onto the highway with its leave-me-alone-I’ll-get-there-when-I-get-there acceleration.
For some guys, their pressure release valve is a Sunday on the couch watching the game. Or working around the house. Or an underground fight club. She knew a fast, loud, and completely impractical car was mine.
For better or for worse, it helped make me a better father and husband.
She’d be damned if she was going to stand by while I withered away behind the wheel of another sedan. She was afraid of what that would do to the man she married.
She was also afraid she’d have to kill me when I’d decide we needed to drop tens of thousands of dollars on its inevitable replacement six months later. She told me to shove practicality and get myself one of those DiGiorno Panther things I’d told her about. Or whatever.
I knew there was no point in arguing. She’d already made the right choice for me. For us.
So fellow dads, moms, and all those in between – I’d like to pass on this sage advice:
Whatever it is that gives you even the smallest bit of genuine joy – don’t compromise on it.
And make sure you find someone with the balls to point that out to you, whether you ask her to or not.
I now drive a pristine, one-owner, Electron Blue 50th Anniversary Corvette Z06.
It’s true what they say: happy wife, happy life.
But more VROOM-VROOM makes a happy groom.