So, 15 years of working to convince me that my minivan and I are cool, and now the car industry has turned on its heels and we minivan owners are supposed to suddenly decide that we are all washed up.
There it was in "The Minivan is Dead. Long Live the Minivan?" by Matt Vella in The Wall Street Journal this week. Vella writes: "Long stigmatized as terminally unhip suburban kid transporters, minivans have been facing a reckoning of sorts of the past year, with some manufacturers giving up on the segment altogether." Apparently, Ford is finished with them. General Motors will soon follow. Why? Because minivan sales are plummeting. "Crossovers," sort of large truck/car combos, are now all the rage.
One minute the car industry is courting me, now it is dissing me. What is that?
To add insult to injury, Wes Brown, head of the L.A. automotive marketing firm Iceology, told the Journal that, ultimately, the minivan "is a symbol of being stuck in the rut of having a family."
Uh, yeah. That's me. The "rut woman."
Now listen up, my automotive friends. Don't mess with me. Back in the mid-1990s, when I had only a couple of very young kids, I wrote that I'd rather endure a root canal than drive a minivan. Then shortly after baby No. 3 came along, everything changed. You helped it to change. I took a test drive in a minivan "for grins" and I was hooked.
And in 2003, when it was time to change cars again and baby No. 4 was 2 years old, there was no going back. I wrote then about how I salivated over the arrival of my new Toyota Sienna minivan. I still have it and, together, the van, the four kids and I have been through a lot and we are going strong.
Do you know what sold me, the rut woman, on the minivan? It was the sliding passenger doors. Yes, the sliding doors, which apparently define the minivan and the rut woman and make me so unhip. Brown told the Journal: "Frankly, sliding doors are what give minivans open access, but that's what makes them uncool."
Back up, pal. Here's the definition of "cool":
Running out the door, consistently 18 minutes late to everything, and yelling to the children, "Kids, get into the car!," and hitting the button so that the doors open by remote. There are no worries that my kids are going to slam the car next to them as they get in and out, no concerns that I'm going to be standing there, resting grocery bags on their heads while I try to open the doors.
You know what's cool? Dropping off a child somewhere, and easily popping the door closed behind him or her by the touch of a button. No slammed doors, just a gentle hum as it slides back into place. One less thing to worry about.
But apparently loving that feature is what makes me a rut woman. At least that's what Vella says. You know what? I'd like to get my uncool sliding car doors around Vella's presumably very hip neck and tell him what I think about his trying to redefine my entire life.
Look. It took me a while to get to a place of peace in my unhip life. But I'm here now. I get that I'm the opposite of so-hip writer Carrie Bradshaw in "Sex and the City." This writer and single mom of four is "No Sex and the Suburbs," and I'm OK with that! I'm over hip. Hip got me nowhere.
I'm sensible shoes, and sales at Target, and sliding doors on my minivan and now Brown and his oh-so-hip pals, who helped to sell me on the whole deal to begin with, want to take it away and pronounce me so yesterday.
Well, Brown and friends, here's the thing: I'm not going anywhere. I'm finally at an age and stage in life when I am A-OK with uncool. It's manageable, definable, achievable and so very comfortable. It's even kinda fun. It works, it fits, and you'll have to pry the minivan you worked so hard to get me to buy in the first place out of my cold, dead grip. Get over it.
You know what? That felt really cool.