We love our families even if, on occasion, we don’t like them all that much. Families are not something we choose, though we do choose our partners and who we want to be with. But kids don’t really turn out to our “expectations” and we are pretty sure our parents would vociferously agree to this. We cannot customize families; they are what they are and we have to make the best of it with them.
Now, this is where our cars step in. It’s a bit strange to compare cars with families but for most of us who spend a lot of time on the road and in traffic, cars become our second homes. The good thing about families is that they know our flaws and accept us, while gently trying to steer us in a better direction. And we do the same for them.
The great thing about cars is that they don’t judge, period. Keep the car clean and in good health and it won’t ever give up on you. Or cheat on you. Or try to change you. Or want you to be the best version of you (that you certainly aren't being right here, right now).
So it’s only natural for us to love the car right back. We live in a car for a big part of the day, are dependent on it, spend time with it and basically, make it part of our family, insentient as it may be. Ask any gearhead and they’ll tell you that there are things we do for our cars that we won’t even do for our families, as silly as it may sound. Read up and have a good laugh…
Face it: kids will have the flu, the cough, the colds, and the fevers. The husband will moan about his back or his stiff neck, and the wife is best left alone some certain times. When people fall ill, we worry but do not wring our hands, and people get better. One cough from the car, though, can send the calmest of us into a frenzy. What if the car goes bad or just breaks down in the middle of the road on way to the office? What if it needs to go to the workshop, and how long will it have to stay there? The concerns pile up quicker than dirty dishes.
When the kid asks for a new phone, you tighten up the purse strings. And there is only so much you will let the wife spend on trinkets or the husband spend on his den, right? But talk about better alloys, or a spoiler, or customized Nappa leather seats for your ride and signing the checks becomes that much easier. The ride becomes an essential part of our family and we want to do everything to make her look beautiful and make it all the more comfortable.
Spring is considered the best season but it does bring along allergies due to pollen in the air. It becomes painful as you are sneezing all the time and you can’t really breathe properly at times and your eyes water because of all this. The best your family can do in this tough time is to make you some chicken soup. According to Cars, though, your modern car is well-equipped to handle this bad situation, as it is capable of filtering out almost 80% of pollen and pollutants from the cabin. So your car can actually make you better, while the family can only make you feel better!
Go out with family and your kids want the fries, the wife wants the diet coke, and you are left with a soggy piece of burger mash you didn’t want in the first place. Eating out with family can definitely be skipped in a heartbeat, but eating out in the car? Now that’s a sweet piece of heaven! You are dining out with your best girl while barreling down gorgeous highways. The whole experience feels like a picnic on the move, minus the soggy mash.
You don’t choose your family but you can choose your car tribe. You instantly connect with the guys who own the same brand of car that you own, even if they are a stranger and merely exchange pleasantries. That’s, indeed, an amazing feeling. However, on the other hand, with family, the sense of oneness can slip away, though the love remains intact always. Yelling, screaming kids at home? Not so much a tribe, is it? Neither are the endless chores that take away your freedom.
The moment you get your hands on your dream ride, the cold sweats start. You don’t want a dent, a scratch, or even a leaf to fall on it. You want it protected and glossy, like new, forever, always. Be it the interiors or the exteriors, does the family home, or furniture, or even the refrigerator compare? Nah! Just because of these nightmares, we usually end up spending a good amount of time with our prized rides on a regular basis.
Most of us want it to shine, enough to make others green with envy. (Not if we aren’t car proud, that is.) But did we listen to our moms asking us to clean our room? We didn’t think so! We get the best of cleaning products from the market and, at times, spend a good amount of money on them, too. Getting the car cleaning stuff becomes more important than clearing the laundry, for that matter. And we are awash with a sense of achievement once the car is sparkling, a feeling akin to probably winning an Oscar (though we wouldn't even keep that statuette as clean as our ride, obviously).
The house smells of paint. She wants you to move the couch. And outside, there’s a freshly paved road just patiently waiting for you to take those wheels out for a spin. Which task wins? The newly paved road, of course. The paint job at home is more like a beautification chore that is waiting to be done for the comfort of the family. However, on the other hand, a freshly made road is always a divine temptation. Who wouldn’t want to chuck the chores and take the beauty out for a spin, right?
Sunday is mostly supposed to be a family day. Play ball with the kids, fix the leaky faucets, and finish that mountain of laundry. But more often than not, the car-crazy imp in us wants us to hit the open road—preferably with the top down. And more often than not, the car on the open roads wins, even if the family also tags along. Sitting cooped up at home versus being out there? The latter usually (always) wins, hands down.
What if the kiddo ate candy with dirty hands? Or picked up a Cheerio off the floor and popped it in her mouth? Builds immunity, right? But if they smear jam in the car, chances are our loyalties will be with the car! If you have planned for a family vacation and you are going to drive all the way up to that destination, your car’s rear seats turn into a dining and play area for your toddlers. Sure, it hurts our auto sensibilities, but then what can you do but clean up afterward?
When was the last time we soulfully looked at the love of our lives? If it’s our car, chances are we just came back after a bout of car gazing. And we are already itching to do it again. We don’t miss any single opportunity to look at it and admire its interiors and exteriors, again and again. After all, we have made the most sensible decision of our life by acquiring such a valued beauty. We are proud of everything attached to it. Candlelight dinners with better halves can wait!
Bored of the paint? Get a wrap. Engine not quite beefy enough? Swap it out. Too hot for a drive? Make it a convertible. See, cars are customizable and you can change them to suit your mood and tastes, and do so at will. Family, though, not so much! Families remain the same, and the more you try to “customize” them, the less they tend to cooperate. No one can have a perfect partner, kids, or family. But we can certainly have the perfect ride to ferry ourselves and the family around in.
Car sounds are music to the ears of any respectable gearhead. And each car has distinct sounds. The roar of the engine as you rev the car, the sound of gravel as you drive over rough roads, the screech of the tires as you pull a fast one. You never get tired of these sounds. But hang around with the family enough and the kids’ screams can get on even the steadiest of nerves. Of course, most people still love their families more than their cars, but sometimes we do “like” our car a darn sight (or sound) more…
We are connected with our cars; the engine purr resonates in our heart, the wheels pump the blood faster. So many times, we lose touch with our families but we never lose touch with our rides. We miss them when we are away for a business trip or even a family vacay abroad. The modern dream machines are so good that they are fully armed to give their masters the best possible comforts. These manmade machines take care of you and your loved ones, unconditionally.
There is something in us that wants our cars to be sentient. We want KITT (from Knight Rider) and Bumblebee and even Herbie to be real and we want a piece of them for ourselves, as well. Is that too bad? We also tend to fall in love with heroes and their cars: like Detective Bullitt and the Bullitt Mustang. Or Clive Owen’s BMW-driven shorts. Or even Ryan Gosling in Drive. You don’t fall much in love with onscreen families though: it’s just the Hollywood cars and the humans associated with them.
We often have a problem with the oddballs in our family; the cousin who talks too loud or the eccentric aunt to has to dress up only in red and yellow. But the oddball cars we welcome with open arms. So what if the DMC DeLorean did not have enough guts to carry it in style—the gullwing doors more than made up for a slow engine. (As did its appearance in the Back To The Future franchise.) For the normal auto world to exist, the oddballs have to pop up. And the oddballs of today, sometimes, become the face of tomorrow, as well.
When was the last road trip you took with the family? What do you remember about it the most? If you had young kids, chances are you remember the endless fights and the parental threats you had to negotiate tirelessly to resolve. Or the endless pit stops for food or bathrooms. But when you drive alone, there’s blessed silence. Just the open road, the car, and a journey you’d remember for all that you got to experience. Though you will miss the family—for sure, definitely, at least a little bit.
The first time you walk home from school all by yourself, the first time you cook a meal, the first time you were allowed to go to the movies: all these firsts pale in comparison to the first day you could get behind the wheel of a car and drive because you now had the license to do so. Getting your DL is a big day in your life and very few of us forget the day, or even the date, right? On that note, when’s the better half’s birthday?
We often like perfection, especially when it comes to friends and families. We want well-behaved kids and attentive partners and parents who are there for us but don’t dispense too much advice. So we try to remove all the flaws in our family. But what about our cars? We fall in love with the squeaky door or the sputtery horn. The flaws in our cars are not only accepted by us but also loved. For the family, though, we always want better.
Do you remember the first time you opened the hood of a car? Most of us would. It’s like an indelible memory that never fades away. The first time, it feels alien. You don’t know what you are doing. Soon, the familiarity begins to set in. You know what to do when something goes wrong. You get to recognize the weak points of your car. And before you know it, tinkering turns into a fulltime hobby. But how many of us keep on working on our relationships or on strengthening the bonds with our loved ones late into a Sunday night in the dimly lit garage?
There is only so much freedom we have in our own home once we have a family around; though of course, bachelor pads are a whole new scenario. But we are our own masters when in our cars, even if the people driving by us are whipping their heads around to have a better look at our loony behavior. With the windows rolled up, we are in a cocoon where it is okay to even belt out the most soulful melodies in the most raucous of voices!
Of course, if it’s the kids, it’s the time out for them. But if its two cars going head to head, or neck to neck in development, or racing—or just about anything—we egg the cars on to fight harder and faster. We have our personal favorites in cars and we don’t mind voicing our opinions to the world. Thankfully, we do not do this to our families and at least in this case, it’s a good thing. Relationships do not survive favoritism, but auto giants certainly do.
When you buy a car, you know its top speed, its torque, and its horsepower. Once you take it out for a spin, you know what it is capable of. You know its highs and lows and you accept them and buy it and own it with pride. The same does not go for families; you always want more from your loved ones, right? We always expect more from our families and often do not give them any leverage. But cars, on the other hand, we only expect what they can possibly do.
The scent of a brand new car is a tad mesmerizing, even if the cast of The Scent Of A Woman might disagree. A new car smells like a slice of heaven; there is that new leather, new car smell. As a car gets older, there’s a slight odor of gasoline that begins to overlap with the whiff of leather. Now, we may not love the smells of the kitchen when the better half cooks, or the children's stinky bathroom at home anymore, but the aroma of our car is almost like being home.
Love changes. Sometimes it evolves, sometimes it devolves. You may have a family one day and not have one the next day. Also, you do not “own” your family—they are not your possessions and have to be treated with love and respect, and rightfully so. The partner may decide to up and leave, and the kids, too, fly away from their nests. According to Road and Track, though, the car remains yours, now and forever. And if you show it love by keeping it right, it will love you right back with an engine's sweet purr.
Sources: Road And Track, Wikipedia, and Cars.