A little known fact about me (well, maybe not little-known to anyone who has ever had to wait for a cab with me outside a bar while I drunkenly call out car models that pass by) is that I love cars. I can identify car makes and models by the shape of their headlights, I think car shopping is one of the most interesting things in the world, and I once ended a relationship because the guy I was dating mixed up a Hummer and a Tahoe. It was more of a tipping point, you know, the “straw that broke the camel’s back” since I’m not that cold-hearted, but still.
It’s not like I grew up in a world of antique car shows or even a world where my parents bought more than one car every 15 years. My friends’ parents all drove Sunfires and Corollas.
I’m sure it all spawned from listening to the dinner table talk, where my autobody-shop-working dad told stories of hilarity about rich people who kept wrapping their Corvettes around poles and whatnot. Do you even know how much paint costs for a Bentley?!? Here’s a hint: Watch out for poles when backing your 150 thousand dollar car up.
So I took a passive interest in cars. It’s not like I sat there with flash cards every night trying to memorize the slight differences between a Blazer and a Jimmy, but I still knew that your parents drove a Ford Winstar, not a Dodge Caravan you idiot.
I even had my own dream car growing up! A very specific one, too:
I remember almost crying when we got a flyer in the mail advertising the new 5th gen Mustang. The front grill! What did they do? Oh my god!!
I learned to accept it eventually.
Although I can out-do, or at least keep up with, any of my macho guy friends when they talk about cars, sometimes my knowledge makes for an embarrassing moment.
Every industry has its own slang, I presume. Sometimes you don’t realize that maybe not everyone grew up learning about cars from a blue-collar father who worked in a body shop. Not everyone.
In grade 11, I rolled into my math exam looking extra frazzled, I suppose. There is a certain amount of frazzled-ness appropriate for writing an exam on advanced functions, but I guess I surpassed that because everyone was asking me what happened.
“My tranny died,” I replied.
The night before my car had broken down (at 11:30 pm, no less. I didn’t do so well on that exam.) Apparently the radiator went bust and the transmission seized since it was getting no fluid. I pulled over quickly so the transmission turned out to be okay, but at this point I was still under the impression I was going to have to pay 3 grand to fix a car that was purchased 3 weeks before.
My curious friends looked at me with blank stares on their faces and said nothing.
And that’s when I realized that to the minds of 17 year olds with bankers as parents, a “tranny” is not a transmission.
I’m looking forward to the Canadian International Auto Show this week. There’s something about shiny new cars that I’m able to sit in that makes me so happy. It’s the small things in life, isn’t it?
If I can somehow spin a post about the CIAS without making it some boring bueller-like “look at this car, now this one, this one, this one is black, this one is pretty” post, you’ll be seeing that soon.