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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

… My Chevy Van, And That’s All Right With Me

As is known by at least half of the people I come into contact with every day, the’98 Buick Le Sabre, a lane-wide car requiring a 12-point-turn to head the other way and most of your paycheck to fill with gas has endured a number of procedures from a number of shade-tree mechanics.

And it still does not run.

This is not about that car.

Instead, I would like to take this time to pay homage to our replacement vehicle, Big Willie’s father’s conversion van, a means of transportation with less maneuverability and only slightly better mileage than Apollo 13.

Have you ever driven a ’92 Chevy Van?

It’s a living room on wheels, an upholstered monstrosity with room for 10 (15 if they’re friends), a fold-out bed, wood paneling, a TV.

A TV! I know!

And there’s a ladder up the back of it for you to climb if you want to strap your luggage to the roof.

As an aside, my friend Jenn, a short yet clever woman, grew up believing that at the top of the ladder on her father’s Chevy Van was a pool.

As of last weekend, wherein we crawled, beers in hand, in, over, and around the van, she has seen no reason to change that belief.

I learned to drive in a conversion van. The words “Check your mirrors! Check your mirrors!” are firmly embedded in the wrinkly grooves of my brain.

“I hear you! I hear you already!”

So of course my clipping the telephone pole in the alley the other day came as a complete surprise.

In my defense, that lousy van, with the added width of the side mirrors, is deceptively large. Luckily, the passenger-side-mirror, while making a terrific and sphincter-clenching noise, folded against the van exactly as it was designed to do.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s no Le Sabre. The van doesn’t seem to recognize the scent of a good garage sale, has a top speed of 62 miles an hour (when going downhill), and requires a gas-infusion every half-block.

Still, we are grateful for it; and should we find ourselves unable to pay the mortgage, we know we’ll have somewhere to stay.

29 comments:

Scrappy Doo said...

My mom had one of those and it brought a whole new meaning to the phrase "Land Barge" and Mobile home hehehe

suZen said...

Brings back memories of my NINE years driving a Ram Van (we camped with the kids during summer and that was the ONLY time it was handy!) I ended up being THE car pool mom - ugh - and the thing had no traction. I was "stuck" on a flat parking lot on ice at the library and had to get pushed. Needless to say, this was far from the only embarrassment encountered over the years. In defense of it (must I???) I did like the vent windows - those little triangles that swung out upfront so you could direct the breeze when you topped off at 60!

Diane said...

This made me think of the car my best friend drove in high school... it was an ancient (even then) Lincoln Continental... I could stretch out in the back seat and not touch either door (and I am NOT a short but clever girl). You could sit on the back seat, extend your legs, and still not touch the front seat. Amazing. She wanted me to drive it one day. Yeah. No. Had I done so, I'd imagine 'sphincter-clenching sounds' would have been heard all around!

C. Andres Alderete said...

There's no pool on the roof of your van? It's standard on the ltz model.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

A fold-out bed?

I knew I was paying too much in rent.

Douglas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Douglas said...

The last van I drove (or owned, for that matter) was a former telephone company van, a 1961 Ford Econoline, which I purchased for a measly $300 (minus the $50 I got for the interior drawers and hardware). The name was definitely a misnomer even though it had a small (almost toy-like) 6 cyl engine that had difficulty powering it up the driveway (with no headwind), it got surprisingly poor mileage. Still, I paneled and carpeted the interior (thereby, cleverly adding weight) and a 12x2 8 foot hunk of the heaviest wood I could find for a front bumper (which had mysteriously disappeared. We took it camping a grand total of... lemme see... once.

maureen said...

We had friends with a huge van. Cushy, TV, it was great. My kids speak about it fondly to this day.

Joanie M said...

You said conversion van and the first thing I thought of was "If this van's rockin', don't bother knockin'!"

ladyfi said...

Lousy van and why on earth did that pole just jump in front of you like that?

@eloh said...

You made me remember all those short trips with my "short bus". Parking at the bank made my brain hurt.

Ann's Rants said...

my friend Jenn, a short yet clever woman

I read this as: my friend Jenn, of a short yet clever woman

and wondered why you forgot to hyperlink her blog name.

LOL!

Here's to smooth sailing!

Kavi said...

ha ha !!

I am glad that it is paid up. And if the mortgage payments have an insurance cover.

And psst...the chinese have bought the Hummer. And it soon will be on sale too...

now..i hear they always give exchange offers...!!

f8hasit said...

My mom used to drive this BIG wide Caddy when I was growing up. Just as wide, maybe wider than the van and used just as much gas, I'm sure.

I learned to drive in that mammoth vehicle. It is precisely because of that that I am the best driver on the road today....besides YOU of course! Damn pole.

powdergirl said...

I'm hip to your groove, Pearl.
Totally ridiculous to have a TV instead of a bong in your van.
Coupla good pulls and you won't even need the mirrors anymore,never mind the windshield, you'll just feeeel your way through road hazards,small crowds and lamp standards.
Ciao Baby.

Not The Rockefellers said...

Pearl, I learned how to drive behind the wheel of a Ford Econoline...Parallel parked that beast and everything
When the time came for my driver's ed test I had to use the state car. Suddenly everything was so much easier."Is that it?" I said after the test...I passed with flying colors and I owe it all to that damn van.

Peace - Rene

Mandy's Kidding said...

My first car was a Buick Electra 225. I could turn and turn and turn that wheel and still wouldn't get around that corner.

Ha.

But boy, was it a smooooove ride.

De Campo said...

....in a van down by the river.

Chris said...

We had a van when I was a kid and it was awesome. This was in the pre-seatbelt law era when no one cared if their kids were flung around like rag dolls. Dad put in a table and benches, and we had a blast.

Fancy Schmancy said...

That brings me back to 1988 when 6 of us spent a summer following the Greatful Dead around the country. Good times, and my god I am old!

Comedy Goddess said...

I'd hate to be the one who has to wash it.

Beth said...

And it has a pool and TV. What more could you need?

I'm short. Does that make me clever by default? Or just short?

fingers said...

What exactly is a conversion van ??
I mean what was it before it was converted...

KMcJoseph said...

I thought the ladder was so that you can dance on top of the van like in Teen Wolf.

Ugich Konitari said...

Pearl,

You will actually feel like a Toyota Prius(or whatever), when you hear that cars have been made to "run" by folks, who pushed their feet down through the corroded car floor, and what else, run; while the driver navigated, and managed a weakly oscillating piston in mostly dead cylinders.....The only restriction was that (a) those whose feet touched the road had to run in unison, and (b) you couldnt step on cow dung .....

Joanna Jenkins said...

A ladder? You can climb up there and get a suntan :-)

Lisa said...

well, they say a change is as good as a holiday

Pearl said...

I am so, SO sorry to be so SO far behind on everything but work.

Coupla things:

You people crack me up.
My first van was a 64 Ford something or other. Shag carpeting on the roof kind of thing. powdergirl, there may or may not have been a bong involved -- I don't remember. :-)
Fancy, following the Grateful Dead sounds like a lot of fun, actually. I'da done it! Beth, YES -- being short automatically makes one clever. Not sure why -- might be a consolation prize for all those things you miss by way of being too short to see them (I'm 5'4" -- definitely NOT SHORT) and Fingers? I have no idea what the "conversion" bit means. I think it means that it's been converted from just a big ol' van to a rolling heap o'love, but I could be wrong about that.

Could be.

:-D

SweetPeaSurry said...

I've never driven the 'chevy van' -- although we did have one -- however, at times I have to use my dad's 'monster truck' and I'm not lying. This is a HUGE ARSE TRUCK and could literally be ran in a monster truck rally. I detest driving that truck, but it simply hauls more than my little SUV does. *sighs*