Friday, January 23, 2004

We have a new addition in our garage now -- a tan 2001 Chevy Prizm that has brought with it some notable novelties. For one thing, it’s the first car in the Stahlhut household ever to have an automatic transmission. (I’m sure that when we switch back and forth between its driver’s seat and that of the Mazda, hilarious complications will ensue.)

The second novelty: For the first time since approximately 1995, we have taken on some consumer debt. We did this simply because the interest on a car loan will cost us less money than would the loss of interest we’d incur by switching funds between bank accounts and paying for the car immediately. That’s a particularly strange feeling; we paid cash for the Mazda in 1992, paid off our home mortgage in three years instead of 12, and exchanged all our credit cards for debit cards not long afterwards. Compared to the typical American debt load, ours is tiny, but it represents something of a paradigm shift for Rick and me.

The Colt was interred this afternoon in a conventional junkyard, after our trusted mechanic referred to the towers-of-silence proprietors as “idiots”. Rick and I were truly shaken to see the Colt driven away for the last time, but there’s also now the excitement of having a new puppy to take the place of our beloved old hound. The Prizm’s color so closely matches that of the Mazda that we should quickly come to think of them as siblings -- one moody teenager and one (we hope) resilient three-year-old. Because Michigan permits transfer of license plates between vehicles and said transfer also saved us some time and money, the Prizm has inherited the Colt’s old plate. I’m reminded of the traditional good-luck accessories for a new bride. The Prizm is new and borrowed. The plate is old and blue. The new car has to fill the very big wheelprints of its very small predecessor. The surviving elder vehicle gets to retire to local duties and build more slowly on its astounding current accumulation of 244,000 miles. With luck, this will work out well for all of us. Watch this space.


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