Advertisements for luxury cars appeal to a desire to be “cool” by appearing wealthy. You have seen them — Cadillac, Lexus, Lincoln, Acura, Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar, and Porsche. If you get one of those, your status with neighbors, friends and strangers who see you drive it, will undoubtedly increase. I have succumbed to that myself, so I am not writing this to be self-righteous; rather, I am writing to tell you about the opposite of status. I am writing about my personal degradation.
Miss Sugar, my trophy wife, and I have a vehicle which has humiliated me, but not her. Apparently, her self esteem is more secure than my own. There are many reasons for her to have good self esteem, including being a former beauty queen and professional model. I, on the other hand, am a fragile creature.
As a fragile creature, I am self-conscious about being seen in a vehicle with reindeer antlers sticking out on either side and a red “nose” on the grill at Christmas time. I am self-conscious about having a window sign saying “Sugar ‘N Spice Clowns” with the telephone number. As a fragile creature, I cringe at a bumper sticker that says, “I’m not going SLOW, it’s the CLOWN in front of me that is.”
The vehicle so decorated is a 1997 Nissan Pathfinder. Nissan Pathfinders are cool, normally, but our Pathfinder has cheerfully tolerated much abuse in fifteen years, as it traveled 270,000 miles. It runs great. It reliably starts in cold weather. It did not choose its decorations. I empathize with its loss of dignity.
It is integral to your understanding of the loss of dignity to be told that Miss Sugar and daughter Michelle have performed as children’s entertainers in their roles as Sugar ‘N Spice Clowns. Thus the Pathfinder became The Clown Car. (The history of Sugar ‘N Spice Clowns includes a television show and local fame, street performances in Boulder and Fort Collins, county fairs, countless company picnics, and birthday parties, a period of her life that Michelle said she “does not wish to re-visit.”)
I, on the other hand, am not part of the act. My contributions are limited to carrying the cotton candy machine and directing traffic for the lines of children waiting for face-painting and balloon animals. The IBM picnic had at least 150 children. (He also serves who only stands and waits.) As a non-clown, I have nevertheless been transported in and even been seen driving The Clown Car.
As Miss Sugar has phased out of the clown business, The Clown Car has transitioned into becoming The Dog Car. Not wanting to ruin our (other) prestigious luxury SUV purchased in order to gain acceptance in the parking lot at work, we use the Pathfinder to take the dogs with us to their frequent trips to the veterinarian, as well as doggy day care and boarding at “camp” when we go on trips. (See archives for Deadly Dangers at Cross Creek Ranch and Water Dogs).
Consequently, the Pathfinder has acquired an abundance of dog hair, so much so that at one of its infrequent trips to the car wash for a “detailing,” the employee who returned the keys to us remarked, “We vacuumed up half a dog from from your car.”
Even as The Dog Car, the Pathfinder is still equipped with a special horn that offers a selection of sounds, including a siren, machine gun, and five animal sounds. The sound of a cow mooing is the most popular. When our fifteen-year-old nephew visited recently, he delighted in causing the Pathfinder to “moo” at people crossing the street. Last year, while driving “off road” in open range, Miss Sugar thought it funny to have the Pathfinder moo at a herd of cattle near us. Maybe its moo is a recording of a bull or something rude to the ears of cows because we started a stampede.
There is an additional bumper sticker on the Pathfinder. It says, “You have to be real secure to be seen in a car like this.”