The Only People Who Like My New Car Are Men Who Own Car Washes
Women don’t find my car sexy
Photo by Grahame Jenkins
I’ve leased the same car for nine years in a row
I’ve leased the same strange, niche model of BMW for three times in a row, amounting to nearly nine years with the same car. I have to get the identical car all the time because it perfectly suits my need to put surfboards in it on the two or three occasions per year now I actually go surfing.
I don’t like to put my precious surfboards on a roof rack because I do not want them to get stolen. These surfboards are not the foam boards from Costco. These are McCoy surfboards from Australia, and they are works of art. Never mind that I’m so fat now, the boards can hardly float when I’m sitting on them.
The model car I get is called a 335i GT, and the “GT” stands for "Grand Turismo." The car is basically a 3 Series BMW, stretched out and plumped up into a hatchback, for more storage than a standard 3 Series sedan.
In exchange for losing the world-class sportiness and agility of a standard 3 Series, the GT has incredible storage space when you put the back seats down. The GT drives more like a truck on rails, and you sit much higher on the road than the standard 3 Series “Saloon” (fancy word for a car with a fixed back seat and trunk).
It’s not a sedan, or a wagon, or an SUV
In America, we have a stigma against station wagons, so BMW built the car to suit a niche market that I fall into. The Germans stretched out the chassis on the car, to make it longer and roomier.
The chassis is referred to as the “Chinese chassis” because, supposedly, in China, the people like all their cars stretched out with big back seats, so they feel like they are riding in limousines.
I like that concept too- the huge back seat. The backseat in my 335 GT feels even more roomy and luxurious than a 5 Series BMW, and, on the BMW blogs, it is more often compared to the enormous 7 Series back seat. Now, whenever I drive any other car, I feel like the rear seat passengers are sitting on my shoulders.
Europeans, and American car magazine writers, however, love station wagons. They make fun of my GT as being an ugly “Frankenstein” car, for stupid people who aren’t smart enough to like station wagons. The magazines and the blogs laugh at how supposedly unagile and awkward looking the 335 GT looks compared to a wagon.
Crusty old Douchebags (with a capital ‘D”) who have driven BMW’s for decades make fun of my 335 GT and say that the model is an insult to the BMW brand (“rondel” in the trade- meaning the emblem on the hood of the car). These bastards are all wrong, of course, and I am right, and I love the car.
BMW, unfortunately, must have listened to all those cretins, because in 2019, they decided to discontinue the car. So now I have to decide whether to keep mine at the end of my lease.
I may become that guy you see driving a SAAB from 1983. The SAAB that’s out of alignment, going sideways down the road, with the leather bra on the hood, the bent antennae, and the Supertramp bumper sticker.
. . .
I had to upgrade my car when I switched from being an insurance defense attorney to a plaintiff’s personal injury attorney
I used to drive a Mazda Protégé wagon that fit my surfboards just fine. I didn’t mind getting sand in the Mazda, or when the surfboard wax melted on the carpet in the back or on the back seats. The Mazda Protégé was my real “surf wagon.” The trusty ‘ol Protégé suited my job too.
Insurance companies don’t want to see the attorneys working for them driving fancy cars or wearing nice suits. The insurance claims adjusters report back to headquarters, “Hey, Clune seems to be living high on the hog.” Then you get the call from the CEO telling you to cut your fees or they’ll move the account to a cheaper law firm.
All of that changed when I switched to the other side to do exclusively plaintiff’s personal injury cases.
. . .
When you’re a plaintiff’s attorney, the clients want to see you have a nice car
Nearly fifteen years ago, I switched away from defending insurance companies to exclusively representing people injured in accidents, making claims against the insurance companies.
One day, I got a call from a man injured very badly when he fell in a poorly lit area outside a business. Both his arms were broken- so before you make any smart-ass remarks, this was no “Brady Bunch” episode about a fake neck injury. This man was very seriously hurt, and missing time from a high paying job, with his benefits running out.
On the way to the man’s house in my Mazda Protégé that evening, I was nervous and excited to sign up one of my first personal injury cases. I pulled up to the stately mansion in the fancy Banker’s Hill neighborhood. The city skyline lights of San Diego twinkled in the background. I saw a curtain draw back, and two men were staring outside at me as I approached the front door.
Photo by Ján Jakub Naništa
The potential client and his older husband looked me over in the foyer.
“What kind of car is that you drive?” asked the older man, dressed in a silk evening jacket.
“Excuse me?” I said.
“What kind of car is that?” he asked again.
“Um, it’s a Mazda Protégé,” I said. “Limited Edition, with the rubber floor mats.”
“A what?” asked the younger man, whose arms were in two casts, popping out from his silk robe.
“A Mazda Protégé. Silver.” I said.
“I don’t think I’ve ever even heard of that kind of car,” said the older gentleman, with a mildly disgusted expression.
“It’s sort of a hatchback. A sporty hatchback. It’s really good for my surfboards.”
“Oh, . . . “ the older gentleman said with a withering eye roll and a side glance at the younger gentleman.
They signed up with me, but I felt like I was on my heels the whole time. I knew I needed to get a nicer car.
. . .
When I decided to get the BMW GT, my wife Tracy was unusually supportive even though it was expensive
“Yes, that’s a perfect
car for you,” said Tracy, lying in bed.
I was leaning over, showing her the YouTube video on my phone. The car reviewer was explaining that even though lots of people thought the BMW 3 GT was ugly, the car had amazing storage room and was fun to drive.
Something seemed off.
“I’m not going to lie, the monthly payments are going to be way more than the Protégé,” I admitted.
“Well, you’re a plaintiff’s attorney now. You said the clients want to see you drive a nice car — otherwise they think you’re not successful,” said Tracy, turning up the T.V. volume way too loud.
It’s true. I had said that. But now that Tracy was saying it back to me, I didn’t like it. Or I was suspicious, I should say.
“And plus, you’ll be able to fit all your crap in it. When you go to the beach.” Tracy said, over the T.V.
I turned back to my side of the bed. I could not believe how easy it was to convince Tracy I needed to upgrade my car.
“Now Shhh! This is the Housewives Reunion Finale. No talking! This is important. I need to hear this.” said Tracy.
. . .
It’s a very niche audience who likes my car
On a former
friend’s advice, I used a car broker to help me lease the BMW GT the first two times. That’s a story for another day, though. Sadly, the story ends with my broker declaring in a very public place that he wished I go blind and develop low testosterone. I thought that curse was very Old Testament, and way too extreme of him.
The first few weeks driving the BMW GT, I got a couple of compliments- but far fewer than I expected, quite frankly.
“She’s a beauty!” came a gruff voice from behind me.
I was at the car wash, leaning in to grab the three or four straw wrappers off the passenger seat before I turned the keys over to the guy to vacuum the interior. I turned to face a gentleman who looked very much like Yassir Arafat.
“That’s the one with the big back seat- eh?” said the gentleman.
“Yeah. Yes sir,” I said.
“Very nice, very nice. We don’t get many of those here,” he said, making clear to me he owned the car wash and mini-mart.
“BMW’s, yes! Hatchbacks, no!” he said, laughing uproariously.
. . .
A few weeks later, I was pumping gas. Again, a male voice came from the distance behind me.
“Is that one of those new hatchback ones?!” said the voice.
I turned to look, and it was a guy who looked sort of like Brett Favre. He was in a work uniform, coming from a tanker trunk, which said “Danger! Explosive Contents Under Pressure! Stay Back!” on an odd-shaped storage tank.
“I ain’t seen one of these in person yet,” he said, wiping his hands with a small towel as he approached.
“Yes sir. It’s the ‘GT’,” I answered.
“You mind poppin’ the hatch for me to see?” he asked.
I proudly pushed the button on the key remote, and the hatch opened smoothly.
“Oh yeah, look. It’s got plenty of room!” he said. “Plenty of room.”
“Yep,” I said.
“And you know what?” he asked, putting a piece of gum in his mouth.
“What?” I responded.
“It’s not half as ugly as they said it was either.”
. . .
The day my whole world came crumbling downAround the time I leased my first new BMW, a colleague of mine leased a new car too, so he called me to come and see it. Michael got a Jaguar, one of the real sleek, sporty two-seaters, and he was eager to show it off.
“I’m here, where are you?” I asked Mike, talking to him on my cell phone as I got to the office building downtown.
“I’m in the parking garage, coming up through the gate now,” he said.
Sure enough, there was Michael, rolling up the ramp to the street in a silver Jaguar that looked more like an Aston Martin “supercar.” The car was sleek and elegant, but like its namesake, it looked like a predatory animal. It really did look like a Jaguar on its haunches, doing that scary stalking thing that a cat does before it explodes off running to catch its prey.
Mike is about ten years younger than me. He’s a bachelor, and he’s about six feet two inches tall, dark-haired and handsome. Mike speaks with a syrupy Texas drawl, kinda like Matthew McConaughey.
Mike pulled the car up to street level, then he opened the driver’s side door and stepped out, dressed to the nines in his lawyer suit. I could not believe he even fit in the low slung car. The overall impression Mike gave made me think of just two words. Tom Brady.
“Why are you getting out of the car?” I asked.
“You wanna drive?” he said, smiling.
“No, I’ll ride shotgun. I want you to show me what this thing can do.” I said, teasing.
I scooted around the front of the car and got in the passenger seat.
. . .
My God, this is such a tight squeeze, I thought.
I can barely fit. And the center console is so big and bulky. I can’t even get my left arm all the way up on it. I feel like I’m in a race car. I’m glad I don’t have this car! It’s uncomfortable! And I feel so low to the ground. Whew, Thank God! Thank God I didn’t buy a car like this! If I were in my car, I’d run right over the top of this thing.
Mike made a quick right turn onto a busy downtown surface street, then he accelerated fast through the first green light.
“Wow, great acceleration, this is awesome! It’s like the Batmobile!” I said, feigning enthusiasm, but really secretly happy that I liked my car better.
“What kind of wood is this?” I asked, running my finger along the lacquered wood trim on the dashboard.
“Dude, hold on a second,” said Mike. “Check this out.”
As we pulled up to a stoplight, three young women in office attire were standing on the right-hand corner, seemingly on their way to lunch.
“Watch what happens here,” said Mike.
The women gradually took notice of the car. Soon all three were all staring directly at us inside the car. One of the women lowered her sunglasses and made eye contact with Mike.
“Dude, what the hell is going on?” I said through my gritted teeth.
“Yeah, funny isn’t it,” said Mike. “This car’s a babe magnet.”
One of the other girls bent down to look past me and get a better look at Mike.
The light turned green, and Mike peeled out, chuckling and looking in the rearview mirror, smiling.
I looked in the side-view mirror and saw the women all turn to each other and start talking. About Mike, no doubt.
“Awesome, isn’t it?” said Mike.
. . .
At the next light, a car pulled beside us on the driver’s side. Two middle-aged African American women were in the car, and the passenger rolled down her window.
“Hey there! That’s a very nice car you have!” shouted the woman.
Mike pushed the button, and the automatic window rolled down smoothly. The driver of the other car waved at him from behind the passenger.
“Thanks! You ladies havin’ a nice day?” said Mike, with his smooth, goddamn Huckleberry Hound voice.
“We sure are. Did you just get this beautiful car?” the passenger asked Mike.
“Oh, I’ve had it for a little while now. You know, I’m just being lazy with putting the license plate on.”
“Well, that car looks really, really fine on you,” said the passenger, batting her eyelids.
I found myself blushing behind Mike.
“Wow! That’s very kind of you to say,” said Mike. “Well, the light’s green. Sorry to have to say goodbye, ladies!’ said Mike, as he slowly pulled into the intersection.
I thought I saw the passenger blow Mike a kiss, but I might have imagined it.
. . .
I was in complete shock. I felt like the curtain was ripped open to a secret new world I never knew about, or like someone had slipped me a tab of L.S.D. Not that I’ve ever taken L.S.D- but I have seen Yellow Submarine.
“Dude. Does this happen everywhere you go?” I asked.
“Yeah, it’s kinda nutty- huh?” said Mike. “I call this car the ‘Panty Dropper,’” he said, looking over at me smiling in his aviator glasses.
I don’t have any nickname for my car. It never occurred to me to give my car a nickname. What would I even call my car?
‘Bubble Butt?’ ‘The Pack Mule? ‘ ‘Daddy’s Home? ‘ ‘The Surfboard Stuffer?’
“How much is the lease on this car?” I asked Mike.
It was about $150 less per month than my car.
Now I’m pissed.
. . .
Confronting Tracy to get to the truth“Tell me again why you think my car is so good for me?” I asked Tracy, in the kitchen.
Tracy was opening the mail, not paying attention to me. Finally, my question registered in her brain.
“You can fit all of your crap in it,” she said, distracted by whatever bill she was looking at.
‘Yeah, and what else?” I asked.
“Well, I don’t know, your car is just like you. It suits you perfectly,” she said, opening another envelope.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked.
“You know, it’s kind of oblong and chubby. You can shove a lot of crap in it, but it still looks presentable. You know, like when you put on a nice suit and go to court.”
“You just wanted me to buy that car because it’s not sexy!” I screamed.
“What?” says Tracy, looking up at me now.
“The only people who like my car are middle-aged Middle Eastern men!” I shouted.
“What are you talking about? Are you insane?” asked Tracy.
“Nobody compliments me on my car! Nobody except car wash owners!”
“You’ve seriously lost your mind!” said Tracy, now yelling back at me.
“Do you think my car is sexy?!” I screamed.
“What do you need a sexy car for?” Tracy yelled, now standing and folding her arms across her chest.
That’s when I was especially glad I hadn’t told Tracy that Mike called his car the “Panty Dropper.”
“That’s not the point. Don’t turn this around on me! Just answer my question, is my car sexy?!”
“No, it’s not sexy. Of course it’s not! It’s not sexy at all,” Tracy admitted.
“Ah ha! That’s why you encouraged me to buy it isn’t it?!” I asked, indignantly.
“What the hell is wrong with you? You bought that car to shove your dumb surfboards in it. The ones you use once a year!” said Tracy.
“Well, maybe I wanted a sexy car too! Did you ever think about that- huh? Do you realize how expensive the lease is on that car out in the driveway?” I yelled.
“Buy whatever car you want, what do I care? You buffoon!” shouted Tracy.
“Well, maybe I will next time!” I said.
“Good! ’Cause my lease is coming up in two months, and I’m definitely buying whatever car I want!” said Tracy, leaning into me and staring me straight in the eye.
Oh, God. I thought to myself. Oh, God, no. What sort of trap did I just walk into here?
“And my car’s gonna be real sexy! Real, real sexy. In fact, I’m thinking about getting a Maserati!”
Oh shit! Oh, God. Oh please, God, no. No!
“And guess what?!” said Tracy.
“What?” I asked timidly.
"I’m gonna nickname my car the 'Pole Position!' said Tracy with a wide grin.
Copyright © 2020 Jack Clune