So there she was.
All blue and sparkly.
Maybe now I can understand why people go nuts for that sparkly vampire Edward Cullen. Sparkles ARE a lot of fun. I totally get it now!
I sort of walked over in a daze. I could hear Tom scrambling to get out of poor Kate, our broken PT Cruiser. His low voice was telling the kids to stay close, that Mommy was in some sort of car trance and it was best not to disturb her.
"This is the first car she's been interested in," I overheard Tom say. "So let's not distract Mommy."
I made it to the car and peered in the driver's side.
I hate leather seats. It's one of the reasons why I had been turned off on the various other cars we had looked at.
Leather seats make farting noising when you get up, after all. And how embarrassing would that be if you're driving along with your crush and you get up and *pttthhhhh* the horrors, FARTING NOISES!
Not that I have crushes anymore. Since I'm married and all.
Okay, I lie.
Of course I have crushes. I'm not dead.
I know Tom has several crushes.
He used to like Lindsay Lohan before "she turned crazy." Those are his words, not mine.
Now he's moved onto Megan Fox.
And me, well, most people know that I would never kick John Krasinski out of bed. He plays Jim on The Office.
So anyhow, I most certainly did NOT want leather seats.
As I was gazing dazedly into the vehicle, I suddenly heard a clicking noise. In my mind I thought a spotlight would come down over me, helicopters would start to hover and some booming voice would be screaming, "STEP AWAY FROM THE VEHICLE! I REPEAT: STAY AWAY FROM THE VEHICLE."
So I quickly took a step back and nearly jumped out of my skin when a car dealer suddenly stepped out of the building.
"AHHHHHHH!" I shrieked, hand over my heart.
What is WITH these car dealers wanting to scare me to death? That is NOT going to get me to buy a car. I sort of can't when I'm dead, you know.
"Sorry," the car dealer said, chuckling. He had both hands in the air as though he were showing me that he had no weapons and that he came in peace. "I just opened the car for you if you want to take a look."
That explained the clicking sound.
I stared back at the car longingly. Then my eyes flicked over the price and I nearly had another heart attack.
"Erm," I said, fumbling over my words. It's sort of difficult to admit that you're broke. I mean, we're not broke really but the military pays their soldiers pretty pathetically. I think our society is messed up. If actors can get millions of dollars for memorizing a few lines, why can't soldiers get millions of dollars for, I don't know, protecting their country and risking their lives?
"It's just....this car is a little expensive. I should have looked at the price first but she sort of drew me in," I said, giving a nervous laugh.
The car dealer didn't even look phased. "What payments were you looking at?" he asked easily.
"Under three hundred," I said firmly.
He stroked his chin for a few minutes. Then he motioned to the poor PT Cruiser. "Is that car all paid off?" he wondered.
"Then....we may be able to work something out," he said brightly. He clapped his hands and then introduced himself as Pete.
Then he opened the car door for me and motioned for me to get in.
"This car is amazing," Pete launched into his sales pitch. Then he started pushing buttons and numbers started coming up on the car display.
The car did so much.
I sort of nodded dumbly even though I didn't know what he was talking about half of the time.
I tried to sound smart when I pointed to a button and said grandly, “And this one? What does this one do?”
I saw the corners of Pete’s mouth start to twitch. Then he said in an even tone, “That would be the air conditioning button.”
I ran my hand around the wheel. It just felt RIGHT.
But the car was in the pricey range. And that made me nervous.
“I just...don’t think we can afford a car like this,” I said sadly, starting to get out of the car.
Pete practically pushed me back in.
“I think we can work something out,” he said in a firm tone. “Why don’t you test drive the car?” He pulled the keys out of his pocket and jingled them around.
“It’s not nice to tease, Pete,” I said lightly.
Pete looked baffled. “I’m not teasing. I’m serious. I think we can work something out. This car can be yours today.”
Ooooo...I ran my palms around the wheel again and tried to ignore the feeling that THIS JUST FELT RIGHT.
“I should go for something cheaper,” I said. But my tone wasn’t convincing and Pete knew it.
“Test drive the car,” he repeated. “And we can work something out.”
I had Tom drive the thing because I was too nervous. My mind was racing and I was having an inward debate.
We can’t afford the car. We just can’t.
But then I’d be all, Well, we could if we Cut Back. Surely we can Cut Back on some things?
But it’s so expensive!
Okay, how can I make some extra money? I suppose I could go back to work but then most of my paycheck would go towards daycare. That doesn’t make sense.
The car drove like a dream. I never understood that phrase until then. It was smooth and better yet, no blind spots!
The PT Cruiser had a blind spot.
Plus, you’ll be Going Green. You’ll reduce your carbon footprint and that’s essential, right? So, in a way, you’ll be purchasing this car for the good of the environment.
Because yes. The car was also a hybrid.
When we pulled back up and got out, Pete appeared out of no where and made me jump again.
“Geez Pete,” I joked. “Maybe you should wear some sort of bell so I know you’re coming.”
He laughed and then gestured to the car. “So. You like?”
He didn’t even looked surprised when I nodded enthusiastically at him.
“But,” I said sadly. “I just don’t think---”
Pete held up a hand. "Stop saying that. We will work something out. I promise you." He flashed me a bright smile. "How about you guys come inside and we'll go over some numbers?"
So we agreed.
"I'm not promising anything, Pete," I warned him. "If it's too expensive, we'll move onto something else. I sort of liked those cars down there too." I gestured with my thumb towards a row of vehicles.
"Oh, the Fits? Yeah, those are nice but much smaller than this one. And with two kids, don't you need the space?" Pete wondered.
It's true but I didn't let on. I just shrugged and went, "Luckily, we're a fairly tiny family. I mean, I feel like I have to force my youngest to eat. And--"
Tom nudged me and gave me a Look. "Stop rambling," he mouthed as we settled down in some chairs across from Pete's tiny desk.
Then the numbers started. At first Pete mentioned that our payments would be $419 a month.
My jaw nearly dropped onto the desk.
"Pete," I said as calmly as I could muster. "I don't know if you realize this, but the military pays their soldiers horribly. We cannot do $419 a month. I assure you."
Pete stroked his chin and went, "Hmmmm" for a few minutes. Then he started talking about leasing the car, which made no sense to me.
"Okay, why would I want to trade the car in in three years?" I wondered.
"But then you can buy it from yourself!" Pete said brightly. "And look, your payments would be $218 then. Then in three years if you wanted to buy it from yourself it would be..." He punched numbers in a calculator. "Fourteen thousand.."
"Pete," I tried again. "That doesn't make sense to me. I want to make payments so I can OWN this car. If we go with this car, I plan on having it for a very long time. I get attached to things, you see."
Pete was really trying to get us to go for the leasing option.
"PETE!" I had to say sharply. "No thank you."
So Pete started crunching more numbers out.
See, they offered us two grand for the PT Cruiser. Which is a pretty pathetic amount but with the problems and such, we were hoping for at least two grand.
Then I casually mentioned that we could possibly come up with another two grand as a down payment to help lower the payments.
Pete's eyes lit up. "YES!" he boomed. "If you do that we can lower your payment. But are you SURE you don't want to lease.."
"Sorry. I just had to ask."
Anyhow, we waited around some more.
And let me tell you, buying a car with two children is about as easy as not eating the entire pint of Ben and Jerry in one sitting.
I really wish that I gave birth to children who liked to SIT.
But I don't.
Natalie was racing around the tiny showcase room and making the other dealers nervous when she got too close to the models. One guy, who looked to be in his fifties, would suck in his breath sharply if she got too close and at one point he went, "AHHHH!" when she was about to press her palm against the display Civic.
Tommy, who is off on Spring Break this week, decided it would be a fantastic time to crawl around and act like a cat. He went up to Nervous Dealer and went, "Meow!" and the Nervous Dealer went, "Oh my!" and backed away quickly as though he thought that Tommy could be diseased. But his eyes never left Natalie, who was getting too close to another vehicle.
Pete came back ten minutes later.
"I have better numbers for you," he promised, settling down.
"I hope so, Pete. Because my kids have sort of grown accustomed to eating and I'd like to maintain that for them," I said jokingly.
Tom groaned beside me. He finds my humor odd.
So Pete showed us the numbers again.
This time it was at $318.
"We have to think about this," I said to Pete. I got up and started pacing. I do that when I'm nervous.
"Could you sit down?" Tom asked, standing beside me.
"No. I need...the cell phone. I need to call and see how much this would raise our insurance." I started digging through my purse. I really need to clean it out. My fingers grazed a bunch of trash as I searched for my phone. Then I found it and punched in our insurance number.
It turns out that the car would only raise our insurance nine dollars more.
I continued to pace.
"Maybe we could sit down and discuss this," Tom asked hopefully.
I ignored him and thought to myself.
So. $318 a month. We could swing it if we Cut Back. It would mean..less shopping. Not as much Gymboree. No more Target shopping sprees. I'd have to go on a strict budget. Not as much eating out. Not as many goodies. I could do it.
I stopped suddenly and Tommy nearly collided into me. I hadn't realized that he was copying me.
And Natalie, she was still running around like a mad woman making Nervous Dealer extra antsy. I swore I saw sweat on his brow.
"Could you Cut Back?" I said to Tom sharply. "You can't eat out as much." I grabbed his arms and looked him in the eye. "Will you accept this challenge?"
Tom backed away and looked bewildered. "Amber. Geez. It's not like we'll go BROKE." He stared at Nervous Dealer, who looked like he was breaking out in hives. "Women, huh? They can be so dramatic." Tom said to him.
Nervous Dealer didn't respond. He just pointed to Natalie and went, "AHHHH," under his breath when she bumped against a tire.
Tom went over and scooped Natalie up. "You need to hold still," he said.
But Natalie, she shook her head and went, "UH UH!" and tried to break free.
Can I not have ONE calm child?
Then Natalie looked over at me and went, "I poops!" in a cheery tone.
I'm only mulling over an important decision. Now I get to deal with poop.
So I rifled through the diaper bag only to realize that we HAD NO MORE DIAPERS.
I mean, who grabs a diaper bag with no diapers in it?
Actually, I should be lucky that I even remembered to bring a diaper bag. I usually forget.
"No diapers," I hissed to Tom.
Nervous Dealer overhead and nearly fainted. He was probably thinking, "Fantastic. Not only do I have to make sure this kid doesn't touch a car but now the room is going to smell of feces."
I took hold of Natalie's hand and let her to the bathroom.
And good news!
There was no poop.
Which meant that Natalie was just telling me that she HAD to poop.
So I asked Natalie if she could please go poop in the toilet.
"No fanks," Natalie responded.
"Please? I have no diapers. You have to poop in the potty," I begged.
Natalie shook her head sharply. "NOT UH!"
I tried to bring her over to the toilet but she quickly became a human legwarmer. Her grip was firm and her face was buried in my knee.
Then she tilted her head back and emitted a loud scream that felt as though it shook the entire building.
When we came out of the bathroom--Natalie was still attached to me, mind you--Tom rushed over and went,
"What was going ON in there?"
I managed to pry Natalie's fingers off of me. "Oh that? Your daughter just turned into Linda Blair for a few seconds."
So it looks as though my kid may be the only one in diapers when she attends college.
Her future boyfriend will be all, "Don't you want to use the toilet?" and she'll be all, "No fanks."
A few minutes later we were settled back down with Pete.
And we worked out a plan.
Then we had to wait for the finance people to call us back.
Nervous Dealer was practically balled up on the floor by the time we were done.
He did not look sorry to see us leave.
"Can I.....say goodbye to Kate?" I asked Pete, who looked confused. He shot Tom a baffled look and Tom sighed and went, "The PT Cruiser.."
Pete still looked bewildered but he went, "Um..sure.."
So I walked over to Kate and touched her hood lightly.
"I'm sorry Kate," I whispered. "We had a good run. It's just...you're sick. But I will always remember you. I promise."
I was tempted to give her a kiss but that would just be weird. So I just stroked her for a few seconds, lost in thought.
"Amber!" Tom's voice cut through a bunch of images of me driving Kate through the years. "You ready to go?"
I gave a sigh and gave Kate one last pat. "Take care of yourself, Kate.." Then I turned and walked towards Donna:
It's a Honda Insight.
Yes, a hybrid.
I love her.