Tuesday, July 19, 2011

For Example ...

What's it look like, to live Using the Good Soap? Let me illustrate with a recent story...

One day, not long after we had moved from the Little City to the Big City, the Songwriter got into a car accident. He wasn't hurt, but our trusty little $1600 Nissan was crunched beyond repair.

Now, thanks to Big City amenities, this wasn't a total tragedy. We could both take public transit to work, we had a grocery and a coffee place and a Jamba Juice within walking distance, not to mention the fine SoCal weather to make it all practical.

So we did the unthinkable in L.A. We lived without a car.

If we wanted to go to the desert or Ikea, we rented a car for the weekend (thank you, ASCAP discount!)

We talked about getting a car. We talked about whether we even wanted a car (most days, not really). We talked about seeing just how long we could go, like it was some sort of sustainable living Survivor challenge. And eventually, the days when we really did wish we had a car started to stack up.

But it was kind of miserable, scouring Craigslist, day after freaking day, trying to find something in our price range that a) wasn't on its last wheels or b) didn't smell like decomposing socks or c) need some major mechanical system replaced (Dear CL sellers: There is no such thing as "just a new transmission").

Also, it would be nice if it looked cool. Or at least not embarrassing.

At last, our patience was rewarded. The Songwriter found something. Something special.

Meet Nic.

He's a 1984 Cadillac Seville with 32K original miles. I admit I was a little skeptical at first, largely because of this:

Nic* is what is commonly called a "slantback" which always sounds like some sort of inappropriate ethnic slur to me. (As opposed to all those appropriate ones?) I wasn't a big fan of this design feature.

But as the Songwriter pointed out, this car looked like something. It had style. My grandfather always loved Cadillacs, and he had a '59 this exact color. What can I say? I melted.

This car gets us places, which is its utilitarian function. But it also makes us smile when we look at it, and feel good when we're inside it (tufted. leather. seats. Seriously.) We tinker, fixing up this or cleaning that. It brings us joy, in addition to bringing us groceries.

And that is the way I want to live.

*I originally named* the car for the Dogs D'Amour song "Lady Nicotine," because it is the warm color of a white guitar that has been in too many smoky bars. The Songwriter liked this in concept, but pointed to the great hulk of steel and said, "Look at it! That is NO lady!" I had to agree.  So now he's just Nic.

*What do you mean you don't name your cars?! You're weird.


  1. Yes, I think an '84 Cadillac is the epitome of the "good soap". It's got a lot of character - and you won't have any trouble finding it in parking lots. Joy and groceries. There's not much more you need.

  2. It's true, Jenn, it does rather stand out in a sea of Mercedes and Toyotas!

    The best was when we were leaving Target one day and a family was crossing in front of us. A little boy of about 6 gasped and waved his Hot Wheels at us: "I have one of those, too!"