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Car balk 

Let's get one thing straight from the get-go. I don't want to buy a new car. I am not a "car person." I don't care about cars; I can't tell one brand from another without reading the label on the trunk. The extent of my vehicular desires is that when I turn the key in the ignition, the wheels rotate and I will be transported to my near or far destination and returned to my starting point without undo interruption. There should be limited environmental degradation and I wish to remain economically unscathed. This accounts for my currently driving a 1993 Chevy Blazer with 188,742 miles on it. My spare vehicle is a 1986 long-bed Nissan, hereafter referred to as the family truck. But that's another story.

Why is it that when a woman says those six little words all manner of men come to her rescue like so many Boy Scouts standing at the curb? The words: "I'm thinking about buying a car." All at once old friends, former lovers, colleagues, clients and relatives who have been fully occupied up till now are now vying for the opportunity to spend Saturday with me at Car Max, a Monday night driving from one dealership to another, or hours at the computer finding the perfect automobile and emailing me eBay opportunities like a 2002 x-type Jaguar with black leather interior currently residing in a hanger in Texas. I could Buy It Now for $22,888. Thanks anyway, but back to the drawing board, Sean. But keep on looking as I gratefully welcome all assistance.

And did I mention that I don't want a new car? The last time I bought a new car, Sean, my youngest son, was riding in a baby seat. Today he is concerned about thinning hair. So brand new, pristine and just-off-the-assembly line are not hot buttons for me. Let someone else take the hit of the first year or two of depreciation.

My plan was to see the Blazer's odometer roll over to 200,000 then buy a two-year-old hybrid and be set for the next 10 years. However, the plan has a problem. Yesterday I dropped off the Blazer for what I thought would be a well-baby check up. You know the type--a tune-up, an air filter and maybe a few new wires and she would be her peppy self again. But no, send flowers and bring out the shroud, my mechanics are preparing the Blazer for last rites. She may go another year but probably not on my watch. She has a number of leaks and needs some of this and that. I realized it was time to examine other options when Doug and Jason said, "We could fix them, but it's gonna cost you."

I asked Jason if he knew about any good deals in a used car. Hmmm, not right off hand. Well then, what did he think about the Prius? Even though it is a bit on the small side for a real estate car, I liked the promised fifty-ish mpg. He proceeded to tick off reasons why this was a poor choice: new model/no track record, when something goes wrong it will cost a lot to repair (all that computer stuff), and, the piece de resistance, I will have to take it to the dealer to get worked on! Now Jason knows me pretty well and he knows that I break out in a rash if I'm forced to go to a dealer for a repair.

Somewhere buried in this advice and good will could be a personal agenda as well. Lately it's been a rare month that a vehicle of mine or my extended family has not been on a lift in one of Jason's bays. All in all, I have been cheerfully contributing to my mechanics' children's college fund for nearly 20 years. Before the Blazer I drove a Plymouth Voyager that finished out its days as the tool shed for Habitat for Humanity.

I did go look at the Prius accompanied by the appropriate male gender companion. And I do mean look. I didn't get to drive it. Mike, the salesman, told me that I could get on the list and perhaps get one in June. I pointed out that it might be nice to get a test drive before signing up. But after waiting out in the cold for 10 minutes while he looked for a key, I told him I wasn't in the mood anymore. I drove away from the Toyota lot in the old truck with my opinion of dealerships and my pride still in tact.

But thinks my new wheels are waiting for me in Delaware. It is a currently untitled Mazda with some flood damage. But hey, on my drive up I can stop and buy a Virginia lottery ticket. This could be my lucky day.

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