Mom and Dad's Buick: a cushy time machine

Times Staff Writer

You CAN have your shiny new Bimmer. Your eerily silent hybrids and your Lamborghini.

I have the Buick.

For reasons I won't go into -- save to say my 16-year-old is fine, the Volvo not so much -- I'm borrowing my parents' 2001 Buick.

I get in every morning and there's the scent of my father's cologne, my mother's perfume. I'm 8 years old again, tiptoeing into their bedroom after they've left for the evening, the lamp lighted next to my mother's side of the bed, the fragrance lingering.

The LeSabre's upholstered bench seat glides to wherever I want it. I'm on the family room couch, careful not to let the frozen yogurt melt on the furniture.

I listen to all their preset radio stations. The '40s big band music (my mom); every news channel known to man (my father); the opera on the weekends (both). It's like they're home with the stereo on.

I see a couple of symphony stubs, a restaurant valet ticket, some handwritten directions in a slot in the console. I'm in their kitchen, looking at their busy social calendar.

Everything is automatic. The heat and air conditioning work beautifully and quietly; a little symbol on the rearview mirror tells me the direction I'm traveling. I can hear my father, sitting in my car, telling me for the third time to get into the carpool lane.

I pull up behind a yellow Lamborghini at my son's school and his friends yell at us: "Hey, nice Lambo." They laugh. I laugh. Yeah, the Buick is nice.

I tell my sister that I'm loving the Buick. It's fun, I tell her. I feel like I'm at Mom and Dad's house. She, of the Lexus hybrid, is kind of appalled.

My 14-year-old is incredulous. "Are we going to roll up to the party in that?" he asks.

I tell my friend at work that I'm having a great time driving the Buick and she asks, "Well, what kind of Buick is it?" What could she be expecting? A two-door, tinted window, spinner rims version? Then she remembers that I know very little about cars and she, of the new Bimmer, sniffs, "Oh yeah, you don't care about cars."

I stop at a light before turning into the garage at work and I see several people I know. Funny, they think it's mine.

I try to pull into a parking spot and I have to make a five-point turn. I'm learning the dark side of the Buick: Its turning radius is nothing like the Volvo's.

I go to the gas station. Often. It costs $70 to fill.

The Buick doesn't exactly fit in my driveway next to my husband's car. It's a little too wide.

I begin to notice other people snuggled in their Buicks. They're older than I am. A lot older.

Lately, I'm starting to rebel against the Buick. I miss my radio stations, my son's KROQ-FM preset for the morning. I want to stop at Starbucks and not worry if my latte spills. I want to drive my puppies to the park without worrying about muddy paws -- not to mention the one that tends to get car sick. I want to pull into my driveway. I want to eat popcorn from the farmers market and let the kernels fall where they might. I want to leave my book, my newspaper and my sweater on the back seat. Heck, I want to leave my bottle of water on the front seat.

I'm ready for my own car. Don't tell my parents.


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