Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Confessions of a Gas Guzzler

Today, I'm coming clean. I'm confessing my environmental sins in the hopes of virtual absolution from my friends and blog readers, but first.....

Like any legitimate media outlet (grin), I have a responsibility to correct errors in reporting. In my last blog post, Horses, International Guests, and ...Buffalo, I reported that Henry the buffalo would jump through a ring of fire. In fact, the buffalo's name is Harvey Wallbanger.

Seriously. I couldn't make that up if I tried.

My friends who have paid to see Harvey say he is massive and a sight to behold. I'll just have to take their word for it. I find the whole thing mildly disturbing, and my conscience won't allow me to fork over the money to see poor old, flammable Harvey driven through that ring of fire.

And yes...I'm stalling. My conscience is a fickle thing, especially as it relates to environmental issues, but I'm here today as the former owner of a gas guzzler, a big honkin' SUV that left a Sasquatch-sized carbon footprint. I'm trying to reform, to get with the program, to do my part to avoid environmental apocalypse, but the first step to overcoming an addiction is to admit you have it, right? So, here goes.

Hi. I'm Kathy, and I liked my big, wasteful, gas-guzzling SUV.

Okay...I loved it. I really, really loved it. Like anyone who's ever had an unhealthy guilty pleasure, I knew I was doing wrong by the planet. I knew even when I was hauling my boys and their friends and their baseball bags and shoulder pads that we could have crammed everyone into an environmentally friendly tin can, but I just didn't want to.

My dad has a running beef with women who drive SUVs. "These damn women in their SUVS! They drive right up on you...try to intimidate you!"

I hate to admit it, but OH MY GOD, he's totally right! I felt powerful when I drove my SUV. When I stepped on the gas, that big V-8 roared, and I passed everyone who got in my way. If I couldn't pass them, I put the nose of that monster right on their bumper, and they got the hell out of my way.

I became this whole other person when I drove the vehicle Bruce affectionately called Moby Dick. Yes, it was white, and it was big. The only thing bigger available to civilians might be a Hummer.

When my friend Linda climbed into it once, she ranted, "Getting into this car is like climbing *@#! Mount Everest. You need a *@#! Sherpa to get in the thing."

I've carried as many as eight teenage boys at a time, hauled furniture, lumber, six people and luggage, a lab-sized dog crate complete with 100lb lab, anything big my friends needed moved from point A to point B. I was the go-to gal for road trips...or trips across town for lunch. Wherever we were going, we fit in my big, gas guzzling SUV.

But those days are over.

My massive, hairy Sasquatch carbon footprint has been replaced with something smaller, not dainty like a ballet slipper or sexy like a stiletto pump...more like a sturdy hiking shoe. I couldn't go cold turkey, and downsize all the way to a car, so I'm still driving an SUV...a small 4-passenger baby SUV.

I'm taking deep breaths and trying to adjust.

I'm still getting used to looking up at drive-thru windows, and when I parked next to a full-sized pickup, I was annoyed that I couldn't see over it. It's strange to step out of my vehicle and have my foot touch the ground instead of the running board.

Yes, it's fuel efficient. I'm sure I'll be happy the first time I fill it up and don't spend $60. (I know...ridiculous) And I do like how agile the thing feels. My old SUV was powerful, but not particularly aerodynamic. Lumbering might even be a reasonable descriptor. Instead of bullying my way through traffic, maybe I'll just ninja through it.

The best part of my new car is the guilt I'm shedding. Not only the environmental guilt I felt every time I pulled up next to a Prius (and quickly got over when I blew past it), but the guilt of driving a big, expensive car while Bruce drove a POS, mostly without complaint.

He has a sleek new Camry, complete with Satellite radio and sunroof. It's nice, but I have to admit to feeling twitchy when he suggested switching cars for the day so we could each try out the other's car.

There's only so much change this recovering gas guzzler can handle.

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