Sunday, May 20, 2007

Auto, erotic fixation

Like it? 
I have begun to suspect that my car is a homosexual.

My car isn't flamingly gay, though, so it's difficult to be 100 percent sure. To look at it, a simple green Toyota, you'd never guess. Unless you have a gaydar detector or whatever.

I've had my car since 2000, and in all that time—driving it to work every day, spilling coffee on the floormats, cranking Led Zep through the stereo—I never had the slightest inkling it could be gay. Or straight, for that matter. In my ignorance, I figured my Toyota was a metal box with four wheels, and pedals that make it go and stop, and an internal-combustion engine fueled by gasoline that carried passengers and cargo from one place to another. And I figured that because it's a vehicle, any chance of it getting to first base with a person of either gender was pretty low.

Nope! Just recently, I read an article in The New York Times about cars headlined, "Gay by design, or lifestyle choice?" Turns out some people see many cars as being "gay." The New York Times would obviously know—I mean, New York and everything.

It sounds ridiculous, right? How could an inanimate object be homosexual or heterosexual? But the story makes a strong case. There's an actor (not gay) from L.A. (still not gay, honest) who drives a Miata convertible. "But for a recent date with a woman," the story reads, with heavy emphasis on that last, "he rented a Cadillac Escalade because he was so used to his friends saying his Miata was 'gay.'"

I can tell you as an open-minded person that reading that made me cringe. Just because his automobile is physically attracted to guys, that’s no reason to make the car feel ashamed of itself.

Female cars are not immune to idiotic prejudice, either. Another woman in the article had "a promising first date with a man that never led to a second one because, she later learned, the guy saw she drove a Subaru Outback station wagon and concluded she must be a lesbian."

This, I have no idea why. Am I not watching enough TV? The last person I saw driving a Subaru Outback was Crocodile Dundee—and whipping out my straight-gay slide rule to make a few quick calculations, I see that being Crocodile Dundee is the opposite of being a lesbian. And how did the guy on this date make that leap? Is there a vital piece of logic missing somewhere? It's like you see I have a beard and conclude that I like bacon cheeseburgers. As it turns out, I do like bacon cheeseburgers, but unless a chunk of one is clinging to my face, I don't get why the beard is relevant.

Later in the story, it explains that many gay women are actually proud of this bizarre stereotype: "Many lesbians refer to their Outbacks as 'Lesbarus.'" This should not be confused with Belarus, a former Soviet nation in Eastern Europe that seats 10 million passengers comfortably with plenty of room for storage in the back.

After I finished the article, I was still confused as to what made a car homosexual or not. Yes, a hot pink VW Beetle with daisy hubcaps, a clutch of tulips in the dashboard flower holder and "Fernando" by ABBA blaring on the stereo is probably at least sending mixed signals—but how do you tell if your average Ford Explorer's gay, or a Hyundai, or a Dodge? Just look at that name: "Dodge." Goes either way.

I admit I'd noticed some signs over the years that maybe my Toyota was a little different in that regard—like, one time I cleaned out the back and found all these empty Starbucks latte cups. Any Republican would call that gay, right? Plus, I've seen other people driving the same model Toyota down the street, and the car looks like maybe, just maybe, it's mincing a little.

I went online to research the homosexual vehicle phenomenon, to the Web site Gaywheels.com. There I found an interesting fact: the Toyota Yaris is that site's most-researched vehicle. The Yaris is the new version of my own model, the Echo. So there you go.

My wife looked over my shoulder at the computer, puzzled at what was on the screen, and after a heavy silence cleared her throat.

I glanced up and nodded soberly. "Car’s gay," I said.

She thought about this for a while. She said: "Sure."

"It's in the Times," I said. "And Subarus are apparently into other girls. Who knew? The Mazda3 is lesbian, too, but this person in the article says it's seen as more 'butch.'"

My wife rubbed her eyes. "Honey," she said, "it's a car. A car is a car, no matter who buys it. Both straight and gay people buy lots of things they need. Cars. Milk. Snow shovels. Paper towels. Does that make paper towels gay?"

I considered this. "One-ply or two?"

She pretended there was something interesting going on in the other room and walked away, and I braced myself for The Talk.

A moment later, I stood in the driveway and folded my arms in front of the Toyota, attempting to maintain a queasy equilibrium between parental concern and unquestioned masculinity—cardigan buttoned up with "Hells Angels" hastily scrawled on the back in Sharpie.

"I know you're getting to be a certain age," I told the Toyota, "and I want you to know that you may be feeling certain things. I probably don't have to tell you what they are. I saw the Web site myself."

The Toyota sat there.

"Anyway, you may think you're different, and other people may hate you for that. I just want you to know that, if you are, there's nothing wrong with it, and I support you no matter what."

The car didn't say anything.

I breathed heavily. "You OK? Want to get some coffee?"

Driving down 195, I felt like we had a new understanding, the Toyota and I. I'm a man who loves beautiful women and cheap, fuel-efficient, Japanese reliability, and my car is the top pick on Gaywheels.com. Funny how things turn out. I drove to Starbucks. I bought the Toyota some unleaded, and I got a latte.

That doesn't mean anything, though. It's just coffee.

1 comment:

Zen Runner said...

Crying with laughter - and a few real tears too. My car is gay and I'm proud of it.

Related Posts with Thumbnails