Long birthday weekends are pretty awesome. Andy's involved cake (and yes, I must tell you that I truly think that the cake Martha made for us last summer trumps my longtime go-to chocolate cake, the Hershey's Deep Dark Chocolate Cake! I do still always make the Cloudburst Frosting (scroll down on that page a bit), though; I don't know if I'll ever love a frosting more than this one, but I'm willing to give it a go [I love frosting, especially frostings that are mellow, like this one]); lots of salad rolls, both take-out (as was the entire green-curry-shrimp birthday dinner) and homemade (I used this recipe, and added silken tofu, and it was wonderful); lots of driving (we got our new car); lots of waterfalls and gorgeous views (and babies signing "rain," as she is doing, above [draw both hands down with straight fingers, like rain falling]); and lots of backyard laziness and baby lovin'. It was such a nice weekend, and soooooo nice to have some time off, for both of us. Oh, so nice.
I don't think I realized how stressful buying a car was until it was over. I firmly believe that Andy and I are probably the worst possible car buyers on earth. Everything I read about how to act when you're buying a car is pretty much the exact opposite of what we did. I'm still feeling bewildered about why cars should have different prices for different people, depending on how they negotiate. It reminds me of when I was in Italy (twenty-three years ago), at the post office, asking how much it cost to mail a postcard. The post office dude literally looked me up and down, leaned back, crossed his arms, and said, appraisingly, "For you? Ninety thousand lire!" or ninety million lire, or ninety lire, or whatever it was. I stood there thinking, "No, not just for me, for everyone!" (And I swear, after I paid it, he just tossed the postcard over this shoulder, anyway. Okay, I might be exaggerating that. But seriously, Martha, did you ever get my postcard from Rome?)
And that's how I feel about car shopping, too. Shouldn't there just be a price, and then you pay it if you want to? And if you don't want to pay that you keep shopping? I don't know. There's this point in the process where you're basically like, "Okay, just gimme the damn thing already and let's go home!" Sadly, that point is reached about five minutes into the process for both Andy and me. We're looking at cars but we're thinking, in tandem, "Where should we eat? Is it gonna be sunny all day? Do you want to watch Psych musical again tonight?" and it's all kind of a cool-customer bust.
Eventually, by some miracle, I knew exactly which car I wanted. Certified pre-owned in the model I liked, 2013, and silver. Boom. But none were currently available within 100 miles. :( I stalked the web site of the dealer where we bought our first car (which actually was a pretty good experience, as far as I recall). Suddenly one came up — a miracle! — just when I needed it. I called the dealership so fast I could hardly talk: "Oh my gosh! Hold that car! I'm so excited! I want that one!!! Don't let anyone look at it! I want it!!!!!!!!" I had no idea what the price was, at that point. I told my friend what I did and she about fell off the phone she was laughing so hard. The salesman was probably like, "Awesome, easiest rent I've ever made in my life, lady right there in the blue."
And yeah, we did buy that car (amazingly, from the same guy who sold us our 1995 Volvo sixteen years ago). It is quite lovely. It has Bluetooth. I didn't even know what that was. Our old car didn't even have a CD player (and it had started breaking down every six months or so, and, lately, every week). I said from behind my new steering wheel to Andy as we wound through the gorge on the historic highway, through tall trees and forests of Queen Anne's Lace, watching the blue and green ridges fade into the haze of a perfect summer day, "You don't even realize how used to all your stuff not working right you really get." And then we were all, wow, look at us entering the new millenium! Cool! It's an absolute delight to put a baby into a car seat without having to first fold your body into an origami crane, then bump her head on the ceiling of the car, then basically sort of toss her toward the seat in the middle, and hope she lands more or less square, then rearrange her from the side while your back is getting completely jacked, and then tighten the straps (while she's reaching for her doll, or her milk, or her shoe). She's always been a really good sport about being put into the car seat (I really don't know how, but that's kind of her style, and more proof that she does not have my DNA), but I see now that there were times when, especially toward the end of the day, I just didn't want to do it again. When I put her in the new car it's like boom, in, and I'm all, "What? That's it? People do it like this? And we can go to a place, and then maybe go to another place?" I don't know. Anyway, the new car feels very safe and very functional, and I suddenly want to go everywhere. . . .