Friday, July 07, 2006

New Pin-Stripe Detailing

Each time the lease on my wife's van is about to expire, and we muse over what the next vehicle should be (hmm, should we go with the minivan this time, or the minivan?), my wife has one rule.

It must be black.

I noticed this pattern early on in our relationship. We would be driving down the road, and we would pass a shiny black Cadillac, and my wife would ooh and ahh over it. Next, it would be a Chrysler 300m, or a even a Mustang. I thought she had a fabulous taste in cars until she declared her love for a shiny black Escort. All that time, it wasn't the car, but the color.

So when we picked out our first minivan...a Ford Windstar Sport...can you guess what color she went with? Black. And we've had three black minivans since.

Black does look pretty, I admit. Sure, it looks dirty pretty quickly, but that's what they invented the ability to buy a car wash at the gas pump for.

And so for the past year, our Mercury Monterrey (which is just a codename for a rebadged Ford Windstart/Freestar) has remained in pristine condition. Until now.

My four-year-old has been spending a bit more time outdoors in the past few weeks. And, oddly enough, I've begun to find little tiny scatch marks in the paint. Nothing major, and from more than a few feet away, you'd never know they existed. But they weren't there last week.

Alarms went off. Or, at least, alarms should have gone off. They didn't, however. Instead I offered a warning.

"Do not touch the van. Not with your fingers, not with sticks, not with toys, not with bikes. Nothing. Nothing is to touch this van, do you understand me?"

"Yes, sir," all my kids said back to me. Such obedience. It makes a father proud.

But then yesterday, as we loaded into the van to head to a friend's house, I noticed some pin-striping along the door. White pin-striping. Not really even striping. More like petroglyphs.

I stepped back and looked. I ran my hand over the markings, then stepped back even more.

"Boys!" I yelled, and they cowered in fear.

"I didn't do it," one of them cried.

"This one wasn't me," another said, which of course sidestepped the fact that the other one, then, must have been their doing.

My four-year-old looked at the ground shamedly and said, "I did it, Daddy."

After a few deep breaths, and a brief reminder to myself that killing your own children is still illegal in most states, I got the full story from them, about how they ran into the van with their bikes. Nevermind they had the rest of the driveway to ride in. No, they had to pick riding on the one foot border between the edge of the driveway and the van.

So, bikes have been declared off limits until further notice. They took the news well, considering. I think they were relieved to still be alive.

Me? Well, I'm learning to love the new pin-stripe detailing. My car has some as well, but since it's red and not black, it isn't so bad.

My wife? Well, I think I might have to sedate her for a while until her heart recovers from the shock of seeing her black van is no longer just black.

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