Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Does Your Car Tell Your Age?

About 35 years ago, when every senior citizen in South Florida was bedecked in Vera print polyester shirts or dresses, I made fun of their “uniform” to my sister-in-law who was 22 years my senior.

“Someday your peer group will be identified by their uniform just as mine is, and I will expect you to call me and tell me I was right,” she said to me.

There are no phones in heaven, but today after I could not find Hubby’s car when I came out of the store. I looked up and told her she was right – sort of. You see, we don’t dress differently from our kids. Everyone I know from 9 months to 99 years wears jeans unless going to a formal wedding. Our tops depend on the season and the occasion. The uniform of my generation is not clothing. It’s the color and models of our cars. Drive through any clubhouse or supermarket parking lot in the retirement neighborhoods of South Florida and you’ll rarely see a car that’s not silver or tan.

About 25 years ago, Hubby was circling a parking lot near my parent’s over-55 condo. I was picking up something in a store for my mother. When I got back into the car, he informed me, “Almost every old man in this parking lot is driving a white GM car.” He then pointed to al the Buicks, Cadillacs, and Oldsmobiles.”

Every foreign or different colored car we spotted entering or exiting the parking lot was driven by drivers closer to college age than retirement. “I’m never buying another white GM car again – it’s an old man’s car,” said my white-haired husband who was nearing his 50th birthday. GM had no idea that their problems were their cars were loosing popularity because men like Hubby thought they had become cars for old people.

Hubby kept his word because he switched to a foreign car when his had to be replaced, and dared to get a blue one instead of our usual white. But I stuck to white because unlike him, I parked outside all day. White doesn’t show the dirt as much as a dark car nor does it need as long to cool down from baking in the oppressive Florida sun all day. I did switch from an “old people car” to one of the Toyotas when we bought my next car, and my next. The last car we purchased was after I retired. Since my car would now spend a good part of the day in the garage, Hubby convinced me it was time to change colors – and I did: Silver.

That’s around the time I discovered that the uniform of my generation was not our wardrobe, but our cars. Every place I went, it seems someone had the same car as mine, although some were a year older or newer. Even though one of the player’s cars is a different manufacturer, it is still a shade of silver. When my Mah Jong group meets for lunch before we play, we’ve sometimes headed to the wrong car – especially before two of us had our cataracts removed. When the five of us are parked in one driveway, we look like a convention of silver car owners.

Since the players in my Mah Jongg group will all be replacing our cars in the next year or two, we were kidding around the other day to see if we should all get the same color again. After searching the rows of silver and beige cars for 10 minutes this morning until I found Hubby’s car, I decided on a color for our next car. Now all I have to do is convince 4 other very conservative prim and proper ladies like myself that strangers will think we’re years younger and we won’t even need to use Botox. All we would need to do is purchase hot pink cars.

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