Motorless in Manhattan

Not so long ago, I gave my nephew, Matthew, a gift subscription to Mad Magazine. I subscribed to that publication when I was his age and it seemed an appropriate gift. This backfired on me, however, during a recent visit home. Matt showed me an article from a recent edition of Mad, one which contained a pie chart illustrating a breakdown of the various ways in which folks end up subscribing to that publication. One small slice of that pie, representing 11% of the total, was labeled "Gift subscriptions from that weird uncle who never married."

Matt and I had a good laugh over my being so thoroughly and completely pegged but the more I think about it, the more I wonder: am I weird? There's no denying that I'm single but does that, in and of itself, make me weird? It depends, I suspect, upon which set of accepted standards by which one is judging. Perhaps in Oklahoma City, I could safely be judged at least a little odd but not necessarily so in the Big Apple. As a 38 year old, the fact that I have never been married sets me distinctly apart from the norm in Oklahoma. But then, so does the fact that I've never owned a car. In fact, the combination of these two characteristics may classify me as utterly unique in the Sooner State. It's difficult to imagine a person of my years residing there who has not managed one or the other of these feats. But in New York City, I am a member of a large, if, to date, unorganized, fellowship of single folks who have no wheels. In fact, many people here have never even learned to drive, much less possessed the title on a motor vehicle.

The question I ask myself, therefore, is not how it is that I have failed to find, by now, an appropriate mate but rather how is it so many others have managed to pair up so easily? The odds against success in this field of endeavor seem terribly long to me, truth be told.

If you will, gentle reader, allow me to pursue a bit further the analogy between car ownership and marriage, I believe I can illustrate my point.

If I were to awaken tomorrow possessed by the desire to own a car, I'm not sure I'd even know where to begin, any more than I know where to turn to find Ms. Right. After all, there are literally dozens of makes and hundreds of models from which to choose. I suppose I could attend a new car show, wander from showroom to showroom, perhaps even hire a broker. But these approaches edge too near the tactics of desperate lonely-hearts; they are the automotive equivalents of pick-up bars, singles events and computer dating services. And while it's true that the car of one's dreams is not going to pull up in front of one's house and honk, desperation is unattractive, whether one is seeking companionship or transportation. Perhaps best, then, to go about one's business and not focus too intently on the search. Oh, sure, one should keep one's eyes open; one never knows when just the right car will pull up at the intersection. But to seek out one's dream vehicle, to actively search for it is, I fear, to invite disappointment.

It is important, too, to consider the level of involvement to which one is willing to commit. Perhaps you're not really ready to buy. It may be that the occasional rental will fulfill your needs or perhaps even a short-term lease.

One must also be careful not to sacrifice reliability to the pursuit of surface beauty. After all, a nice chassis and beautiful paint job might be eye-catching but they won't last forever. Time will bring its dents, pings and scratches. Far more important that your pride and joy start easily on cold mornings, that it not break down and leave you stranded, that it not be so eye-catching as to attract the attention of those who might be not be above stealing it in the night. For it's not necessarily better to have driven and lost than not to have driven at all.

Copyright © 2000 Brett Leveridge. All Rights Reserved.