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And what versatility. You can pull out the back bench seat for more hauling space. You can fold down the middle seats for even more hauling space.
You can keep the back seat in, lower the front and put stuff there between you and your kids.
It sounded like heaven on wheels.
As he raved, one overriding thought consumed me:
The Suburban can do anything!
In contrast, our Nissan Quest, our allegedly fuel-efficient smart-space minivan, can't seem to do anything well.
Three kids fit fine in the thing. You just can't fit the stuff that comes along with three kids.
Stroller, diaper bag, school backpacks, water jugs, groceries. For baseball games: lawn chairs, equipment bags, more water jugs, snacks, baby toys, baby blankets, umbrellas. Bags of sunscreen, sunglasses, bug spray, wet wipes, butt cream, cameras. Then all the weird crap kids always bring along on any trip.
If it's an overnighter: portable crib, pillows, duffel bags, cooler, games, more chips, more water, more everything.
For camping: . . . Ah, yes, for camping.
This low-clearanced, passenger-tired, underpowered, weak-transmissioned, 4X2 piece of crap almost got me and my two oldest boys killed when it died in the wilderness near Globe this spring.
Yeah, sure, I got lost. But the Suburban doesn't care if you get lost. It just keeps going any goddamn place you want over any goddamn rock you want until you find a main road again and glide on home riding high on a fat piece of cowhide in 60-degree air with your reeking, screaming kids so far back there it feels like they're riding in the car behind you.
I was in love. Brandon said he'd sell it to me for what he paid. Smokin' deal. Brandon let me test drive the Suburban for an afternoon.
So I went on a hauling spree. We bought a patio table and four chairs at a moving sale. It all fit!
We bought lamps, pots, seat pads and a jungle of fake plants. All smokin' deals. And it all fit!
As I cruised down the 101 at 80 mph looking down on all humanity with all the stuff I could ever imagine fitting in a vehicle, I finally felt like the stud I apparently always have been. I was empowered. With this vehicle, I finally could comfortably accomplish all the tasks asked of a man who had been lured by womanhood to give early and often of his studly seed.
I took my oldest son to baseball practice. My 5-year-old and baby came along. We loaded and unloaded with ease. At the ball field, I watched as other fathers quickly and effortlessly unloaded their giant SUVs. They seemed so alive. I watched as sedan and minivan people struggled. They looked so defeated by life.
The SUV dads said I had to buy the Suburban. "You've got to do it," one dad said. "It'll change your life."
They raved about that Vortec engine. They raved about the space.
I was being told I could have a better life. Safe, comfortable, fully functional. The Good Life.
I came home with a financing plan I made up in my head. Low interest rates. Home refinance. Sell the Quest ourselves. It was only a $2,500 difference, when you did the math right.
But my wife didn't see the issue in the same light.
"It's a monstrosity," she said. It's "ridiculous," "vulgar," "the ugliest car on Earth." "It drives like a giant truck." "I hate Suburbans," she said. "I have always hated them. They stand for everything I can't stand. I will always hate them."
But honey. Let's look at the numbers.
The half-ton Suburban with the Vortec engine gets 18 mpg. The Quest, which we both agree we hate, only gets four mpg better.
When family visits, we can haul everybody in one vehicle, instead of wasting gas in two. We can haul more neighbor kids to practice and school events, which means their parents aren't fouling the air with their engines.
We won't have to borrow the neighbor's truck to haul stuff.
We can do all our commuting with the Volvo. As it is, we're often driving the Quest for single-person errands.
With some thought, we could actually save gas by buying the Suburban.
And the Vortec engine is known to last much longer than the Quest engine.
Honey, I think it's just awful that you want to fill up our nation's landfills with spent engines.
She said no. And no matter how studly I am, she's the boss.
Brandon sold the Suburban to someone else a few days later.
I waved goodbye to it as it left the neighborhood for the last time.
That's when the plotting began. We will one day have a Suburban.
Which means that even though I drive a Volvo and a Nissan, I am now a Suburban guy.
And I am a stud, by Amy Alkon's reckoning.
And Amy Alkon is an idiot by my reckoning.
For one, she insults dads who are struggling to do their parental duties and then tells them to buy sports cars instead of SUVs, not realizing that many of those little sports cars get worse gas mileage than the much more versatile SUVs she loathes.