FILED IN: House & Home

The Minivan. Grocery Getter or Sex Machine?

I want a minivan.

Although it sounds like an innocuous desire, I am often met with a barrage of disparaging groans and snickers when I admit this in mixed company. “Don’t do it!,” the crowd will yell as they look at me with mix of horror and pity on their faces. Apparently, minivans symbolize something undesirable to many people. From what I can gather, many believe that purchasing a minivan is tantamount to surrendering any chance of being hip, spontaneous, and most importantly, sexy. I think this population of knee-jerk minivan-phobes is sorely misinformed.

I will concede that my desire for a minivan is pragmatic, even banal. Basically, I want the ability to transport more than just my family of four in a safe and comfortable fashion. Right now, I can offer an extra passenger in our car about eight inches of butt space (complete with lap belt) between two booster seats in the backseat. I know that in the good old days, we piled ourselves two deep into the front seat and such, but there are laws against that now. Besides, I want a vehicle with some room to stretch out during long road trips.

So, the only vehicles still currently being manufactured that offer the kind of space I want are oversized SUVs and minivans. While an oversized SUV might render me cool in some circles, my personal belief is that if you own that type of vehicle, you better damn well be using it to pull a large boat or horse trailer – not to take your kids and their friends to the movies. This belief makes the minivan the obvious choice for me.

When I explain my logic to the anti-minivan camp, they inevitably conclude that I can circumvent this dilemma by purchasing the apparently now hip and ironic full-size station wagon. Strangely enough, nobody ever suggests the full-size conversion van – complete with swivel seats and card table -which, if you’re into being ironic, has far more bang for the buck. But that’s beside the point. My point is that I’m not going to choose some piece of shit station wagon over a minivan. It may be hip in some circles, it is certainly has an air of spontaneity, but in my world view there ain’t a damn thing sexy about a station wagon.

So lately, I’ve taken a different tack. It is this. I am claiming, with a straight face, that minivan is really the sexiest ride around. First of all, if you need a minivan, you’ve been getting busy on a regular basis in the past few years and you have the goods to prove it. Secondly, anybody who has taken a ride in the recent crop of minivans cannot tell me these vehicles don’t offer a smooth ride. If a smooth ride brought Prince to a falsetto in Little Red Corvette, the minivan can do the same for fathers in their 30s and 40s. Finally, all that space I’ve been talking about? I have a friend, a mother of three, (I am not making this up) who insists that the biggest advantage of her minivan is the ample space it has for her and her husband to get down to business while the kids are at piano lessons. If a vehicle in which you can have sex is not sexy, then I guess just don’t get it.

While I don’t really expect people to believe that the minivan is the sexiest vehicle out there, I do think that people should realize that things like hipness and sex appeal are both relative and subjective. I’m going to buy the car that suits my needs regardless of what other people say, but I’m going to have some fun doing it, and part of that is changing the image of the minivan, one group of nay-sayers at a time.

So all you folks with your Subarus, your mini-SUV’s, and your cramped sedans, listen up. The question is no longer “is the minivan cool?”, but rather, “are you cool enough for the minivan?”