On Thursday, April 26, 2007, a day that will live in infamy, my esteemed colleague Steve Inskeep defamed minivans, not only equating them with those monstrosities of the American road, SUVs, but actually blaming them for beginning the decline of the American automotive industry.
As a minivan owner, I rise in my homely vehicle's defense. Actually, I don't need to rise, as my seating position is already happily raised above most other traffic, though not to dominate and intimidate, in the manner of an SUV driver. No, I like to look over my fellow drivers so I can better care for them.
A minivan is a vehicle that says to the world, "Hey, I'm not in a hurry. I'm here to enjoy the scenery through my expansive windows." A minivan says, "I am comfortable with myself, who I am, how much hair I have left, how much I weigh now." If a sports car is a symbol for the owner's manhood, well, my manhood is capacious and large, and like Walt Whitman, contains multitudes. And, improving on Whitman, my manhood has a luggage rack.
An SUV says to the world, "Back off, pal. Don't tempt my wrath. Mess with me, and I will mess you up. I will make you wish you never got behind the wheels of your pissant little Honda." But, in contrast, a Minivan says, "Hey, want a ride? I got space. Sure, you may have to push an empty juice box aside, and your pants might stick to the seat, but hey, I'm going your way! Not quickly, but I'm going there."
A minivan signals acceptance, peace, joy. It carries with it the promise of children — the next generation of minivan drivers, in larval form. It also carries a full-size piece of plywood, in case some SUV driver threw a rock through your window. They do that, sometimes. Frankly, I don't trust them.
A minivan gets good gas mileage. Not superb gas mileage — we minivanners don't like to brag — but good. Most minivans these days are built on sedan platforms, meaning we get the same mileage as a full size car, except we use our precious fossil fuels to carry more stuff. Stuff like children and their juice boxes. You know what driving a minivan is like? It's like giving your whole family a fun piggy back ride at 65 miles an hour.
So, Mr. Inskeep, deride us no further. Give a minivan a spin, one of these days. And, of course, I mean that idiomatically, because minivans don't really spin. They proceed slowly, cautiously, happily. When you're out there, look around for a blue minivan, a little battered from its years of happy use, with me in the driver seat. You can tell its me because I'll be the one desperately looking for an exit. From the road I mean. Not the minivan. I love my minivan. Hey, in fact, do you want to swap for a while? What do you drive? Is it something with a gear shift? Hell, is it moderately clean inside? Tell you what, you got anything better than a Suburu Legacy, I'm your guy. Give me a call.
Peter Sagal is the host of the quiz show Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! on NPR.