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 Texas : Features : Humor : Column - "A Balloon In Cactus"

Get Shorty

by Maggie Van Ostrand
Maggie Van Ostrand

I hate getting shorter. Canít do a thing about it. Maybe itís not true; maybe theyíre just making things larger, like cars.

Ages ago, car designers came up with a great idea: safety belts. It may save your life, we were told. Sure, when youíre 30, but what about when you start to shrink and the belt thatís supposed to save your life now cuts into the side of your neck. I tell people itís a hickey, but suspect they donít believe me, since no respectable hickey ever looked like the slash marks left on my neck by my car.

And speaking of inconsiderate things car designers do for seniors, how about the rear view mirror that you can change so the car lights behind you at night donít blind you with their brilliance, but instead are muted. Thatís for safety, too, right? Then how come they donít use the same changeable glass in the side view mirrors? Itís irksome to have to feel around in the dark for your sunglasses at night just because these car guys have no imagination. Far as I know, this country hasnít farmed out our American know-how. This may be why Horace Greeley came up with the saying, ďCommon sense is very uncommon.Ē

These auto bozos have simply gone too far in the wrong direction, what with the 230-mile per gallon car theyíre talking about now, the Chevy Volt. Whoever heard of a gallon of electricity? Besides, youíd have to have a pretty long extension cord to go that distance. I had a Chevy once and my boyfriend went nearly all the way without any electricity at all. Ah, those were the days, the days of real hickeys. But I digress.

The guy at the car showroom told me the thing most women are interested in is the size of the cup holder. He looked confused when I reminded him that itís really the men who are interested in cup sizes. You know what I mean, donít you, ladies?

Those car people should smarten up and cater to seniors. Donít they realize weíre the ones with the money these days? Personally, Iím all for bringing back the running board. It makes it easier to get in and out of a car without stretching your legs so far that your panty hose gets a tear in it if youíre a lady and, if youíre a gent, you suddenly find yourself dressing on the opposite side from what youíre used to.

I picked up a magazine about cars at the tire store the other day and there was a list of auto accessories that you canít be without. Who are they kidding? Not us seniors. We can live without any of them. Who needs a car cover when you could park it in your own garage if your husband would clean it out and anyway, those covers never fit right and thereís a warning label that says the paint could peel off your car in hot weather. And we donít need seat covers inside to ďprotect the car seats from stains, cigarette burns, tears, etc.Ē First of all, weíre not slobs who leave stains on seats, most of us donít smoke any more, and I havenít torn any seats since the rest home took away my scissors.

We donít need a steering wheel cover either to ďhelp to protect the steering wheel from scratches.Ē What do you think we do, grip the wheel with our teeth? Some of us leave them home in a jar anyway.

Child safety seats donít matter to us now, and actually, they never did. Mothers used to cradle babies in their arms and some of those babies grew up to be president. Nowadays, babies have to be tied in facing the back seat and they canít even look out the window. Todayís babies will probably grow up thinking the world is made of gray corduroy.

We donít need the handheld vacuum they touted in the article, either. Personally, I like a car where you have to wipe your feet off after you get out. Thatís what I call ďcharacter.Ē

Car designers better come up with something seniors want to drive. After all, when nature decrees that some of us get shorter, it compensates by giving us a tall order of common sense.

Copyright Maggie Van Ostrand
"A Balloon In Cactus"
August 13, 2009 column

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