Does your car have a name? Mine usually do. Cars are important to me – they symbolize freedom and loud music, time to think and time to talk, and so much more. Whether it’s writer’s block or depression or a baby who refuses to nap, for me the answer can often be found in a long drive.
My very first and favorite car was a 1981 Datsun 510 named Riff Raff (affectionately and aptly named by my friend Flea after the surly butler in The Rocky Horror Picture Show). Riffy was a stick-shift with stained seats and a sunroof that had three positions: (1) closed, (2) open by two inches, and (3) sitting in the passenger seat. I went through four alternators in as many years with Riffy, and when we installed a CD player in it one year, I had to change a fuse out every few hours to keep the music and lights on. He took me to my first job at McDonald’s and to college at UGA. I loved that car.
Alas, not all first loves can last forever. Since Riff Raff, I’ve had a black Acura Integra coupe (named ‘The Blackura’ by a guy I worked with), a Ford Focus wagon that never felt quite right in my hands and ended up choosing my ex-husband in the divorce, a bright blue Honda Civic inadvertently named ‘Ave’ by a very drunk bar patron who was hitting on my friend Jeff, and the Subaru Outback now driven by Hubs. Originally that one was called Ruby the Subie, but now it’s been shortened to just plain Subie. Not super creative for such a great car, I know: I was pregnant with Monkey when we bought it — we were already struggling to name the baby, we couldn’t spare too much energy naming the car.
These days, my vehicle of choice is all about my motherly
servitude status – a 2011 Toyota Sienna. It carts us to preschool and karate and birthday parties and Publix. It also, somewhat incongruously, takes me to business meetings and writing group. We try not to take it out for date night, but occasionally it happens. To be honest, I never thought I would be a minivan mom. I’ve always prided myself on being a little different, maybe even a little funky for a pasty chunk of a white girl. So the idea of finding myself in the grocery store parking lot, wondering which of the twelve gray minivans is mine… well, it wasn’t appealing. (PS – The first time that happened for real, I almost cried.)
So getting the van was a major concession to practicality, during which I had to leave my ego at the door. Well, the dual, automatic sliding doors and touch-button rear liftgate. They are pretty damn sweet, I must say. Yes, I admit it, now that I’ve traded in what little street cred I might have had for convenience, you’d be hard pressed to pry the keys to my minivan out of my hands. It drives like a luxury sedan, the speakers are actually decent, and there’s Just. So. Much. Room. You won’t believe the crap I can haul around in that thing for days and weeks at a time, without even thinking about it. There could be a colony of bats living in the back and we wouldn’t notice until we actually had to squeeze in the 8-passenger capacity.
For all its features, though, the Sienna is missing one important thing: a name. This is where I need your help. My cars have always been best loved by me, but best named by others. So please, friends, will you put your minivan name suggestions in the comments? I will choose the winning name on Monday, March 10th, and the winner will get… I don’t know, something cool. Maybe one of those pine tree air fresheners.
Here are some parameters for you: I think the van is female (no stick, duh), but I will consider androgynous or unisex names as well. Innuendo is fine, but no actual profanity or offensive language. This is the name for our family minivan – my kids must be able to say it without getting a note sent home from school. A name can be awesome on its own merits, but I’d be interested in any background you have to support your case. I love literary references, song lyrics, etc. The van is sort of a steely gray and usually very, very dirty. It’s full of cheerios, stale goldfish, baby wipes, hot wheels cars, books, crayons and various detritus. I have two boys. We’re Jewish. We’re into pirates and baseball. We live in a place called Roswell, Georgia. You can take all or none of this into account.
If you read my blog via facebook or email, please visit the original post to comment so the names will all be in one place. If you like a suggestion someone else has made, please ‘vote’ for it by replying to their comment. I don’t promise to go with the crowd’s decision, but I will take your votes into consideration. Everyone who comments or votes by reply to another comment will get thrown into a hat for some sort of vaguely cool March prize I haven’t picked out yet. And… go!
[Update August 2018: My beautiful Vaneschewitz, sadly, was totaled in an accident in May of this year. I have a new car, RUBY the RAV4, who I love, but I miss my unassuming, faithful minivan every day. I still love reading the comments on this post as you guys search and suggest names for your own vehicles. Keep ’em coming!]
I’m M.J. (Manda) Pullen, an author and mom in the Atlanta, Georgia area. I blog from the front seat of my Stepford-esque minivan about writing, publishing, parenthood, life in general, and the many lessons I’ve learned the hard way. Get my newsletter!
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