Friday, February 18, 2011

Foreigner Friday: You've Got A Fast Car

Americans love their cars. And they spend so much more time in them than people in Europe. A lot of my friends back home don’t even own cars- they just use public transportation. The US is so vast that a good network of public transportation is not realistic. Big cities like New York have great subways and busses, but when you get to Columbia, SC you really do need a car if you want to get out of the house.
Cars are so much bigger here. It seems that as soon as you have kids you MUST own a van or an SUV. My husband convinced me to get one, too, but I would never have chosen to own one. They are practical, of course. They are just so awful for the environment. Now that I have my second child, I am very glad my husband convinced me to buy the bigger vehicle. These kids need so much stuff that we have a hard time fitting everything into our SUV…
I gave my husband the whole speech: “When I was a child, we just had a very small car and all five of us fit in it. We didn’t even have air conditioning! And this is how we drove the 14 hours to France for our vacation. Children nowadays are so spoiled!”, etc. (And then we walked to school in the snow without shoes on, uphill both ways…) Then I remembered that sitting in the back seat, cramped in with my two annoying brothers while sweating my behind off was really no fun. I’d be willing to bet that those trips were no fun for my parents, either. This is why I agreed to buy a bigger car.
My husband is a car lover. At the moment, we have four cars at our house, two of them old VW Beetles he is working on. So one day he decided that he would really love to own a sporty fast car. We talked about it for a long time and I was not happy about the idea. What wooed me was when he said: “I promise, it’s the last thing I’ll ever want!” with a puppy dog look on his face. So, even though I knew that that wasn’t true, I agreed.

He purchased this beautiful 2008 VW R32. Looks like a regular Golf, but will take your socks right off when you drive it. It is beautiful, I love it! I wish I could be the one who drives it every day. (For those of you who do not know me well, I take great pleasure in driving fast)
Here’s what I don’t get: Why do you need a fast car in SC where the maximum speed you are legally allowed to reach on the Highway is 70mph (for my European friends, that is an extremely slow 110kmh)? There are so many people who are driving these beautiful sporty cars with real muscle that can accelerate at tremendous speeds, only to reach their climax at 70. In my opinion, that is a total waste. 
In my defense, I’m used to the beautiful German Autobahn, on which in a lot of places you can go whatever speed you feel is safe. Late at night when there is nobody else on the road, a safe speed can easily be around 120mph, 200kmh. I miss that very much! Not that the crappy old car I used to have was able to go that fast, but I had the great fortune of driving other people’s cars every once in a while.
Maybe some day we’ll get to take the R32 out for a real joy ride. Until then I just hope that I never get caught speeding. It really is a compulsion, I can’t help myself. Maybe the police officer who pulls me over will have some compassion when I tell him that I’m from Germany…


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