The sex appeal of the minivan

Digesting the concept that it’s time for a minivan can be a shock for any grownup


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Life has a funny way of coming full circle. Nine years ago, when I was pregnant with my first child, my husband lobbed out a proposition I wasn't willing to catch, "Why don’t we get a minivan?"

We both worked at WMUR – I a reporter, he a photographer -- and frequently we took news cars together to scenes and events. At the time of his suggestion, the new fleet for the station were white minivans. I can remember his idea offended me. He loved how easy it was to get the video camera and equipment out of the van, the giant center console made organization so easy, and he found the armrests comfortable.

I hated it. I felt embarrassed, like I was borrowing my grandfather’s car. It was as if the airline of life lost my luggage, and I was forced to borrow someone else’s suitcase. It felt awkward and uncomfortable. It wasn’t me.

From my recollection, the conversation sounded something like:

"MINIVAN???!!!! Do you think you will ever see me in a MINIVAN? There is no way I will ever get caught dead behind the wheel of a minivan. Do you think I am the minivan type of woman?”

While I am a lady, I think I may have thrown in an expletive to reinforce my point.

Like any smart man, my husband retreated behind his idea, and we ended up buying a nice, big, powerful SUV and embarked upon the world of small children, car seats, strollers and disgusting, messy gooey things that ferment for weeks under car seats.

Digesting the concept that it’s time for a minivan can be a shock for any grownup. It’s a far cry from that highly coveted 18-25 demo. The minivan screams middle-aged. It’s in some cases the first giant purchase a person makes that embraces practicality while simultaneously acknowledging those adventurous, sexier times of life are now in the proverbial “rearview mirror.”

Life is less about getting there in style and more about getting the clan to the destination safely. Let’s face it -- when you buy a minivan, it reinforces the notion that the sexiest thing about life at this point is secretly picking up a copy of “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

I can remember as a younger person, zipping down the highway and getting stuck alongside the dreaded minivan and glancing sideways at the overwrought parents behind the wheel, thinking how fortunate that wasn’t me. There is nothing sexy in the etymology of the word minivan. Vans are notorious for practicality. Their functionality is legendary, and when has something ever been made more elegant by being miniaturized?

Mom jeans

Fast-forward now, and that SUV I mentioned is getting on in years and miles, and it was time to consider adding a new vehicle to our fleet. Going over the options, I kept coming back to one answer. Yes, it was time for a minivan.

I even posted on Facebook, “I’m thinking about getting a minivan.” I got hundreds of passionate responses, the most memorable from a friend who wrote, “It’s been nice knowing you.” Come to think of it, I haven’t connected with him since.

So we went to the dealership and glided out with a sleek, maroon minivan. I wish I could tell you I hate it, that I am suffering through minivan mundaneness, but in all honesty I love it. That center console IS amazing; it can hold so much stuff. There’s a plethora of cup holders. I love the sliding doors and now don’t worry as much about the kids banging into the doors of other vehicles in parking lots.

Sometimes in my minivan I may be at a stoplight and glance over at a sedan and feel a quick pang of jealously over their sleek efficiency. Then I look in the rearview mirror at my kids safely ensconced in their car seats and smile.

I admit I had to get comfortable with my life before I could embark upon the minivan. “Saturday Night Live” once did a skit about “Mom Jeans.” The basic premise being women who had kids wore ugly, ill-fitting, yet comfortable jeans. The motto being, “You’re not a woman anymore, you’re a mom.”

At this point in life, that’s just fine with me. I am proud to be a middle-aged mom (but for the record, I’m just talking about the minivan, not the mom jeans).

It stops there, however. I have resisted the stick figure family on the rear window.

Tiffany Eddy, former news anchor and co-host of “New Hampshire Chronicle” on WMUR-TV, is principal of FocusFirst Communications and public affairs director for Granite State College. She can be reached through focusfirstcommunications.com.

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