February 2, 2006
Spending as much time on the road as I do, many of the things I wonder about on a semi-regular basis have to do with cars and driving. Some of the questions will never be answered, like why the guy in the Saturn minivan who cut over into my lane last night leaned on his horn and beeped at me after he made a space for himself behind my car. Did he not see the lines painted on the pavement to indicate which right turn lane fed into which travel lane of the road we were both heading onto? Did he see them but not know what they meant? If he’d been really REALLY angry, would he have put his cellphone down to gesture rudely at me as well?
Some of the questions I come up with do have answers, though, and I’m always happy when I resolve another little mystery. For instance, the tail lights on some Volvos have always looked odd to me, like the ears of little animals sticking up. They didn’t seem to fit somehow. Then one day I heard an interview on the radio in which it was mentioned that windows in centuries-old Swedish churches inspired the curves of the lights, and that gave me a context in which to appreciate them. I still think they look a little funny, but now I can understand why they are the way they are.
Something similar happened with the new Mustang when it came out. I liked it (even though it made my 1994 model look dated), but it came in a couple of colors that made no sense to me, specifically the pea soup green and rain cloud blue. These are not exciting, enticing, sporty colors; they don’t fit the image of the Mustang in my head. The Mustangs in my mind are clothed in bright and clear and clean hues–red, yellow, white. Then I saw a vintage Mustang of the Bullit era, parked in a lot with a “for sale” sign on it. It was that same greyed-out blue. Ah, I got it. Those colors are for the people who remember the Mustang from back then, and I’m not quite old enough to fit that profile. Those colors were not intended to appeal to me. I felt much better, because now they made sense. I love it when that happens.