Driving a Van

By: Andrew Bernhardt

Even before Scooby-Doo and their hippie-fied Mystery Machine skyrocketed to the pinnacle of popularity, I was a huge van fan. There was just something about the elongated, cylindrical shape that made my mouth water. When I was a sophomore, I took up a humiliating job at a local fish-fry just so I could save up enough bread to buy my first van. A year and a lot of forearm burns later, I was the proud owner of my very own Dodge Tradesman. The old girl was pretty beat up, but I poured every spare dollar I had into tricking her out with all the accessories I could get my hands on. First, I installed a twin-size water bed into the rear. Then, I converted the side cabinetry into a wet bar. After that came the shag carpet and stereo system. I finished it off with some velvet upholstery and incredibly opaque window tinting.

It goes without saying that my van made me a popular man around Milwaukee. Every Friday night, I would buzz over to the ice rink and park right up front. When the ladies heard my hi-fi blasting out Don't Fear the Reaper, they knew to ditch their dates and come outside to me. I always kept the wet bar fully stocked with plenty of Coors and Schnapps, so it didn't take long to get those girls to lose their inhibitions. Man, those were the days. Carefree and cool is the only way to live.

Unfortunately, times change, and so do girls' tastes. About the time Reagan took office, owning a van was suddenly seen as a liability with the ladies. I didn't want to turn my back on my Tradesman, though. She had been loyal to me, and I was going to be loyal to her in return. I tried adding on some new accessories, like a roof-mounted wing and some chrome windshield wipers, but all the girls simply sneered.

I was in the love doldrums until the turn of the millennium. I made a Y2K resolution to "get with the times, van man," to use the parlance of the Denny's waitress who turned down my invitation for an all-expenses-paid night out at the Red Lobster. As soon as my January 1st hangover wore off, I rolled over to the Ford dealership, said goodbye to my Tradesman, and drove home in my shiny new Excursion. From the moment I sat down behind the wheel, I was bowled over by the SUV power that my Ford pumped out. But I wanted more. So I recently installed a Pacesetter air intake and a Bully Dog performance chip, and I can barely control the explosive power of this SUV. And the love life is definitely on the upswing. What can I say-big automobiles are nature's aphrodisiac.

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