In which she gets to the new car, or halfway to toity


If I wrote like I were a truck driver, I would put my idea into the GPS, choose the shortest route, and arrive at my destination in the least amount of time possible. Instead, I write like a tourist wandering around a new city with the vague idea that I might go to the local zoo.


I put the address of the zoo into the GPS, choose the shortest route, and head off, eager to see the sloths and Gollum-like tarsiers. On my way, I see hundreds of billboards and decide to check out one of them because it won’t take long, and it’s right on the way to the zoo.

Tariser photo courtesy of motz

Tariser photo courtesy of motz


Three hundred and fifty-two times out of three hundred and fifty-three times, I never see a sloth or tarsier because I spend the day at a local winery learning about bâtonnage* or stop to fish for a few hours. While fishing, I notice four kinds of bobbers in my tackle box, and drive to the nearest bobber-making factory to learn how they are made.


In my last post, Compound interest, I put “new car” in the GPS and drove off. On the way, I noticed a sign marked off-ramp, began to wonder about compound nouns, and swerved at the last minute to see where the off-ramp would take me.  It took me everywhere but “new car.”


Today I finally got there.


Several months ago, my husband and I realized my 1997 Bonneville might not make it through another winter. We are cash-only car buyers because I pledged long ago that I would never, ever buy a new car, and I never have, until I did.


I have cherished two reasons why I would not be foolish enough to buy a never-owned car. First, once you leave the DDR force shield that covers every car dealer, deadly depreciation rays (DDRs) bombard your car and reduce its worth by up to 9%. Second, I have no interest in paying interest on a car.


Our auto search led us to a car dealer to look at fully depreciated cars. Although I am a fairly good judge of character, I don’t know my Buicks from my Bonnevilles. My husband, on the other hand, has a caveman’s instinct for car hunting. He always spears the fattest, biggest mastodon available, and we feast on it for years.


During what seemed like three days, but were only three hours in caveman hunting time, my husband went over every inch of a brand-new double-tusked mastodon with shiny gray hair, several shades darker than his own. I pretended to look interested while he looked for cash on its back and something called an APR. Since it had a cash back and the APR search came up zero, we took it.


Arriving home in my first and last brand-new car, I realized I had entered fancy territory. As you know, fancy is halfway to schmancy. Or put synonymously, since fancy is the same as hoity, I was halfway to toity.


I had no intention to leave the hoi polloi (even if it’s a redundant place to be because it translates to the the many), and then my husband went hunting again – this time for his own mastodon. He found one – an older model exactly like mine, but in black. If that’s not hoity-toity, I don’t know my hoits or my toits.


Becoming fancy-schmancy or hoity-toity has required a change of attitude and vocabulary. I must move from being super silly to being supercilious. Rather than shouting out, “Holy cow!” when I see the price tags on shoddy name-brand clothing, I must exclaim, “Holy filet mignon!” To avoid identification with the  double-articled hoi polloi, “Heaven’s to Betsy!” must now be expressed as “Elysium to Elizabeth!”


My hoity-toitiness will last about as long as autumn in Wisconsin. By January of next year, my car will be old and my newly acquired rhyming compounds will drop off like autumn leaves. I hope to grow some new ones, befitting my fall from fancyhood. Perhaps I shall be barely-therely, or bleak and meek, or squarely-sparely, or plain mere-here.



*bâtonnage is a fancy French word for taking a big stick and stirring the dead yeast in the bottom of a wine barrel.





27 thoughts on “In which she gets to the new car, or halfway to toity

  1. Congratulations! You have finally arrived! I’m not sure exactly were you’ve arrived, but you are here, at the little red dot.

    One of my remaining pleasures in life is observing the cavemen in their natural habitat as they stalk the great mastodon 😉

  2. I’m with Elyse on this one – the journey is the best part of the whole process, and the more meandering, the better. Congrats on your shiny toity. Can’t wait to see what google tracker makes of that one. 🙂

  3. I’ve always measured my car buying success by the time it took me to finish the business. My greatest success took only an hour. Unfortunately, my effort to get it all behind me, sometimes gets in the way of choosing the car. It’s happened more than once that I set out to buy a certain model, and bought something completely different. But since I keep them till they fall apart, every new one seems as miraculous as the discovery of the wheel, and I’m satisfied with what I’ve bought. Wishing you many great adventures with the new vehicle, and may it be nothing more than an extension of your physical body, taking you always to the happiest places.

    • For me, the best car is one that has an excellent heater and a radio. Everything else is extra. The heater in the new car works wonderfully and the radio can be controlled on the steering wheel. I couldn’t ask for anything more. (Except maybe chocolate.)

  4. Funny that you should use the word mastodon when only the other I was browsing the etymological dictionary and was shocked when I discovered the meaning of the word. Have a guess, you’ll never get it.

    Apparently it means breast-tooth, from breast-like projections on the tooth! I couldn’t believe it. I’ll never be able to look one in the eye again, knowing what its name, which used to sound large and majestic, really means. Just as well I’ll never have to worry about that, since it is extinct. And if I ever did meet one, I doubt that would actually be at the forefront of my mind, being more concerned about its size and temper. But still.

  5. My caveman insisted that I needed a new car this past summer. I declined to engage and ended up with the car I wanted but in a size enough longer than my last car. This immediately led me to back into another car while leaving a head-in parking place. A month later, I did the same thing in another parking lot.

    Now I am all the way to embarrassed. I am constantly looking over my shoulder to make sure they haven’t come to take my license away.

    Evidently I really didn’t want a new car. And I’m good at getting my way.

  6. My husband and I, too, have no interest in paying interest on a car, and have not bought a new one since before the new millennia. However, I would very much like to be in the hoity-toity, fancy-schmancy crowd. May I use the terms “holy filet-minon” or “Elysium to Elizabeth” even though I am part of the hoi polloi?

    • The truly hoity-toity will not ask to check your credentials, so you should feel free to use those terms. If someone does ask for your hoity-toity credentials, rest assured that someone is part of the the masses.

  7. What a lot of folderol for a set of wheels, eh! But since I’m among the plebeian fools for whom the entirety of a car’s cachet lies in its ability to take me places I couldn’t otherwise go (including, but not *absolutely* limited to, ones where I have no idea where I am), I remain willing to own one unless I get to live in a region with fabulous public transport. The beauty of the latter, of course, is that it really can be a Sport if you get in the habit of getting onto or into a random carrier of some variety and just see where it takes you on the occasion. I’ve had some great times doing that. Until then, it pays to be hoity enough to get me to toity and its environs.

    Another deliriously delightful ride with you, my dear!


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