car shopping

The Good Doctor, Joel T., decided his 1991 Jeep Wrangler just wasn't cutting it anymore. The clutch was faulty, it got horrible gas mileage, it was totally falling apart...and besides...he just finished his residency so he didn't have to drive the damn thing anymore.

He asked me if I'd go car shopping with him, so we hopped in the Jeep and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County, where all the Really Nice Car Dealerships are located.

It was one of those picture-perfect Northern California summer days.

Now, Joel was thinking about maybe a BMW, Volkswagen, or Audi convertible. I mean, he's gay, he's a doctor, and he lives in San Francisco, so it's expected of him to purchase a sporty, expensive, German automobile, no?

Well, Joel is from Erie, Pennsylvania...to be honest, he's always wanted a black Ford Mustang convertible with a black leather interior, manual transmission, and a 6-cylinder engine (this is San Francisco, remember...gasoline prices are just absurd) since he was sixteen years old. We walked into Marin Ford for shits and giggles, not really expecting to find anything. However, we were stunned to find this thing sitting on the showroom floor, gleaming in the afternoon sunlight. Immediately, Joel insisted they take it outside so he could play with it.

Trust me, I wanted to get my hands on it too. I've wanted to drive one of these since they came out.

We couldn't believe it...the exact car Joel wanted...right in front of us. It had such a cool interior...Ford did a good job with this one:

It begged us to take it for a spin...

So Joel climbed behind the wheel, I squeezed in the back seat, and the salesperson got in the passenger side. Joel put it in gear, released the clutch...

...and promptly stalled it.

I laughed out loud, and yelled, "GEEK!" Joel shot me a look in the rearview mirror and tried again. The Mustang roared back to life, and with a slight bark of the tires, we were on our way.

Joel and I were instantly smitten. It was the ultimate Boy Car, and at that particular moment, we weren't two gay men in their thirties, we were two midwestern teenagers playing with a grownup-sized toy. He let me drive it (I didn't stall it...ha ha ha Joel), and I took it out on the 101 and drove the thing like it was meant to be driven.

Fast, with precision. Just like my pop taught me.

Basically, I leaned into it a bit and accelerated to approximately 85 MPH before my built-in Drivers License Preservation Alarm went off...not to mention I remembered it actually belonged to Marin Ford.

I'm such a goddamn kid sometimes.

However, being sensible Midwesterners, we decided to look at those pretty, shiny, blinged-out rides the Germans were offering. So, we bade Marin Ford adieu, climbed back into the Jeep, and drove over to Sonnen Motorcars, where this rather stern-looking automobile greeted us.

I have to admit...it was pretty, but it was also approximately $10,000 more than the Mustang. We decided to poke our heads inside to see what else they had.

"Um, may I help you?" asked the receptionist with an annoyed tone as we walked inside.

Joel and I looked at each other, puzzled as to why the woman had no idea why we were there. I mean, it isn't like we were pushing a shopping cart and asking where the produce section was. For god's sake, it's a car dealership. What the hell did she think we were in there for?

"Well, we're just looking to buy a car, that's all." I was annoyed. "I guess we're just looking."

"There are no salespeople here right now, you'll have to come back tomorrow," she curtly replied.

At this point, Joel decided that even if there was a car there he might want to buy, he'd buy it somewhere else. Miss Bitchypants kinda stunk the place up with her shitty attitude. Now, maybe she was having a bad day. That's fine. But we walked into the dealership with a jovial and friendly attitude, and actually said hello to her first.

It would have been nice if she hadn't been so unpleasant.

Are you listening, Sonnen? You should teach your staff to not be rude to two gay men from San Francisco, one of which had a lot of money to spend, the other who acted like he did (I would have been the latter).

We decided to ignore her and look at some of the goodies parked around the showroom.

Now, this was was WAY too big, even if it was absolutely stunning. It's an Audi A8 with the W12 engine (translation: huge, powerful, 12-cylinder beast that sucks down copious amounts of petroleum). It was much more automobile than Joel needed, but I imagined myself crossing the United States in this gorgeous machine with the huge schozz:

It was also approximately $117,000. I had my checkbook with me; I figured if I wrote a check for it, I'd have just enough time to drive it to Honduras where nobody would ever find me.

We walked over to the Jetta instead:

It just left me wanting more.

We decided we had had just about enough of Sonnen, so off we traipsed to the next stop...RAB Motors in beautiful San Rafael, California.

Oh hell yeah...now you're talking.

I was enchanted by these machines...so bold, so powerful, so...Teutonic.

I was lost in my own world for a bit...Joel went to look at some other cars while I just snapped away.

Joel quickly decided that most everything on the lot was a bit out his price range, save for a few SLK's that were lined up on the lot.

Total Bottom Cars. Like VW New Beetle convertibles.

Blech. Not for me. I never liked these SLK's very much anyway...they're too damn small and I feel like a total homofaggotsissygirl in them. I do like the new ones, though. It only took Mercedes eight years to get the damn things right.

We were quite amused at this handwritten thing in the windshield of this used...oh wait, I'm sorry, pre-owned vehicle. Apparently, this is Marin County's answer to a tag sale:

You'd think for a car just $12 south of One Hundred Large they at least could have had someone with better handwriting scrawl that out. And what exactly is "European Pricing" anyway?

Maybe that's just part of the Marin County charm...who knows?

Joel and I had a good laugh over that one.

We headed back over the Golden Gate Bridge...

...where the last rays of sun bathed the towers in golden light.

Of course, there was no way around the $5 cover charge to get back into San Francisco...

...but I guess it was worth it. It was one of the most gorgeous evenings I've ever seen here. Usually it's cold and foggy at that time of day, but instead...

...it was kinda nice. Warm...the way summer is supposed to be.

And that wrapped up an afternoon of car shopping, Marin County style.

© 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 by Chad Fox. All rights reserved.