Friday, November 5, 2010


My husband and I don't have brand new cars. His is a newer model than mine, but both vehicles have seen their share of miles and accidental dings. We're both pretty happy with what we've got, though.

My son is almost sixteen (yeah, it's killing me) and we've been on the hunt for something he can drive. Something safe, reliable and, of course, extra affordable (read: cheap). We told him we'd match whatever amount he was able to save over the last few years, but the total budget still isn't huge. So the cars we've been looking at are old and packed with lots of miles. But that's fine if they have a good history and the safety ratings aren't bad.

This afternoon we drove something from 2001 that was in great shape. Remembering the things that were important to me when I was a teenager, I watched my son closely.
Stereo (check)
Double-check the stereo (check)
See if car will go fast (check -- well, I was right there with him, so he couldn't push it too much)

But the thing that got his attention (and held it) was the one item I didn't even think he'd notice. The one thing he'd never seen before. The cigarette lighter. It was the kind you push in and the inner circles of metal get red hot -- it was the kind my grandfather used, the kind that used to come standard in every car ever made. I have no idea when they quit putting lighters in cars.

My son was fascinated by the whole concept and though his generation doesn't seem to be interested in smoking cigarettes (yay!), the lighter brought him much joy. He had fun pulling it out after it was hot and then joking (yes, joking) about how he could use it as a weapon if someone was an unruly passenger. He didn't even say anything when I turned off the stereo.

I don't know if that's the car for my son or not, but he certainly thinks it is - I just hope he isn't being unduly influenced by the old-fashioned feature. Either way, I've got my fingers crossed that he finds he doesn't really enjoy driving, or the independence that comes with having wheels, or going fast, or listening to the stereo when he's driving, or looking at the silly red coils on the lighter.