In the first flush of a new romantic relationship, the sweet delights of that early rush of love and laughter may blind one to certain realities that tend to fully reveal themselves only with time.
Unduly influenced by appearance and hormones, people sometimes make partner choices that aren’t necessarily the best ones for them.
Alas, this may be the case with our family’s decades-long flirtation with Volvos. Too often we’ve been seduced by their clean, square lines…drawn in by their Swedish ancestry….turned on by their sexy turning radii…lost our hearts to their incredible visibility….lured by the promise of their longevity….swooned for their impeccable safety records.
But as we’ve reveled in the idea of our Volvo relationships, their down-the-road reality hasn’t always lived up to the sweet talk that initially revved our engines.
Way back in the late ’80s came our first encounter with Volvo dreams. Newly married ourselves, the 1983 dark green Volvo 240 DL (purchased used, with 100,000+ miles already under her enticing body; we’re never a Volvo’s first love) seemed like a boxy fantasy come true.
“I loved that car,” sighed my still-smitten spouse of the vehicle he used for his commute to and from downtown St. Paul.
Inevitably, we were betrayed. One dark, icy, snowy night, the car slid onto a slick highway median and things were never the same again. Oh, we tried to repair the relationship, but the vehicle wasn’t interested.
Moving along, we attempted to forget our Volvo disappointment and switched brands altogether, latching on to a (new!) Saturn wagon. A good car, to be sure, but somehow lacking the glamour of the Volvo we’d left in the rearview mirror.
A few years later, we lost our willpower and were sucked into another Volvo liaison–this time with a 1989 blue Volvo wagon (but it had a third rear-facing seat, and we had children!). It served us well, although we were bidding it auf wiedersehen before we knew it.
Time passed, but Volvos still tugged at our heartstrings…and we once again fell victim to those Swedish charms. Next up: a 1998 white Volvo V90 station wagon–surely a safe, reliable choice for our teen drivers? Let’s call the car “Blanca,” for easy reference.
Blanca was serviceable, if a little too hearse-like for our kids’ comfort at times. But Blanca proved to have a mind of her own, and last winter–after a couple with no fits and starts–she began to assert herself. We should have known better; this aging blonde (252,000 miles on her from the outset) hailed from New Mexico.
Blanca refused to run for a good spell of the 2014 cold snap, demanding a new battery and other parts to keep herself looking–or maybe only feeling–more youthful. We showered her with spendy attention, but she was never quite satisfied.
Finally, we turned a cold shoulder on her–leaving the ivory maiden to linger, untouched, for several frigid days and nights while we frolicked without her in warmer climes. We wouldn’t be forgiven that folly.
Upon returning, Blanca stubbornly refused to budge. She wouldn’t emit so much as a groan, a purr, not even a growl–nada. We coaxed her, charged her up, talked to her, massaged the ice and snow from her windows, but still she ignored us.
Finally, as the weather warmed, Blanca ached for more attention, and after a long episode of charging, she suddenly returned to life. For three days she was operational; maybe we’d recaptured her heart. Too soon, though, the fickle girl had jilted us in the Walgreen’s parking lot, not unlike a teenage sweetie dumped by her dream date at the drive-in.
When her first full-time driver–our college-age son–came home for part of his recent break, Blanca sprang into action as if he were the one she’d been waiting for all along. She moved with little trouble, rolled happily along the city streets, carried her man wherever he wished to travel.
But as he prepared to return to school, Blanca slowed once more, as if she knew abandonment was approaching.
You’d think we’d have learned this lesson earlier; maybe we weren’t meant to be in a long-term relationship with a high-maintenance Volvo gal.
We should absorb the message: Blanca just isn’t our type.