That was close

I only narrowly escaped purchasing a car this week. I’m still recovering.

Blame it on the sunshine. It was so beautiful on Saturday, and after running a couple errands and grabbing breakfast at McDonald’s and iced coffee at Starbucks, we didn’t feel like heading back home to toil endlessly and accomplish little. So Mike suggested driving to the nearest Fiat dealer to check out the cute little Fiat 500s we’d been eyeing for a while. My car is getting tired, and we had talked about keeping it for winter and getting something small with great mileage to tool around in the rest of the time. A “commuter car,” even though I don’t commute.

“Let’s just check it out.” he said.

“Just for fun,” he said.

“You might not even like it,” he said.

Twenty-five minutes later, we were perusing the cars on the lot — practically the only customers. Salesman Jeff was very accommodating. “Let’s take a test drive,” he said. And so we did. Twice. (Just to compare the Sport model to the Lounge model).

It’s a fun little car. Surprisingly roomy in front. Minuscule back seat that feels like you’re sitting on a board. (But what do I care about that?) Teeny trunk, but the seats fold down to give the illusion of space. I wouldn’t be hauling many bags of topsoil or mushroom manure, but it’d be fine for groceries. Fun little extras — nice radio, Bluetooth, USB to plug in a player. A glass top on the Lounge. Lots of colors and combos. Adorable.

It was the car in the showroom that did me in. The Mocha Latte Lounge convertible. Sort of the color of coffee yogurt. With the Avorio interior. And the Avorio-Nero upholstery — a tiny ivory and black check, sort of like houndstooth, and a perfect match for the mocha latte and ivory dash. It was just so darn sweet. I wanted to lick it. I was ready to buy it on the spot. Me who never wanted a convertible — or even a sunroof — in her life.

Thank God it had an automatic transmission. Deal breaker. I love driving a stick.

So I asked them to search. Could they find me the same color combo with a stick? I’d even take a convertible if I had to.

Nope, couldn’t find one. They did, however, find one in Virginia that had everything I wanted, but in Bianco Perla (Pearl White — a $500 upgrade). I thought and hemmed and hawed. They priced it for us, along with trying to sell us on a Rame (copper) convertible we had test-driven. Obviously they want to sell us a car on their lot, not one on somebody else’s.

I wasn’t into the convertible, but they made us a decent deal for the Bianco one. With zero percent financing if we wanted it. I thought and thought. Went back and forth. Finally, at least 3 hours after we walked in the place, I said “yes” and gave them a deposit. We got in our sweltering car, finished our now warm iced coffees, and came home. Then I had a nervous¬†breakdown.

Why the hell did I just buy a car? I didn’t need a car. My car is fine. It’s paid off. It’s a little worn, but I still love it. LOVE my Subaru. I love that it’s a stick and has heated seats and hauls every darn thing I need it to haul. Who needs all these vehicles? Four vehicles! For two people. It’s crazy I tell you. Crazy!¬†I didn’t get up this morning thinking I would buy a car. I’ve never bought a car with this little planning and forethought and research. What the hell did I just do?

Mike managed to talk me down. Reminded me of the practicality of the little car, that we had the money, that it would be OK, that he could also drive it to save mileage on his car, that we could get rid of our truck eventually when the major house projects were done, that we had had a shitty year and life is short and buying a car isn’t that big a deal. I calmed down, and gradually started to get excited about my new car to-be.

I read some owners’ forums online to feel the love (no, wait, that’s Subaru’s tagline). I downloaded and read the brochure. Mike found the product manual online and I read it all. Mike checked with our insurance agent, and it would be less than we’re spending on his car or my car.

Late Monday, the bubble burst. The car in Virginia had been sold. They had another one in Grigio (gray) — did I want that? Gray? GRAY? Ummm, about as much as I want black or silver, which is not at all.

Mike and I went into massive Internet search mode. We found a Perla Bianco in Maryland (turns out that was actually the original “Virginia” car and already sold). We found a Mocha Latte in Florida (but they just had a hurricane, and it’s 1,000 miles away) and another in Kansas (also 1000 miles away and with a useless $450 upgrade). The dealer found a Perla Bianco in New Jersey, but it had a sunroof — another $850.

In the end, when push came to shove yesterday, I walked away. It felt too forced. Like the universe was trying to tell me this wasn’t the right time to drain our savings and buy a car we don’t absolutely need and I’m not 100% sure of. If the deal hinged on finding the right colors…not really a great reason to buy a car.

I’m sad to lose that vision of bopping around town with a cute little Italian. Sad to see 30/38 mpg evaporate into thin air. But I’m relieved, too, which says a lot. Maybe I’ll revisit it when Fiat comes out with its crossover version in a year or so. Maybe I’ll change my mind next week and go back and get one off the lot, for less, in another model or color.

But in the meantime, I’m shaking off my close call and planning to get future mocha latte fixes in the usual way. I can have 5,000 of them.

Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, “It might have been.”
~ Kurt Vonnegut