MAD DOG: Love the One You Drive

Buster Mitchell wants to marry his car. This shouldn't come as a shock since I think we all know Americans love their cars. We pamper them, name them, feed them, wash them, polish them, talk to them, and get very upset when anything happens to them. If only we treated our family and friends that well.Unlike most of us, though, Buster decided to act on his impulse. After being dumped by his girlfriend, he decided it was time to marry his one true love -- his 1996 Mustang GT. He went to the Knoxville, Tennessee courthouse and filled out an application listing his fiancee's birthplace as "Detroit", her father as "Henry Ford", and her blood type as "10-W-40". The clerk told him no go.The problem is that Tennessee law says it's only legal for men and cars to marry if the car is older than 16. Just kidding. Actually it turns out your bride has to be female. Imagine that! Buster defends himself by pointing out that his fiancee -- who he probably calls GT when he's murmuring sweet nothings into her fuel injectors -- has fewer plastic parts than either Cher or Pamela Anderson Lee. Just kidding again. Actually they have the same amount. According to the Associated Press, Buster says it should be okay since "In California they have same-sex marriages." They don't, but he doesn't let that stop him. "Why can't we do the good ol' boy thing and marry our cars and trucks?"Actually, it wasn't that long ago that miscegenation was still illegal in Tennessee, so the idea of interbreeding between cars and people is, well, a little revolutionary. I'm surprised the KKK (Kar Klub of Knoxville) hasn't burned a car chassis on his lawn yet, but that's probably only because they're too busy writing their Congressmen to make the practice legal. Providing, of course, that the law includes long-bed pick-up trucks (with or without camper shells). Why is it we love our cars so much, anyway? They're big, hulking, cold, balky pieces of metal. Not something we'd usually think of as a loveable object. True, we spend a lot of time in them, but we also spend a lot of time in the bathroom and most people don't have the same relationship with their toilet. [NOTE: Insert favorite "Buster marrying an outhouse" joke here.] It could be because cars get us places quickly -- well, usually -- but people don't feel the same way about bicycles or buses or trains or roller blades. Well, maybe roller blades, but that's mostly in Southern California.Maybe it's because cars are like mobile castles, keeping us safe and protected from the outside world. This would help explain why we defend them at all costs if someone on the road threatens it. I'm amazed some smart lawyer hasn't used this argument to defend a road rage case yet. After all, if a person is allowed to protect their home from intruders, and a person in another car is attacking your portable home, you should have the right to protect yourself. I suspect Buster has already thought this through, even going so far as to realize that if he were married to his car, it couldn't be forced to testify against him in court. Anthropomorphizing cars is nothing new. Remember Herbie the Love Bug? The car in "Who Killed Roger Rabbit"? And how about My Mother the Car, one of TV's finest moments in which Jerry Van Dyke's dead mother came back as a car? This was one of the all-time amazing sitcoms. Amazing because to this day no one will admit to having commissioned it, written it, produced it, or even watched it, yet somehow it lasted a full year.Just the thought of My Mother The Car should be enough to make people like Buster Mitchell abandon any thoughts of marrying his car. Suppose your mother was reincarnated as a car and you married her without realizing it? How would you cope with it? Psychiatry? Move to West Virginia where it's legal? Join Roman Polanski in France? The sick part is that that sooner or later someone in Detroit would decide there's a market there and start producing the new Ford Oedipus.Actually, one of the things that bothers me most about Buster and his attempt at auto-eroticism is his taste in mates. A '96 Mustang? Come on! I had a '66 Mustang convertible for a number of years and I have to say, even though I really liked the car, I couldn't see marrying it. It was too hard to cuddle up to, it would overheat and stop before I was done, and in the winter it took forever to warm up. True, it didn't talk back, I could turn it off anytime I wanted, and I could take the top down whenever I was in the mood and it never complained of having a headache. But even so, marriage is a big step.The biggest problem, really, is that this could set a very bad precedent. If people are allowed to marry their cars, what next? Lawn mowers? Power saws? That new gadget from the Williams-Sonoma catalog? Suddenly that stupid joke from when we were kids -- "I love Tootsie-rolls!" "Then why don't you marry one?" -- will be taken literally.Buster swears he's not giving up yet and may try a couple of wedding chapels in the Great Smoky Mountains. In my heart I hope he's successful and happy. I really do. But if it doesn't work out in the long run, he'd better not come crying to me complaining that his bride the car is driving him crazy. After all, he's supposed to be the one in the driver's seat.

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