2011 Honda Odyssey: The Minivan Experience
July 19, 2011
It was last Saturday morning. I'm stopped at a red light, driving the Odyssey. To my right, a black Lancer Evolution (latest generation) pulls up. Black aftermarket wheels, lowered stance, burbling exhaust and, ahem, a quite attractive female driver. Probably in her 20s, she's slim and has long brunette hair. She looks over and...
No, wait, that's the beer commercial version, where Ms. Evo Hotness looks over at me and flirts, and then we go off and drink cans of domestic light beer along with her three similarly hot bikini-clad girlfriends in a hot tub. But this is the real-world version. Actually, Ms. Evo Hotness just drove off, never noticing me or the Odyssey.
I would like to say I at least kept up. But I had precious cargo with me -- an ornate and frilly Disney princess birthday cake for my daughter's birthday party later that afternoon that I had just picked up and was bringing home. For fear of the cake sliding around and squishing its frosting against its box, I was driving like an 80-year-old-grandma in her geriatric Toyota Avalon. Topping off this manly experience was a gaggle of pink helium balloons bouncing around in back, blocking the view of the rear. Swagger Wagon? Man Van? Right.
It's moments like this that probably get men to resent minivans. But I suspect this angst is wrongly directed. In actuality, it's not the minivan they don't like, it's what it represents. If you own a minivan, there's an awesomely good chance you're a parent. And society says you're just not hip if you're not the unattached carefree person you used to be. You used to be the guy in the Mustang GT flirting with Ms. Evo Hotness. But now you're like me, baby spit up on your Number One Dad! T-shirt, gingering escorting a pink princess birthday cake.
But I thought about this more and came to an interesting viewpoint. What I suggest, if you find yourself relating, fellow parent, is a change in attitude. If you decide that parenting is in fact worthwhile and admirable (and you might as well, because you're stuck with it), then the minivan becomes, by extension, cool. Just like the Evo allows Hotness have a fun time, the minivan makes parenting more fun. No other type of vehicle lets you do more (or as easily) as a minivan.
In my case, I watched my daughter dance gleefully with her friends at her party, mow down birthday cake and then heard her say,"Thank you for my birthday party, daddy" as I tucked her into bed that night.
It's the minivan experience. Enjoy it.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor