Thursday, February 5, 2009

Smart Cars, or, Why Didn’t I Notice this Before?





In my day-to-day life, I try to focus on simple, well-made things that reflect my personal aesthetics and beliefs. I am not always successful, take, for instance—the post holiday shopping habit that has now lasted until February. Not that it’s major things I crave, its more the hunt itself.

Usually, I am content to buy generic and no-name products, firmly believing that design trumps label. But not always. I have been know to be seduced by obscure designer labels whose looks/products are so smart, that buying them seems less an act of mindless acquisition, and more the act of a collector. At least that’s what I tell myself when struggling up to the counter to pay for whatever denim+burlap+chiffon creation I'm "acquiring," then spend the next six months trying to figure out a place to wear.

Often while shopping, I find myself far afield of my quest: a search for jeans results in a new necklace, workout gear turns into new pots and pans, winter snowboots become a swimsuit…the list goes on and on in absurdity, and there is no more need for me to innumerate my follies.

But wait.

Yesterday, while stopping of at the grocery store to pick up items suitable for stewing, I parked nose-to-nose with a Smart Car. Last year, when Smart Cars first came to Jacksonville, I was super-excited. Not only are they absurdly cute, but, I thought, they’d be super gas-efficiant. Plus, they are made by Mercedes Benz.

However, when I went out to test-drive one (surprisingly fun for the short among us), I failed to notice the tri-pointed star, encased in a circle on the nose of the car.

This changes everything.

Though in the days following my test-drive, as I read the specs and thought about the practicality of such a tiny car in Jacksonville where—let’s keep it really real—there is no dearth of parking, and that doesn’t get much better gas mileage than my current 4-banger sedan, I opted out.

However, when I saw that tiny logo, with all of it desire-inducing heritage, I felt my lust for the tiny car that I can’t help but think resembles a lotus slipper, return. It was with the same dizzying force that I once wanted to be a homeowner (now, a new roof, peeling linoleum, and limping kitchen appliances later, the bloom has [ahem] faded).

In this city, and for the life that I lead, the Smart Car really isn’t so smart. And I will not be buying one anytime soon. Not even the tart yellow one with a drop-top that seems built especially for me. Not only was the car designed for use within cities where parking is a premium—NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, even perhaps Miami—it wasn’t really designed to hop on the highway and to take long-ish trips. All features pretty much required here in Jacksonville.

Though I love the idea of smaller, and more sustainable, I must also bow to the practical and common sensical. I must laugh at myself for the desire induced by a logo, and comfort myself with a nice rambling post…well, that and maybe a trip to Violet; after all, I do need a new wallet…

8 comments:

Bike Jax said...

Brilliant post!

Tonya Lee said...

Barrett and I just noticed the Mercedes emblem a couple of weeks ago. According to google (take it or leave it) : Apparently it is an after-market addition. European Smart Cars have this emblem...US Smart Cars do not.

madeleine said...

Matt: thank you!

Tonya: so it emerges that I've been duped by an after-market product... how gauche...how utterly embarrassing to invest all that emotion.

B.Gray said...

Your shopping dilema reminds me of how I am when I go to Target. All I needed were batteries but Im leaving with tooth paste, gum, a new video game, some snacks, a toy for my son....and I allmost forget to grab the batteries. Oh yeah, Thanks for the quote in Decembers Arbus...i forgot all about that. Very nicely done! Someone at The Art Center showed it to me last night! LOL.Very cool. Just remember its Brian Gray not Grey...close enough though. :)

madeleine said...

Brian, I know right...we live in such an accumulation culture...myself, I raise packratting to an art...I like to look of clean and streamlined....I love the feeling of "extras...just in case."

Tonya, the more I think about the afterfuckingmarketness of the logo, it just bums me out...how shallow am I?

Even before Viewers can project their own values onto art said...

I'm not saying words of blame to Loki, in Ægir's hall I quietened Bragi, made talkative with beer; and all living things love him

Tonya said...

Google isn't necessarily top-knotch research...So, I don't know if my info is credible.

to answer your question:
very shallow, madeliene. very very shallow.

I once bought the world's ugliest coolots (sp?) because they had Prada embroidered on them..COOLOTS.

Maureen Mullarkey said...

they need a larger purse or something to put into the wallet.

err, its more like when I saw Shamin M. Momin knitting