Unbalanced: Cruising with J. Lo

Author: Carol Schaal '91M.A.

Carol Schaal

I’m known to my friends as the woman who will drive a car until its wheels fall off. That, unfortunately, is literally true. As I walked to the parking lot one day after work some years ago, I could see that my aging Honda Accord had a strange lean. Yes, one of the wheels had fallen off.

After 12 years with a Subaru Forester, I jumped back in the Honda camp, this time with a CRV. Despite my obvious long-term loyalty to the beasts, I don’t name my cars. They are to me only inanimate objects.

But if I were to name my newest vehicle, I’d call her J. Lo. The CRV is quite broad of beam.

It appears, however, that I am about to become friends with my newest Honda, so I probably should just go ahead and call it (her?) J. Lo. For I recently received an invitation to an event at the dealership where I bought the CRV — a Honda party.

“Join us for a special celebration created just for our new Honda owners,” the email invite said. “It just might be the most fun you’ll ever have at a dealership!”

Hmmm, hard to resist, especially since I’ve never been invited to a party because of my car. But it’s not something I can brag about, because owners of new Hondas are not exactly an exclusive group. In the list of Top 10 best-selling cars of 2012, Honda models hold the 4th, 5th and 9th spots.

And I bet the celebration doesn’t include goodie bags, like the $45,000 gift bags the Oscar nominees received in February.

Still, I cannot ignore the fact that my car got me invited a party. So to honor this amazing new affiliation, I think it’s time for J. Lo and me to map out our relationship.

The first thing I want J. Lo to get straight is that she has to stop being such a nag. She nags if I don’t fasten my seat belt, she nags if I forget to turn the headlights off, and she gets huffy if the tire pressure gets low. Yes, J. Lo is doing all this for my own good, but all her warnings drive me crazy. Which isn’t an ideal destination.

She also needs to stop making my phone beep all the time. It has something to do with my smartphone syncing with the car.

Great – now I have to be in sync with my vehicle? Can’t I just drive it?

J. Lo also has a tendency to share too much information. How hot she is, how many miles she’s getting per gallon and how long she’ll travel before she runs out of gas. Wow, girlfriend, get a room.

She’s also a bit of a control freak, locking the doors once I drive faster than 10 mph. New car technology, it appears, is the ultimate nanny state.

So as J. Lo and I cruise into the sunset together, good buddies whether I want to be or not, I have only one question: If you’re such a pal, why don’t you ever pay for gas?

Carol Schaal is managing editor of Notre Dame Magazine. Email her at schaal.2@nd.edu.