The Red Van

I am sitting outside my house waiting for my ex, to drop off the kids. I am waiting for her and her red van. When we were together she wanted to drive a red van. She said it was her dream. She had found a 15 passenger red van at a nearby dealership and begged me to go look at. She asked me again. She begged some more. I finally agreed.

With great enthusiasm she drove me to the dealership. She used the 15 minute drive to illuminate the benefits of owning a 15 passenger red van. Despite my lack of interest in the virtues of the red van, despite my repeated complaints that this was all a waste of my time, despite my persistent uncompromising stance that under no circumstances would I agree to buy this or any other red van, she continued on as if we were on our way to the dealership to pick up our new red van that very afternoon. The fact that it was red only made the prospect less attractive.

When we arrived at the dealership, the salesmen and Laura greeted one another as though they were old friends. His face beamed as he introduced himself and cupped my hands in his as though he was already congratulating me on my new purchase. As he excused himself to get the keys he yelled over to a co-worker sitting behind a metal desk a few feet away,

“Do you have the paper work on the 15 passenger Ford?”

I use the moment alone to remind her that there is no way I was buying this van.

We follow the salesman through glass doors that lead behind the building to rows and rows of cars and trucks. We finally arrive at the red van. It is nearly the size of a small school bus. As the salesman tries to open the van, I comment on the size of the van sitting like a bloated steel blister among the rows of vehicles. He points to the vehicle’s bed and tells me this particular model is extra-long. I look back at him expressionless. He smiles nervously and tells us he brought the wrong keys.

“That’s it!” I declare to them both, “I’m leaving!”

The salesman looks so nervous I worry that he might wet his pants right there in front of us among the sea of unsellable gas guzzlers. He nearly runs as he goes back to the building to get another set of keys.

“At least check out the inside,” pleads Laura.

“The inside?” I exclaim “Why do we need a 15 passenger vehicle?

“Well when your mother comes to visit?

“My mother,” I repeat shaking my head, “and what will we do with the remaining 8 seats?”

“If we ever have more people we’ll have plenty of room.” She responds.

“I’m not buying this van to drive other people around.” I tell her as the now breathless salesman comes running towards us with the new keys.

He opens the driver side door to the mammoth vehicle and begins listing the features of the van.

“It has a radio, a heater, automatic transmission,” the salesman says as he points nervously to the heating vent.

“Is that supposed to be a bonus?” I ask Laura ignoring the salesman.

The salesman pulls down the retractable steps noting that this is an aftermarket add-on and encourages me to get behind the wheel.

I attempt to get into the driver’s seat but even with the retractable steps, I have to pull myself in using all my upper arm strength. After a couple of seconds I turn bitterly to the salesman and ask how many miles per gallon. In that single moment the sparkle in the salesman’s eyes turn dull. Laura’s smile becomes a frown. She knows there will be no 15 passenger red van for her and for the salesman, no commission check.

Soon after Laura and I split up, her car died in a tunnel during rush hour traffic, and without me to stand in her way, she bought herself a red van. She bought a Ford minivan. I suppose without me, she didn’t need the extra eight seats either.

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