82. Man and Car: A Love Story

82. Man and Car: A Love Story

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Matters


Man and Car: A Love Story

When a man opens a car door for his wife, it’s either a new car or a new wife.

~Prince Philip

The year the PT Cruiser came out, my husband, David, fell in love. Not with another woman, but with the automobile he’d been looking forward to his whole life. Or so he claimed.

The waiting list for the car was long. For the next seven months, life at our house centered around the Coming of the PT Cruiser. Someone gave David a toy model of the vehicle he talked about all the time. That year, our manger scene consisted of Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph… and a PT Cruiser.

David was at a business meeting in Baltimore when the PT Cruiser was finally delivered to the dealership. It was late when he called me from the airport. I could hear the fatigue in his voice.

“The airline’s overbooked my flight, and I’m ready to drop. Should I just get the travel voucher they’re offering and stay here at the airport hotel tonight?”

“Sure,” I said. “Oh, and by the way, your car’s here.”

All signs of exhaustion miraculously disappeared as David answered, “I’ll be home as soon as I can.”

Early the next day, David and I went to the Chrysler dealership. The salesperson handed David a slip of paper.

“Here’s the invoice you signed. Remember, it says that you’ll pay the sticker price—no matter what it is—when the PT Cruiser is delivered.”

“YOU WHAT???” My shriek bounced from one glass wall of the showroom to the other. “There has to be a mistake. My husband graduated from Cal Tech. He would never do anything that stupid.”

David grew suspiciously quiet.

“Look at the signature,” the salesperson smirked.

When I saw the unmistakable evidence that my frugal, practical husband had, in fact, put his John Hancock on the document, I could only wonder if the world was coming to an end.

“They wouldn’t order my car unless I signed it,” David offered weakly.

“If you’ll just step outside, I’ll bring the Cruiser around,” the salesman told us, victory shining in his eyes.

After a few minutes, he pulled up in a cranberry-colored, 1930s gangster-looking car and left it near where we were standing. I looked at David. He didn’t notice me… or anything else. He was too busy admiring his new purchase.

David held open the door so I could climb into the passenger seat.

“This is so great,” he sighed. “Have you ever seen a more beautiful car?”

“Well, there’s the 1957 Chevy, the…”

“Be serious. Have you ever seen a car like this one?”

“No,” I could honestly reply. “This car looks as though people should be hanging out the window shooting Tommy guns.”

He grunted. I settled back in the seat.

“Hey, where’s my armrest? David, there’s only one armrest in this car.”

“That’s not a problem. I’ll share mine. This was Motor Trend’s Car of the Year, you know.”

“It was Motor Trend’s Car of the Year and it only has one armrest? Obviously, they didn’t test the passenger side.”

I started inspecting other parts of the interior.

“David, there’s no drawer under my seat, just a big, gaping hole.”

“The salesman promised he’d throw in a drawer for free.”

“So, in other words, you paid higher than top dollar for an automobile with no armrest for the passenger and a gap where a drawer should be?”

“You don’t have to be so negative. This is the best car ever.”

Knowing that I could never respond to that statement, I climbed out of the PT Cruiser, jumped in my own car, and followed David home.

The topic of the PT Cruiser extended into our pillow talk.

“Honey,” I asked, “if there was a fire, and your PT Cruiser and I were in a burning building, who would you rescue first?”

He didn’t even pause for thought.

“Well, you’re a person. You have legs. You could get out on your own.”

David drove his new car all over town. Soon, it was time for his first fill-up.

“I got twenty miles to the gallon,” he told me.

“Twenty? You were supposed to get twenty-five, at least.”

“That’s on the highway. You know how stop-and-go traffic is in Phoenix.”

A few weeks later, David got an upper respiratory infection. He was miserable.

“I think I’d feel better if I went out and sat in my PT Cruiser,” he wheezed.

That Valentine’s Day, I saw a segment on television about keeping the spice in your marriage. The woman on the program suggested you leave a lipstick kiss on your husband’s windshield so he’d know you still had passion in your relationship. I put on some bright red lipstick and planted a big one on the glass in front of the driver’s side.

I got passion, all right, but it wasn’t the romantic kind. David went out to the garage, and then burst back into the house.

“You’ve marked my car! You’ve marked my PT Cruiser.”

I grabbed a Kleenex and wiped the lipstick off my rival.

“He’s mine,” I whispered.

Not long after that, my car was in the shop, so I had to drive the PT Cruiser. The narrow slit of a back window made it impossible to do anything safely except go forward.

“David,” I asked, “how do you drive this thing? You can’t see to back out.”

“I expect people to get out of the way.”

Who was this man?

Bad news came a short time later.

“Something terrible has happened,” David told me.

“Oh, my gosh, has someone died?”

“No. My PT Cruiser has been recalled.”

Such sorrow! Chrysler recalled every PT Cruiser built in the first two model years. More than 400,000 automobiles had to have their fuel tanks dropped six inches and foam spacers installed to keep the fuel pump from coming loose during a rollover.

David couldn’t believe his beloved car had a flaw. He took it down to the dealer, still in a state of disbelief.

When he got home, I figured he’d finally have something bad to say about the PT Cruiser.

“Shelley, do you know what would be nice?”

“Trading in your car?”

He looked shocked. “Of course not. I think you should get a PT Cruiser, too.”

~Shelley Mosley

More stories from our partners