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Friday, November 27, 2009

Saabing Softly

According to the New York Times, which is never wrong about anything, General Motors is going to make a decision next week about what to do about Saab. A Swedish company had been interested in purchasing the flagging G. M. appendage, which makes sense, but then it walked away from the deal, probably because G. M.'s impotent seed had long-ago ruined the once quirky and eccentric auto line.

Saab used to be cool, but G.M. took care of that. It purchased half of Saab in 1990 for $600 million dollars, and then it bought the other half in 2000, for $125 million. Apparently, the second half was less valuable than the the first, even taking 10 years of inflation into account. You might be asking yourself why the writer of My Masonic Apron even cares about the fate of a once-great Swedish car manufacturer that has been watered down by the stars-n-stripes. Well, it just so happens that I learned how to drive on a Saab.

After decades of buying American shitboxes like the Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera and its incestuous lover, the Buick Century, in 1995 my parents bought their first luxury car: a brand new Saab 900 S. It was the Citron/Beige color, and it looked like freshly-uncorked champagne, and the interior was a sumptuous tan leather that we unctuous children referred to as "moocow." Up to that point, we had never known a car with leather interior.

The car was purchased for my mother, who could easily get from her house to work (the only two places she ever goes) on the old tricycles of our youth that we keep in the basement. We all thought it was hilarious that she needed a serious luxury car to go 0.03 miles (round trip) every day, but, hey-- it was the swingin' '90s after all. Must have been a good decade from athletic undergarments-- my father's calling.

My mother and father were hyper-vigilant about cleanliness and proper behavior inside the Saab. You were most certainly not permitted to eat inside of it, and even speaking loudly was discouraged, lest heated emotions fog up the Sekurit glass. I dubbed this car "The Museum."

"It's a shame they didn't handpaint frescoes on the headliner," I announced one day inside the car as my mother drove me to school, "or put velvet ropes around all the doors."

"Shut up," she said, carefully smoothing Vaseline against her upper lip as she eyed herself in the rearview mirror.

One Sunday morning, when I was fifteen, my father drove me in the Saab to the local mall and I practiced weaving in and out between large, round concrete planters in the car. I did panic stops, too, and those were really fun. That thing had great fucking brakes. I can't remember if he took me out on the road in it or not before I got my license-- probably. After I got my license, I remember driving the Saab to school in the snow. I picked up my friend, Alex, at his parent's apartment building and I spun the car in a complete circle in the parking lot. Fortunately I didn't kill anybody.

When I turned sixteen, my parents offered the Saab to me, but I turned it down in favor of a 1990 Ford Crown Victoria, late of the Delaware State Police, proving without a shadow of a doubt that sixteen year-old-boys are critically retarded.

One time my sisters and I were all home together and my mother called from work saying that her boss was sending everyone home early because of the snow, and she asked us to pick her up. We all put on our boots and our coats and hats and trudged outside. The Saab was absolutely covered in snow, and the plow had pushed a great mound of snow against the driver side doors. Rather than shovel a path for the car, my eldest sister got behind the wheel, fired her up and floored it, revving the engine to new and disturbing heights and spinning the bejesus out of the tires. She threw the car into reverse, slammed the wheel hard to the right, and smashed down on the accelerator like it was an offending insect. She continued this process of crashing the transmission and jamming her foot down on the gas, rocking the car back and forth while she screamed,


My other sister and I howled with laughter as the Saab careened through the snowbank and roared onto the street. If only my poor mother could have seen it.

Whatever G.M. decides to do with Saab, I hope it treats it gentler than we did that day.


  1. Hands down, no contest the best post I have EVER read Ever. Thank you for making me almost pee my pants trying to keep the bubbling laughter inside lest people think I'm insane.

  2. I owned a Saab a long time ago. Loved that damn car.

    Then someone stole it. They found it months later, stripped of everything including it's dignity.

    Pity. Great story!


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