Four wheels forward, three back

Every time I walk through a parking lot, I look for the car we should have bought. The husband’s car was totaled by another car last year, so we had to buy another one. We bought a Mistake. That’s not the model name, but it should be.

First, there’s the color. We viewed color samples in a slick brochure and chose Kodiak Brown. It’s black.

If the sun hits it just right, it will reflect a deep beautiful rich brown. It happened once. On a Thursday. In the driveway.

I directed a valet to the car once and said, “Over there, the brown one.”

“You mean the black one?”

“No, it’s brown. Look again. Here, angle yourself just so. Better yet, come to the house on a sunny day, half an hour before sunset.”

You can also see it is brown if you hold a flashlight six inches from the car. That’s us driving down the street with flashlights suspended from iron hooks mounted to the car, illuminating the brown exterior.

The husband often laments the disappearance of the two-toned car. His fondness for two-toned is embarrassing, almost as embarrassing as being in a movie theater, watching a preview featuring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts and having him loudly proclaim, “If I ever say I want to see that movie, just shoot me.”

We are both opinionated. Our opinions sometimes differ on movies and cars, but we agree about the Mistake.

It’s terrible to have no affection for your vehicle. Ford knows I’ve tried to conjure up some feelings of warmth and affection. “Aren’t these seats nice?” I say. “Look how clear the glass is on the windshield.” It’s like telling the kid with the worst handwriting in the class that he dots his i’s well. Even a car can detect condescension.

The worst thing about the Mistake is the dashboard. It would be safer to drive, text, drink, smoke, apply mascara and fry chicken all at the same time than to operate the Dashboard of a Thousand Choices. It’s called “smart technology.” That’s code for “one more thing to make you feel dumb.”

There are no fewer than 28 buttons on the dash between the driver and the passenger. There’s internet radio, Bluetooth, MP3 integrated player, incoming calls, call to text, and more. All that’s missing is a button to froth a latte.

Of course, everything is voice activated, but the Mistake doesn’t seem to like our voices. “CALL HOME!”

“Calling Joan.”

The Mistake prefers accents. It will respond to a thick Southern drawl, a stiff British accent and pirate talk, but not us.

Good luck finding the button that turns on the radio. I’d like to see the dummy crash test for that one. “Not bad, only six broken bones.” All I’m saying is, don’t let your insurance lapse.

I have a bad feeling about the Mistake, a feeling that it is going to last 300,000 miles. We’ll learn to like it. We’ll have to.

In the meantime, would a car maker please consider bringing back the punch-button radio? I feel so desperate I’d buy a car like that even if it was two-toned.