Mini me

“Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman.”

The marketing jingle danced in my head as I climbed behind the wheel of my wife’s new Mini Cooper. Thank you Secret Solid.

Rachael and I landed the Mini in a roundabout way. We’d been out shopping for a “town car,” something to fill in the gaps between the commuter bike and pickup truck. Over the course of a few weeks, we saddled up a Prius, dogged behind the wheel of a Yaris and even considered going back to old faithful – the Subaru. In the end, the Mini’s cool lines, a surprisingly low price tag and 40+ mpg pulled us in a new direction.

Make no mistake, the Mini was most definitely “made for a woman.” The little two-door conjures all manner of compliments – “cute,” “darling,” “adorable,” “charming” and “pixieish” have all been lavished on the little steed. And feminine or not, I can’t keep my hands off of her. The car is “strong enough” for anyone, jumps off the line like an import possessed and corners better than my mountain bike. And just like the dude in the 1980s commercial, I’ve been sneaking little hits of my wife’s Secret, driving it without permission and always taking the long route home. Unlike that dude, I’ve been stone-cold busted. The gents take a less favorable view of our new baby.

“Christ,” a guy friend shouted as I pulled up for a recent party. “Nice go-kart. What inspired that buy?”

Immediate family members have also been critical of my sudden swing away from machismo. “This is great,” my brother said as the two of us sported down Main Avenue. “Just a couple of girls out for an afternoon drive. Good thing these windows have heavy tint.”

Nope, the Mini is definitely not an automobile for fellas still seeking security in their manhood. It does not bolster the ego or add length in any department. Speaking of which, apt words of warning hit not long after that afternoon jaunt. The counsel came from a fellow Mini maven as she welcomed us to the inner circle.

“It’s an incredible car,” the woman told us as she admired our new lines. “The driving experience is exceptional, and Minis hardly drink any gas. But I have to tell you. It’s not all perfect.”

She then leaned down to the hood, beckoned us close and whispered, “Be warned. People in large cars hate Mini Coopers. It can get a little scary out there. Sometimes it feels like you’re being hunted.”

I brushed off the warning and had all but forgotten it until I sneaked out for a covert Mini mission a few days ago. Cooper and I were grooving along and enjoying each other’s company (my wife’s Moby CD was not playing, I promise). That was when terror hit. There it was, the specter many of us know and fear – a giant, white, dualie truck complete with orange flag – accelerating toward my (Mini’s) rear end.

“You’re just imagining this,” I told myself and casually eased up toward the stoplight. My false front vanished, however, when Whitie screeched to a halt behind me. The jacked-up truck’s underside filled my rearview; its bumper standing taller than my moon roof and each of its knobby wheels threatening to crawl up Mini’s hatch, Grave Digger-style. The light turned red to green just as the monster started revving the engine. I briefly pondered “fight vs. flight” and promptly chose the path of the gazelle.

“Strong enough for a man,” I called out and jumped on the accelerator. The fearless Mini answered by leaping to life and leaving the domestic pickup in the dust. I seized on my inner-Andretti and knuckled the car down the road, taking advantage of the European import’s sleek size, weaving in and out of North Main gridlock. I idled up to another red and breathed a sigh of relief. But just when this gazelle thought he was in the clear, the predator returned.

The crew cab pulled up alongside, gave a couple of warning rumbles and then rolled down its passenger window. A mustachioed face peered out of the opening and strangely enough was smiling.

I answered by dropping my tint and glancing back. That’s all it took. My arch-nemesis literally jumped in his seat, screamed “Good God!” and then turned a sickly shade of pale. You see, the predator had been on the hunt, but for female companionship, not blood. My new friend had expected something blonde and leggy to be piloting the Cooper. Instead, the pursuer found ‘lil old me, complete with a dirty T-shirt, stubbly face and hairy legs. Out looking for beauty, the predator had encountered a fellow beast. Following that gruesome revelation, the Ford found its legs and went belching down the avenue.

I shook my head, rolled up the window, turned up the Moby and went back to my forbidden fantasy. Coaxing the Cooper back to life, I patted the dash and said, “Most definitely made for a woman.”

– Will Sands



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