A few weeks ago on one of my numerous visits to the pharmacy, I came outside to find a sweet elderly lady circling my van.
At this point as I was leaving CVS, I was super sick, running a fever and feeling generally awful. . .not to mention totally embarrassed that I was wearing no makeup, a dirty ponytail and for some reason in my feverish state I had selected short shorts and a t shirt to wear when it was about 64 degrees outside. Feverish AND cold, not the best combo! I was really kicking myself for the short shorts as I was grasping my paper bag full of antibiotic and cough syrup in one hand and pushing the toddler in the umbrella stroller with the other.
"Is this your van?" She says, smiling sweetly with her white hair and trim white slacks to match.
When she asks me this question, I am inclined to think that. . .
A. Something substantial has fallen off of my vehicle or is leaking from the bottom of it.
B. I left my van door wide open for the entire hour I was in CVS.
C. It is like on fire or something.
I hesitate. "Um, yes, that's my van?"
After performing a quick scan I can see that, thankfully, no fire coming out of the bottom, and the door is closed. Perhaps this is a flat tire? I can only imagine and I brace my hot/cold/dirty self for the news.
"Oh, WELL!!", she gushes, "It is just such a lovely COLOR! I pulled in this parking spot and I have just been admiring it!"
Now, if you have SEEN my van, you have probably not even noticed it. I mean, I barely even notice it and I drive it every day. No offense, Van. It's not like I am embarrassed by my van, I really love it. . .it just sort of blends in to my life and I don't really spend a lot of time thinking about it. ESPECIALLY not about its beauty! Our 2002 Chevy Venture is what the manufacturers like to call "bronze". . .which is just a fancy way to say sparkly brown. We bought it from Paul's brother who bought it from Paul's parents. . .it's been a workhorse for this family to be sure! It's got some rust accents on it, I'm not gonna lie. . .but from my extensive childhood Crayola experience I feel like rust and bronze kind of go together. And I can definitely say that this is the first time in four years that ANYONE has complimented me on my van.
So, comparing her comment to my impression of my van, I think I am somehow being punked, or maybe I am hallucinating, but the lady is so sweet and smiling I have to go around to her side of the van to see what she is referring to.
She continues. . ."I HAD to get out of my car and take a look at this lovely van! What is this color CALLED????!!!!!"
"Oh, well, I just LOVE it. . ." and as she continues to gush about my Venture I look over and notice her car is white (to match the pants and hair.) And kind of lovelier than my car. Definitely cleaner. Mine is still covered with the half a million bugs we caught on the drive to Michigan last week. "Oh, there is this little spot!" as she points to the substantial rust spot that has started rippling over my passenger side wheel well over this past (ridiculous) winter. Her face starts to grow a little concerned as she pokes at it with her finger, like somehow the most glorious Bronze Van has been defiled, so I feel the need to, like, make her feel better about it.
Quickly, I jump to the van's defense. "Um, yes, well, you know, um, it does have 150,000 miles on it. But, it is just a little rust but it does hold all of my kids and get them places!"
"Oh, yes, well, isn't that so nice!", she beams at me again, "Bronze, you say? Just lovely! Well, you have a nice day now!"
"Um, you, too?!?"
The sweet lady shuffles off into CVS and I get into my van still kind of confused from the entire exchange. But, I noticed after that despite the fever and the shorts and lack of makeup, I drove that van a little taller. And when I went out to my van (in another pharmacy parking lot later the same night) at sunset I caught myself admiring it in its bronze glory. Actually, I catch myself admiring my van a lot more lately. Sometimes it just takes a fresh pair of perspectacles to help you see the things around you with new eyes.
Thank you, white slacks lady. And not too shabby, old van. Thank you for getting my kids from place to place, and for holding our whole family. It's the people inside who make the van anyways, right?