Prius envy

The day I bought my 2002 Honda Civic and drove it off lot at Leith Honda in Raleigh, playing a CD in the brand new CD player and giddily playing with the automatic windows and door locks, was the day the car, maybe by some cosmic twist of karma, ceased being a sleek, shiny new vehicle and became, in my hands, a bad luck magnet with the added bonus of all the unfortunate vehicular incidents that would occur being mildly hilarious. Shortly after purchasing the car I got into a bad accident, hitting someone who was making a left turn onto a two-lane highway and simply didn't happen to see me hurdling at 55 mph towards her. The air bags deployed, the police were called and my car was almost totaled, but thankfully me and my new friend, who turned out to be a very nice woman and immediately apologized for pulling out in front of me, were mostly uninjured. I was a little sore the next day. She broke her pinky. It could have been a lot worse.

After that things sort of went downhill. My car suffered strange problems for being so new, no doubt the result of being picked apart and put back together after the accident. But there were other things, like a break in, a slew of flat tires, other minor accidents. And the one time I drove over a plastic bucket that had fallen off the back of a pickup, which got lodged under my car and made some pretty bad noises for the next mile until I could safely pull over, get down on the asphalt, and remove it.

Point being, I've always liked my car - it's a sporty little stick shift that's taken me up and down the east coast what seems like hundreds of times - but I've never been crazy about it since I spend what seems like a disproportionate amount of time dealing with little issues that crop off. If the car was older, sure, I'd understand, but it's not old.

Anyway, after talking about the possibility of trading in my car for some time, I started looking a little. I like going to car dealerships in the same way I like touring apartments or going to makeup counters at department stores - learning about so many possibilities without any commitment! It's one of our rights as Americans.

A couple weeks ago I headed to a local Honda dealer and before I'd even parked and been attacked by the salesmen I spotted this little blue number so I wandered right over and took a look. It turned out the car was a 2005 Honda Civic Hybrid and let's just say I fell in love with it, and I don't usually say crap like "fell in love with" about cars, because I think that's retarded. People fall in love with people. And sometimes chocolate cake.

After the obligatory sales pitch from the guy who very quickly appeared after my arrival ("You are NOT going to find a better deal than this") we went for a test drive (the car was and quiet, the ride smooth and I contemplated impulse buying, which, really, should be reserved for new clothes and minor electronics) then sat down and calculated some numbers, and it was then that the stars disappeared from my eyes because, as it turns out, 2005 Hybrid Civics aren't dirt cheap and my car, which has a lot of miles on it for being only five years old, it just so happens, isn't worth millions. So basically, they weren't going to give me my New Favorite Car for free.

I didn't come home with a new car, but since then I've become slightly obsessed with the idea of getting a hybrid car. It's part Al Gore-induced hype, part me honestly wanting to do something good for the world, and part, well, I just tend to have a one track mind when it comes to something I decide I want to do.

Now, all of a sudden, I feel like everywhere I look there's somebody driving a Prius - Toyota's hybrid vehicle - and I look at them and their neat little environment-saving cars jealously and then head back to my good-for-nothing Civic (which, to tell you the truth, gets great gas mileage and is a lot better than some of the monstrosities you see out on the roads).

Unlike some of my other recent interests, like buying a bicycle or my serious attempt at upkeep of my stylish, short haircut, however, I think I mean it this time and may start to look seriously for a hybrid car. And someone who will pay me one million dollars for my Civic. Or you know, a comparable amount. But really, what do a few car payments matter when you're trying to save the world? Especially when saving the world means you get to drive around in something new, instead of your two-door with scratches on the driver's side window from where those bastards tried to break in before they succeeded in actually busting the back window so they could steal your David Bowie CD and all your loose change.