This is the first installment in a who-the-hell-knows-how-many-but-hopefully-not-too-many-because-I-don’t-know-how-many-I-can-take part series covering a fascinating and sometimes disturbing dialogue between a 14 year old boy and his father during the 18 month run-up to said boy getting his driver’s license.
Quick background: During an otherwise innocent and uneventful family dialogue about something or other, “Boy,” as he will be called in this series, announced that he will not be driving our Prius once he gets his driver’s license.
Boy’s proclamation stunned me on several levels and rendered me speechless for several seconds while I pondered these reactions:
- I could have sworn I read somewhere that the Prius was, if not totally cool, then at least popular among younger generations. And further that generations younger than mine were growing up more concerned about the environment and willing to take environmental matters into account when making decisions.
- I genuinely thought we had raised Boy to be unconcerned with what type of car he drives at age 16, when confidence and self-satisfaction should come from within, not from one’s hooptie.
- He just turned 14. How can he have already taken such strong position on this issue?
- Who the hell cares what he thinks about driving a Prius? He should be happy just to be driving.
Basically, Boy’s declaration struck me as odd–one that I would have expected from a person who had a choice between driving a Prius and another vehicle–not one whose choice was between driving a Prius or nothing at all. At age 16, I feel, one should happily drive whatever is left in the driveway after all the other drivers in the family claim their rides.
Rather than leave the issue alone until Boy reached age 16 when the conversation would be more pertinent, I decided to peel back the onion to find out more about why he felt so strongly about our innocent sky-blue Prius that had never hurt anyone.
Actually, I just gave you a clue about Boy’s negative feelings towards the Prius. Apparently, on the scale of acceptability of Prius colors, no color is acceptable, and sky blue is the most unacceptable. It is, according to Boy, “the gay-est.” And knowing him as I do, he is not saying this with any malice towards gay people. In fact, I am sure he would be fine driving around with an openly gay friend in any car, as long as it wasn’t a Prius.
I just had to find out more about the socio-psychological dynamics going on inside Boy’s head, which I imagined as a hellish and fiery melange of violently-caroming neurons and synapses, colliding with chafing hormones and mental snapshots of pretty girls, all slurred together and varnished with sweat.
As I told Boy, I am not here to judge him. I’m genuinely interested in what is behind his feelings. Hopefully our conversations–sprinkled with some spousal interactions as well as contributions from Young Boy (little brother) will shed some light on this for all of us.