I received crushing news this morning from my son, Gabe.
His favorite car is the Subaru Outback.
He’s 14 years old, and I fully expected him to make his father proud by naming something sporty, like a Porsche Carrera, the new Chevy Camaro or a Ferrari. But he just had to go and pick my least favorite car. Now I finally understandeth why God spake these words in Genesis: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, who doth also prefer the Subaru Outback, and they shall be one flesh (King James Version).”
Don’t get me wrong. The Subaru itself is probably very well built, durable and pleasant to drive.
It’s certainly got to be better than the piece-o-shit car I drive, a 1999 Dodge Grand Caravan. I’ve driven this car 10 years, and hated it 9 ½ years. Everything’s gone wrong on it—the engine, transmission, ignition switch, rubber trim, horn, water pump, alternator, interior trim, rotors, folding seats, wiper motor, air conditioner and, three times, the heater core (if you don’t what one is, you don’t want to know). I’ll celebrate like it’s Mardis Gras when the junk man finally hauls it off to be crushed. And if you wonder why Chrysler’s struggling to survive, just e-mail me. I’ll fill you in.
But Subaru drivers represent something truly vile (an anagram of evil) in motoring.
Did you ever find yourself doing 30 mph on a 55 mph stretch of road? I’ll bet you passed a Subaru when a passing lane finally opened up. Were you ever forced to wait until a red light turned green to make a legal right turn? Blame the Subaru. Have you ever nearly rear-ended the car ahead of you because the driver inexplicably tapped the brakes going through an intersection? Subaru!
There are other irritating drivers on the road—anybody in a Honda or Toyota Prius, for example—but Subaru owners take conservative driving to new heights. Or lows. Subaru drivers are so risk-avoidant, they actually pose a threat to other motorists.
If I’m on a two-lane road pulling up to a red light, I always take an inventory of the cars in each lane. If there’s a Subaru in the left lane and five other cars in the right lane, I immediately pull to the right, knowing that’s going to be the fast lane. If there’s a Subaru in each lane, I beg God to explain what I did wrong to be so accursed. Then I quickly pop another Xanax before the road rage kicks in and I do something stupid with the .357 magnum tucked under the front seat.
I’m not privy to Subaru’s marketing data, but I don’t need no stinkin’ marketing expert to tell me who buys Subarus.
About 78 percent of Subaru owners are women, 21 percent men, and it’s almost impossible to tell what’s going on with the remaining 1 percent. Most Subaru drivers are 45-65 years old, but drive like they’re 80 to 85. They tend to be well educated, but they’re also disturbingly cocky about it. They’re typically middle- to upper-middle class, and work mainly in seemingly independent yet safely subservient roles as engineers, teachers, editors and the like.
Almost all Subaru drivers consider themselves politically and socially liberal, but are strangely resistant to innovation, which they see as inherently threatening to their way of life. They reluctantly use e-mail and the Internet, for example, but are frightened and confused by computers. This Luddite-like behavior explains why most Subaru owners make up almost the entire subscriber base of old-school publications like The New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly. It also explains why they rarely consider reading online. Online publications are scarily short and to the point, and clearly aren’t produced by real writers who know how to string 20,000 words about day spas or apple orchards together in coherent ways.
Nearly 95 percent of Subaru owners are the sort of squishy dog lovers who believe their pets display so many anthropomorphic traits they’re barely distinguishable from humankind, even if Fido is clearly dumber than a post. Some 85 percent own both a dog and a cat, and their back seats are nearly always a disgusting giant ball of fur and slobber separated from the front seat by a homemade screen that’s loosely tied to the headrests with bits of multicolored string.
Almost no Subaru owners smoke—it’s far too expensive and risky–but about 90 percent have purchased tea or coffee at Starbuck’s in the last 24 hours. Unless, of course, there’s a local coffee shop near their home or work. Then that’s where they go to get their hot beverages. Why? Because they believe it’s important to stick it to corporate America by supporting independent retailers, as if the folks who work at Starbuck’s don’t need paychecks. In either case, however, they bring a well-worn refillable tankard, partly because it’s environmental friendly, but mostly because they privately believe they get a little extra brew for their money. Subaru owners are thrifty, and love freebies more than almost more than their cars.
Inspect the trunk or floorboards of a Subaru, and you’ll invariably find a pair of muddy hiking boots or walking shoes. That’s because 100 percent of Subaru owners feel they’re “sporty” or “jaunty.” They always spring for roof-mounted bike or ski racks at the dealership, although you’ll rarely see an actual bike or pair of skis on a Subaru, because to a Subaru owner, a stiff hike or walk around the lake followed by a massage or visit to the herbalist constitutes vigorous exercise.
It’s the same twisted psychology that leads Subaru owners to buy into the car’s billing as a rugged sport utility vehicle (SUV). In fact, it’s just an undersized, low-riding station wagon with all-wheel drive that would fail even a mild off-road challenge.
To be perfectly honest, though, there are at least two things about Subaru owners that I have to admire: They weren’t stupid enough to buy piece-o-shit Dodge mini-vans; and they aren’t stupid enough to waste an hour of their lives writing 1,027-word rants about enraged, lead-footed drivers of Dodge mini-vans.
So maybe I can begin to learn to live with my son’s fondness for Subys. Just so long as he always follows me on road trips.