Look, I am not Scatological Girl. Anything bathroom-related is normally enough to make me run away from a conversation screaming, but I am also not Secretly Shits Her Pants on a Regular Basis Girl. This physical reaction is new to me and being from the generation that I am, I feel the need to write about it on the Internet masked as some sort of inspirational tale of overcoming your fears instead of the private, humiliating thing that it actually is.
I totaled my car driving to therapy back in October. My mom was out here visiting, I’d just been set up with this new shrink by a famous TV doctor and even though I did not want to drive 15 miles through LA traffic while I was already dealing with the stress of my mom visiting, I did it. And although I could swear that there were no cars coming on the left when I took that right turn on to a residential street, there was a car. And it was operated by a scummy looking woman in her mid-to-late 40s who was taking her elderly mother to some sort of appointment.
Long story short, this was my first car accident in eight years and it was a doozy—the entire front end of my car flew off into the street and after the other driver and I exchanged info, I just kinda sat there and cried until AAA came and picked me up. That was probably the most traumatic part of this whole “buying a new car” experience with the exception of the actual signing.
It was kind of a dream to deal with the insurance company. I put so little mileage on my Toyota that I was able to get a check for almost the cost that I’d bought it for. In a way, that was a blessing in disguise. I was particularly cash poor at the moment and barely had enough to cover my rent and utilities that month. The insurance check saved my ass and has continued to do so while I’m between big jobs.
I held on to the rental car that the insurance company provided me with for as long as possible but after returning to LA from the holiday break, it was officially time to make a move. I’d been carless in LA in my mid-20s when walking everywhere and taking the bus wasn’t so humiliating. Now that we have Uber and I live in a neighborhood with a 95% walk score, I’d been able to save myself from feeling like a straight up hobo, but it started to get to the point where I like, wasn’t keeping up with my appointments and putting off certain types of work because I didn’t want to foot a $35 Uber bill or ask a friend to bring me. So it was time.
The thing with me is that I’m like, kind of retarded? Any time someone says a number or a word that I do not understand, my instinct is not to be inquisitive and normal about the whole thing, it’s to cry. Like, actual tears of frustration and fear. Feelings of inadequacy and embarrassment quickly follow. Then I just want to go home, drink three vodka martinis, read Us Weekly and completely give up on living any sort of normal adult life at all. Basically, I really need that new therapist I’m seeing.
Thankfully my best friend Ed is a car buying genius. He can tell you what’s a good deal, why it’s a good deal and what you need to do to make it an even better deal. He researches safety ratings and miles-per-gallon on random cars for fun. He’s also like this about real estate, which is why I will never own a home if we stop being friends. Which is a nightmare of a thought.
So instead of driving some lemon off the lot and having it break down the second I took it on the freeway Brandon Walsh-style, Ed helped me pick out a 2012 Mini Cooper, black on black, tons of custom features that the original owner ordered and then decided she didn’t like. Her name was Georgianna, by the way. My new car calls me Georgianna, which is a chic little bonus that makes me feel like an Eastern European model who’s using her good looks to make a better life for herself.
I more or less did nothing, execution-wise. I had my business manager send over a check for $3,000 (that’s a fuckload of money to me and if it’s not a fuckload of money to you, there’s something wrong with you). Ed did all the haggling, including getting me the bomb five-year maintenance plan. The only thing I had to do was go to the dealership, agree to slowly pay them $21,000 over the course of like, six years and drink the complimentary lemonade I was handed at the door.
While we went over the contract, I nervously distracted myself by texting my boyfriend and pretending to pay attention while I signed electronic page after electronic page, my stomach gurgling the whole time. I know that’s normal, I understand that there’s the sticker shock factor in any major purchase that even leaves non-retards semi-blacked out and numb. But it was so much more than that to me.
See, I don’t need a $21,000 car. I could have gotten a different used car for less than half of that. I mean, it would make sense, right? I’m between steady paychecks, I’ll likely be balling out within the next couple of years (my REALLY big break is always just around the corner—I’ve felt that way since I was 12) and I sure could use as much of that insurance money as possible. I miss buying handbags and nice sunnies and going to Palm Springs. I miss buying five avocados when I only needed two and letting the rest rot on the counter before I just threw them in the trash with my dog’s emergency pee pads.
But you guys? I’m 31. I deserve a nice car, and more than that, I need to believe I deserve a nice car. Because I’m 31. I’m not getting any younger. Hopefully in the not-too-distant future, I’ll have a family that I don’t want riding around in a shitty ’05 Accord. Not right away, but maybe within the next five years. And I don’t care what your station in life is, five years is NOT a long time to own a car. I had to think about what was going to stay on the road for a decade, what I wouldn’t feel embarrassed pulling up to meetings in, what I could point to in a parking garage and say, “That’s me,” without cringing. My Toyota made me cringe. The tan cloth interior made me feel like I was wrapped in cheap wet towels. It was one tape player short of convincing me that I was a middleclass suburban teen who scored his grandma’s old car as his sixteenth birthday present.
And thinking about that—the fact that I’m older and my decisions (even if I need help being led to them) are starting to feel more and more permanent—makes me want to shit my pants. Or it makes my body want to shit my pants. Of course I know that things will always evolve and change and that life’s not over when you hit a certain number, but DAMN, GINA! This shit’s getting serious as hell. Long gone are the days of destroying my credit and being like, “LOL! I’ll get around to that some day!”
That some day is today and I’m more prepared than I’d ever thought I’d be. Yet still, I almost shit my pants.