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Confessions Of A Pumpkin-hued SUV Owner

(ATLANTA - 7 May 2008) -- OK, I'm coming clean.

I bought a new car. I got a great deal on it. Since it was a loaner that had just come off its "temp" status, I snagged it for considerably less than list.

He's an SUV, and he gets an uber-crappy 14 miles to the gallon in the city. His name is Basil, named after the big boss in the Austin Powers movies. (For those of you playing at home, yes, he puts the "Grrrr" in swinger.)

But for someone concerned about our dependency on foreign oil and saving the planet, those gas numbers royally suck. The car, however, doesn't - it's a Land Rover LR2, funky in its baby-spew orange and comfortable over Atlanta's obnoxious, lunar-surface city streets.

Still, my conscience is heavy. It's a second car to help me schlep a little easier, and navigate without bottoming out every five seconds on a shitty street like Juniper. (Chuck Benny is using Gracie for the time being.)

But no matter how elegant and agile, no matter how joyous Basil makes the jaunt from point A to B, I wish we had more choices in the luxury, small-scale SUV category that would be easier on the environment.

Until that time, and in light of this decision, I've shifted some habits that might help compensate. To wit:

-- Use Basil for recycling everything under the sun, including cardboard, glass, plastic and other household goods that the city ignores.
-- Instead of driving to my workout sessions with Eric on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I walk to his place and work out there.
-- Combine errands in a single outing and make sure to go easy on acceleration.
-- Walk to the office.
-- Do not involve myself in traffic.
-- Walk more in midtown to restaurants and shops, where possible (already doing that).

I'm so jazzed by the idea of using a new diesel engine with fry oil that I believe "Basil" will be a temporary indulgence. It'll be fun while it lasts.

In the meantime, Atlanta roads look and feel a lot less like the moon.
- WP