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April 14, 2007

Geezer cars and gay cars (not that there's anything wrong with that)

Last year, I finally got rid of my Ford Taurus, which I'd had for 13 years. I'd had a miserable time with it, and I decided to buy a Toyota. Specifically, a Toyota Avalon, which, I might add, is a pleasure to drive.

My kids, however, refer to my Avalon as "the geezer car." I really can't understand why they'd say such a thing. Could it be the butt warmers?

One feature my geezer car has is a keyless push-button starter, which oddly the New York Times gave front-page attention to today. The starter works if you carry the key fob with you. When I bought the Avalon, I thought the push-button starter was an absurd waste of money, but it turns out that it lets you avoid digging around in your pockets for your key many times a day, and if you're like me, and you carry a million things in your pocket, that's a blessing.

Now, a friend of mine, in fact the one who recommended Toyota when I was fed up with my Taurus, had a different concern after buying his Toyota RAV4, a small SUV. He heard from several people that the RAV4 was the car of choice for gay men.

I don't know why this bothered him. He's a family kind of guy -- wife and kids and all -- so it wasn't as if people would wonder, but bother him it did. He asked me whether I'd heard about this gay-car stuff -- as if I would know -- so, of course, from then on, knowing how sensitive this subject was for him, naturally, I've constantly asked him about his gay car.

Anyway, I'm sure he's happy to learn that the RAV4 isn't mentioned at all in the article in Thursday's New York Times about gay cars (hat tip: Mrs. Attila). Sample: "Cars are no more straight or gay than cellphones, office chairs or weed whackers. But in recent years that truism has not stopped a perception among some motorists that certain cars can, in the right context, be statements about a driver’s sexual orientation."

From the article, it's really hard to know what's politically correct here. Are homosexuals people with their own unique tastes, men who buy the Mazda Miata or women who buy the so-called "Lesbaru" (the Subaru Outback) -- or are they just like heteros, the kind of bland people who buy Camrys? Hard to tell. The article spends numerous column inches suggesting the former and then closes with the latter, just in case you might be laughing about this subject. (It's not funny, by the way.)

But if you really want the answer to the political correctness question, you'll have to turn to an article cited in the Times article. You'll need to Google it yourself, though, because the Times can't bring itself to provide the link. You just might be one of those yahoos who would laugh at all of this.

So I Googled it myself. The article is "Top Ten Gay Cars" by Ramone Johnson. And, no, the RAV4 isn't listed there, either. But the Subaru Outback is, along with a bunch of other cars whose gay-ness had absolutely never occurred to me.

I'm still searching for the Top Ten Geezer Cars, myself.

UPDATE: Car Talk listeners have weighed in on gay cars.

UPDATE (4/22): Uh, oh! I discovered through a visitor's Google search for 'Toyota Avalon gay' that maybe the Avalon is gay, after all. Perhaps only for gay "graying boomers," though.