Random Asides

SUVs and Other Hodge Podge Filler Material

Before I start this post, I want to give a shout out to all the voters taking part in the primaries today.

By the way, are people still giving “shout outs”? I admit to being ignorant when it comes to slang terms. I never know when they come into and go out of favor with the cool kids. Imagine my surprise and embarrassment when I discovered it’s not cool to say “-izzle” a la Snoop Dogg anymore. I mean, I would have thought my boss would have a sense of humor about it. But you tell some people to pull the stizzle out they izzle and tell Human Resources to process your rizzle, and they get all snippy.

Sheesh. What a bizzle.

Anyway . . . . So no? No shout outs?

Okay. Well then, let’s see if I can actually come up with something to write about.

The thing is, I’ve been feeling really unproductive lately. All I’ve done so far today is check my email, open the software I thought I was going to use, and then gaze at my empty computer screen with the dull stare of a dairy cow.

I’m just not motivated to work. If I were in a movie, I’d be hard pressed to put together one of those inspirational montages. You know the ones where the character is determined to reach a goal, so they edit together a montage of him or her doing things that lead to that goal, and they set it all to some exciting and inspirational music?

My montage at this point would contain a single clip of me sitting perfectly still, covered with dust, and instead of inspirational music the background audio would be the sound of me blinking.

Not very exciting.

Oh, this was kind of fun though: Do you ever do things just to amuse yourself, even if it makes other people uncomfortable? Recently, I got on the elevator, and decided I was going to go totally against convention. I completely ignored established elevator protocol, and instead of facing forward toward the doors, along with the other half dozen or so passengers, which is the norm, I turned around and faced them, staring at each one in turn with a silly grin on my face. I then started giggling, and said, “I’m wearing new sox.”

It was amazing how fast everyone got out of the elevator car. I’m pretty sure many of them got off on the wrong floor just to get away from me.

Oh, good times. Good times.

Anyway, the ongoing election season has got me thinking about many of the issues facing the nation (US) and indeed the world, and I wanted to post something profound and sciency about global warming and how we affect the environment in both good and bad ways. But like just about everything else I undertake with the intention of being profound, I found myself distracted.

To support a minor point in my post, I did a little research on the emission levels of the average SUV, and now I can’t stop thinking about the names of all the SUVs on the road.

Perhaps I shouldn’t strive for greatness. I just get sidetracked.

But have you noticed how many SUV model names start with the letter “E”? For example, there’s the Expedition, the Explorer, the Escalade, the Entourage, the Enclave, the Equinox, the Edge, the Escape, the Envoy, the Element, and the Endeavor.

Apparently, if you’re an SUV manufacturer, you are required to at least attempt to come up with a name for your product that starts with an “E”. Unfortunately, the cool “E” names are quickly being used up. So in the future, we are as like to see the Encephalon, the Electron, and the Eagle, as we are to see the Éclair, the Eelworm, or even the Excrement.

And I gotta tell you, I’m not sure that last one is going to be a big seller. I just can’t imagine the sports jacket-clad, over-achieving real estate broker with a small penis would be willing to sit in his Excrement in the drive-thru at the local Starbucks. Nor can I see a finely quaffed, cosmetically altered, over-perfumed suburban mother telling her over-fed, under-educated, neo-maxi-zoom-dumbass progeny to collect their soccer equipment and get in the Excrement. Although, perhaps that’s precisely where they all belong.

In any case, I can’t understand how the names of these SUVs are keeping the buyers coming back for more. I mean, the Sequoia? The Tahoe? The Rendezvous? The Nitro? The Cayenne????

(Yes, Porche’s SUV is called the Cayenne. People should boycott all Porche products just for that alone.)

Yet these are the names of the models available, and I just don’t see the appeal.

The average SUV only gets enough gas mileage to make it from one filling station to the next. And with gasoline at a week’s salary per gallon, if you’re an SUV manufacturer, you’d better formulate one master of a marketing plan to sell your product.

I would think the perfect name for your vehicle would be the Efficient. Hey, it instills peace of mind and a sense of responsibility in the driver, and it starts with the letter “E”.

But perhaps the appeal of the SUV is not in the name. Perhaps it’s in the rugged nature of the SUVs.

Well, no. Aside from Jeep and Hummer, most SUVs will flip on a lower incline than even a sedan, and most have axles and drive-shafts that will easily bend or even be broken if driven off a paved surface.

Perhaps the appeal is the cost.

Well, no again. Compared to the average new mid-size and even larger 2 and 4 door cars, the costs of SUVs are exorbitant. By the way, that’s a perfect name for the Lexus SUV; the Exorbitance.

No, I think we all know what the appeal is of the SUV — it’s big!

Modern Americans are predisposed to waste, and SUVs are waste personified. They’re big. They take up too much space while doing very little. They may be powerful, but they’re slow. They waste time. They waste fuel. They are the perfect vehicle for the spoiled, live-in-the-moment, I-want-it-now American to destroy the environment for the rest of the world. There should be an SUV emblazoned on our official national seal.

Either that, or we can simply adjust our lifestyles slightly and go buy a sensible car.

Wait . . . What was I going to post about again?

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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31 Comments

  1. Bad Sam! *cough* *hack* Bad, bad Sam!

    I have one of those coughs that evokes Alienesque images of green things leaping directly out of my chest to save time going through the usual channels. Laughing really, really hard when you have a cough like that is a good way to rupture something. If I end up with the Phlegm Monster of Doom taking over my house, I'm holding you personally responsible.

  2. I doubt they'd be allowed to call an SUV the 'Efficient'. At least, in the UK they wouldn't. Car marketing (all aspects of it, which would easily cover a misleading name) are HIGHLY regulated. You can't make any claims in your advertising about the speed or performance of the vehicle. This is because if you boast about how fast it can go, someone will buy it and deliberately drive it at high speed into a group of children. Disabled children, at that. Paupers, too.

    As a result, car advertising in the UK has become hilariously abstract. Instead of saying "this car goes 0-80 in a billionth of second!", they are saying "zoom zoom zoom". To car-buying adults. I swear.

  3. Well, if a Wrangler doesn't count, then neither does a Tuscon. It's more like a tall VW Beetle. (OK, it's more of an SUV than a Wrangler, truth be told.)

    :)

    When we were car shopping, we figured out what we could spend, then made a list of all the vehicles with the highest mileage in that price range at the dealership where a family member works, then chose from among them. We weren't looking for an SUV, but it was "beachy" (the highly automotively technical definition of which is that it's cute and has a sunroof, and doesn't look like my grandmother should be driving it).

  4. tkingdoll, I may not have believed you, except those zoom zoom commercials air here in the US too. They really are quite annoying.

    And, ewww, SUVs. I hate them. I am all about tiny little cars. I really want a mini-cooper! Preferably one of those souped-up ones like in The Italian Job. Then I can drive all the gold bricks I want around my house (that's way more useful than anything an SUV can do)! Er… once I get gold bricks and a house, that is. :)

    Re: the elevator story… I may have an overactive imagination, but am I the only woman here who, if I was there, would be thinking something along the lines of "Oh my god. That guy is staring at me and leering and giggling. What if he's a sexual predator? What if he assaults me? I better get off this damn elevator! Imagine if I stayed on and something happened? I couldn't go to the cops! 'A creepy man was leering at you in a confined space and you STAYED there?!' they'd say. 'What kind of idiot are you? I'm afraid you deserved whatever you got you big stupid ho.' Better arrange my keys between my fingers just in case and get the hell out!"

    Of course, it probably wouldn't be that articulate, but I would be creeped out on a much deeper level than "haha, elevator norms are silly". I imagine (oops, there it goes again) that I'm not the only woman out there who'd feel that way.

  5. Heh. I must confess we own an SUV.

    It’s smaller than my sedan, gets 27 miles to the gallon (same as my sedan and as good as anything in our price range available here at the time), it’s small and cute, doesn’t go very fast, we paid less than 12k for it, and there’s not a single E in the whole name.

    It’s an ’05 Hyundai Tuscon.

    So there.

    :P

  6. Heh. I must confess we own an SUV.

    I drive a Jeep Wrangler, which I’m not sure qualifies as an SUV, but it’s a utility I use for sport.

    Anyone own a Lincoln Navigator? Anyone live in a Lincoln Navigator?

    Just passed one on the way home. Thing looked pretty big.

  7. Well living deep in the heart of "red" America, I know that many of them (those that buy SUV's) here use the argument that their size makes them safer in a collision. I don't know about the numbers to back this up, but it seems to me that if we had less big SUV's on the road, there would be less big SUV's to worry about getting into a collision with! I confess that I own a horribly inefficient SUV, a 91 Ford Explorer. In my defense, it was free, passed to me around the time my Grandfather passed. If I could afford it I would get rid of it and buy a tiny little car (Smart Fortwo catches my eye). However, we are still paying for my wife's Civic Hybrid, so I think between the two I have become at least karma neutral. Anybody want to trade my Explorer for a Fortwo? I won't hold my breath.

  8. I may have an overactive imagination, but am I the only woman here who, if I was there, would be thinking something along the lines of “Oh my god. That guy is staring at me and leering and giggling. What if he’s a sexual predator? What if he assaults me?

    Hopefully I was more silly than creepy and menacing. But point taken.

  9. Sam,

    I would thank you for almost causing me to look incredibly ridiculous today.

    This morning I went to the doctor. I was in the elevator with 3 other people. 2 of them got off, leaving me on the elevator alone with some man I've never met. But, as the 2 others exited the elevator, the words "new sox" popped into my head.

    So there I am, suddenly alone with a strange man in an elevator, doing everything I can to hold in my giggles. If I had to go one more floor, I would have busted up laughing… then I'd have to look at the man and explain that, "Sorry, Sam wore new sox in an elevator yesterday."

  10. My husband and I, on a long car trip, in a fit of giggles, came up with the name "Estrus" for a car model. I can see it… the Honda Estrus. But it doesn't sound like an SUV. It sounds like a small, fuel-efficient, but highly tempermental, economy car.

    I think we are the only people in our suburban midwestern town who don't own an SUV. When our '02 Saturn LS was totaled last fall, we went out of our way and drove to another state to buy another identical one because we liked it and it's excellent gas mileage so much.

    And I'll add that I, too, might have found the elevator sox behavior somewhat distressing. I get nervous in elevators to begin with.

  11. So there I am, suddenly alone with a strange man in an elevator, doing everything I can to hold in my giggles. If I had to go one more floor, I would have busted up laughing… then I’d have to look at the man and explain that, “Sorry, Sam wore new sox in an elevator yesterday.”

    I think you should have said that anyway. And then stepped off the elevator cackling like a maniac. That woulda been fun.

    I think it was Steven Wright who did this bit a few years ago (paraphrasing):

    When I was a kid, my grandfather made me and my siblings stand in a closet facing the door without talking. He told us it was elevator practice.

  12. flygrrl – the funny thing is, I think plenty of people don't know what estrus means and would just think "Oh, the Honda Estrus! Isn't that an animal in Africa or something? What a great name!"

    "Hopefully I was more silly than creepy and menacing. But point taken."

    Well, I didn't mean to imply that you were being creepy and menacing… more that even if you were just being silly, jaded hyperaware young women such as myself may interpret the silliness as menacing and feel threatened anyway. Just to give you another point of view. I'd suggest cutting back on the staring, silly grins, and giggling (especially the staring). If you had just faced the 'wrong' way and acted normal otherwise, I for one would have felt distinctly less threatened. Just FYI for future social norm experiments. (Maybe you could try that and see if people still flee the elevator… might be interesting)

  13. I’d suggest cutting back on the staring, silly grins, and giggling (especially the staring). If you had just faced the ‘wrong’ way and acted normal otherwise, I for one would have felt distinctly less threatened. Just FYI for future social norm experiments. (Maybe you could try that and see if people still flee the elevator… might be interesting)

    Yes, it seems slapstick silliness doesn't translate well to the written word. I didn't so much stare as simply look at each person. Wait . . . what am I doing? I always say that if you have to explain them, they don't go into the act.

    The short of it is, I see what you're saying, and you're right. I don't want to creep anyone out.

    Oh, and by the way, it wasn't really a social norm experiment. It was something spontaneous that I thought would be fun.

  14. In the old Candid Camera series, they did an experiment where two people would get into an elevator where there was already a single person inside. The two faced backwards instead of forwards and otherwise acted normally. In most cases, the other person would eventually turn around to match them.

    The worst name for a car ever was the Ford Probe.

  15. Now all I can think of when I'm driving around is E names for cars.

    Ford Effluvium

    Kia Emasculator

    Honda Emesis

    Dodge Exegesis (for the scholarly types)

    Porsche Esoterica

    Lincoln Epithet

    Cadillac Ennui

    Personally, I want to drive an Existentialist.

  16. Oh, Bee, I really think an Emasculator would have to be a make other than Kia. That's gotta be an American car.

    I can't decide if I want to drive one of those, or the Cadillac Ennui. My hubby would definitely go for the Ennui, I think.

  17. "Oh, Bee, I really think an Emasculator would have to be a make other than Kia."

    Also, aren't bigass cars supposed to do the opposite of emasculation? Or at least compensate for previous perceived emasculation? I'm thinking the Emasculator shouldn't be an SUV. It should be a teeny tiny little subcompact.

    Also, the Exegesis might be good to market to Christians with poor vocabularies.

  18. "Well, I guess it depends on who’s driving the Emasculator. Is it the car, or the driver, who would be doing the Emasculating???"

    Now you've got me picturing a car with an array of whirly blades on the front. Ouch!

  19. Now you’ve got me picturing a car with an array of whirly blades on the front. Ouch!

    wow. No, that isn't what I was picturing at all. More something that a woman of my small stature could drive so as to crush a man's Porsche. Take that as literally or as metaphorically as you like. (Yes, I do suffer from Napoleon syndrome to some extent).

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