Monday, October 26, 2009

Guys and Noise

When I was a kid, I well remember being on longish drives (in kid terms: anything > 1/2 hr = long drive) and trying very hard not to make noise in the back seat. Or, perhaps more accurately, trying very hard for, maybe, the first five minutes. After that, we'd revert to normal Kid Noise Levels (called "kennels" by the cognoscenti). Had I been more of an entrepreneur in those days, I'd have gotten rich off of forming pools to determine when, exactly, Dad would turn his head slightly and yell, "What's that noise?!"

Dad was always hyper-sensitive to car noises on long trips, and with good reason. Our cars were notorious for breaking down for any number of reasons, including rusting while in use. On a trip to San Diego one year, we broke down and had to be towed (oh, the shame!) to a local service station. Remember "service stations?" Me, neither. Anyway, I was mortified for some reason. Dad was just purple in the face.

The funny thing is, Dad wasn't nearly that bad on local trips. He seems to have driven around town pretty much on automatic. Side mirrors could fall off the car while we were driving to Church, for example, and he'd barely register. He was probably more concerned that we (his family) were making him "late," which happened nearly every Sunday.

Anyway, I bring this up because of a story told by Jay Tea over at Wizbang, wherein he has to Google instructions on how to start a Prius so his bosses could leave on a road trip.

Turns out that the Prius starts in "electric mode" which means there's no engine noise to inform the driver that the car is ready to roll. You just hit the "Power" button, put it in gear and roll.

Make that reason number 2 why I will probably never get a Prius.

Reason number 1 is because I am constantly getting behind one of these gutless machines in the HOV lanes out here in California, and I have yet to find the Prius that can reach anywhere close to the speed limit. When Yugos having a 75 to 1 rust-to-viable-steel ratio are passing me in the slow lane, I get a tad upset with the green-hugging driver in front of me.

So I will not likely ever get a Prius. I'd always be afraid that some maniac in a mini-van right behind me is about to deploy his tactical road-obstacle removing laser any minute now.

Guys need noise. This explains everything from making motor noises in the bathtub (BBBBRRRRMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM) to the Space Shuttle. Even the APU's on that baby make noise when you "fire 'em up." And wait until the ARES rocket makes its debut this week. Noise, dude! Noise!!

As a young man, I always envied the teenagers down the street that had those cars that made Dad crazy. They were always doing something with "headers" (removing them, I think), and either losing or heavily modifying their mufflers so that their steet 'rods would have roughly the same decibel level as a 747 at full thrust. And nearly the same horsepower.

(I notice, however, that teenagers don't seem to bother with headers and mufflers anymore. They're too busy installing sound systems in their vehicles that are medically proven to cause sterility. This is probably a good thing because I'm not sure I want these idiots to reproduce.)

I guess this all means that I will, for now, remain among the traditionalists who demand a car noise when I turn on the ignition. Preferably the one that goes "BBBBBRRRRMMMMMMMMMMMM."

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