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Humming Along

Every so often, I feel the world is coming to an end. It can be because of straightforward news, like that they’ve just upgraded the terror alert. Or, it can be triggered by reports that Paula Abdul is recording again. Which event, by the way, now has a color-coded chart all its own. Anyway, whenever I feel scared about The End, I go looking for products or people who might help me on Doomsday.  Last year it was that weekend training with the Connecticut survivalist  group. Where I flunked out for not learning how to turn my urine into drinking water. Recently, I did something a bit simpler. I went to New Canaan and went window-shopping for a Hummer, at a place called Karl’s. I learned a few things about this controversial vehicle, which made me think it’s  perfect, End  O’ The World transportation. If we all survive, however, a few of its kinks will  need hammering out.

As I walked around the lot of Hummer By Karl, I tried to think of the best ways to present myself as a prospective buyer. I certainly  couldn’t advertise  my credit score, which is somewhere between that of a dishwasher and Boxcar Willie. I thought about  resurrecting my Austrian accent and mentioning that, ‘Cousin Ah-Nuld won’t let me bring the bratwurst to the next cookout, unless I haff a Humvee. Or  perhaps several.’ Finally, I started making rude remarks  about The Sierra Club and a salesperson came right out to rap. I should mention that this woman wished not to be quoted. Or paraphrased. I finally told her that I was going to gather  all my readers together and explain the whole thing with an interpretive dance. Which bought me about ten minutes of this woman’s time.  Not to mention  the name of a very reasonable Capezios outlet.

What did I learn? Well, that there are many  myths surrounding this most misunderstood of  machines. For starters, let’s talk gas mileage. When I told my salesperson that I’d heard that  Hummers only get ten miles a gallon, she said this was environmentalist claptrap. I was sternly informed that the  Hummer H2, gets as many as eleven or twelve. This sound thrashing  left me silent and apologetic. Of course, I hadn’t yet asked what traffic conditions produced such optimum mileage. When I did, however, the response was less than straightforward. But I got the impression, that these great results only occurred if you drove the Hummer from your kitchen to your living room. And there weren’t any other cars driving through your  hall at the same time.

What, I then asked, was the deal with the size of the Hummer? Although, it only has room for six passengers (to be fair, they can all be roughly the size of New Haven), the thing  looks ominously big when you see it. Sort of like that Monster Car that Speed Racer once had to go up against. I was told this was an optical illusion. That the Hummer was no longer than, say,  the Honda Accord. What we didn’t get into was width. I should’ve mentioned that often, in my own car, I’ve tried to see around a Hummer, when I was trying to make a turn. Which required parking, getting out and running to the other side of the street, to see what’s happening.  The next time I engage in this fandango, holding up cars in both directions, I’ll just smile. And tell  the drivers it’s merely an optical illusion. Which, I imagine, will result in my being beaten mercilessly.

As for the price of these babies, let’s hope there’s some optical illusion business going on here, too. >From what I could find out, the Hummer line starts at forty-five grand, for the H2 and goes up to a hundred seventeen thou (and more) for the 2005 H1 Profile 4 Door Wagon. To be honest, the Hummer website says that includes a, “1lb winch for the ultimate off-roading experience.” Speaking just for myself, that better be a euphemism for five hookers and a Hefty bag worth of coke. Otherwise,  it sounds like an awfully  lame off-road experience to me.

Other perks with that wagon? With the “Adventure Package” (maybe that’s where the hookers come in), you can get,  “Electronic E-lockers, forged aluminum wheels and a Tailgate Space Carrier.” There’s also, apparently, enough room  in there for your kids , dog and possessions. Which is good. Since you won’t be able to continue paying for your house if you buy the H1. Also available are XM satellite radio and cable TV. These perks should make the wagon feel more like  home. Even if by living in the wagon, your neighborhood will be constantly changing.

But you know what really sold me, the guy who fears Armageddon? It’s something called The Hummer H2 Driving Academy. Which I read about on the company  website. Apparently, in South Bend, Indiana, you can go and get  driving lessons that sound as if only Hummer  knows the world is soon coming to an end. They offer a, “Test trail used to train the U.S. and several allied forces in tactical maneuvers.” Here you can pit your skills against, “Rooted, moguled, stump-strewn mud runs, steep inclines; ridiculously raked side slopes…and more.” Am I crazy, or is this some kind of freakin’ prediction of an imminent apocalypse? The Hummer manufacturer sure seems to have a bleak view of things. It was reading this info that really got me thinking. That, even though I was escorted off the lot in New Canaan for asking too many questions, I’d  better go back. And beg them to let me buy one of those behemoths. Even if I have to promise my firstborn as collateral.  I figure between the lessons at The Driving Academy and few more tips from those survivalists that gave me the heave ho, I might just be ready. For the bad times, it seems  that only  Hummer and I know are coming.

By:Peter Gerstenzang

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