The Bimbo Box

“The bimbo box” — Hiro Protagonist’s derisive term for the family minivan in Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash. I can remember reading that book for the first time, in 1993, and savoring that feeling of dissing those minivan drivers, “[poking] along, random, indecisive, looking at each passing franchise’s driveway like they don’t know if it’s a promise or a threat.” If someone had asked I might have sworn never to own a minivan even before the term “bimbo box” came along; with the added weight of that appellation it would have been a no-brainer.

Stephenson didn’t predict the SUV, though. And by comparison, the minivan doesn’t look quite so bad. It may be staid and a little suburban, sure, but at least it’s not superfluously all-terrain and prone to flippage. SUV drivers may actually think that they look cool, whereas the minivan drivers labor under no such illusion. Their choice is utilitarian, and, as such, is considerably less egregious, as far as gas-guzzling behemoths go.

My point is that, in the greater scheme of things, minivans aren’t that bad any more, right? Right?

Do you see where this is going?

Yes, it’s true, the new Polytroposmobile is a 2000 Toyota Sienna. Seats seven. Teal, or Caribbean Green or something. It was three weeks of loading and unloading with two kids, and contemplating a drive to Michigan with the same (to say nothing of the dimensions of the Sit ‘n’ Stand stroller), that made the choice an obvious one. Sometimes there’s just that deal that comes on down Craigslist and you’d be stupid not to take it, y’know?

At some point in the past this decision might have still been a little traumatic for me, but three years of diapers ‘n’ Dora have long since stripped all the hipness from my system. I am close to achieving a Zen-like state of peace with respect to our purchase — a process that will be helped along by a custom bumper sticker of some sort, though I haven’t exactly decided what it’s going to say yet.