(November 1, 1999)

Five years ago, my husband came home with a . . . Suburban. Yes, one of those mega-ton vehicles that occupies more than half a neighborhood street. I’ll never forget the first time I saw it in our driveway (it takes up more than half of that, too). “Oh, my gosh, it’s a, a, (looking at the writing on the back) a TRUCK! What in the world do you need a truck for?”

“So we won’t have to take two cars when we drive to Tahoe,” he explained.

“But sweetie, we could rent a big car once a year.”

Bill’s was only the third Suburban in our part of town, but soon there were more. Many more. As I witnessed the SUV explosion in the Bay Area I concluded that they are, in a phrase, socially irresponsible vehicles (call ’em SIV’s). They gobble gas. They pollute. And when the articles began to appear about the dangers they pose to cars in collisions, I exploded, too: “That doesn’t even count the number of times they cause wrecks because they always seem to be next to you when you want to change lanes or in the parking lot when you pull out, and their tall, tinted windows make it impossible to see around them.”

“So how do you really feel?” Bill asked.

I drove the monster for two days recently while my car was in for service. How embarrassing! I kept running over curbs and wasting time looking for places to park. Heaven forbid I park next to a car. It’s bad enough to share a driveway with a Suburban. I found it nearly impossible to drive one safely and responsibly.

I had hopes that the popularity of the new Volkswagen Beetle would signal a sea change in car size preference. No such luck. I shudder when I contemplate the fall debut of Ford’s Excursion, which the Sierra Club calls the “Ford Valdez.”

What can those of us who drive at ground level do to stop this insanity? I suggest guilt. A campaign with the slogan “Friends don’t let friends buy tanks.” Spouses, too, need to do their part. I may tease Bill about the vehicle he still adores, but he knows I’m serious as well. This will be the last SUV to call our house home, because seriously, SUV’s are a 90’s excess that should come to a screeching halt in the two-thousands.

With a Perspective, I’m Debbie Duncan.