You might think that my expectations are too high, but I'm anticipating that the 2011 Mini Cooper S hardtop which just manifested in my driveway will bring me perfect happiness for the rest of my motoring life.
(Those in the Cult of Mini, which now includes moi, don't drive; they motor.)
Unfortunately for our pocketbook, when I said "manifested" I wasn't referring to a miraculous appearance of the Mini Cooper S. Via several blog posts I've been lobbying God for this to happen since my Mini lust began in 2003.
(See here and here; each prayerful plea was roundly ignored by what I can only conclude, somewhat illogically, is a non-existent divinity; this contributed to both my rejection of religion and a conclusion that if a Mini Cooper S ever was to enter my life, it would happen through the grace of my Social Security check, not God.)
Since so far I've only been able to drive the Mini from Portland to Salem, then around town here a bit, I can't be 100% confident that this car-of-my-dreams will bring me the unalloyed happiness that I so richly deserve after having postponed the consummation of my Mini love affair for eight freaking years.
And after spending ninety minutes or so with my new best mechanical friend, I can tell that we're going to get along great. Why, look -- my beloved Thermos coffee mug fits perfectly in the front seat cup holder.
Many other features of the 2011 Mini Cooper S are equally appealing to me. But I'll leave descriptions of most of those for other blog posts once I've had more time to familiarize myself with the appealingly quirky nature of the Mini.
A few examples: the turn signals don't operate "normally" (whatever that means). Driving home it took me a while to realize that pressing up or down to a point of resistance activates a lane change feature where the signal blinks several times and turns off, while pressing past that point leaves the signal blinking continuously until it's cancelled.
My wife and I also puzzled over the fuel filler lid when I parked in our driveway and we began to wonder where the lever/button was to open the lid, as our other cars operate. It seemed funny that the Mini, which electronically is quite sophisticated, had a unlockable gas cap.
The owner's manual wasn't very clear on this subject. It merely said that if the electrical system has a problem, the fuel lid can be released via a compartment in the back of the car. But we could open the lid just fine. The problem was how to lock, not how to unlock.
Then it dawned on us that the car had been unlocked when we first got home. After locking the car, we found the fuel lid can't be opened. As with the wipers, this quirkiness makes sense, yet produced some initial head scratching.
As did getting out of the car. I didn't think I needed the owner's manual to open the car door once I arrived in downtown Salem, but for a few seconds it seemed like that might be necessary.
Pulling on the door handle, nothing happened. I was locked in! Trapped! Then I pulled again and the door opened. Weird.
However, I learned from a card in the driver's side door pocket that's the way the Mini is designed to work: the doors lock while you're driving (oops, motoring); when you stop, one pull on the handle unlocks the door, and a second pull opens the door.
Live and learn. I can tell that with the Mini, I'm going to be doing a lot of both -- living (happily) and learning (about a great car).