The act of finding your next car is not unlike a medical self-examination.

(Bear with me on this one…)

It’s not just because you should be conscious of lumps, discolorations or irregularities. It’s an introspective experience, and you need to keep your own best interests in mind. Suffice it to say that any car shopper should make it a point to inform their final decision by asking themselves a series of questions.

For example, if you’re searching through Toyota cars for sale, do you know what your number one question should be? Let me tell you.

“Why does Jay’s buddy, Ryan, suck so bad?”

You may be surprised that I’m suggesting this should be your first question. Then again, the automotive industry has been force-feeding you propaganda the way that Adult-Contemporary Top 40 radio is still trying to convince that you that TRAIN is an “awesome band.”

Well, if you’re sitting there humming “Hey, Soul Sister” (or as I like to call it, “Hank’s Old Sister”) allow me to clear things up once and for all. First, you will never be able to un-hear “Hank’s Old Sister” (for which I make no apologies). Secondly,TRAIN sucks, and – just so that we’re clear – so does my buddy, Ryan.

Ryan had this weird habit of leaving his house while brushing his teeth. Listen, I applaud dental hygiene as much as the next guy but…that damn toothbrush. I can vividly remember the scrubbing of bristles being the soundtrack to the first seven minutes of every drive we went on; but then again, he was the first one of us with a license and a car. Tolerating the teeth brushing was important because I needed his backseat to bring my dates along. After all, without a car, Denny’s parking lot can come across a little bit shady…even after you spring for spicy fries.

Ryan’s first car was a Toyota Camry.

Before I go any further, I’d like to give credit where it is due. Like most Toyota cars available today, the Camry is fantastic and nothing like that pale blue pile of albino smurf-sh*t that Ryan had. I suppose the first sign of improvement is that Toyota no longer offers “pale blue albino smurf-sh*t” among its factory colors. Well played, Toyota.

We called the car “Brainy Smurf,” not simply because of its color, but because Ryan was a bit of a nerd (okay fine, an “intellectual”). You know the type: always trying to “get ahead on his homework” while you’re trying to “peer pressure him into alcoholism by convincing him that vodka won’t get you drunk if you eat vanilla wafers.” It’s hard to believe that someone who fell for that (twice) is now a tenured professor at the University of Maryland. True story.

But I digress…

That car might have been our ticket to adolescent freedom, but it was relatively low-frills at the time. Sure, our parents had vehicles with CD players in them, but we were lucky if we had a functioning tape deck in most of our vehicles, and in most cases we didn’t. You do remember tape decks, don’t you?

When I think of that car and the lack of technology, it blows me away that today’s Camry with a full infotainment package will someday be inherited by a teenager whose primary complaint is that Bluetooth connectivity is “so 2017.” (Editor’s Note: 2015 called, and it wants its cliched teen lingo back. Also, 2005 called and it wants its “such-and-such a year called and wants its blah blah blah back” back…)

So listen up, entitled teen drivers of tomorrow.

Back then, our cars didn’t have “innovative technology” like wireless device charging (hell, we didn’t even have wireless devices…or devices at all, for that matter). There were no apps, or Pandora or USB ports. And HD radio? Well, that just meant our antennae wasn’t picking up any static on that particular day. (What’s an antennae you ask? Fahhhhhhhhhhk!)

I know, times change, but I just find it hard to be sympathetic even IF #thestruggleisreal

Seriously? One time, Ryan took an old boom-box and used 7th grade engineering skills to solder a cigarette-lighter power cable to its C battery terminals. Sure, it might sound pretty luxurious to have not one, but two tape decks from which to crank “Let Me Clear My Throat,”  but that boom box took up the whole back seat. And trust me, I had solid plans for that back-seat once a cheerleader named Trina finished her Moons-Over-My-Hammy at Denny’s.


These days, when you buy Toyota cars you can opt for controls to be voice-activated. That’s right, “voice recognition.” If we had that back in the late-90s I wonder how far “you-know-who” would have gotten telling the stereo to rewind his Smashing Pumpkins cassette single for the 18th time – with a damn toothbrush crammed in his yapper.

My point is this. Regardless of which of Toyota car you’re most interested in, take a moment to explore all of the technology that’s available to you. When you reach out to use your touchscreen interface, remember when that only existed on Star Trek: The Next Generation. When your Bluetooth-enabled phone streams an infinite supply of music, think back to when you had to rewind cassettes just to hear a song again. Someday, your car will have a new owner who may not be as appreciative of these features but, by today’s standards, that is some impressively cutting-edge sh*it.

Whatever you do, just don’t play any TRAIN (or Nickelback, but I’ll save THAT for another time).

And in all fairness, my buddy, Ryan, is actually a very smart guy – with good teeth and solid engineering skills. He doesn’t really suck (although his first car did). On the other hand, my other buddy, Roland, really does suck. He’s sort of a mongoloid who smells faintly of barbecue sauce. But to his credit, he’s now driving his second Toyota Highlander and couldn’t be happier with the infotainment package.


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