“Oh, so it’s a lifestyle.”
Those were the words uttered by one of my co-workers recently as we climbed into the Jeep on the way to a lunch meeting, and she spotted my wife’s baseball cap perched on the dashboard.
The bright orange cap has the word “Jeep” emblazoned on it in raised, navy blue lettering. Yes, a Jeep hat for when my wife is driving or riding in the Jeep. It’s important to stay on-brand, I suppose.
Not that I blame her. My wife, Christina, has been Jeep crazy for long enough. She’s been waiting a while to pair the cap and the vehicle.
We’ve been keeping company for a little while now — we started dating 23 years ago, and we’ve been married for almost 17 years — and for as long as I’ve known her she’s always said she wanted a “real” Jeep (i.e. a Wrangler-type version.)
Why? Well, because they’re cool, I guess. I think she envisioned herself like Linda Hamilton at the end of the first Terminator movie, blasting through the desert out west in a Jeep with the top down, the warm breeze blowing through her hair as a dog stretched out across the back seat. I assume being pursued by a murderous, time-traveling cyborg wasn’t part of what my wife envisioned, but you get my point.
But, for whatever reason, as time went by, it just never came together for us to get a Jeep. We’ve bought and sold and traded a number of cars through the years, and at each changeover, we looked for something that seemed practical to our needs at the time. The result was a string of various and sundry sedans and SUVs and crossovers, some of which we’ve liked more than others. But the Jeep remained elusive, with factors such as gas mileage and space (especially when my daughter was very young and a car trip with her meant hauling a metric ton of baby bear and other bags) weighing in the decision to put off going for one.
That changed about a year ago. After two decades of pining, my wife finally decided to pull the trigger on a Jeep. She got a 2016 Wrangler Sahara. Yes, Sahara, because you know we’ll be driving that sucker across the sands of the Sahara at some point. And, yeah, it’s got four-wheel drive. You know, so we can navigate it into the parking lot at Publix. Nothing necessitates four-wheel drive quite like that Sunday afternoon trip to Target.
While I’m not sure whether my wife has yet found her inner Linda Hamilton, it is fun to drive around on a nice day with the roof off. She gets some of that “wind in her hair” action. My bald head just gets a sunburn. But it’s a fun sunburn. Call it a funburn.
What I did not know before we got the Wrangler is that there is a whole Jeep lifestyle. My wife has joined Jeep enthusiast groups on Facebook and other sites, and she’s gotten the aforementioned hat and other clothing and gear.
And then there’s the wave.
Apparently, if two Jeep Wranglers pass one another in the road, the drivers are supposed to acknowledge each other with a “Jeep wave.” Basically you flash your thumb, index and middle fingers, which I think is supposed to look like a “J.”
You’re supposed to throw the Jeep wave in a cool and casual manner. My wife and daughter pick on me because I end up looking like Mr. Spock from Star Trek giving his “live long and prosper” hand signal.
So my wife finally got her Jeep, and it’s been a year of wind-blown rides, hats and other accessories, trading stories on Jeep websites, “funburns,” and off-road adventures to, um, the local movie theater.
Give me another year and I’ll have the Jeep wave down.