A couple of weeks ago, I had an unexpected yet important thought: My mother, not wanting to hear what people think about her car-buying tendencies, often keeps it to herself until a car’s been bought. Selfishly, I realized her 2008 Mazda Miata could disappear at any time, and asked her to offer it to me first.
The selfishness hasn’t served me well.
My mom’s always been a Miata person. She had a black, five-speed 1996 Miata for years when I was a kid, and tried to teach me how to drive it in parking lots. I didn’t very much enjoy it at the time. As the years went on, the car got less and less able to handle her hot Texas commutes when she decided to drive it.
After getting stuck on the side of the road too many times with that Miata, she traded the car for a third-generation Miata from 2008. The car had six manual forward gears. After several years with the car, she still often forgets whether she’s in fourth or sixth.
Mom is the kind of person who falls into the “Miata obsessed” category. If you handed her an exam, forget A, B or C. Miata will be the answer every time. I knew getting the newest generation of the Miata to review for my work here at Jalopnik would push her over the Miata-buying edge, especially because she had to spend a lot of time with it—we compared the new car to hers in a review.
In the months after the new car went back to its home, ready to be loaned out for some other use, I could see the signs. Mom would casually mention a used 2016 Miata she saw online, or how she’s “getting old” and needs to have all the fun she can in this life. After all, as she quotes Pitbull daily: “Every day above ground is a great day.” You need a great Miata to go along with it.
Thus, I knew a Miata purchase would be inevitable.
It seemed innocent enough to propose my idea to her before it was too late: “Hey, so, if you go off and buy a new Miata, could you offer me yours at a discount first?” I asked her.
“Well, sure,” she said. Her tone raised across the two words like she’d just been given permission to do something she hadn’t ever thought possible.
That was all a bad idea on my part.
I told her I’d give her $5,000 for the car, which is far under market value, but I was a good kid and didn’t put too many burdens on her life while growing up. She scoffed and said she needed at least $7,000 because the new Miata “would be expensive.”
“I didn’t tell you to go buy it right now!” I said. “I just figured it would happen in the next few years and didn’t want to miss out on buying your car.”
Ever since, she’s been like a salesperson. (She works in sales, so I should have expected this.) She drops little hints into everyday life to try to remind me just how much her car is worth, and how she’ll just sell it to someone else if I don’t give her enough.
She called one day last week, just “checking in” on me. She was driving the Miata, of course.
“You know, I’m just telling you, this car has new tires on it,” she said soon after. “Only 6,000 miles. They’re good tires. They were a lot of money.”
She’s like a living, breathing Craigslist ad who knows where I live. No low ballers, she knows what she has. It’s lovely, really.
Two days later, she called to say she was picking me up to go look at artificial Christmas trees for each of our houses. She showed up in the Miata, which was laughable considering it’s a miniature two-door roadster and she expected to seriously consider Christmas-tree purchases in it.
“What!” she said. “It’s a fun car. It’s a pretty day. Let’s put the top down.”
We ended up having to go get another car to fit my Christmas tree into it.
She stopped by to drop off some of my mail that’s still ending up at her house early Friday, after it snowed about five inches overnight. When I asked her if it was a bit too cold to be driving her Miata around for work, she raved about how fun it is and began reading off every Kelley Blue Book value she could find on it.
She’s become like a door-to-door salesperson who only comes to my door, and brings a car instead of a catalog.
“So, $5,000?” I asked.
“I won’t take less than $7,000,” she responded.
I guess she’ll keep reminding me why until I finally give in.