Since purchasing the PT Cruiser convertible (or “PT Loser” as Anthony calls it), I’ve experienced a slightly different drive than anything I’ve ever had in the past. This is especially true after driving an Explorer for nearly two years.

First, the absence of a solid roof is a big change. As such, the weight that would be above me has been distributed to the doors which are very heavy—and long. But those heavy doors make he thing feel like a tank.

When the top is up, it’s dark in the car because the interior lining of the roof is black and the rear window is small. There are two sets of dome lights: a pair in the rear-view mirror and a pair in that strange bar in the middle of the car. Neither pair seems very effective. The ragtop version of the PT Cruiser also seems smaller and at times I feel like I’m driving an 50s hot rod (save for the huge engine, fender-flames and raccoon tail on the antenna).

Top-down driving is fun on reasonably warm days and I’ve learned that driving with the windows up cuts down on wind noise. It also sort of puts a muzzle on the kid when he sees a Volkswagen Beetle and utters the phrase, “Look, Daddy! A piece of crap!” as he did yesterday…with the windows down

I’ve also learned that driving top-down leaves you exposed to the elements. No, a bird hasn’t shat on me yet but I have had the pleasure of taking in the aroma of cigarettes and air fresheners from cars around me. (Seriously, why bother with air freshener when your car already smells like ass?) I can also glance at aircraft overhead and know exactly where to run and hide during the next blimp attack. Also, the radio needs to be cranked up pretty high in order to drown out the noise around me.

And picking your nose? Forget it.

Speaking of the radio, guilty pleasures are even guiltier when people around you can hear them. I guess that’s why that dude was staring at me when I was blasting Doris Day’s “Everybody Loves a Lover.”

But despite all that, I find driving in my new-used car a refreshing change from being behind the wheel of a behemoth vehicle that got terrible mileage. I’m not saying the mileage in the PT Loser is better, but I filled it on May 1st and will have to fill it up again probably tonight before Ann and I go on our date. (Yes, married couples can still date—and trust me, they are worth it 😉 )

By comparison, I would have to fill the Explorer once a week even with taking the train to work.

But at least I could still pick my nose and listen to Kajagoogoo in peace.