The car salesman saw us coming the minute we drove up the street. We were barely out of our gas-guzzling SUV before he was asking us what color we wanted. So much for playing it cool.

Still, we're not rookies. We've bought cars before. We knew the game.

"Just looking," I said, strolling through the lot as if we were just killing time until the nearby movie theater opened.

"So, what are you looking to buy?" said the car salesman, strolling behind us as if he knew there were no good movies playing.

"Uh, not sure," I said, keeping it vague. "We're thinking of trading in our suburban tank for something that mostly coasts."

"I can do that," said the car salesman. He shook his head in pity at our SUV.

"Auto Trader said our insatiable beast is worth a lot of money," I said.

"I can do that," said the car salesman.

"We don't want to spend much more on a new car," I said.

"I can do that," said the car salesman.

Oh, so he wanted to play hardball, eh? We could do that.

"To tell you the truth, we plan to test drive a couple of other cars before we make a decision," I said. "My husband likes the Chevy Volt because it's all electric and never needs gas. And I like the Mini Cooper Countryman because it's so cute."

"Then the Prius is perfect for both of you," the car salesman said. "Gets 50 miles to the gallon, compared to your old car, which probably gets 15."

"More like 12," my husband mumbled.


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The car salesman laughed. "Then driving a Prius is like driving for free."

At that point, he went on tell my husband all about the physics of driving a car that practically runs on air. He threw out words like "aerodynamic," "coefficient of drag reduction," "estimated fuel efficiency rating," "increased torque," "electric water pump," "powertrain," "inverter and transaxle" and "ecological bioplastics made from cellulose (cellulite?), kenaf (hibiscus family), and ramie (nettle family)."

My husband's eyes widened with each point. He's a sucker for that kind of stuff.

Then the car salesman turned to me and began his practiced, hard-sell technique.

"What color?"

I smiled. This guy thinks he knows what women want? Ha!

"Sea foam," I told him, smugly. There was no way I would become one of those Prius drivers who rarely accelerate to save gas while watching the digital display window that constantly shows the MPG instead of watching the road.

We never made it to the Chevy or Cooper lots. The car salesman made us a deal we couldn't refuse. Three hours later we left behind our fuel-wasting dinosaur and drove home in a new Sea foam, battery-charged, practically gasless car. We rationalized that the money we'd save on fuel would cover the new hefty monthly payment.

Of course, we're going to have to grow our own organic food, listen only to NPR, recycle our laundry lint, vote the green (Sea foam?) party, become Wiccans, decorate the house in earth tones, join the Occupy/protest movement, drive 10 miles below the speed limit, and ride our bikes instead of using the car. That's fine.

I just hope I can figure out how to drive it without a class in physics.

Reach Penny Warner at www. pennywarner.com.

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