Normally when the reviewers hand me the keys to a car, I’m anticipating the middling fun of your basic Kia Forte or Mazda3. Imagine my delight when Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays asked me if I wanted to drive home to Ohio in a sparkling new silver 2010 Chevy Camaro. I decided to take the opportunity to conduct a highly anecdotal, unscientific experiment. I wanted to find out how people I knew would react to me as a new Camaro owner.
It turns out that unless you’re a balding, middle-age male clearly in the throes of a midlife crisis, people find Camaro owners to be a dubious lot. While I had great fun driving the muscle car and showing it off as if it were my own, my friends thought I had lost my mind.
“Twenty-nine miles per gallon highway,” I kept saying of the 2LT trim with a V-6; as if this simple fuel economy number made the Camaro a rational choice for a city-dweller who would spend much of his driving time in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive in second or third gear. “Plus, it’s awesome; 304 horsepower,” I’d add. “Plus, it looks like a lion.”
The key word that kept popping up was “overcompensation.” My friend Justin asked if I was dying or if I suddenly felt sexually inadequate. These were the primary theories of most of my friends — not that it stopped any of them from asking to drive it.
I also noted a major gender distinction. Female friends (admittedly, a self-selecting crowd) simply found the Camaro absurd. “Don’t you feel silly driving around in that?” one asked.
“This pretty much makes me re-evaluate everything I thought I knew about you,” said another.
Men, on the other hand, while definitely begrudging my choice of “new car,” also admitted that it was pretty badass. I drove them around a slew of Ohio’s two-lane county highways, where we tested the ponies and wondered aloud whether — because they were not impressed by this car — we were friends with the wrong women in high school.
When I finally admitted that I had not purchased a new Camaro and merely had this one on loan from work, my so-called friends treated me to a round of, “Oh, that makes way more sense.” Don’t ever let people play this game with you because it comes out that they think:
1) You make no money.
2) You are not cool enough to drive a Camaro.
3) You will someday soon be old, bald and inadequate and will surely buy a Chevrolet Camaro that looks like a lion in order to compensate. For something.