What's in a name?” Shakespeare asked. “Pretty much everything, Willie,” I'd have retorted.
Walking through the parking lot on the way to the dumpsters, I mindlessly glanced at parked cars. I noticed a non-descript little number — and I'm sure it gets good gas mileage — called “Arias.”
Arias? Is that pronounced You-rye-us, Arr-e-us,” or “Urethra?” What does it mean? I typed “Arias” into my computer Thesaurus and got several hits. Among them: “Ariboflavinosis: a condition caused by a dietary deficiency of Vitamin B. Symptoms include mouth lesions,” and “Aristas; the bristly part of the antennae of some flies.”
Is that what the auto manufacturer meant to convey … fly antennae? That's better than mouth lesions, but doesn't conjure images of speed and power. Maybe it was a designer's misprint and he meant to call this little shell-of-a-vehicle “Areola.” At least that means something!
I wonder if the Arias is related to the Prius? I looked Prius up and the closest I could come was “Privet: An evergreen shrub.” That's what you want to arrive in to impress your prom date, huh? A shrub?
If they are related, at the Prius/Arius family reunion there's probably only fried chicken, potato salad and ice-water. After eating sensibly, followed by Milk of Magnesia, they sit around talking about past heroes, like the Vega and the Pinto.
At least Pinto signifies a pretty horse, or at the very least, a popular bean. Even if the Pinto seldom topped 50 MPH and exploded upon the slightest rear-end impact, it wasn't ashamed of its name. Vega is “… the brightest star in the constellation Lyra.” Of course, Vega has just sat there for millions of years, but a bright star is better than nothing – which near as I can tell is what the Arias is.
I'm not sure if GMC even makes cars anymore, but I recall the “Javelin.” Now that raised eyebrows when a young fella told a coquettish, dim gal, “That's right; I drive a JAVelin.” Everyone knows what a javelin does. It flies through the air at breakneck speed and occasionally impales and kills a track meet spectator. I suspect an Arias wouldn't even break the skin.
There are many cool, powerful cars that not only sound dynamic, but have a dictionary definition. THUNDERbird. Now that sounds strong and fast.
It was bad-boy enough that the Beach Boys warned, “… and you'll have fun, fun, fun ‘til your daddy takes the T-bird awaaay.” When any car is respected enough to be shortened to initials, you know it's a cool ride.
My '67 “GTO” didn't have to mean anything in particular; it had three letters and up to the imagination what they means. “Get The ##!! Out of-my-way” maybe. And if Jan and Dean were impressed enough to sing, “Little GTO; you're really looking fine …” it must mean something. “BarraCUda” by Heart meant something to many of us!
I also remember pathetic cars, like the “Rambler,” which never pulled a cop away from a Dunkin' Doughnuts. But at least Rambler signified some semblance of movement. It didn't race through the universe like the “Comet,” but it did ramble around and eventually got you where you had to go.
Not every cool car needs to sound fast either; there's something to be said for sleek and elegant. The Lincoln Continental for instance … classy, yet not bold or obnoxious. Commander Cody sang, “My daddy said ‘Son, you're gonna drive me to drinkin…if you don't stop driving that hot rod Lincoln!'” I suspect the young temptress who had her T-Bird taken away promptly hopped in with the Lincoln rebel. (The strict Daddy was to blame for whatever might have happened later in the back seat of that Lincoln).
I drove a '66 MUStang — a galloping, runaway horse — when I was 20. In the day, I owned a couple Dodge Darts (small but dart-like quick) and Valiants, (meaning “steadfast and courageous”). I currently drive a '91 Camaro, which like me is showing its age. But would I trade it in for a brand new Prius? Not bloody likely!
I don't know who makes the Arias, but it begs the question, “Should Obama have just left the auto industry die a dignified death?” Driving a white Arias does not scream, “I'm alive, damn it!”