I borrowed a friend's Toyota Prius over the summer and found myself on the receiving end of a torrent of Clarkson-esque quips about growing a uterus, or from the hipper ones, something about becoming an Uber driver.
I was even asked, despite my pale Irish skin, if I had Indian heritage. I was told by strangers that "the batteries wear out and don't decompose". I received unsolicited advice that the car used just as much carbon to manufacture as "V10 Audi". Someone else suggested that driving such a car was a "real statement".
And I just thought I was driving a reliable car that got really good gas mileage.
I suspect Top Gear is to blame for all of this, as a Hybrid, or god forbid, an electric car, is the last thing any of those goobers who stand in that circle jerk in the Top Gear studio would be seen dead in. How I hate those knobs, and the obviousness of the good-looking ladies pushed to front by unseen producers. I am not Je suis them. Non, non, non! Well, maybe, just a little.
The appeal of Jeremy Clarkson to the older bloke is obvious. The smug white duke is the master of his craft, so it's no wonder locals like Henry and Hosking worship at his feet. The wisdom of Clarkson is old school philosophy, now known as stupidity.
Environmentalists are poofs. Electric cars are evil. Climate change: probably just a theory.
My theory is that his words have permeated the grey matter of 95 per cent of men over 35. If you ask them what's wrong with electric cars they will parrot something about coal-fired power stations they probably heard Jeremy mention. Telling them that NZ is 80 per cent hydro will not convince them. They have seen 5000 hours of Top Gear and they will not be swayed. "To the electric chair with the electric car", they would write on walls, if they had the balls, "if it doesn't run out of battery first, ha, ha" they would write underneath, if they weren't the sort of men who chase down taggers with knives.
The problem is, although I like to think I'm not one of them, part of me most certainly is.
I know it's wrong to watch a show that encourages such wrong-headed nonsense and planet killing, fossil fuel bingeing, automotive masturbation.
There is so much to hate about the show. I've heard just about everything that Clarkson has to say that he seems to be stuck on a loop, and always the same cadence to the punch line, "like a Ford Mon-de-o". Although to be fair, there are probably still races that he has yet to abuse.
Yes, I'm tired of all the forced jocularity, the height jokes aimed at the appalling little Hammond guy. I don't mind James May, but hey get this, HE DRIVES A BIT SLOWER THAN THE OTHER GUYS! Ha, piss your pants to that! For the 100,000th time. I have zero need to see any more pointless contests between a Bugatti and some chimp on a pogo stick, and yet, and yet ... I keep coming back for more.
Top Gear is both a terrible show and a brilliant show. It is - like the rising oceans it encourages - unstoppable. As annoying as they are, the three amigos have a certain Goodies quality, and they are having a ton of fun. But most importantly, the stunts and road tests are shot so beautifully and crafted with such love that they actually deserve the over used descriptor of 'car porn'. Maybe that's why watching it makes me feel like a lecherous old man chuckling to himself in soiled undies, as the planet slips down the plughole.
Glug, glug, glug.
I wish I could look away.
* Top Gear, TV3, Thursdays, 7.30pm.