I always wanted a convertible--a red Mustang convertible. The only person I know who has never admitted an urge for a convertible is Beaven and that doesn’t really count because he’s terminally practical. But the urge got really strong during a small mid-life crisis I had a few years ago. Actually I’ve had more than one of these crises spaced throughout my life until I got medicated. But this time the dream wouldn’t go away.
My best friend in high school had a white Pontiac convertible and we had a blast in that car. We would take it to the top of the Greenbriar Lane a block from my house. She would slip the car into neutral and we would sit up on the seat back while she steered with her feet then coast all the way down the hill. It was a 2-block trip and just the right speed-not too fast or too slow. We pretended we were beauty queens in a parade and waved at people we passed. It’s amazing we didn’t get arrested or killed.
A few years ago it was time to get me a new car and you can imagine what happened. I wanted the convertible. For the first time in our lives, we could get pretty much whatever car we wanted. The kids were grown and gone. We had a little more money available. I knew exactly what I wanted. How much easier could it get? Men always want a pickup. I know very few men who haven’t owned at least one pickup in their lives. It seems to be a rite of passage for them. Men get their pickup, shouldn’t I get my convertible?
I’m not sure men and women should shop together. The one time I bought a car by myself, it took 15 minutes. With Beaven, it takes about 15 months. First, he has to pore over about 50 consumer magazines. Then talk to the guys at work about their experiences. Comparison shop on the Internet a week or so. Go to the auto shows. Check with the credit union. Then discuss it with the guys at work some more. By the time we get to the car dealer, I’m usually tired of the whole ordeal. All I care about in shopping for a car is its color and I always want red.
This time once we got to the dealer Beaven took me right to the biggest and heaviest sedan they sold. It was a grandmother car. Drab, spacious, sensible. Beaven always wants sensible. The only problem was I didn’t want a sensible car. In the throes of a mid-life crisis you don’t want anything sensible. He gave me over ten reasons why I didn’t need a convertible. His ten reasons made sense but didn’t change my mind.
“I just need to get this out of my system,” I said. That’s when he hit upon the most inventive idea I think he’s ever had. He suggested I rent a convertible for a week and see how I felt then. So, I did exactly that. I rented a red Mustang convertible for a week.
My whole personality changed when I was driving that car. I drove faster. I ran yellow lights, something I never did in my sturdy little compact. “Get out of my way. Can’t you see I’m driving a hot car?” People looked differently at me when I was behind its wheel. I swear men would smile at me in that car. And I felt differently about myself. I had more confidence. I felt prettier. I WAS prettier.
This was a little hard to do, since I was sweating like a pig. It was June and the temperature was already in the hundreds. Not only did the sun beat down on me with vengeance; the air-conditioning flowed uselessly into the sky above me. I turned all the vents directly toward me and hovered close during stoplights but I was constantly soaked with perspiration. Yes, I wore sunglasses; the glare was blinding. My hair had that windblown look. It was also twice as dirty from the road pollution. And friends with long hair were blinded by their own hair anytime I drove over 10 miles an hour. We generally drove in silence because we couldn’t hear each other over the road din. After getting the radio loud enough to hear while driving, we would get blasted anytime the car stopped. Once, it started raining while I was on the freeway. I had to find an exit and put the top up. Every stop at the grocery store or post office required putting the top up. God, I loved driving that car!
Beaven thought I would get it out of my system after the week. I didn’t. But I knew better than to fight it. We bought the Grannycar- the sensible sedan with all the options he suggested. But there were two options that I insisted on. Only two: “It has to be red. And I want a sun roof.” Women my age have the capacity for a mysterious festival of emotions that leave their men in a state of constant fear. When we found out a sun roof wasn’t an option on that model Beaven took it to a custom shop to have one made for my car. After all that effort I felt like I needed to accept the Grannywagon.
I still pined for the convertible. But I could open the sunroof for a while and that would usually settle me down. After the wind blew a few papers out onto the freeway and got a good cover of dust on everything and the sun beat in my eyes, I was usually ready to close the roof. The urged passed. In the meantime my grandkids loved it.