Sunday, May 29, 2005

Boys and their Toys

I often wonder what it is about some men that makes them so attached to their cars that if they saw a hailstorm approaching, they would fling themselves across the hood and risk getting pelted to death, just to protect the paint job.

I swear, there even are some guys who, if a police officer came to the door and said, “Your wife just accidentally drove your car over a cliff,” would gasp, “Ohmigod! Is the car okay?!”

A few years ago, I even heard on a news report that there was a man who was so in love with his car, he actually held a wedding ceremony and married it!

When I think back to my dating years and a couple of the guys who paid more attention to their cars than they did to me, I wonder whatever possessed me to keep dating them.

For example, there was one guy, Dave, who used to race his Firebird every Sunday at New England Dragway. All of his spare money went into that car, so our dates usually involved things that could be done with “two for one” coupons. If McDonald’s ran a special, you can bet that’s where we’d be eating on a Saturday night.

He even invited me to a drive-in movie one night and then tried to convince me to hide in the trunk of his car so he wouldn’t have to pay for my admission (back then, drive-ins charged per person, not per carload).

But the worst of the car lovers was Norm, who was so madly in love with his Corvette, most of our dates consisted of me sitting around watching him polish it. I was amazed that the car had any paint left on it, he polished it so often. And whenever I wanted to ride in his precious Vette, I practically had to wrap myself in sterile gauze before he’d allow any of my body parts to make contact with his upholstery.

After he’d finish his polishing marathon, the remainder of our date would involve “cruising” up and down Elm Street in Manchester for hours. Norm always took the same route over and over again: Elm Street to McDonald’s on South Willow Street, then Elm Street back to the Puritan on Daniel Webster Highway. He said nothing beat the rush he got when he saw guys turning green with envy while staring at his car.

The Vette’s convertible top also had to be down whenever we cruised Elm Street. Norm didn’t care if my lips were blue and my teeth were chattering like castanets. He said the car looked more sleek and sporty with the top down, and he wanted everyone to get the full effect of its beauty, which obviously was more important to him than my losing a limb to frostbite.

The first time I slammed Norm’s car door a little too hard, I thought he was going to go into cardiac arrest.

“What are you doing?!” he gasped, clutching his chest. “Do you want the door to fall off? Be gentle with her!”

“Her?” I repeated.

“All cars are female!” he said. “You can tell just by looking at the shape of their headlights!”

That convinced me. The guy was a bona fide lunatic.

Still, glutton for punishment that I was, I accepted a date with him to go to Canobie Lake Park one night. An hour before he was supposed to pick me up, he called.

“I can’t make it tonight,” he said, sounding frantic. “I just found a scratch on my car! It must have happened when I stopped at Zayre’s today.”

I tried to sound sympathetic. “How big is the scratch?”

“An inch and three-quarters!” he said in a tone that normally would be reserved to describe a head-on collision.

“But it’s still running fine, isn’t it?” I pointed out. “And a little scratch never hurt anything. There’s no reason why we still can’t go to Canobie Lake.”

“Are you serious?” he cried. “How on earth can you possibly expect me to have a good time when I’m so upset about the damage that was done to my poor baby? And when it comes to Corvettes, NO scratch is little! I’m sick to my stomach over this!”

Now that I think about it, I should have paid more attention to that news report about the guy who married his car. I have a sneaking suspicion his name might be Norm.

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