“Think of the biggest, most architectonic beehive hairdo in John Waters’s movie ‘Hairspray.’ Now add another foot of teased and tormented coiffure. Think Marge Simpson. Now go higher. Even such a splendid pile of ‘do’ as that will be safe behind the wheel of the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E550 Cabriolet with its standard-equipment ‘Aircap’ wind-deflector system.” Sounds like every girl’s dream car, fun in the sun, hair intact, looking gorgeous. Like Grace Kelly in “To Catch a Thief” with co-star Cary Grant, except movie magic kept her blonde tresses from separating into a stringy mess. That, unfortunately, was Bridget’s fate in “Bridget Jones’ Diary.” I’m not a blonde, not even a brunette, more like a henna-rinsed, nearly there “snow bird.” I’m neither a movie-star, nor a pretty, young thing. So why the obsession with sports cars? It’s on my “bucket list” of wishes. The image is of a carefree woman, devoid of material concerns, youthful, beautiful, outdoorsy without really being outdoors, and unattainable. Essentially, it’s of a woman in control. Again, there are the Grace Kelly types, controlling yet vulnerable, and the Bridget Jones types, not-in-control and out-of-her league. I’ve got a foot in each camp, controlling yet vulnerable AND not in control and out-of-my league. So sometimes I picture myself in a sporty convertible with the top down; but most often it’s of me in an SUV hauling plants or antiques. The latter is my reality and probably will be well into my seventies. Maybe my eighties? I’m not sure I’ll even be driving in my nineties, let alone sitting behind the wheel of Mercedes’ latest sports car.
Several years ago I lived my dream. I had visited my daughter at a summer dance program in Chautauqua, New York. Arriving at Buffalo’s airport, I drove the hour-and-a-half distance in my rented yellow Ford Mustang convertible. With the top down, I breezed along highways and country roads. I felt in control and carefree. Radio blasting, I sang along with the upbeat music, grinning from ear to ear like the Cheshire Cat in “Alice in Wonderland.” But it didn’t take too long for the dream to wear thin.
When there was threat of rain, the top went up on the convertible. Rolling the roof up and down became a hassle. So it stayed put most of the time. In that position, getting people in and out of the back seat was difficult. It was ALMOST funny watching passengers buckle and unbuckle themselves in the cramped rear, especially if they were long-legged. When driving alone down solitary rural roads, I tried maintaining my carefree composure. But when I got lost I felt like the island girl that I was, looking for the landmark that would indicate I’d completed circling Oahu. Instead I crossed over the border from New York into Pennsylvania. Luckily, there were helpful strangers at gas stations and convenience stores, who steered me back on the right track.
I’d asked my husband to let me rent a convertible to “test the waters.” It was one of the best investments he ever made. That yellow Ford Mustang convertible was so gorgeous to behold, but so woefully impractical for my needs. My husband was grateful for my lesson learned. It let him off the hook from ever having to buy that sporty hunk of tin. So having realized the dream, I’m content with the image.
a baby-blue, volkswagon ‘beetle ‘ convertible, in my 80’s, now that’s another dream…hugmamma.