Are convertibles the answer to the world's woes?
By Patricia Staino
Last year my friend Nicole and I decided to splurge on a week's vacation in San Francisco. We threw caution (or budgets) to the wind and decided to pay the extra cash to rent a convertible, rather than a compact car. Was it worth it? Let's put it this way-out of 100 pictures of the trip, 20 of them were of the car.
We gave it a name-Lightning-more based on the way we drove it than any inherent character traits in the car itself. It was a blue Mustang, and if I had my way, I would have given up my hotel room and slept in that car. Once we got over the initial challenge of getting the top down, we never wanted to put it back up. Even when it was 45 degrees, we blasted the heat, bundled up in sweatshirts and jackets, and kept that top down. The fact is, I looked good in that car. Nicole looked good in that car. We felt good in that car. And damn it, I think we were just all around better people in that car!
Okay, I'm exaggerating. But I honestly believe the world would be a better place if we all drove convertibles. There'd be less stress, because nothing is as relaxing as driving on a back road somewhere with the top down. There'd be less war, because who would choose to train troops and build missiles when they could be out in their convertibles? There would definitely be less road rage, because who wants to risk doing damage to such a sweet piece of machinery?
Here's a great example: I was driving around San Francisco, looking for Lombard Street, when I realized I had to turn left. While there was a turn lane, there was no turning arrow, and oncoming traffic was not stopping for me. I missed the first light. I missed the second light. I was, for a New Yorker, surprisingly calm and relaxed about the whole situation. Not so for the driver in the (non-convertible) car behind me.
He jumped out of his car, with some kind of object in his hand. I thought to myself, "Oh my God. I am about to be shot in a convertible in San Francisco." (Yes, even then, the car was foremost in my mind.) The young man came over to the car and started screaming, "Are you ever going to turn?" I froze until I realized his "gun" was a cell phone, and screeched away as soon as the light turned green.
I can't help but wonder if he would have been more passive in a nice Sebring convertible....
Growing up in The Bronx, no one owned a convertible. The slash factor was too high; if you had a convertible, you would regularly find the top cut to pieces. A convertible was something that people on Dallas and Dynasty drove. It was exotic; it was dream-like; it was as foreign as a rickshaw. Of course, I was reared in the materialistic '80s, so I had no choice but to immediately dream of my future in a shiny red convertible. And for some reason, in that dream, I was always really thin with gorgeous long hair.
You had to be thin to drive a convertible. Or so I thought. I mean, first of all, they don't have much interior space, so a big girl is going to be squashed in like a sausage in a casing, right? Plus, once you put that top down, you are just begging to be looked at, so don't you owe it to the onlookers to be a babe?
But here's the beauty of it-last year, in that convertible, I was thin with gorgeous long hair. Well, not physically. But I was a babe, because I felt hot. And cool. And gorgeous. And it wasn't because of some misplaced belief that the right car makes you all right. It was simply the pure delight that filled me every time I got behind the wheel. Whether we were rolling over the Golden Gate Bridge, yelling along to Alanis Morissette, flying down to Monterey with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, or rambling through wine country to the sounds of Louis Prima, I was so happy and felt so free that I know the smile on my face made me beautiful, and people looked at me admiringly.
When I've had a bad day, I love to look back on the pictures from that trip. The car at the Marina. The car at the Palace of Fine Arts. The car at Fisherman's Wharf. The car in a random parking lot, just because the sun was bouncing off the hood in just the right way. They remind me of how much fun that trip was and excite me now that I've made the decision to buy my own convertible this year.
I'd better stock up on film.... I can picture it now....
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