The other day Castanet News ran a item with the headline ‘Smart cars, amorous drivers’.
My car, as it happens, is Smart as all get out.
Far too excited by the headline to waste time reading the story, I rushed off to see the world afresh, with the new understanding that I was, in fact, driving a Wheels-O-Unbridled Passion machine.
I already knew most of the cool features of my Smart car, but this new decadent steamy sex-while-driving feature had never crossed my mind.
This was a game-changer.
However. . . .
Game Changer Glitch 1: Colour
My car’s current Gun Metal Grey hardly qualifies as a sexy colour. To maximize the thrills of this sinful new adventure, a colour change would be needed.
Luckily with Smart cars, you can easily swap out all the exterior panels for panels of another colour. It’s Lego on wheels. If you’re rich, you could go with different colours every week of the month.
Then again, if you’re rich you’re probably driving a whacking big Cadillac Escalade, and have an entire different car for each week of the month. each one with a whole lot more room for erotic diversions than the Smart car.
Sucks to be you, though, because I’ll bet nothing was mentioned in the article about amorous adventures in behemoth cars.
Back to the issue of colour. I’m thinking maybe Come-Hither Siren Red.
Or maybe just a depraved shade of False and Unkind Black, as in the Eurythmics Love is a Stranger.
Game Changer Glitch 2: Size counts
Love may be a stranger in an open car, but in a Smart car it’s going to be pretty squished, so all else aside, there is the bigger job of figuring out ways to manage steamy sex in a car the size of a tin can.
You could open both windows wide, I guess, for more room. If nothing else, the Smart offers a way to practice a few Kama Sutra positions, but really, it seems a stretch.
After careful measuring and system analysis using CAD, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to do it is to drive the Smart car inside a Cadillac Escalade and take it from there. There’s just no other way.
Game Changer Glitch 3: Sex appeal
To test the apparent raunchy magnetism of the Smart car, I pictured myself looking like Annie Lennox then drove around town and leered lasciviously at people.
The results were mixed.
“My god, are you okay? Do you need an ambulance?”
“Oh what fresh hell is this? Go away, my god please, just . . . go away.”
"Oh come on. You can’t go around leering lasciviously at people when you’re driving that thing.”
“Are you stalking me? Because I’m calling the police now. See me dialling?”
“Sure, I’m game. I charge $200 hour, but you’re gonna have to pay me up front.”
Tangent: A Rover 2000 TC is a lot of things. Sexy is not one of them
As it happens, I’ve been the happy owner of some pretty great cars over the years, and most were plenty big enough to be useful for amorous adventures, although none qualified as Smart enough. A favourite was the 1969 Rover 2000 TC, the poor man’s Rolls Royce that looked kinda like the love-is-a-stranger Rolls in the video.
That Rover was a magnificent car, bought for practically free because the owner of the New Mexico car lot, where the car sat dusty and rejected for years, hated the very sight of what he called “that weird British piece of crap”.
It wasn't crap. It was elegant and quaint, a bit stodgy, very comfortable, and yes, a bit weird, especially in matters electronic. About the only thing you wouldn’t call it was sexy. It did, however, have an ice alert warning system that would flash excitedly when temperatures reached over 90F (30C-ish). That should count for something; it got excited when hot, what isn’t sexy about that?
Conclusion: Betrayal by Castanet News
I trusted you, Castanet News, and believed that my life was on the brink of becoming exponentially more interesting. As it stands, my Smart car remains exactly as it has been all along: A grey fuel-disdaining rolling tin can with about as much sex appeal as a door knob. Mind you, that could change once the black and white panels arrive, along with the uniform and handcuffs.
Somewhere out there is a boat called the Och Aye. She’s a rare beauty, she is, and she’s missing. She has been missing for close to 1/2 century.
Of all the things from the past that leaves a kind of hole in my heart, that boat is near the top of the list.
I didn’t start looking for her until recently, having lived under the mistaken assumption that she had been broken up for scrap when sold, because that is what my father told us at the time.
However, a gut feeling that she was still around finally made us do the obvious thing - search the license number. Boat license numbers are never recycled, they belong with the boat, so nothing should have come up. But . . . there it was. The license number showed activity in 2009.
There are a couple of possible reasons why my father told us what he told us. Maybe the boat had been hard to sell, as boats often are, and he ended up selling to someone who offered a ridiculously low price, claiming that it was only good to be scrapped. Can’t picture my dad being that gullible, though.
He loved that boat as much as he loved us, I think, so maybe he was feeling sad because we teenagers were no longer interested in boat trips (a temporary teen affliction), so he said it to make us feel the pain of loss he himself must have been feeling. It didn’t work at the time because we were teens. We just didn’t care.
Of greater importance to my brother at that time was borrowing Dad’s Austin Healey Sprite to impress a girl. As for me, I was hanging out with friends, usually at Ambleside Beach in a little hidden spot we called the Garden of Eden. It seemed more important at the time, and in a way it was.
God, we were fickle, though. If I could relay just one message to my father, long dead, it would be, “We loved the Och Aye. We just forgot for awhile.”
I miss that boat. I miss the grace of her, her salty wood smell, the way she rode the waves, the safe feeling even in a storm, the gently rocking sleeps she gave each night, and swimming in the deep, knowing she was anchored nearby to grab if needed.
I loved the sound of her. Once, not so very long ago on a windy day, I heard a sound from somewhere that was like an echo of her. I sat, eyes shut and window open, and listened until it faded away.
Funny, looking back. I can see my dad smiling at me, and there I am, a kid, smiling back. My mum’s there too, and my brother, cursing the queen of spades he always got when we played Hearts aboard. We were so young then, without a thought to what comes next. They're dead now, and I don’t know if I can make things right or not.
Once we learned that the Och Aye still exists, we put the word out, with pictures, to marinas. There has been one response so far, a possible sighting on Galiano Island. The guy said it sure looked like her, and that she had a ‘weird Scottish town name’ which could be Och Aye, to the non-Scots among us (it’s not a Scottish town, it means ‘ahh yes’, a most apt name).
It’s a funny thing, though. I can be brave - there are those would say brazen - about some things, but am actually feeling shaky about checking out this lead. I’ve let my hopes get too high, and what if it’s not her?
We will check, of course, and if it is the Och Aye, and by some miracle we can buy her back, I’ll be going off the grid for awhile. And who knows, if the reality is as sweet as the memories, I may never come back.
Wide awake at 4 am, searching for an idea for today’s column.
Nothing came . . . nothing came. . . .
Then I saw something delightfully kitsch - I’m not going to say what - but it reminded me of a point in my life when I had a small collection of kitsch. It was lovely.
The star of the collection was a sail/barge boat clock/lamp/barometer. Yes, all those things rolled into one masterpiece of kitsch. It was a handcrafted variation of a classic 50s item, but oh so much better. It was just as awesome as you are imagining it to be.
The hard part was being cool when negotiating a price, so that the shop keeper would remain unaware of the gem he was losing. It worked, and the thing of beauty singlehandedly turned ‘home’ into ‘even better home, with significantly more laughter’.
Many years and kitsch items later, in one of those unfortunate moments in life called ‘taking a notion’ - we’ve all had them - I took a notion to clear out the kitsch. Out went the pink fuzzy aerosol can holder, coat of arms shield, pink flamingo (alright, pluralize that), kewpie troll, cow sunglasses, Charles and Diana slippers, and sundry other items. I liked those cow shades. Wait, those might be bulls. Who can say, I'm no farm girl.
Eventually even my gorgeous flashy all-white Cadillac, bought in a moment of extreme kitschitis, was traded off. That beautiful thing had an extraordinary number of Cadillac logos inside, which was handy for those times when you’re driving along and completely forget what brand of car you’re driving. With this car, everywhere your eyes fell, there was a Cadillac logo to remind you.
Oh how I loved that thing. Only those who knew me well really got the irony, though.
Which brings me to one of the reasons for getting rid of the kitsch: So few ever got the joke. What is the point of a flashy Cadillac if people don’t get why you’re driving it? If you have to explain it, the fun goes right out the perfectly logo’d window.
Over the years, replacement kitsch items have come and gone. At one point I fell madly in love with bad taxidermy, but never bought anything because it is expensive as all get out. That left one option, to learn how to do taxidermy, but whereas the potential for hilarity is endless, the idea of working on dead animals to get to the hilarious part makes me squeamish.
Further, kitsch should always be somewhat accidental. You must actually find the piece appealing in some strange way, and you must stumble onto it, otherwise you’re trying too hard.
So as it stands, all that’s left is a pink Christmas tree (which is losing favour with me) and a Christmas alligator (it will never get boring, I love that thing).
And, of course, there’s Katie, my mannequin, who is currently militia but has been a nun, bikini babe, floozy, and many other things. But she isn’t really kitsch, she’s family.
Wait, there’s still the Kit Kat clock, Jim’s B-52 bomber clock that makes engine noises and has a pilot voiceover, and the Dalek clock alarm that tells you you’re going to be exterminated. Still, none of them can compare to the purity of a sail/barge boat clock/lamp/barometer.
What was I thinking.
Lately I’ve had a hankering to buy the exquisitely kitschy Cadillac Escalade (I wonder how many reminders of brand are in that thing, as roomy as it is there must surely be hundreds). The mere act of trading my Smart car for such a beast would be one of the all-time best kitsch moments of my entire life.
And I’d be laughing about it up to, but probably not including, the point where I had to put gas in the thing.
Once upon a time, many years and miles ago, a square peg went forth into the round hole world to see what all the fuss was about.
Life in the round hole world went well enough, as round pegs tend to be interested, at least at first, by the oddballs among them. For his own peace of mind, though, he drew toward his own kind, the other square pegs in this not-so-brave round world. They spent time together being square as hell and quite brilliant, too, at least in the legends of their own skewed-thinking minds.
The square peg soon found a job. The rounders there thought he was a bit of a joke, being so unseemly square, but from his point of view, he saw that the work was easy, unbelievably so, with great potential to mix it up a bit, make it more interesting, maybe improve things in the process. It was all so uncomplicated, just child’s play, really, and he could do it blindfolded with one hand tied behind his back, the other twisted off, and mind distracted by lofty thoughts.
He quickly learned that whereas the work itself was a breeze, working among round pegs could be challenging.
Square peggers have little use for the status quo, ergo the status quo is generally not all that keen on square peggers. To make matters worse, our square pegger was not only a square, he was a surprisingly thorny one. He was thorny to the point of putting roses to shame, and he came to realize that he had a choice to either settle down and turn himself round, or be done with it, stay the course, and let come what may.
He was not alone in this stubborn unwillingness to sink into the prosaic way of rounders, but some square pegs do adapt, and it ends badly for them. The edge wears off, and they begin to see life in a more ordinary way; the sun is just the sun, the stars are only stars, and in no time at all they’re fitting in but wondering why.
Refusing to do it, refusing to change, our thorny peg remained at odds in his round hole world. Being at odds was his default position, so much so that the city in which he lived would not allow him to water on even days, only odd days.
He went on to become a legend of the unsung kind, forcing a recognition from enlightened rounders who celebrated his free spirit and decided to honour all square pegs by building squares to show square pride. Times Square in New York, Red Square in Moscow, Trafalgar Square in London, and sundry greater and lesser squares in cities around the world were thrown up in haste to say, “Hey. It’s okay to be square.”
Our peg, unimpressed with such empty symbolic gestures, grew squarer by the year and enjoyed wildly odd adventures along the way - many windmills were fought, few succumbed - until his death from complications of square-cube.
And it should be said that despite a lifetime of being different in the way he lived, he died in the rather pedestrian way of simply ceasing to breathe. But in the last breath he took he said, “I was naked.”
This story is for you, square pegger. Embrace the truth of you, and ride o’er the ramparts to the windmills, for the good fight. Be naked.
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."
~ Steve Jobs
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