It is October, and adhering to the biannual rhythm of our recent life, we have returned to Florida. The flight fortunately was uneventful, and we arrived, as scheduled, on the same Saturday on which we boarded the plane. The dogs arrived on Sunday, driven from Connecticut by their faithful friend and chauffeur, Kevin.
After unpacking the smashed cartons of wrinkled clothing delivered by UPS, and calling the endless list of service people to find out why 1) some of our plants had died; 2) all of our outdoor lights weren’t working; 3) our barbecue grill decided to shut down; and 4) we had no TV reception, we finally settled in.
But the true highlight of our arrival was that, on Monday, my husband was to pick up his brand new car. (To learn why he needed a brand new car, I refer you to my blog of January 31, 2013, in which I publically confess to destroying his previous car.)
His choice of a new vehicle was by no means haphazard, having devoted much of his summer in pursuit of the ideal machine. He wanted a convertible. He felt that life in Florida required a convertible. (I, on the other hand, don’t like riding around in a tanning booth, and would much rather have a roof over my head until the sun goes down.)
I watched as all of his lawyerly intensity was brought to bear on this project. I was in awe of how many articles he read, how many phone calls he made, how many test drives he took, and how many eager car salesmen pursued him. He gained so much knowledge that ultimately, he could quote the amount of back-seat leg room and cubic feet of trunk space for every major brand. He couldn’t have been more thorough if he had been given a research grant from Consumer Reports!
In the end, he chose the car of his dreams – a Mercedes Benz convertible. It is a beautiful, sexy car, pearl white with a dark brown top and plush black and brown leather seats. This was no male mid-life crisis flashy sports bimbo. She is a sophisticated lady appropriate for “a man of a certain age.”
So on Monday, I drove my eager husband to the car dealership. We shook hands with the salesman, the manager, the finance guy, the detailer, and the receptionist who offered us a bottle of Mercedes-Benz water.
I gushed over our new hi-tech means of transportation, and stayed long enough for an explanation of unique and innovative ways to unlock the door and start the engine. (Keys are so yesterday!)
I recognized that this car would require not just a single tutorial, but an entire course in German ingenuity. With that, I said my good-byes and left him, wishing him the best of luck on the journey home.
Four hours later he walked through the door looking utterly exhausted. It was obvious that he was suffering from information overload.
The next day I joined him for our maiden voyage together. He was excited to show me all of the car’s magical features. 007 touched a button and I watched as the rear end opened and closed to swallow the convertible top, then opened again to spit it back out. Windows went down, wind screens popped up. I gasped as the self-adjusting seat belt gave me the Heimlich maneuver.
He showed me all the portals where you can plug in your I-phone, your I-pod, your lap top. A regular surge protector on wheels!
When he put the car in reverse the dash board camera gave you a 360 degree view of the world, making windows completely obsolete. Warning sensors beep if you are too close to anything in any direction at all. Nothing and no one is getting near this baby without permission! My husband wanted to show me more, but this is all that he can remember.
One thing about buying a luxury car – it comes with a concierge. A person from the dealership actually came to our home on two occasions for a refresher course. He also programmed the car to open and close our garage door. Big deal! I’d be more impressed if it could carry in the groceries.
Perhaps the gadget that gave my husband the most joy was the voice recognition feature, although this will take a while to conquer completely. On our last ride together, he instructed the magic genie that lives inside to change the radio station. It did not respond. He repeated himself, raising his voice a few decibels. “I don’t think it’s hard of hearing,” I offered. “Maybe you used up your three wishes.”
“ Or perhaps you should speak to it in its native language.” “I don’t speak German,” he reminded me. “Well, can you at least try to feign an accent?” He was not amused.
A few days later, my husband took the car on what he said was a quick errand. When he did not return in a reasonable amount of time, of course I became concerned. I called him, and found out that he had, in fact, been home for over an hour, and was sitting in the driveway, trying to establish a verbal rapport with the Mercedes.
Now, I no longer worry, when, after winding up his day’s work, he disappears. I know he is safely ensconced in the garage.
I also understand why I had been getting so many hang-up calls on my cell phone. I thought I had a secret admirer. But, alas, it was only the car!
It will take some time, but I’m certain that eventually car and driver will develop a harmonious relationship. And hopefully, we can look forward to many more happy, healthy years, top down, riding off into the sunset. And maybe one day soon, he will even trust me to drive it!