It was at the annual meeting of the Century 21 Million Dollar Round Table at the Marriott Courtyard in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, when I finally understood about cars.
“Your automobile says ‘This is who I am!’” said the big, meaty fella with the gigantic diamond ring on his finger and the name STAN stenciled on the place card in front of him. “It says I’m successful, or I’m a dufus, or I’m in-it-to-win-it… or, hell, I gave up a long time ago. People, never underestimate the importance of the automobile in your sales arsenal.”
I’d wandered into the meeting by mistake, searching for Rocco’s Tahitian Spa and Fitness Center where I was scheduled for a pedicure and the aloe vera torso scrub.
It was serendipitous that I’d encounter Stan in there talking trash, and as I flip-flopped past the cheese danish and disappeared down the narrow hallway I repeated that snippet of information so as to commit it to memory. My car says this is who I am.
Not a week later the family buggy blew a gasket and I said to the wife, “Honey, in addition to providing reliable transportation, a vehicle is a means of expression… so, this time around, let’s look like we have something interesting to say.”
We narrowed it down to a couple of contenders. She liked the Ford Excursion, citing safety concerns. I liked a little two-seater, the Honda S2000 Roadster, boasting just enough room for you, your recently emptied wallet and your fully erect nipples.
I found a dealer who would sell me the Excursion way below MSRP… toss in a free electronic navigation system… and include a coupon for two pulled pork platters at Buddy Monroe’s Toot ‘n Scoot Bar-B-Q out on Buford Highway. The Honda was selling at full sticker with a six-week wait.
With our outsized grocery toting requirements– Those teenage boys of ours are eating us out of house and home!— hauling grandma around town and trips to Home Depot… the choice was obvious. I’d go with the Honda and sort it out with her later.
So I took it for a test drive with a salesman named C. Osborne Biggs, first cousin, it turns out, to Giant Jimbo Biggs, known to wrestling fans back in the 60’s as the Duke of Hurl for tossing slackjawed wannabes over the ropes and into the crowd.
C. Osborne Biggs was an outstanding automobile salesman. “Whaddya think?” he asked as we flew down Georgia 400 at 110 mph. “Love it!” I said. “Well, then, if you don’t buy it today, and I mean right now, you’ll never be able to look in the mirror again and call yourself a real man.”
Well, I must say, the little lady and I made quite a statement as we cruised into our subdivision with the top down and our Raybans on. I drove in second gear all the way to the house because it made the engine sound so cool.
Harvey Wilcox was watering his lawn, and as we drove by I hollered, “Harvey, you’re supposed to water on odd-numbered days, you maniac!” And when I saw my buddy Bobbie Choi on his bicycle, I hollered, “Hey, Bobby– get a horse!” I don’t know, there’s just something about a fancy new car that makes a fella crazy.
My world seems just a little brighter these days, and I’m told I’ve acquired a certain pep in my step. The fellas at work tell me I should take my Honda out to Road Atlanta for a few hard laps, and I might do that real soon.
But for right now, I’m just a happy, happy guy. Oh, yeah– and since our new Honda doesn’t take up much space in the garage, I can wheel the trash caddy right on out to the curb without even having to move the lawn mower!
Now that’s serendipity!