“It is only with the heart that you can see fully: what is essential is invisible to the eyes.”-Antoine de Saint~Exupery.
I listen well... I shut my eyes and blindly felt my way thru life.... Thus I have stumbled upon life's great lessons in the most comical of ways. You know... like..., did you know; it’s cheaper to buy valentine's flowers on the 15th and blame the florist for a late delivery.......? Or that if you wait till the last minute to do something; it only takes a minute to do.....?
OK... maybe not that, but take my second 'at first sight' experience for instance...
‘It’s the height of summer…. Summer of our youth I should say, when my friend Tony and I drive my old jalopy (no love lost) into a new-car dealership. I’m at this point really tired of spending my hard earned (read numerous dbl shifts toiling in sickeningly shoddy conditions worth) dollars on this piece of junk so am thinking of replacing it.
Did I say thinking....? I've voiced it a couple of times and being blessed with a somewhat larger than normal cranium, the thought has endlessly reverberated thru my head in perpetual echodom. I would be forgiven then, when after laying my eyes on that burgundy colored gem sitting all alone by the entrance to the dealership, I'd lose all my senses - the so called common ones, and succumb to the enticing sensuality of that magnificent beast.
I know, from the moment I place my eyes on it, that I am officially in love.... I also know, at that very moment, that I will never get to drive it; I in fact don't go anywhere close to it as we browse thru their huge inventory for something fitting. Imagine my surprise then and barely suppressed excitement when after casually pointing it out to him, the sales mgr just as casually asks if I'd be interested in test driving it.
'You gotta be kidding me!' I'm thinking as he hands me the keys and Tony and I walk over to it.
Now between Tony and I, we know all there is to know about cars; Peugeots, Nissan Sunny(s), Hilux(s) and the like. He drives a 88 Chevy Celebrity and I waddle, or should I say huff and puff, around in a 92 Plymouth Acclaim. We are not ….Ahem!... easily fooled when it comes to buying cars. This one, though, quite literally floors us. It’s a 97 Cadillac Catera; It's really unlike anything we have ever seen and yes I’m speaking for both of us.
Butterflies in tummy (and not flying in formation)… sweaty palms… short quick breaths not quite getting to the lungs… ok… maybe I exaggerate, but only a little. The signs are there; I am falling(head over heels) and can’t catch myself. It sits there - low, paint job gleaming in the mid-day sun, looking as if it’s hugging the ground, all by itself, looking very feline and ready to pounce. Did I mention what I drove before...? Soon I am engulfed by warm leather, wood paneling and accompanying fresh (new old car) scent.
I turn the engine on and nothing happens…. Well, the engine comes on but I don’t realize it…. I'm so used to my neighbors yelling expletives every morning when I start my car…. this one kinda just purrs quietly until the 6 cylinders eagerly respond to a tap of the foot… pretty soon we are gliding (really) out of the dealership and.... do I see grown men looking over enviously?
I’m handling her like a new born baby and she’s urging me to manhandle her 'damn it' – ‘these boots are made for walking’. We get on the highway and alas! she needs no urging, she’s got a mind of her own and it's obvious she likes to chew up the tarmac (a tiger on the road)….. I let her be and sit back to take in the extras; heated seats, sunroof, power everything.... American space.....
Then we discover the eight speaker BOSE stereo and I'm completely sold….. We drive her back to the dealership and three hrs later, bank account emptied and with credit killer financing in hand, I drive my new love out of the dealership….. They thoughtfully filled her up for me.’
Best thing about inanimate objects is they do not reject you - outright that is. That car, I realize now in retrospect, never felt for me like I did for it..... she came murderously close to killing me a cpl of years later... high interest car loan aside; but that’s a story for another day. Did I mention that I had not in my, admittedly short (1.5 yrs), stay in the US of A laid my eyes on another Catera? Well, in the week following my purchase, I notice at least a dozen of them and in different colors too. I am now very Catera conscious I should say. I’m also very much committed (had I mentioned high interest loan?) in an ‘unequally yoked’ relationship.
She's high maintenance (German parts and all); I’m a lowly paid student struggling thru school and work...... I'm the mellow, laid back, sit back and watch kind of guy; she's like a magnet for attention.... My friends love her; I'm now cool and get invited to parties that I wasn't before. And the swinging moods are really bothersome but when she's happy and fed, or fed and happy.... am in heaven. If am running late.... she'll eat up 30 miles in twenty minutes (relatively citation free). When am feeling low.... the Bose system easily brings Marley back to life.
Eventually, our relationship takes on a southward dive.... It doesn't help that I'm hating my job and the overtime has all but ended. The fact that am facing a very personal recession......and that the loan I took out for her is at the root of it doesn't help either. Add to that the realization that she is growing older and crankier (low retention of value) and that her maker is pouring out newer upgraded models faster than you can say Catera. In the end the strain is literally driving me up the wall and around the bend. The smart thing to do would be for us to part ways.... but I'm not smart; I'm in love.
Lessons learnt in this case are numerous and for the most part eye opening (Pun intended). One stand out lesson is that ‘Love’ is oft used as a poor cover up for our inability or refusal to act on prevailing sensibilities. Kind of like our use of 'pardon my French' to offset the imaginary staining effect that swearing in wrong company has on our 'spotless' reputations.