Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TV Makes You Sort of Smarter

There is a blurry photo of me taken by a German tourist in Southern France after I just inadvertently completed a 2 mile hike in a pair of 4-inch Gucci heels; the final leg of the hike was a scramble over boulders in a river. I thought this was something worthy of memorialization and am ever saddened by the German tourist's poor photo skills. Those who know me know that I can, from time to time, to time to time, be seen in inappropriate shoes. Heels at rugby matches; heels in a foot of snow; heels at the beach. In recent years, I have attempted to embrace other types of shoes, dare I say, more practical shoes. I own a lovely pair of knee high rain boots, a pair of snuggly snow boots, a bewildering array of dollar-store flip flops, two, count them, two pairs of sneakers I never wear, and a pair of Converse I do. This ownership does not prevent me from liking the idea of shoe incongruity. So when I think about myself and cars, I think about holding a wrench in one hand while standing over the hood of my car in heels. I think the visual of me with oil on my face and pricey Italian shoes on my feet is an excellent one.

Which goes to show I know nothing about cars. The least of this knowledge can be summed up in the fact that I have a brand new car for the next two years and if something were to happen that would necessitate me or anyone else opening the hood and using a wrench, proper footwear would be the least of my problems. But I do like cars. I have been known to say very un-ladylike things about very nice cars, and once I bumped my rental car into the curb because I wanted to get out of my car very quickly to tell a nice couple how much I loved their late 50s/early 60s Corvette Stingray - they thought this was funny.

So when devoted partner introduced me to Top Gear, it was a perfect match. I like snarky geeks and I like fast cars, ergo I like Top Gear. And certainly, from the number of episodes I have watched I must now know more things about cars. Right? I have been toying with the ideas of referring to my own car's transmission as "five on the floor" and turning off the traction control even though the dealer told me this latter thing was a bad idea. But I have seen the guys on Top Gear do it, and TV is smart. Yes, I am confused why we in the states refer to it as horsepower and they refer to it as brake horsepower though I have assured myself these two things mean the same. Also, I don't really know what horsepower is or does though I know more of it makes your car do more stuff better and faster and stronger but that it doesn't necessarily mean the car with more of it would win a race. Suffice it to say I know nothing about cars and will, for the foreseeable future, not be strutting around mine in coveralls and Christian Lacroix.

Yet, I like driving. True, I am still uncertain what leasing a car means and how much damage I can do to mine before the nice people at Volkswagen refuse to take it back and instead demand money from me which is why, thus far, I have been driving it like a grandmother. Add to this that all the driving I have done has been local, and the poor car hasn't even made it to 5th gear save a handful of times. Since I find suburban driving to be the single most confusing form of driving - city driving has clearly marked street signs and frequently is laid out in a grid pattern of some sort; highway driving is generally in a long straight line with frequent signage pointing out your current location and distance to your ultimate one - I am trying to get some more practice on the lovely Greenwich roads.

Aside: these roads are NOT lovely. I was under the impression you people, and I guess that now includes me, pay ridiculously high taxes. As such, your main road, the Post Road, should not be so hideously deformed by potholes. Your side streets are, likewise, not to be believed. I have been told that you might not want to repair your potholes because smooth roads encourage people to drive more quickly, but let me tell you, I live in a highly litigious society and until they make rules about who and how frequently I may sue, if your flippin' potholes mar my beautiful new, liability uncertain automobile, I will be expecting you to pick up the tab for the damages; and by expecting, I mean I will sue you. Fix the god damned potholes. Shabby rich is so 90s!

To wit, the drive from Casa Me to the fishmonger is about 2 miles and very direct. Yesterday, I decided to take a little tootle through the backwoods of Greenwich. Thereupon, I discovered something the locals must know, and must pay dearly for: you people have some sweet driving roads. True, yesterday, during my exploratory mission, I was driving your curvy, shifting altitude roads at about 20 miles per hour, but I was the only car. I could have been doing these roads at twice the speed, shifting up and down at will to really coax my car into and out of the curves - demonstrating the awesome farfegnugen-ness of the car and feeling fairly badass myself. How else will I be able to thoroughly enjoy a high-speed tootle through the Alps is I don't get practice now?

It is true that twice on my ponderous and frightful journey I encountered things I hadn't anticipated: a catering truck coming towards me on a road barely wide enough for my own car much less us both and a cop car that had pulled over a truck in the middle of the one-lane given to cars of my directional persuasion about 25 meters behind a blind curve, but I'm sure those were anomalies and that when I'm ready to open 'er up, I will have the roads to myself. Also a really good soundtrack pumping me up.

But I've discovered something terrible: the cool rubber mats in my car are grooved deeply enough that they latch onto tiny pointy heels causing the driver to a) stall the car, b) accelerate too rapidly, and/or c)herky-jerkily brake. This whole automotive fantasy obviously doesn't work unless the driver is wearing a slim skirt and precipitous stilettos.

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