Thursday, December 2, 2010

Driving, two

The next time we took the corvette on a road trip, it had a headache. Or maybe the sniffles. Not anything lethal, but enough to require a push and a prod and a shove to get it out of bed. Ever notice how beautiful things and beautiful people, things and people beautiful on the outside, usually have grave problems under the hood.

That was the vette. Well, that was John, too.

I’ve known three people in my life who were aesthetically perfect, in form, in face, in feature. It wasn’t just that he had physical harmony. Yes, everything was where it should be. But in addition to this, John had a breathtaking handsomeness, almost like a halo. Something to do with coloring and expression. Even other boyfriends of mine who hated his guts, used the word “beautiful” when he came under discussion. As a pejorative, like a curse.

All John’s life, people would warm their hands on his perfect symmetry. He couldn't help but notice the crush of good will that always came his way. Which was a blessing of a sort, but made his life, ironically, lopsided.

I think perfect beauty and great wealth have similar disadvantages. Those who possess either one, never develop basic skills, tricky skills, even nasty ones that gird the loins. I must have played chess with John 100 times, and he never won. Not once. He was smart, really smart, but he lacked all guile.

But this is about the car. And our drive to Mexico. And broadsiding a bus somewhere south of Rosarito.

I think corvettes are made of something insubstantial – their covering particularly. So though we didn’t hit the bus at more than 30 miles an hour, it took a toll on us. The first one to rush to our car was a lawyer, asking if we had traveler’s insurance. Then a long string of people exited the bus, and the lawyer ran to interview them.

When the Mexican police came to escort us to the station, we were verily afraid. We verily had open wine bottles in the car and a little something-something in the glove box. We followed the police to the station. The corvette’s crushed front end made the tire go wikedy-shh-shhh against the bumper.

And I knew, all that kept me from a lifetime in Mexican prison would be John. And his great beauty. And the power of his beauty to make people overlook certain obvious transgressions, behave as they wouldn’t otherwise in daily life; forgive, just to see him smile.

I waited in the car, and John came out of the station 20 minutes later. “Keep looking at my face, but get my wallet out from under the seat. Take out two hundreds, and when I hold your hand, give them to me.”

He took the money and went back in the station. Then he returned with a crudely typed sheet of white paper and told me to drive, slowly away. Wikedy-shh-shhh, wikedy-shh-shhh.

We drove back to the hotel at Rosarito Beach and rented two horses. The ponies were willing, so we galloped up and down the hills until they and we were tired. Then we packed up the vette, and on our way out of town, stopped to buy a huge wicker basket and rescue a small puppy we had played with on the beach that week.

At the border, we gave the guard the sheet of paper. It said we had collided with a cement truck and paid a $50 fine for running a stop sign and were free to leave. But there was still the matter of the dog in the basket, so I had a long list of items to read to the guard when he asked if we had anything to declare. “Oh my, yes, we bought two blankets, one red and blue, one blue and green. We bought two ceramic bowls, one with handles, one without. We bought three wicker baskets, one…” He waved us through.

We drove back up to Los Angeles. Wikedy-shh-shhh, Wikedy-shh-shhh.

He probably told me I was brilliant. I may have told him he was beautiful. That's the way I like to remember it, anyway.


  1. Reading about your John, I'm reminded of an acquaintance of my mum's. He is beautiful, and has a way of making any individual he's speaking with feel like they are the only person in the world. Straight and gay men and women of all ages are left standing in a smitten daze in his wake. He'd help smuggle a puppy dog in need, too. If I ever head to Mexico, I'm going to do my dangdest to take him with me.

  2. Beautifully told--appropriate to the subject.

  3. wonderful short story. I have filled it in with colors of brown and orange and deep blue from my 70s childhood.

  4. FWIW< the beautiful people I've known have been either very shallow or totally unaware of their beauty. Never anything in between. Interviewed Norah Jones a few months ago, and by her demeanor you'd think she thinks she's Phyllis Diller. I almost lost myself in her eyes alone...

  5. Warning sign No. 1 was his perfect looks. You should have know that, but at that age, it's easy to overlook, for both men and women. But the warning sign you should have caught was a guy his age giving you a corvette. Corvettes have always been for guys going through mid-life crisis. Divorced, lots of gaudy jewelry, fake tans, died hair or a hair hat, and a corvette. Right out of college you should have run from him right away.

    Whatever happened to John? I think everyone should guess his current status before you tell us.

    I'm guessing he's a Congressman.

  6. Will there be a 'Driving, three'??? I hope so!
    I almost hate you for having a beautiful boyfriend. GEEZ!!!
    Write more, please??

  7. Larry Wilson of the Star-News has a piece on Altadena today.

    I wonder if Larry drives a corvette?

  8. Ohhh Hiker...this story is eerily familiar...

  9. Oh mysterious you. I could spend three days with you and never find out about this. You reveal yourself through the written word. I also think I have more insight as to why you were interested in Mr A over Mr W ; )

    I hope the conclusion isn't discovering Mr J is Mr G

    brava,: well done!

  10. You mean Karin was more interested in Mr. A over Mr. Dubya? My feelings are hurt!

  11. Thank you.

    Oh yes, very different people PA. But both lopsided in their own ways.

    I figure I've got two more corvette pieces to go...

  12. Somewhere I could see you telling this story to an appreciative audience ... ;-)

    You are so right about perfect beauty and family riches being equally crippling, too.

  13. "With the rich and the mighty, always a little patience." And maybe the beautiful, too.

  14. You certainly have led an interesting life.

    I've met a couple of extremely beautiful people in my travels. I always feel extremely uncomfortable around them. There's something innately wrong with all that perfection exuding from their pores. The glare is too bright or something.

  15. Sounds as if you have the makings of a memoir. . .reminds me of a book I'm reading: Mennonite in a Black Dress.
    Thanks for visiting my blog; you made me laugh.

  16. This is terrifically readable--inviting style, interesting plot, quick strokes of meaty stuff like characterization and theme. I sure hope you continue.

    Ken Mac, I hear you about Norah Jones, though I've only seen her once or twice on TV. Something compelling there--"beauty" isn't a sufficient word.

    Folks, can a human beauty be unaware of her or his beauty? Is it the beauty or the beauty's awareness of it that offends?

    Note that John could play life chess well enough to pay off the cops. Am I giving him too much credit? I'd probably still be in Mexico. Duh.

  17. Wow that entire story played out in my mind in incredibly vivid detail as I was reading it. I was frankly startled to get to the end and realize I was at my computer at home and not in Mexico. Excellent!

  18. I really like the way you like to remember it ;-D

  19. Damn, that's so good. I'd love to think that was how someone thought of me along the way.

  20. That is really a remarkable piece of writing.

  21. What a great story!
    I'll be the little "little something-something in the glove box" disappeared on enroute to the police station...

    Love this story! You were so fortunate to get out of that one.
    Viva la mordidas!!!

  22. You've got great insight into beauty - beautiful people do seem to charm everyone to do their bidding. And it didn't escape my notice that, as a kid, when my beautiful girlfriend and I did something naughty, I always got the blame. The only drawback to beauty I can see is that people would keep falling in love with you, and you'd have to have ways to keep them at a distance.

    What happened the puppy?

    I hope you can wrap this up into a short story and get it published.

  23. Way more exciting than my post graduation stories.

  24. Cinematic from start to finish, such a - imho - wistful piece about love.

    30 Rock's episodes about "The Bubble" comes to mind but this is sweeter.

  25. The episodes with Jon Hamm, that is.

  26. Waiting for window #3.

    Beauty is always how you define it.

    Now it’s up to only – 8, feels like summer.

    BTW: what happened to your white corvette convertible. Is it still running on the SoCal-roads? and who was the driver in the hit?


  27. I don't know where I've been but I'm glad I came back to read this.

  28. Was John short? The only picture perfect men I've ever met were under 5'8", and usually under 5'6".

    Sad about the Corvette. I had a red one. It ate alternators. I sold it one month before my second son was born. Today my sons are irked that it's not molding in the garage, waiting for them, but the paper bag containing $10,000 cash was a nice possession, too.

    And hooray for rescuing the puppy!

  29. What an amazing adventure. I love that you made it out of Mexico with a puppy in a basket. I look forward to more corvette pieces.

  30. you have met the construction of a 'vette...fiberglass...strong enough for a "perfect man" but weak enough you look at it funny and it wickedy sh-shhhh's away