It is–at last–a cool grey day in glassland, not quite raining but wanting to, sweet relief from the last month’s desert heat. I’m on the way home from an afternoon of errand-running, partly to get things done but mostly to feel the back-to-normal, tad-too-chilly northwest air moving through my car’s open window.
I pull up to the light only halfway in the world; my brain’s musing studio tasks and content projects while NPR drones in the background. The reporter mentions the Cash for Clunkers program, and I finally notice I’m behind a clunker.
Say rather, a classic. It’s a Chevy Impala with the crossed checkered flags on the back. Late 50s, early 60s, about a mile wide from fin to fin, mint condition and shiny with wax. It’s candy-apple red with a white hardtop and enough chrome to plate a small country. There’s a pair of fuzzy dice hanging from the rear view mirror–whoever owns this car has gone to town on the restoration–and it’s sending a heavy tang of exhaust my way.
The car is, in a word, cherry.
By the time we get to the next light I’ve pulled up alongside. The Chevy’s driver is a white-haired guy about 70, full beard and squared-off black sunglasses, in a plain white t-shirt. He’s smiling gently and nodding his head in time to Presley’s “Now or Never.”
He glances my way; I smile and give him a thumbs-up sign. He returns it with a grin and nudges the lady beside him; she leans forward, smiles and giggles.
I note that the lady really is sitting beside him, the way people used to do in movies, when cars had bench seats in front and no center consoles. It seems a much friendlier and far more romantic way to ride than today, when we’re stiffly perched in our own little buckets, chastely separated and alone.
He points to my lane, I nod, and when the light changes I let him zoom ahead. The lady moves in closer and settles her head on his shoulder. He wraps his arm around her and signals for a left turn. As I watch, he strokes the dashboard, then heads down the freeway toward the beach.