THE SONIC BOOMER
On or about the year 2000, Mark entrusted his 1970 MGB convertible to my brother, Dave. The car was missing its driver-side door, and the hood had flipped up in a storm, folding it neatly over the windshield. There was also snakeskin damage — not from audacious cowboy boots, but from an actual snake that had chosen to shed its skin on top of the manifold.
He couldn’t have made a better decision. Dave owns a body shop in Wisconsin that specializes in foreign cars. Dave is so good at what he does that I have often suggested he move his operation from Cedarburg (population 11,500) to Los Angeles (population 3.9 million).
“They have tons of pricey automobiles out there, Dave!” I plead.
“Yeah, well, Cedarburg has tons of something else,” he replies.
It’s true. The blistering Wisconsin winters wreak havoc on the state’s roads, requiring mountains of salt — actual mountains, I’ve seen them — to keep drivers from slipping into other vehicles, trees, posts or down a snowy embankment (perhaps, the best case scenario).
Oh, they slip, salt or no salt. Therefore, Dave really only needs to make a customer happy once — and they’ll be back again and again, just about annually.
But those are only the Wisconsin customers. Dave has clients from around the world. Last month, a guy from Saudi Arabia arrived. As soon as he left, Dave called my mother and said, “Mom, the minute he walked in, there was a smell. It permeated the whole shop!”
“What kind of smell?” my mother asked.
“Money,” Dave replied.
The Saudi wanted to buy eight cars on the spot. Unfortunately, they belonged to other people. And nothing makes a gearhead Wisconsinite cherish his automobile more than someone else wanting to buy it. So nobody was dealing.
But Dave had been treating Mark’s car with tender, loving care — honoring, cherishing and protecting it these many years. And restoring it in his spare time, of course, so he could give his sister a break on the price. It was now a perfect jewel — flawless paint job, new chrome on all its original parts, black leather interior, a roof that goes up and down, new door and hood, and a delightful little MG badge on its trunk.
What about us? Did we want to sell?
Hell, no! We want to zip around the neighborhood!
Now, that’s what we do. Every evening at dusk, I change out of my cotton T-shirt into a silk blouse. I put on my hat with the scarf attached. I apply make-up and off we go to — nowhere.
We merely zip around, Mark returning thumbs-up signs from all the guys mowing their lawns, me smiling out the passenger window as if I belong there. It’s fun.
And I’ve decided it’s time for some fun.