Day Four of the never before done challenge proves far more frustrating than the catwalk of Day Three (get it?), at least for me, since I can’t speak for my cat.
Take a look at that dashboard below.
That photo represents only part of the dashboard of the rental car which is mine for the week. There are all sorts of other electronic buttons all over the place in this car, but let’s focus on this particular screen shot. Pressing any one of those little icons at the bottom of the screen will cause a whole new screen to appear, each one full of indecipherable little icons.
Nice rental guy at the airport rental counter: We don’t have any full-size cars left, but we do have a Lincoln Continental for you!
Me (staring at him in fear): Wait, isn’t that like a really fancy car?
NRG (happy smile fading): It’s a luxury car, yes.
Me: Oh no. I don’t like fancy cars.
NRG: You don’t?
NRG: Hmm. Most people do. Well, I’m afraid it’s either the Lincoln or a Hyundai Accent.
At that point I picture the elder companions who are about to share this rental car with me for the coming week, during which we will be on a westward road trip. Here they are:
I ask myself this: Would these elder companions ride in a Hyundai Accent for a week without complaint?
Yes. They would.
Then I ask myself this: Would these elder companions like to ride in a luxury car for once in their lives?
Yes. They would.
NRG: Well, what do you think? Hyundai or Lincoln?
Me: Lincoln it is.
And so it happens that for the first time in my life, unless you count my first car, which was a Toyota that my friends and I eventually drilled the ignition out of so that it could be started with the butter knife that I kept on the floor of the driver’s seat, I find myself sitting in a car that I can’t start.
What is the point of a car key that doesn’t go into anything? I’m sure there are many, many cars in the world that now start with buttons, just like this cherry-red Lincoln Continental, but it’s a first for me.
It takes me a solid twenty minutes of sitting in the Lincoln, first jabbing the start button with the car “key,” then waving the “key” in front of the start button as if it has psychic powers that might cause the engine to ignite, then having an Aha moment in which I put the key aside entirely and press the start button with my finger, which lights up all the dashboard buttons and turns on the music and air conditioning but not the engine.
At this point I consider exiting the car and telling NRG that I’ll take the Hyundai after all. Then, in an unplanned and magical synchronicity of events, I happen to step on the brake at the same time as I’m pressing on the start button, and the engine comes to life.
Surely this is a sign from God that the elder companions and I were meant all along to rent this particular car. I pull out into the EXIT AIRPORT lane.
My youthful companion, who has a brand-new license and a lifelong love and appreciation of beautiful cars, something that she did not get from me, has been patiently waiting all this time in our own tiny, simple car, the one that she accompanied me to the airport in.
She follows me home and comes over to the Lincoln. I’m sitting in the driver’s seat, trying to figure out how to turn off the engine.
She stands there, shaking her head sadly.
YC: You’re driving an amazing car. And you don’t even know it, do you?
Me: Nope. I don’t.
What I know is that it took me twenty minutes to figure out how to turn the thing on, which I suppose is pretty amazing right there.
I have a Hyundai Accent, which I do love dearly, but it’s the size of a matchbox. You made the right choice.
I’m technically keeping up with the McGhee, but my lame imitations of novelty are greatly lacking in hilarity by comparison. Day four held two small new things: first, a drink I haven’t tried before, namely a vanilla late with homemade vanilla that they distill from beans shipped here from a warmer clime. It was tasty, but not particularly funny nor worthy of a story. Next I visited a new mother who had not been able to bring her premature baby home from the hospital yet. Never have gone to congratulate a mom on a birth and not seen evidence of a baby. Especially since her stomach in its midriff-baring top was already completely flat, it seemed kind of surreal and unbelievable. Like here are some toys for your imaginary baby. Hopefully one of these days my new thing will be actually meeting the little guy.
This is even better than the possibility of the Crown Vic, which held such promise. And bright red, too. Tell me that Fate hasn’t lined up a month’s worth of unequaled opportunities.