Thirty-two years ago, after living together only a few months in Las Vegas, I took the automotive plunge. A positive off-shoot of her having personal transportation is that in an alien environment, she suddenly had the autonomy to explore her own independence and fulfill internal growth.
To send this win-win proposition into motion, we scoured the classifieds and mapped out a route to see three, used Ford Mustangs. The first was grape soda-colored with a filthy interior. Unlike the cheery description, the car had mismatched, bald tires and its many dents looked like it barely survived a war zone.
The second was unprofessionally repainted all white and had a cracked windshield. The creepy owner was jumpy, like he was on something so we weren't buying his...even before we found out it was missing the jack and didn't have air-conditioning.
The third, (a 1974), was a shiny, clean fire engine red baby with a white vinyl roof. The car had a souped-up engine that turned heads and made strangers smile as we roared by. The flaws included, a missing hub cap, a small scar that looked like someone pushed their thumb nail into the vinyl roof and the block letters of F-O-R-D were scrambled to spell, D-O-R-F. It also had two pad locks that were needed to hold down the hood...but that actually looked cool.
The car drove well and was only slightly more expensive than the other duds. After some fancy haggling on my part, I got two-hundred off the price.
|I ADDED MY UNIQUE BEAUTY TO EVERY VISIT TO THE VALLEY OF FIRE.|
|WHETHER DOING SERIOUS COMMUNING WITH NATURE OR CLOWNING AROUND, THE VALLEY OF FIRE WAS OUR FAVORITE DESTINATION.|
Another day trip was Hoover Dam. I took the tour twice and swore to never go through it again. Nevertheless, most tourists want to at least see the outside.
|HOOVER DAM IS ONE OF THE USA'S CROWNING ACHIEVEMENTS. TO PROTECT IT FROM TERRORISM, A NEW, GENIUS ENGINEERING FEAT, A BYPASS BRIDGE WAS RECENTLY COMPLETED.|
So unless Sue and I had visitors jones-ing to see the dam, the closest we got was Lake Mead.
|I ALWAYS LOVED A GOOD ADVENTURE. I RENTED SPEEDBOATS ON LAKE MEAD TWICE WITH FRIENDS BEFORE SUE WAS IN MY LIFE...SO I KNEW THE ROPES WHEN WE DID IT TOGETHER.|
Even when I was a kid, my imagination took me to far away places.
|SUMMER - 1959. BUDDY'S AMUSEMENT PARK ON UTICA AVENUE IN FLATBUSH BROOKLYN. PART OF MY HIGH-FLYING FANTASY WAS TO HAVE MY BIRTHDAY PARTY THERE.|
So because I want so little, Sue usually gives in to my folly...even if it sometimes makes her nervous.
|NOVEMBER - 1991 QUEBEC CITY CANADA. SUE THOUGHT I WAS CRAZY FOR POSING IN THIS CURIO SHOP, GIVING THE "HONEYMOONERS" RACCOON LODGE SECRET, "WOO-WOO" SALUTE.|
Sue's greatest birthday idea was on my fiftieth. From the outside looking in, it looks like her creativity took her, Andrew and I to Manhattan but her search on EBAY landed us a trip to Spamalot.
|WE'VE SEEN A HANDFUL OF BROADWAY PLAYS BUT WE WERE NEVER SO ACROSS THE BOARD PLEASED THAN WITH SPAMALOT....THANK YOU AGAIN SUE, FOR THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX.|
In June 2010, I tested Sue's patience when I insisted on a brief detour, on the way to our cruise departure.
|ONE OF THE REASONS WHY CRUISE LINES MAKE YOU COME RIDICULOUSLY EARLY BEFORE BLASTING OFF, IS SO YOU CAN SCRATCH-OFF BUCKET LIST ITEMS, IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD.|
So when I think back to my twenty-sixth birthday wish, Sue had no problem with the idea of us getting out of town (Vegas). I decided to go hiking on Mt. Charleston. In honor of being the birthday boy, we agreed that I got to drive Sue's super hot...yet super cool Mustang.
|WE HAD A REALLY GREAT DAY. I COULD HAVE STAYED IN THE NICHE I CARVED OUT FOR MYSELF...FOREVER.|
The only blight on that birthday was that the car's "idiot light" went on just before we got up there. Before gallivanting through the woods, I wanted to check the anti-freeze level or at least add some water into the radiator. But I didn't have the pad lock key for the hood on my keyring. I shrugged it off and stupidly figured we'd be okay for the twenty-five minute drive home.
The temperature gauge needle stayed around three-quarters of the way into the danger zone the whole way coming down the mountain. I coasted as much as I could and the needle seemed to stabilize. We were on level ground, ten minutes from home when the needle became flush to the far end of the red zone. Seconds later, a slight grinding sound in the engine started. The proverbial jig was up...before I could play it safe and pull over, I heard a loud clap...and the four-month old Mustang lost power.
The smell of a seized engine is not pretty. Also, when we returned with the key and opened the hood, the milky color of the normally inky motor oil signalled that a new engine was needed...and never pursued.
|THIS YEAR, SUE WENT BACK TO BASICS. DR. ATKINS CAN'T KEEP ME AWAY FROM MY FAVORITES FOREVER. I ATE THE CENTER ECLAIR FIRST AND WAS "HAPPY STEVE," THE REST OF THE DAY.|
In retrospect, our red Mustang never got a speeding ticket but that friend was right, the car was unlucky. That seizing the moment incident remains one of my most embarrassing escapades especially, considering that it happened on my birthday. But a million years later, it's greater fodder for Sue and I to share a good laugh over.
I think it's that laughter that solidifies our relationship. After all, there comes a time when a girl realizes that she has met the perfect forever man. I'm pretty sure Sue has found her's because what she gives me, money can't buy.
Unfortunately for me, today I re-learned the validity of the old saying; if you snooze, you lose. I woke up this morning with a hankering for my other two pastries. But apparently, gremlins came in the middle of the night and ate both the "HAPPY" and the "STEVE," eclair. I'll round up the usual suspects but even if I catch the knave(s), I'll never get back the eclairs.
So much for the warm afterglow of the day after my birthday.