This time of year brings out the envy in me. Not for that summer body I can’t have. (That’s another story.) I look longingly at the sleek, cool lines of a convertible.
A person driving a convertible just looks sexy. Putting that roof down takes ten years and twenty pounds off them. They look smarter, richer, and confident. You just know they got perfect SAT scores. Their hair gently waves in the open air, their skin the perfect shade of tan, with pearly whites bleached by the sun. Just look at them. Happy without a care in the world, off for a leisurely ride in a convertible.
I indulged on vacation with my daughter and rented a convertible. We were giddy with excitement, and the rental car agent was giddy with the bonus for the premium upgrade. But we didn’t care. On vacation it is all Monopoly money.
We hurried to the garage to claim our prize. Ten minutes later we were still trying to figure out how to get the top down. Let’s see…you have to unlock a bunch of levers, turn the car on, foot on the break, press this button and remove everything from the trunk. So that suitcase with everything I need for two weeks on the road doesn’t fit in the trunk if the top is down. Ok. Toss that in the back seat. A four-seat sedan becomes a two-seater. So what! Maybe that isn’t the image the advertisers would use, but it was fine with us.
Top down, suitcase strapped in, and we hit the road. Until we go forty yards out of the garage and the bright noon sun blinds me. The rays are sneaking in around the frames of my sunglasses, a glare on my retinas. The sun is frying my minivan skin. My freckles were looking for a place to hide. First chance I get, I have to pull over and apply sunscreen. Thankfully, my suitcase is right behind me.
Ok. Good to go. Sunscreened up, suitcase strapped back down. Let’s hit the road. 35 – 45 – 55 – 65 miles per hour. Hair whipped into a frenzy. If it isn’t the sun blinding me, it’s my hair stinging my face. Thankfully, teenage daughter carries scrunchies. Hair up, top down, suitcase strapped back down. We pull off the highway shoulder, having made it a mile from the airport.
We find a comfort zone. With the top down but all the windows up, our hair and clothes stay close to our bodies. This is kind of fun. We are the envy of everyone we pass, what with our knotty hair, thick sunscreen, as we scream at each other because we can’t hear a thing.
So here’s what I know about driving convertibles. In the summer, which is perfect convertible weather, it is hot as Hades in a convertible. We drove with the air conditioner cranked up as high as we could get it. And that sun? The one that normally the roof of our car blocks for us? Well, there is no escaping it in a convertible. That little visor is as useful as a shoveling with a teaspoon in a blizzard. And birds like convertibles too. I think they send out a signal “cackaw, convertible at 36 degrees.” Mud and bird poop are why car companies first put roofs on cars. It was a good idea.
Did I mention my passenger? I was putting my teenage daughter on display for truck drivers. She’s got the seat reclined, sunglasses on, long hair flowing, tank-top and short shorts, happily sunning while truckers swerve to get a good look. I can hear the CB’s going “Breaker 1-9. Eyeball beaver in the rockin’ chair in the sandwich lane. 10-4.”
On day two our convertible vacation, I bought a big safari hat, bigger sunglasses, stronger sunscreen and wore long sleeves just to drive the car. I now discovered that convertible drivers aren’t really smiling, but grimacing from the heat and sunburn. We got stuck in traffic and no amount of air conditioner could compensate for the lack of protective metal over our heads.
On day three, I put the top up and it stayed that way for the rest of the vacation. And the suitcase took its rightful place in the trunk.
And yet, looking at those beautiful people cruising down the road in their convertibles, knowing what I know, I still want to trade places with them. I don’t see skin cancer, or bird poop, or sweat under their arms. They look rich and sexy, smiling as they recall their perfect SAT scores.