| There are certain things that we all want in our youth and often in the throws of our mid-life crises, some of them are just fun, some of them are silly, and some of them are silly and fun. One of these things is a convertible car. I had one in my youth. Not a jeep with a top that comes off, although I had one of those too, but an actual sporty car with a top that folds down. I should point out that I didn't chose this car, my ex did. I mention this because of the kind of car it was a Triumph TR-7, that two seater thing shaped like a wedge that drove like a tank and handled like a back hoe. It was cute enough to look at with leather interior and stripes down it's gleaming bronze sides. It was cute, in an early 80's kind of way, but anyone who has ever driven a Triumph knows that they were dogs. I hated it.
My TR-7 had a soft top that had to be manually folded back and tucked into a well, which had a leather flap that then snapped down over it to cover it up. The snaps were not the kind you have on your average high school football jacket, they were the heavy duty industrial variety and required a considerable amount of force to snap in place. Like all things of their kind, they sometimes cooperated and snapped in easily and sometimes not so much. We were living in Chicago when my husband decided that we had to have this car and I had to drive it. He had a Mazda RX7 that was a dream to drive I got the door wedge with wheels. At the time I had an hour commute to my place of employment where I worked in marketing for a foundry that made, among many other things, the casings for the first turbo chargers used by Mercedes Benz. I say this because it was a huge part of the marketing mission to talk about how Mercedes trusted us to forge the turbo chargers. It made us cool.
One morning as I headed out for work on a gorgeous summer day, my husband helped me to put down the top so that I could zip down the highway in the sunshine in my door wedge with the pollution blowing in my hair. What, after all, is the point of being young and owning a convertible if you don't take advantage of it to make yourself look sporty and cool? The weather report called for clear skies all day. About half way into my commute I noticed that the skies had become a rather ominous gray heading to black. I was perplexed and concerned. Where had this come from all of a sudden? Had I been so focused on the perilous highway and my incredible youthful convertible coolness that I hadn't noticed? I got off at the next exit and parked in the lot of a donut shop to put up the top on my stylish door wedge. The moment I turned off the engine it started to rain, not sprinkle, not shower; a full-fledged monsoon-like downpour. I dove for the snaps of the top flap and yanked. The first one came out easily enough but after that it was like trying to pull the limb off a tree, they just did not want to unsnap. I crawled into the car and onto the flap so I could put my full 110 lbs into the job. It didn't help much. While I was climbing over my car like a monkey the rain was doing a thorough job of completely drenching both myself, my nice suit, and the interior of the car. I finally got all the snaps undone and went about hauling the top out of the well. It got about half way and stuck. I don't really swear much and never use obscenities so when I started yelling at the car I did what I usually do, called it names using insulting phrases that came to mind. I called it a, 'pathetic piece of mechanical putrefaction designed by bumbling British bozos', and, 'an ugly, utterly useless, vengefully vindictive vehicle with all the engineering elegance of a matchbox car on steroids'. I like alliteration in my invectives. Every time I heaved on the top it moved about an inch while I gained about 3 lbs in water weight. My carefully crafted coiffure was completely ruined and my hair hung down my back like drowned eels. My suit was so full of water that the hemline went down a couple of inches just from the weight. Finally, some man drove up in a truck and parked next to me, rolled down his window and asked me if I needed help. I was so mad I wanted to yell at him, “I don't know genius boy, do I look like I need help? I'm standing in the pouring rain in a business suit that is completely ruined, my pumps are so wet that they are starting to curl up like shoes of a Turkish sultan, my hair is running with water like Niagra Falls, and my car interior is turning into Lake Michigan...what do you think?” Instead, I just squeaked out a, “Yes, please.” like a drowning rat. With his help I got the top all the way on and latched into place, got into my car, which made a horrible squishing sound when I sat down, and continued on to work. When I got there I walked in with as much dignity as I could possibly muster, which wasn't much, and went to my office. My boss looked at me over the top of his reading glasses with much the same expression he might reserve for a feral stray dog some pity and a lot of horrified disgust. He told me to go to the foundry where the smelting equipment put out enough heat to rival the Sahara. While I stood on the foundry floor allowing the heat from the glowing, molten metal to dry me off I decided that if I ever were in a position to do so I would show my gratitude for the waves of lovely drying warmth wafting over me by buying a turbo charged Mercedes Benz. In the meantime, I decided the TR-7 was history. It was gone two weeks later.