(Graphic: Helen Jane Hearn/TueNight.com)
Right after I got married, my new husband decided that he wanted to indulge in the utmost of New York City extravagances: a car. Owning a car in Manhattan is a fruitless proposition that no one can truly understand unless you live there. Contending with street sweeping schedules and parking regulations even the police don’t fully understand is a menace few have the constitution for.
Greg, however, decided it would make him feel less marooned on the isle of Manhattan if we could flee over the bridges in a car of our own. The problem was that he didn’t buy a car. He bought a very large and very old truck. I figured we weren’t getting a Mercedes by the Craig’s List posting which contained the very compelling sales pitch: F250. Good. Cash. Brooklyn. What the seller failed to list was the age of the truck.
When he first pulled that beast into the parking garage attached to our apartment building, the doorman took one glance at that truck and said, “Oh, hell no.”
It wasn’t old enough to be vintage and interesting, but old enough to have an unfortunate number of miles and red upholstered seats. When he first pulled that beast into the parking garage attached to our apartment building, the doorman, who had extended us plenty of allowances in the way of oversized deliveries and loud gatherings, took one glance at that truck and said, “Oh, hell no.”
After similar rejections all around the block, we finally found domicile for that truck in a neighborhood far flung from ours, making the process to fetch it more arduous than any journey aboard the trains and buses our fellow urban plebeians were relegated to. Circling our block while waiting for the other to emerge with weekend bags was like being on a Boeing 747 put into a holding pattern by Air Traffic Control. When the runway would finally clear, the one waiting at the curb would heave the belongings into the back and attempt to project himself into the cab. Much like air travel today, all passengers understood this was a no-frills mode that came with no legroom and a checkered maintenance history.
Determined to see the fruits of his investment, Greg sought opportunities to drive that truck anywhere, though we rarely did go anywhere since no one ever wanted to go with us. When I opened an invitation, sent by a woman who worked for me, to a wedding to being held in the neighboring state of New Jersey, Greg declared with a cowboy’s conviction, “We will go in the truck.”
Despite my strenuous objections to turning up at a country club in a truck that even the landscapers wouldn’t drive, his mind was fixed. I reminded him that I had been recently promoted to the director position within the media company I worked for, germane because the attendants at this wedding would be largely comprised of the people who reported to me. He stared at me blankly, and I grimly realized there was no shaming a man about his truck.
As we pulled into the manicured drive of the country club, lavishly lined with tilting maple trees, Greg’s arm hung casually out the open window as he inhaled the breeze coming off the well-tended grass of the golf course, oblivious to the engine’s deafening grumble. I shrank into my seat, noting the absurd contrast of my dress against the threadbare seats and my heels against the dirt-laden floor mats.
I mentally reviewed my affirmations: I can’t be fired for driving an F250. I can’t be demoted for leaking engine oil all over the parking lot. If anyone sees me leave in this truck, I’ll scream from the passenger seat that I’m being abducted and I’ll bring a fake police report to work on Monday.
I continued with my mantras as the valet opened my door and extended his hand. The blood pounded in my cheeks as he pulled me from my chariot, which was, in its idle state, filling the foyer with noxious fumes. I cringed as he grunted against the heft of my body free-falling from the height of the passenger seat. I offered a foppish apology and muttered something about Cinderella being a malcontent whiner for worrying about the impression she would make arriving to the ball in something as precious as a pumpkin. Greg, on the other hand, strode to the front and tossed the valet the keys as though he had just exited a Lamborghini.
Finally easing into the energy of the reception, I began to think my mode of transportation was going to go unnoticed. Just as I committed to let go of my anxiety, I looked up to see a few members of my new staff walking toward me, led by the one I suspected may be organizing a coup d’etat against me. Our eyes locked and I could see the glint of knowledge in his pupils.
He knows, I thought with dread.
“Hey,” he said. I smiled graciously, straining to loosen the grip of paranoia. He leaned in close as if he was about to share something intimate.
“Listen, we couldn’t find anywhere to throw our cigarettes in the parking lot so we tossed them in the back of your truck. We saw the empty beer cans and figured you wouldn’t mind.”
Thankfully the reception had an open bar.