Drive

drivewebIce Silver Metallic with Apollo Silver Sideblade. Limestone Gray interior leather seats. Nineteen-inch five-spoke alloy wheels. Five-point-two FSI manual transmission. He didn’t know what that last one meant, but it sounded cool. The sleek sports car in front of him gleamed in the sunlight, causing him to squint.

The sales associate sitting at her desk was cute, young, blonde, and trying real hard to seem like she wasn’t watching him. But he knew she was. Her eyes followed his every movement. He glanced at the SUV on the other side of the showroom, but the sports car seemed to wink at him. Sure, it could have been the sunset glaring through the large windows, but he preferred to think the car was calling to him. His siren.

Deep inside his subconscious, the various fragments of his psyche were arguing the decision to buy or not to buy. Id took the role of defendant, Superego played the plaintiff, and Ego the judge. The argument was a mix of a trial and a political debate. It was always this way. Sometimes Id won, sometimes Superego won, but they always fought hard for their respective sides. This particular instance was no different.

Ego rapped the gavel. “Let’s start with opening statements. Superego, you may proceed.”

“Very well.” Superego nodded. “We have recently reached our forty-seventh birthday. Our daughter announced her pregnancy and we will be a grandfather for the first time. We are merely reacting to this obvious mid-life crisis in even looking at that sports car. The need to buy a new car is evident by the death of our previous vehicle. The SUV is a practical, family-oriented car with safety features that outshine most others. Do we really want people to look at us, knowing we are driving a sports car because we cannot handle growing older?” Superego glared at Id as he sat back down.

Id rolled his eyes and stuck his tongue out at Superego.

Ego remained neutral and turned to Id. “You may present your opening statement now.”

Hopping up, Id slid across the table. Once on the other side, he leaned his bottom against the table’s edge, relaxed and nonchalant.

“Look, we’ve worked damn hard for this. So we’re getting older. It happens. But there’s no way we could have afforded this car before. We needed to keep a job and work,” he grimaced, “before we could pay for this. It’s an awesome car! Did you see it? I mean, really, just think of the attention we’d get in a car like that. The respect. People won’t see a mid-life crisis, they would see a man who appreciates the good life. I’m turned on by a car like that! I’m sure most people are.”

They all turned to the image of the sports car projected on the wall.

“Superego, would you like to respond?” Ego adjusted his glasses.

“You are right; we never could have afforded a car like this before. But you seem to be forgetting that we cannot afford it now, either.” He tried to remain calm.

Id shrugged. “So it’s out of our price range by a few thousand dollars. All that amounts to pennies on the dollar when we think in terms of a sixty-month finance.”

“That is not the point!” Superego jumped to his feet. “And what about the practicality? Surely you can see that we cannot take our grandbaby out in that…that…bullet? There is not even a back seat!”

“Bullet! What a wonderful word. And who said we have to take our grandbaby out in it?” Id stood and faced Superego. “I deserve this. We’ve been driving a…” Id shivered, “a minivan for the last twenty years. You owe me!”

“I owe you? If we had had a car like this twenty years ago, we would all be dead by now! You nearly killed us a few times in the minivan!”

Id dismissed the statement with a wave of his hand.

Superego took a deep breath. “What are the safety features?”

“Who cares about the safety features? Just look at it! It goes from zero to sixty in four-point-four seconds! Leather interior and all the bells and whistles. There’s an awesome sound system package that’s only costs another two grand. Surround sound in the car. Who else has that?”

“You are getting ahead of yourself. There is a navigation system, but you can get that on the SUV, too. The SUV also has the rear-view camera to help when reversing—“

Id made gagging noises and Superego’s face became mottled.

“Could we at least test drive it?” Id pleaded with Ego.

Ego had been silent, listening to the two debate the merits of one vehicle over the other. He looked back and forth between them.

“If we test drive one, we will have to drive the other, too. We will take a short recess and come back when both are done.” He rapped the gavel once more.

The sales associate looked up as he walked toward her.

“I’d like to test drive two of the vehicles.”

She smiled and handed him some paperwork to fill out while she copied his driver’s license and insurance card. Within a few minutes, the keys to the Audi R8 were in his hand. He slid into the driver’s seat and drove in a circular route designated by the associate. The dealership was close enough to a highway that he was able to hit speeds faster than 30 miles per hour. His foot itched to punch the gas pedal, but he held back.

When they returned to the showroom, the associate retrieved the second set of keys. He stepped up into the SUV and completed the same circular route. They returned to the showroom and he sat at her desk.

“Well, what did you think?”

“They were both excellent drives. I’ll need a few moments to myself to think about it some more.”

“Of course.” She smiled at him again and strode to the coffee machine.

The sound of the gavel rapping brought them back to order.

“Did you feel that?” Id looked near orgasm. “The R8 was smooth as silk, those buttery leather seats caressed our bottom more sensually than any lover we’ve had. The power we felt when we took those curves—“

“Faster than we should have. The poor associate looked frightened. You should not have exceeded the speed limit on the highway.”

“Oh, for the love of…It was only for a short while. Besides, she probably thought it was thrilling.”

“Not everyone enjoys feeling frightened. You should consider others’ feelings when you have their lives in your hands.”

“Blah, blah, blah.” Id rolled his eyes. “I want to talk more about the R8. Didn’t you guys feel the electricity when we ran our hand over the frame, how the steering wheel fit perfectly in our hands, when we shifted gears as though man and car were one?”

“Spare us your melodramatics. That electricity was due to us shuffling our feet on the carpet. They engineer the steering wheel to fit in the driver’s hands. And I felt the car lurch a few times when we shifted gears, but that is to be expected, given our inexperience with a car of that caliber.”

Id muttered something obscene resulting in a glare from Superego. He shook it off and continued his argument.

“Now the SUV had a wonderfully smooth ride, and the associate was kind enough to point out the side curtain airbags in the back seats. It sits up higher, which can cause it to roll over more easily, but as long as Id is not allowed to drive, we should live through it.”He was gratified to see Id take offense to his statement. “It includes the LATCH system, so we could install a carseat for our new grandbaby. Dual circuit brake system with ABS and the top speed is electronically limited at 130 miles per hour, so even if Id managed to take over, he would still be limited. The R8 was electronically limited at 180 or something—much more dangerous. For a forty-seven year old family man, the SUV just makes more sense.”

Ego broke his silence. “I’ve heard both sides and feel confident that I can make a decision that will satisfy requirements of both parties.”

He rapped the gavel to call an end to the proceedings.

The man signed the paperwork on his brand new vehicle. The sales associate’s smile remained fixed in place and she handed him the keys.

“It was a pleasure doing business with you.” She shook his hand and opened the door for him.

He turned on the Bang & Olufsen quality sound system as loud as he dared and opened the three-panel panorama sunroof. Running his hands over the steering wheel, he shifted gears and depressed the accelerator. The revving of the powerful V8 engine at his fingertips filled him with awe. This sure beat a minivan. He took one last wistful look at the R8 on the showroom floor before turning out of the dealership parking lot.

Alternate ending:

His wife would be proud of his decision. The SUV was within his price range and it was the practical choice. At least he got his surround sound. He merged onto the highway and picked up speed until he was in the flow of traffic. Tired of being stuck behind a 16-wheeler, he moved into an adjacent lane to pass. The driver of the truck must have had the same idea, because he began to move into that lane, too.

The last thing he remembered was the sound of steel waltzing in a deadly last dance.

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