I’m reading an article about a new sports sedan coming to the market. Low-slung lines, throaty exhausts, lines that appear to be in motion while the car is in park. As happens with many males, involuntary sounds erupt from deepest spaces inside, eventually finding a way onto an open room. If you are one of us, you have no control over this reaction.
“Whoah. Top speed 165,” I said.
Without delay my wife replies.
“Wow, like everyone needs to go 165-miles an hour,” she said back. Her deadpan sarcasm, insulating from me from reality for the briefest of moments, led me to believe she was serious. Then I thawed.
And so goes the life of a gearhead.
My wife, for the record, does not share the gearhead gene.
Being a gearhead is an odd and distracting affliction. I’ve always loved automobiles. I can find something about every generation of cars and trucks to love. Tail fins still excite me. As of late, I’ve begun to secretly harbor a day when vinyl tops might make a retro-inspired comeback. And don’t get me started on T-Tops – leaks and all.
Fist thing people should know is gearheads see the world differently. Cars and trucks not merely items designed to transport us from point to point. No, we view the best ones as works of art standing on a canvas of asphalt. They are remarkable examples of human engineering. To us, they represent how human emotions and raw materials can bend and blend into something both evocatively beautiful and powerful.
You may know us by our odd public behavior. We are the ones who when pulling up to a traffic light, turn off the radio and lower the window to allow the sounds of a nearby V-8 motor next fill the cabin. And we are the ones when walking across the parking lot will wander down a lane because we spotted a tail light to an old car we might not have seen in years. This is a sad affliction without any known cure.
Fortunately, my family is understanding and supportive. This week our daughter, who lives in Georgia, began texting me photos from an outdoor car show she somehow ended up at. To her, a car is a point A to point B proposition. Does it start? Does it play music? Does it get me where I’m going? Her list is short. But for me, she knows few things make me smile more than a trip down memory lane with cars and trucks. I take this as a sign of love on her part.
My first car was a hand-me-down sedan with a 455-cubic inch motor. I promise you those afflicted with gearhead syndrome are already thinking what they’d like do with that motor. Others see the numbers as meaningless reference points.
My eyes return to the article of the new sedan, my ego smarting a bit. But in the end, I know my wife loves me like a set of tail fins on a 1959 Cadillac.