She was a Beaut!
It was one month past the age of nineteen when I first spotted her dowdy aunt (an Edwardian relic steeped in the ritual doctrines of affected, isolated, and bête noir) leisurely roll to a stop at a red light. Her continental bearing and hardly-subtle style seduced me at once; her polish was ablaze and yet I was smitten and took a step toward her admitting my daily longing and nightly lust for one just like her. As I daydreamed the light changed and off she went like horses out of the gate; I dashed after her but my pursuit was fruitless when she suddenly growled and hesitated, and then she divinely disappeared as capriciously as a shooting star.
I stood there addled and breathless and cognizant that her type was bridled for the Favored, for the Eccentric, for the Careless. She was beyond my reach; she’d look silly in my hometown, not gorgeous, not dazzling, not alluring. My hometown was suspicious of flash or flair or fins! If I dared to bring her home, the circle of neighbors in our cul-de-sac would gather like bits of dinner in the strainer, then march like a flock of flamingoes en masse, arriving at our doorstep and determinedly ring our bell and demand her removal (like last year), as though she emulated (like last year) Dad’s proudly draped home of 109,621 (+/-) twinkling holiday lights!
For three months shy of 35 I remained abstinent; I knew that only one would provide any sense of pleasure. The others? Others, really? Monotone, pedestrian, uninspired. So I behaved, in every respect like the rest of my pals: humbly thanked comb-overed, remote, and little known of uncles looking to dump their waning, wooded, wagons onto culturally clueless yet utterly anxious sons of far-flung and holiday-sighted siblings or sibling-in-laws to make room in their attached garage for every middle-aged man’s nocturnal emission: the rear-engined, rear-wheeled, aluminum air-cooled 164 cu in 1960 Motor Trend Car of the Year: the Corvair! All I remember as he handed me the keys was a brief exchange between he and his wife: Him: “I’m going to get a real boss car with a floor box,” to which she replied coolly, “Great! A middle-aged candy-ass who’s all show and no go!”
From there I picked up whatever ride I could afford and stashed a handful of dollars into “My Beauty” account. And finally, finally after almost forty years of waiting I walked straight into the dealers showroom, pointed at the loaded burnt orange rag top, whipped out thirty-three, one thousand dollar bills said, “Give her a nice wash will ya’? I don’t want to bring home a dirty girl!”
The first two years were idyllic: It was the third when things began to change, slowly, like late fall maple leaves. We tried, we gave it a go, we even put-off annual holidays to Northern Italy, but to no avail. It was simple economics: I couldn’t afford to keep her. The stratospheric maintenance was, once again, a wicked reminder that I wasn’t one of the favored or careless! I would always be a part of the prudent. But time after time after time her visits to the shop cost thousands! Not hundreds, but thousands of dollars! We kept her insured three more years, but even that couldn’t . . . couldn’t promise a pardon from age . . . it simply put a pause on life’s timeline.
Intrinsic Value never seems to be a placeholder on any balance sheet I’ve read. “And Intrinsic Value” , I’m told by my accountant, “is not an asset; the item(s) might be. But this intrinsic value you keep bringing up. . .its value is to you, not to the IRS, or car salesmen, or insurance agents. Intrinsic Value is always devalued by everyone except you.”