There was a boy in high school that had a crush on me. He was a year older, lived a few miles down the street and his dad owned a red convertible MG Midget. I loved that red, convertible MG Midget. The boy’s dad parked it on the family’s brick driveway and every day when the bus drove by the house I would stare at it, imagining myself driving the car, the top down, wind in my hair, tunes loud and booming. Mind you, I am alone driving the car and the boy with the crush on me is not even in the passenger seat.
The boy asked me out many times and back then my parents had strict rules about dating:
- once a month
- home by 11 or
- coed group activity and still home by 11
As you can imagine, these rigid rules kept the boys away, but this boy was determined. We went out a few times, mostly group gatherings including Trivial Pursuit parties with Cheetos and cans of New Coke or got dropped off at The Zone, an art gallery that featured terrible local punk bands and served non-alcoholic beverages.
During the school week the boy passed me little paper notes folded into a “football”. His girl-like handwriting was round and perfect and his words would detail all the reasons why he liked me. I knew that he obsessed over these notepad scribes and worried how I would respond yet hopeful that I would return another folded “football” note reciprocating similar sentiments.
At some point I must have mentioned his dad’s convertible and how I’d love to go for a ride in it. I meant it. Immediately, his hallway notes referenced the convertible and if I came on a one-on-one date I’d get to ride in the red MG Midget convertible.
Before I knew it, I agreed to go to a dinner dance at the college his father taught at. The night of the party it rained – pouring rain. The skies were so dark with clouds it looked like dusk all day and the new, bright green leaves on the trees were soaked. Even the golf umbrella the boy brought couldn’t keep us dry. The car was now parked in my parents’ driveway, black cloth top, red paint, sopping wet. There would be no top down, no wind in my hair, just a closed, dark, damp, shuddering ride, shoulder to shoulder in the cramped car.
When I was in college I had another friend, Bill, who drove a red convertible Fiat. We worked on the bi-monthly newspaper The Westerner. I was the editor and he was the assistant editor and photographer. Twice a month we would barrel down Route 20 from the college to the printer to proofread the paper layout. The best part was the Fiat, top down, a ceiling of sky and feeling like a dog with its head out the window gulping down air. It was the best.
After college and mooching off my parents’ 1988 Oldsmobile Cutless Supreme, I bought a teal green, 1992 Toyota Celica Coupe with a sunroof. Eventually I traded it in for a 1997 black Chrysler Sebring Coupe with a sunroof. By the early 2000s convertibles were becoming vogue again. I was in my early thirties and couldn’t decide if I wanted to go with an Infinity G35 Coupe or a convertible Sebring Limited. The convertible came in baby blue, cream interior and blue cloth top. 0% finance, a good trade on my car and I was sold.
There was something liberating, and exposing about driving a convertible. That top was down as soon as the temperature high was 45 degrees. Heated seats, winter cap on and I was good to go. My quota for speeding tickets peaked, and I am now a little hard of hearing because of listening to all that wind and loud music, but I was in my glory.
I met a few naysayers who thought convertibles must be so cold in the winter, not realizing that it’s like any other car with a heater and insulation. Or they talked about how impractical that kind of car is in New England, but I had my February top down moments.
Eventually I married and had a child and like being hit by a mac truck my baby blue convertible became impractical. For awhile I pretended that an infant and a two seater worked. My 6’5 husband folded himself into the car and started driving it to his aerospace company, ignoring the snickers from the factory workers during their backdoor cigarette breaks. It was just a matter of time and we were shopping for sedans.
In the back of my mind though, I was going to get another convertible. Someday a two door with the top down would be practical again and fit my lifestyle.
The other day we picked up another convertible. The sedan had surpassed 150,000 miles and it was time to trade it in. Our baby was now eight and seemed pretty excited about the prospect of a convertible. It felt right, just like home easing into the front seat, waiting for the top to automatically fold into the trunk of the car. People stare and think I’m crazy driving in 53 degree weather, but the point of driving is more than going from one point to another, it’s to have fun, feel cool (even if it’s in my own mind) and to be free.