Sitting crosswise in the driver’s seat, door open, engine idling, my knees over the sill and my feet flat on the pavement, I jotted some data in the logbook of Automobile Magazine’s fabulous Nissan Skyline GT-R. It was about midnight. My day and evening had been spent at Berlin Raceway, which is a few miles northwest of Grand Rapids. Now I’d made my way to a BP station on East Belt Line Avenue. Absorbed in recording the odometer reading and noting the location of the fill-up, I was somewhat startled to hear a woman’s voice, asking if I minded fielding inquiries about my car. I looked up and beheld a tremendous blonde, beautiful and voluptuous, but the one thing I was most likely going to remember about her was the coin slot in her denim miniskirt. The way I was sitting, it was right at eye level. It would be interesting to know what jackpot could be won by dropping through a silver dollar.
“What kind of car is it?” she asked.
“It’s a Nissan Skyline—”
“A Nissan Skyline GT-R.”
“How much does it cost—forty, fifty?”
I didn’t know the answer but remembered once reading the GT-R would enter the market at $70,000 when it came here for 2009, so that’s what I told her. (Later, I found out this one’s $85,000.) She was predictably agog at my revelation. A Nissan for $70,000! I pointed to the hood and said there were lots of turbochargers and stuff happening under there. I was tired and dehydrated and a little intimidated; my tongue was sticking to the roof of my mouth.
“I would love to buy one of these for my son who’s turning sixteen,” she said. However, as a footnote, she observed that real estate sales aren’t so great.
She continued to bombard me with questions and every time to interrupt before I said much. She was exultant; the car was really doing it for her. I had gotten out of the driver’s seat and walked over to the pump in order to better see the numbers and write them down, using the rear spoiler as a credenza. I put on my reading glasses, which are red and white and were recently called “gay” by a drunk in the local bar, but she complimented their stylishness, and again I was flustered.
“My son and his friends would call these wheels ‘murdered out,'” she said, returning to the primary subject at hand.
I thought it was useful to know the latest slang of fifteen-year olds. In order to kill the engine I reached into the cockpit and punched the engine start/stop, a big red button on the transmission tunnel, and this evoked more cries from her, as if I had worked some magic.
It might have been at this point when she let drop that she had driven a Porsche Cayenne GT until a couple of years ago. And right around this time, by what lead-in I can’t remember, she also mentioned being divorced. There was even something one way or the other about child support.
With her being so forthcoming, it now seemed time to ‘fess up that the car didn’t belong to me at all, so I gave her my card and explained the relationship as a contributor to Automobile, which is in Ann Arbor. There happened to be a couple of extra copies of the latest issue on the front seat, so I gave her one. Did I have any stories in it? Well, yes, just a few small things, if you look carefully at every page. But again, she interrupted. Her son would be so excited! Oh, she was out now because she was meeting a friend for a drink just down the road a ways. (Her Mercedes-Benz ML320 was parked over against the BP store.) She’d napped earlier in the evening, she explained. Someone chided her about sleeping on a Saturday night, but her own prudence was implied. Wait a second, if I was from Ann Arbor, what was I doing over here? As soon as she heard mention of Berlin Raceway, she asked if I knew the Gaineses? I tried to explain how it was my first time at Berlin Raceway, but only half that got out before she informed me that young Gaines had taken up with the speed people, and she didn’t think his father was too thrilled about it.
Meanwhile, three guys in a little red Hyundai stopped near us and the driver asked me to name the car and next inquired, “How many are in the U.S.?” Making up a number, I said a couple thousand. They drove away.
Yet again, the goddess said her son wouldn’t believe this, and did I mind if she took some pictures with her cell phone? Go right ahead, I invited. Just then a Chrysler 300C pulled through the lot and she announced that’s what her son was getting.
I realized I should try to snap her picture as verification of this encounter and dug out my camera. I gestured her to the front of the car.
Before striking her pose, she said, “I want a pink Lambo.”
It’s obvious that I flubbed the picture, which was shot with my older, film camera. Not immediately knowing the result, I offered to email a copy when I got the film processed and scanned to CD. She gave me her business card, which from a collections agency, and shook my hand.
“I thought you said real estate.”
“That, too.” Lisa Marie shook my hand two more times before I got back into the Skyline and drove home.