Eschewing the Black Beauty


The Black Beauty's Roof by Rachel Medanic

Strange twists of fate call for creative responses and so I'm chronicling my adventures of the oddest rental car I've ever been given. I call Her The Black Beauty. I posted to Facebook how the universe seems to be trying to suddenly (and in intensity) make up for every cheap car rental I've ever had. I'm being poured into the lap of automotive luxury, but I'm not sure why. All I know is, driving the Black Beauty is SO not me. At least that's not what I thought at first.



So let me back up a bit...ahem. I named Her as I drove off the rental lot. This car was The Black Beauty. I was sure the name was my tap into the collective unconscious responsible for the 19th century Anna Sewell books, but no, no. It was much bigger than that. The Black Beauty was also the automotive identity for the car in the story of Green Hornet.

And the bodies were very similar too!
The Green Hornet's Black Beauty, car, 1965 Chrysler Imperial

Realize that if this car were a horse, it would be the most amazing adventure for me personally. She'd look like Lulu here, who I have ridden---though not on 580. And Lulu is only one horse. Because this discussion about the origin of horsepower is interesting and relevant to my in-laws (they are related to James Watt), I thought I'd link to it. Easy Lulu, easy on that hp.

The Black Beauty has Arrived for YOU!
The Beauty (short for Black Beauty) doesn't ride quite the same as Lulu though. Her seats are leather like a saddle. Like Lulu here, Beauty has a lot of power but Her ride is like a squishy boat on 3 foot waves rolling down the pavement. I keep testing Her out on freeway on-ramps (those off-hourly instances where the Bay Area offers open road, all 700 glorious feet of it) to try to feel (without Googling) whether she's a V6 or a V8. You see, I've never had a V-anything, other than what nature gave me.

Here is the chronicle of my journey through being in possession of a nearly brand new luxury rented vehicle.


Day 1:  Unease in Leather Power Seats
I feel like driving something as big as a Chrysler 300 is a liability. The Beauty is all glorious and big. Despite the size, I feel vulnerable and find myself driving Her...gingerly. My daughter adores big cushy cars. I thought she would love the Beauty but her verdict was "I sorta like it and I sorta don't." On the other hand, when sitting in the lap of luxury, how can one not be overcome by the experience of comfort?



Day 2: Lazy Luxury
I often can't tell if the Beauty is on or off. I have to check the keyless start button to see because the gadgetry is designed for "ultimate lazy." The radio delays shut off even when the ignition is off- about 60 extra seconds so you can catch the tail end of that awesome song you have playing, or until you open the door. Typically, in my own car (in the shop), I also enjoy a good spinal twist to view behind my car before backing up. With the Beauty's rear cam, you don't have to do that. She's modified Ardha Matsyendrāsana-averse!

Day 3:  Boys Driving By

I was leaving the house and as I was getting into the Beauty a car drove by. About 2 car lengths passed and it came to an abrupt stop. It backed up and I did a double take. Normally this behavior meant I was about to get pitched about dents in the passenger side of my Hybrid, but I was parked with only the driver's side in view. "Would you like to have those dents fixed up, Miss?" they'd shout normally. Two guys leaned over to look at me in the Beauty's driver seat. I made an expectant face but said nothing. They smiled and waved and then drove slowly on. Carjack? Flirt? Can't tell the difference. I didn't feel unsafe so I'm going with the latter. I don't think it was me. It was the allure. They had to see who was driving that.

Day 4:  I Can't Help But Photograph Beauty
It is truly incredible what shine does for a car. We've been in a drought for 4 years so The Beauty is the shiniest automobile on our block. Her hood is an incredible canvas for reflection photography!

The Black Beauty, Car I Eschew

Day 5:  Guzzlers and Guilt
We got invited to a dear friend's family farm up in the Capay Valley. Of course we took the Beauty. It was perfectly imperfect. An ironic mashup of symbolism and values to drive a luxury car into the heart of organic farm country. Emitting carbon all the way there, like invisible sparklers. With the Beauty, I am now living the reality I've only seen--the myriad SUVs on the road here in California (similar miles per gallon) driving around sporting Keep Tahoe Blue bumper stickers.

A moody Capay Valley scene
 
Sun through a pomegranate tree flower on their farm.

Day 6:  Audio Paradise
I had intended originally to turn the Beauty in for a more efficient rental after Memorial Day demand died down. But the software is so seductive. I can pull down any music I want from the cloud. Any. And it plays from the cloud through Her magnificent speakers. Which I can adjust. Up. Way up. Like bass at 4 from the sound system which in my car would be all it had. The organ-vibrating, cathartic max. The Beauty is a mobile wall of sound. In fact, I'm going to start a Black Beauty play list that takes into account the various spoken and unspoken reactions I'm experiencing.

Day 7:  1 Black Car, Many Stereotypes
My neighbors, the men especially, all seem to be taking notice of the Beauty. Today garnered two gazes that followed me and one verbal label:  "mafia car!" with a smile and a thumbs up. I thought it was more a limo car or a gangsta car myself. My husband calls it the car for an older generation- for that time in life when things need to be just a little gentler for the old bones. All people who know me know is...this is not a car they see me voluntarily driving. For the first few days I had to suppress the urge to proactively explain she was a rental. 


 Day 8:  More White Black Beauties Than Black Black Beauties in Oakland
It's nearly 2 weeks with the Beauty. I haven't written daily, but I have to conclude that there are more white Black Beauties driving around in Oakland than black Black Beauties. That's a sentence I could have modified to pack even more heat. White seems to be a more popular color among those I see driving this same car. I did see a pretty lady driving a silver Beauty tonight--that was a first. I've never ever had the pleasure of contemplating image, status, cars, stereotypes and prestige this deeply before. It's a thoughtful Chrysler customer journey, Baby!

Day 9:  Sea Chanteys
So the "drives like a boat" experience is real. Hubby insists the luxury and ride warrants jazz but since we sing a LOT in our cars, he belted out a rendition of Drunken Sailor during his first ride. Thoroughly addicted to my driving music studio, I'm dedicating a whole play list to the Beauty. I'll continue to add to it as I add to the series here. Check out For the Love of The Black Beauty!

Day 10:  You Should Be Rollin' With Me
I love to connect the stories in music into life. I did it earlier this year for the professional digital life and then chronicled my lessons learned. If all that social/digital stuff isn't your style and you'd rather just chill with me here, click play and ponder the DNCE verse below that is almost word for word about The Beauty.

 

Waste time with a masterpiece [the Beauty], don't waste time with a masterpiece [soon enough Heidi Hybrid will be repaired]
You should be rolling with me, you should be rolling with me, ah [ah yah!]
You're a real-life fantasy, you're a real-life fantasy
But you're moving so carefully; let's start living [driving] dangerously 


Don't forget the key lyric:  "Fucking delicious."



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