Cobra Journal – Day 4

Day 4 – One of things you notice when your beginning to ‘get on’ in your years is a more acute sense of your mortality…and others’ too. It’s especially vivid when you’re visiting people you don’t see all that often. The changes in their demeanor, their health and their outlooks are often quite surprising and, truth be told, are going on all of the time, but are enhanced by your absence. When we’re younger, I guess they just seemed less obvious. It is, as if, time seems to accelerate when we reach a certain point. It is…a melancholy feeling. What does any of this have to do with Baby? Read on…

My tour guide (spouse Paula) has some light faire lined up for today (it’s really nice not having to even think about what to do on any given day). A relaxing “you’re on your own” morning (which I use to complete the ‘Day 3’ journal entry), a lunch with friends and relatives, some steaks on the grill for dinner, and an evening with her close friends Deb and Steve Gielowski. Seems like a perfectly fine way to spend a sunny Saturday as there is plenty of driving involved—the lunch is out in Williamsville (and that means a trip back too), I’m scheduled to give a few family friends joy rides in Baby (what a hardship that will be) and then we’re going to top it off with a visit to the Gielowski’s and Steve, the car nut. I’m up for it.

If we’re going to go out, we need to look good so I spend an hour in the morning touching up the shine on the Cobra (it didn’t really need it), checking the vital fluids (old habit from years of British cars) and generally brightening up Baby. Freshly showered and dressed (to match), Mr. and Mrs. ‘T’ are off on a leisurely spin to the country. Again, one of the first things you have to get used to is the idea that there is absolutely nowhere you can go in the Cobra without attracting the attention of nearly everyone. A celebrity, though involuntary, that is not entirely unwelcome. Old folks and kids, punks and aficionados—all seem fascinated with the Cobra and express various levels of enthusiasm or admiration. Thus, the trip to the restaurant takes a little longer than it might otherwise, while we stop to acknowledge a few of the admirers and explain a little about the car.

Now, I may not have said in the beginning, but our luncheon is not only a gathering of some close family and friends but also an excuse for Uncle Jack DiCarlo and Uncle Jack Migliori to check out the ride, which Rosemary (Paula’s mom) has been talking up quite a bit. I’m not too sure about Jack Migs, but Jack D is reputed to be a major car guy. He’s also (like many of our older friends and relatives) not in the best of health.

A little bit about our dining spot. Williamsville is one of those little picturesque New York towns that was once probably a nice little farm community and is now basically a suburb of Buffalo. Think of Manchester, Vermont in the ‘wilds’ of western New York and you’ll get the picture. Feed stores have long ago given way to Orvis and other trendy retailers, little family restaurants that were once gathering spots for the locals are now chic eateries. Somehow, through this transformation, the place has maintained its essential charm and our lunch spot is no exception.

We’re the first to arrive but others soon follow as the parking lot fills up with rides of various types—none that would give you much of a notion that these folks were even vaguely interested in automobiles. There’s some brief chitchat and greetings but soon the conversation (as it does so often) turns to the car. “You built it?” “How long did it take you?” “Looks fast, does it go?” Even though I get these questions pretty much relentlessly, I don’t seem to tire of answering them. As the conversation drifts to other topics, I notice that Jack D. is missing and spot him ambling across the parking lot making a beeline for Baby. I figure I’d better join him and excuse myself from the table. Now, Jack, as I mentioned, is not in the best of health and his normally quiet demeanor is further concentrated because he just doesn’t feel very well. That all changes when he gets near Baby. There’s a spring in his step and an animation in his voice that I haven’t heard for the last few years. Like most folks who gather round the Cobra, he’s wearing a big smile and asking questions at a breakneck pace. Soon we’re joined by Jack Migs who exhibits a similar transformation—lightness in the feet… My God, Cocoon! But it’s not a pool and they’re no aliens.

Of all the moments driving around and basically showing off, this one is the pinnacle, the best. To see these two guys, nearing the end of their years, not in particularly good shape laughing like a couple of teenagers means more to me than all of the admiring glances and compliments we’ve enjoyed on the entire trip. It was as if, God meant this car and these guys to be here in this moment. It simply means more to me than I can express…

Lunch? It was pretty good and the drive back under a clear New York sky and bright sunshine was pleasurable. Paula took off to retrieve Anna from Crystal Beach where she’d been for the last couple of nights and Rosemary started to prepare for dinner—although I’m having a hard time imagining eating anything at the moment.

Before dinner, I slide Rosemary into the passenger side of Baby and we take off across town to see a couple of her old friends (and parents of one of Paula’s childhood friends) Jimmy and Char Caprino. We politely motor through the Delaware Park neighborhood (spectacular as always), through the newly chic Elmwood area and arrive at Jimmy’s house. He answers the door with a ball cap screwed down on his head and a big grin and, without so much as a ‘Hello’ to Rosemary, says, “Let’s go!” Now that’s enthusiasm! As it turns out, Jimmy is not content with the typical spin around the block and wants to “see what she’ll do” on the highway so off to the expressway we go, with Jimmy chattering all the way about the car.

I find myself in the rather odd position of having to restrain ‘Uncle’ Jimmy from wanting me to get in the gas, but it’s only a 55 Mph speed limit on this older section of the New York state highway system and the last thing I need while on vacation is a reminder from the local police about how I need to act responsibly which, by the way, is one of the peculiar side effects of driving the Cobra—even though you’re in an automobile that can go from zero to sixty in less than four seconds, can smoke the tires in nearly every gear and generally has a nearly obscene amount of horsepower you tend to drive more sanely than in the family sedan. Weird. Still, it’s pretty damned odd—the younger guy in the driver’s seat restraining the sedate old guy from wanting to tear things up. It’s also a bit disconcerting being the ‘responsible’ one. Geez, I hope this doesn’t get around!

Well, for a day short on driving, this turned out to be a longish journal entry. The Gielowski’s? Yup, we went over and it was one of those magic moments—the sun was just setting and Baby sitting in front of their house was a truly stunning site. There’s just something about that time of day and the way the soft light bounces of the paint. And, oh yeah, we had a swell time with Deb and Steve (I really mean it).

Tomorrow we’re back on the highway and headed home to Vermont. Part of me is looking forward to ‘stretching’ Baby’s legs but another part will miss being around family and friends. Its been a grand time and, while I’m eager to get back on the road, I’m nearly as eager to stay.

On to Day 5, Back to Day 3