Sunday, December 27, 2009

Finding your people in the oddest of places.

You never realize how many of a particular car are on the road until you buy one, and then you realize they are everywhere. This happened with the Cherokee, and it certainly happened with the Beetle. I once counted a dozen of them in the parking garage. I've seen just about anyone and everyone driving a New Beetle, from little old ladies hunched over the steering wheel to a really rough old guy who looked like his other ride was an original Harley--and everything in between.

I wouldn't consider the Beetle a performance car, but that's why I get 44 mpg highway. I love my old girl (a 2006 TDI we named Catorce or "14" as it was a sort of anniversary present) for her cute but overall modest ways. But drop it into sports mode and it's got some pep. Other daily drivers have admitted that even though they normally don't speed, on the highway the car just wants to go 80; try as you might to avoid it, you'll look down and say, "Well damn, I didn't know I was going that fast!" 80 is at the very top of the speedo in the 12 o'clock position. I blame that for the tendency; apparently there's where the gauge likes to rest.

Something odd happens, rarely, but now and again, when two Beetles encounter each other and there's a certain... chemistry. This happens about once a year on I-5, and it happened today.

Traffic was not heavy, and spread out enough that there was plenty of room for moving around. I was buzzing around, and the buzz caught someone's attention; another driver in a silver Beetle buzzed up behind me and I knew... it was on.

This was not a race, mind you; none of these chance encounters have been about that at all. It's more like... a frolic. We buzz around together, not doing anything crazy or dangerous, but just... juicing it a bit. One leads for a while, then changes lanes and lets the other buzz up beside, at which point you'll exchange smiles, waves, goofy gestures, whatever, and then the other driver will take the lead.

This guy had it all over me, though, I'll admit. After a while 84 got busier, and I couldn't in good conscious keep up with him. By the time we swapped leads it was close to my exit anyway so I didn't miss much.

I had to laugh the first time we came up even, though. He was wearing driving gloves. And I'd noticed as he was in my rear view that his bud base held yellow, pink, and purple Gerber daisies.

Wow. Way to not be pigeonholed, dude!

(My car feels like a destiny of sorts. I can remember back in the early/mid 90's talking with Jim I. about the New Beetle which was at the time just a concept car. He had a big foldout of a the yellow concept car that he was coveting. He said, "Someday I'll own one of those." I secretly wished I would, too! They are just so cute.)

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