The Perfect Day
Johnny Joyo walks into the shop and for a split second, I don’t see his face. Instead, I see a snapshot of his ’36 cabriolet where his face should be. My cell phone rings and El Jefe’s name appears, but I don’t see it. Before my brain registers the name, I see his Gary Howard built ’57 Cad. A guy I met just once over a year ago reintroduces himself at a wedding. My brain can’t pull his name, but I instantly see his roadster in my mind’s eye.
A shrink would probably reduce all of this into some kind of social anxiety problem and I guess he wouldn’t be far from the truth, but I’ve always blamed it on my obsession with cars. First things first, I’m a family guy. Everything I do revolves around my extended family and my small group of very good pals… that well, I consider family. Those folks are my world. Past that, my entire life and probably 90% of my thought process revolves around cars.
I know, considering my career, this all sounds very romantic. And it would be just that if it wasn’t so damned extreme. It’s as if I suffer from a sort of autism where so much of my brain is dedicated to cars that there just isn’t anything left to process anything else. It’s a problem and not a romantic state of being.
I’ve heard so many people say that this thing of ours is more about the people than the cars. It’s not for me and honestly, probably never will be. That isn’t by choice.
In any regard, I had a bit of break through this weekend. See, Paul got married. As I typed that, a snap shot of his coupe went through my mind. That’s typical and to be expected, but it’s what happened at the wedding that is different.
I don’t know Paul or his beautiful bride (Cammie) all that well. Sure, we’ve hung out a few times and like all of you I’ve followed his now famous build thread since day one, but it’s not like I’m invested in either of their life stories. They are friends. Simple as that.
Due to bad directions and my dear wife’s navigation, we missed the wedding and went directly to the reception. It was a picturesque setting in the hill country. We parked the ’39 in the reserved lot and stood around waiting for the party to arrive. After a few minutes, hot rods roared in the distance. Paul and Cammie led the line in his recently completed coupe. They both had huge smiles on their faces and my brain instantly shut down. It was kind of like those music montages you see in movies… For what seemed like a few minutes, I could see Paul’s face covered with grease and sweat as he busted his ass on his car. He was determined to get that car finished so he could drive off in it at his wedding.
Even though I caught him a couple of times leaving the reception to stare at his car, I think we all realized that the love of his life wasn’t his coupe and he hasn’t been busting his ass in the shop for so long for the coupe’s sake. The car was just a side effect. He had been busting his ass to get the car done for her and for that moment.
So anyway… I realized when they pulled up, that their faces weren’t replaced by the coupe. I saw their smiles and I saw their perfect day. It didn’t have anything at all to do with cars.
I’m getting better.