January 2001 Issue|
You've got Mail!
Inside, a handwritten note read:
Dear owner of the "cow car", I LOVE your car! It is super-cute! I am from Switzerland, so cows hold a special place in my heart. :)
There was a name, phone number, and email address on the back, indicating that the mystery correspondent was a Harvard student.
I read the note once more, instantly wary. Was the cow car making a joke? The cow car had never made a joke before. The most it had ever managed in the mischief category was occasionally refusing to play the radio (Miatas tend to do this when it is damp). But an appraising glance at the cow car dispelled the notion that it was playing a game. It was chewing its cud, and did not even appear interested in what the note said. Being coy is not at all within a cow car's bag of tricks.
Could this be another note from my friend Mark? He'd placed notes on the cow car in the past, typically posing as some young woman so unraveled by the cow car's brooding good looks that she felt compelled to leave a note suggesting acts of frottage with its owner. Such is the legend of the cow car, but day to day cow car facts have usually been more ordinary.
Why Don't We Do It in the... Driveway?
An exchange of email and a follow-up phone call revealed that if this was indeed one of Mark's ruses, he had really outdone himself. C_____ sounded intelligent, energetic, giddy with anticipation of the fun behind such a photo spread, and pretty sincere. Maybe this was for real?
She said she'd come by on the weekend. She said it would be sufficient to turn the cow car around in the driveway. This was proving quite painless. My only effort was that I promised to wash up the cow car, but this bath was sorely needed anyway. I owed the cow car some TLC, whether or not Ms C_____ was for real.
Knock-Knock. Who's There? Every beer commercial ever made.
On the appointed day, the door bell rang, and a vivacious young woman was outside with a bundle of clothes in her hand and a camera dangling at her side. Immediately, she said she only had a half hour, and could she come in and change? Of course, I said, guiding her into the computer room. As I stood in the kitchen, wondering what was going on, I had to acknowledge she possessed an uncommon confidence. Everyone should be so ...OH MY GOD!
Emerging from the computer room was C______, a little sheepish but nonetheless commanding in appearance in a red one-piece bathing suit and glossy red spiked sandals. I found myself gripped by an unseasonal bout of dry-throat.
Austin Cowers, International Car of Mystery
Her discomfiture lasted just a bit longer as we trotted out to turn the cow car around. The cow car was, of course, speechless. But as soon as the car was ready, and C_____ started to assume vampish postures, her confidence came back in an unhingeing aura. I snapped away, remaining polite (a character flaw that has plagued me since childhood), and choked back the impulse to narrow my eyes and say, "Waitaminnit! How do I know there's film in this camera?"
We probably took 16 or 20 photographs in all. The cow car was looking its best, determined not to be upstaged by a newcomer, and frankly, I thought the pair would work well on the cattle-walks of Paris or Milan. There was no sense of competitiveness, and each was able to offer a sultry pizzazz for the chattering camera. The combined whammy effect caused my admittedly scant photographic skills to dminish further, but I think each photo features at least part of their bodies although several seem to omit a hubcap or a foot.
Beautiful, beautiful, people! It's a wrap!
C____ went back upstairs to change, and emerged again in the guise of the bookish woman about to graduate from Harvard and sweat out her grad school selection. She offered to send me prints. I gamely offered that she should select the prints carefully, because I would want to post them on the cow car's website. She rolled her eyes, completely unconcerned on that score.
Her confidence that she was not going to be undone by such an exposition was refreshing, and highlighted the stark costs of political correctness in America. I had not sensed a strong accent in her voice, and wondered if perhaps her upbringing was so much different than the clenched mindset that patterns American life. Heck, I have my insecurities, too. It just seems that this woman's got lost in transit to our shores.
Behold, the power of Cheesy Car Ads!
Months later, I got a letter from C_____. She had installed herself at Stanford on a lengthy graduate program in molecular biology or epidemiology (I never can keep these fields straight). She is now engaged to her boyfriend (shucks), but there is no other cow car in her life (moo!).
But, true to her word, she enclosed the following snapshots, asking only that I not post them until after Christmas, 2000. Enjoy!