[Car proud, car envy. But so much more! New to these serial pages? Catch up, part I & part II].
“But she’s so self-righteous about it!” Avrum claims, and gets all incensed at my eye-roll. Yes, eye-roll, “I am not! That’s bullshit!”
Not to generalize but, in my experience, those who drive Teslas tend to portray themselves as, how to put this kindly, planetary saviours? They could be racing down the road, tossing fast food wrappers out the window as they go, rolling over endangered turtles and knocking spotted owls from the air and still claim the mantel of climate warrior. My Other Car Is A… Are you f’n kidding me? What other car?!
They’re driving us toward the future. Next stop: Mars! The car as an extension of a life enhanced by technology and the utopian advancements it is sure to bring. It’s all @Smart©®™ TV, phone, kitchen, home security, the Tesla. There is no bump in the road that cannot be run roughshod over if we just give over to the robots.
“You’re ridiculous!” Avrum snipes.
“Wanna talk smug?” Lianne chimes in, coming to the aid of her little brother. “You drive a Subaru.”
Do I? I don’t really think about it that much. But enough about me.
“Sweet ride,” dad tells me about Beverli Lee’s Tesla. “Goes like stink! Like I’m Michael J. Fox in that movie being chauffeured around by that crazy old guy!”
“Like I’d be seen in that piece of crap you drive, Leonard,” Beverli Lee mock harumphs at dad. “What is it again?”
A Subaru. My dad drove a Subaru.
“She does the driving?” Lianne marvels with a malicious edge. “I don’t ever remember him sitting in the passeng—”
“Welcome to da 90s, Mr. Bahnks!” Avrum Francks her before realizing he’s come to Beverli Lee’s defense.
“Your dad’s too much of a fraidy cat to even take ‘er out for a spin!” she tells me.
“You kidding me?” dad defends himself in a way that suggests this is a bit between them, part of their routine. “You know how expensive her car is? No scratches or dents on my watch!”
“It practically drives itself! Literally!!” Beverli Lee, on cue. “If not legally. At least, not yet. Not here, at any rate. So behind the times. Of course. Take it down to the States—”
They definitely have a schtick going on between them. I’ve played audience enough times now to recognize the pattern, the patter. “Sweet ride” is a callback for my dad, a good-natured barb as part of the fun, Playful in tone but with an undercurrent of, if not undermining, a faint whiff of mockery. Unless I’m just reading too much into it.
“F*ck Trudeau, eh?”
“And what was her response?” Avrum (or Lianne) asks.
She seemed to relish it as a challenge, would be my appraisal. Sitting back in her chair, with one hand shielding the setting sun from her eyes, the other swirling the wine in her glass, Beverli Lee matched my father’s smirk. That’s what it was, right? A smirk. My dad was smirking.
“Dad doesn’t smirk,” Lianne confirms.
“Dad don’t do smirk,” Avrum adds.
Yeah. That definitely wasn’t my dad, not back in the day, at any rate, as far as any of us could recall.
Through the golden hue of memory, our parents’ relationship never seemed in any way combative. Disagreements surfaced between them in front of us, of course. They bickered sometimes, testy at best (or worst), rarely, if ever, prolonged and dragged out for public consumption. If anything, I remember my parents as—
“Handsy,” Lianne says. “Both of them. Couldn’t keep their mitts off each other.”
Not in any sort of creepy way. Don’t go all lewd in the visualizations. Reciprocal bum pats. Arms around waists. They constantly nudged shoulders while making dinner or mixing drinks. My parents clearly liked each other and enjoyed each other’s company.
This thing between dad and Beverli Lee, whatever it was, it wasn’t that. Almost a game of one-upmanship. They alternated in the roles of performer and audience-heckler although she seemed more inclined toward the spotlight—
“Beverli Lee Diva,” Avrum says. “Amirite?”
A biased review of the show, admittedly.
“You drive a Tesla too?” Beverli Lee asks my brother, shortly after the four of us have been seated for dad’s birthday dinner. “What model?”
This is not the first time that she’s just been reminded that Avrum drives the same car as she does. Not the first time she’s asked about which model of Tesla.
“Every time,” Avrum confirms. “She asks every time.”
“Come on, Beverli Lee,” my father near snaps out. “How many times to we have to go through this?” It doesn’t sound like dad’s playing their game now. “Everyone at the table knows you both drive Teslas. I’m not sure you’ve told our waiter yet, though,” he continues just as our waitress arrives to introduce herself to us.
“Hello, good evening, folks,” she says. “Welcome to the Keg. My name’s Kelsey and I—”
“Did you know, Kelsey, that my son here,” dad gestures toward Avrum, “and this one,” hitches a thumb in Beverli Lee’s direction, “both drive Teslas? Just to get that out of the way.”
The Keg. Dad’s birthday. The four of us.