I saw cars. That’s what I did.
If I were planning a vacation for me, it would focus exclusively on local coffee shops, independent bookstores, farm-to-table restaurants, art museums, and nature meanderings. I know what I like.
I know what my son likes too. Cars. American muscle cars and Italian sports cars and German sedans and California electric cars and anything expensive and shiny. Butterfly doors are a bonus.
The very first words he spoke when we stepped outside the airport in San Francisco? “Look, Mom! It’s a Tesla!”
It was the first of four thousand “Look Moms!” For the first thousand or so, I turned quickly, thinking I was about to see something spectacular. A blooming flower or a parrot flying overhead or a cool building or perhaps a tiny kitten.
But it was only and always a car.
Granted, sometimes it was a spectacular car.
I saw hundreds of Teslas and Porsches and Corvettes and, thanks to a car show we stumbled onto, 1930s roadsters. I saw a handful of Ferraris, a few Lamborghinis and McLarens, a couple of especially fine classic American muscle cars, one Dodge Viper, and—insert a pause so that an appropriate amount of awe can build—two Bugattis. (Well, technically six, since we saw four classic Bugattis at the Peterson Automotive Museum, which is surprisingly interesting, even if you don’t give two hoots about cars.)
The two Bugattis (found after quite a bit of Internet searching and some very convoluted GPS work) were a religious experience for my son. He couldn’t even form words, and this is a boy who cannot ordinarily stop talking even to sleep. He was silent for so long after we left the dealership that I thought something might be wrong with him.
“Are you okay?” I finally asked.
He opened and closed his mouth a few times and shook his head slowly.
“I don’t know what to say,” he said. “I feel like I just saw an alien.”
Since we’ve been home, he’s insisted on showing off the photos to anyone who will look. The pictures don’t look like much. Bugattis don’t photograph particularly well: they’re too shiny. Still, they look expensive and fancy and special.
Hours of my vacation were spent in conversations that went something like this:
T: If you had to choose between a McLaren and a Lamborghini, which would you choose?
T: Me too.
T: If you had to choose between a BMW and a Mercedes, which would you choose?
T: Me too.
T: Wouldn’t you give anything to be able to drive a Bugatti?
Me: Anything. Everything.
T: Me too.
I’ve found that it’s best to have an attitude of “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” when it comes to my son’s interests. After visiting a dozen car dealerships, discussing the finer points of McLarens vs Ferraris with patient salesmen, and reading countless reviews and articles online so I can share the fascinating parts with my son, I can now add supercars to my areas of specialized knowledge.
While it might be nice if he developed an obsessive interest in modern art or baking or cats, his obsessions tend to be of the sports, sneaker, and engine variety. And eventually my curiosity gets the better of me, and I become interested too.
I didn’t even have to fake enthusiasm or hide dismay when he grabbed my arm and dragged me off the cable car (iconic San Francisco experience) at a stop that was still several blocks from our destination.
“Look,” he said. “Just look. There’s no way you would have wanted to miss this!”
He pointed to a bronze Lamborghini and a red Ferrari parked in front of a boutique hotel. A rare double supercar sighting in the wild. He couldn’t stop grinning, elbowing me, or taking photos.
He was right. There was no way I would have wanted to miss that.