As I am predictably running late getting my kid to the ice rink, I notice the license plate on the BMW Roadster in the parking space behind me. “40 BDAY.” I roll my eyes, thinking, “You have got to be kidding me,” and try not to hit it as I parallel park my minivan.
While pulling my son’s hockey gear out of the back of my car, I wonder what “40 BDAY” means. I get it, you’re 40 and you drive a $60,000 car, but what is that supposed to mean? You bought it? Someone else bought it for you? Is it a milestone, some sort of life goal or just an extravagance?
Whatever the reason, I’m not impressed. What’s the point of spending an outrageous amount of money on a car you can’t even put groceries in, or a booster seat, and where do you put the dog when you take him to the vet?
That evening I tell my husband about it. And I ask him: “Why would a man buy that ridiculous car?”
Yes, I get it, me, the 40-something, living in the suburbs, mother of three kids and two dogs isn’t the audience. I care about groceries and booster seats, and I’m always taking a dog to the vet.
My husband assures me he has no idea why any man would want an expensive sports car and that someone probably gave it to him for his birthday because no man would ever buy a car like that, ever, and then he asks about his dinner.
Okay, I get this part, too. It’s late and all my husband really wants is his dinner and a hockey game on television. He doesn’t want to listen to me rant about what idiots men are for buying sports cars.
But here’s the part I guess I didn’t get.
As we are driving back from the city the other night, a BMW Roadster is right beside us. The windows are tinted; I can’t see the driver. The car is hovering there right next to me, so close I feel as though I could reach out and touch it.
My husband catches me staring out the window, looking at the car, watching it. He tells me he’d love a car like that. He’s smiling, teasing me.
“For your birthday?”
He knows a guy in sports car doesn’t do it for me. But he does ask, “So what does do it for you?”
I turn back to the car outside the window and I see the lights of the Chicago skyline reflected in the metallic silver of the hood, the curves of the car’s body. The car’s body pulsing from the power of its engine. In an instant, less than a single breath, the car’s motor roars, it accelerates, grips the pavement, switches lanes and speeds away.
I exhale slowly, finishing my breath, and turn back to my husband. “I wonder if it’s her car, not his.”
Maraya Steadman, who lives in a Chicago suburb, is a stay-at-home mother of three children. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.