Blame the Car

I've never really thought of myself as a car person, let alone a car snob. My favorite car is the one someone else is driving, and if I ever win the lottery I'm going to hire a chauffer so I can sit in an air-conditioned vehicle alternately snoozing and checking Twitter. I'm also going to install a salad bar in my living room, but that's neither here nor there.

I'm currently in the market for a new car, so I've been dragging anyone willing (and some who aren't) with me on test drives. I was recently explaining my car philosophy to someone -- that I'm a level-headed person who just needs a safe, reliable, functioning car, nothing fancy -- when my younger sister began clearing her throat.

Apparently, she's still upset about a certain very baffling weekend where I discovered behind the right set of wheels I go from zero to maniac in a matter of minutes.

We were living in New York City at the time, and I was working for a magazine that was putting together a travel issue. The theme was road trips. We were each supposed to set out on a jaunt, in a different car, and then record our impressions. I didn't specifically ask for a fully-loaded convertible sports car, but I didn't turn it down either. How was I supposed to know it would change me?

I'm normally a cautious driver, but suddenly I was doing 90, darting in and out of traffic, honking impatiently at blue hairs and, most troubling, smiling smugly at my fellow sports car driving motorists.

"Can we please put the top up?" pleaded my increasingly frizzy-haired sister as we zipped down the highway on our way to Stonington, Conn., about 140 miles away. I may have pretended I didn't hear her as I wasn't about to let her requests, or the fact that it was beginning to rain, interfere with my full enjoyment of the convertible.

We'd cobbled together a tour of coastal Southern Connecticut, but at the last minute I decided that instead of staying at a cheesy but fun-looking hotel we should stay at a luxurious inn.

The person who drives this car belongs at an inn.

I am the person who is driving this car.

I belong at an inn.

But it was the wrong call; the 18-room bed and breakfast was lovely but not for us, seeing as we neither owned yachts nor had sex with each other.

After dinner, we strolled back through the sleepy town to our romantic private room with its fireplace and single king bed.

"Just stay on your side," my sister hissed before slamming off the light.

And that's when it started. The need to get back in the car. My fingers yearned to grip the steering wheel. My feet ached to grace the pedals. In the space of a day I'd formed a relationship with the car that verged on sexual. I couldn't get it out of my mind!

The next day we ventured into Mystic, and strolled along the cute seaside shops, peeked our heads into the Mystic Pizza, like the movie, and then hit the aquarium. (Side note: Why must all aquariums smell like sardines and seal piss? Is there not some kind of industrial-strength Febreze that could tackle this odor? Or a giant scented candle? I went through a candle phase in college and all my belongings from that time still reek. I have textbooks that smell like honeydew. Let's get on this, people.)

Then, in an effort to bring my miserable sister around, I suggested The Mohegan Sun casino and resort, situated on land owned by the Mohegan tribe, which was really only about 20 minutes from Mystic give or take the five hours I tacked on for scenic motoring.

I would have happily driven to Canada, that's how close I was to achieving the Platonic ideal of fahrvergnugen, but my wind-whipped sister, by this point looking like the Unabomber with only a tiny sliver of face showing behind sunglasses and a hoodie pulled tightly around her head, didn't share my devil-may-care attitude.

Once at the casino, where we were shown to our room by a woman named "Walks Alone" but whom I heard refer to herself as Paula on the phone, we settled in for a rejuvenating couple days of swimming and relaxing.

I would have rather been driving the whole time.

"Do you want to dri--?" Do you want to dri--?" I kept trying to ask my sister. I was thinking that perhaps if she got a taste of Carlos -- oh, yes, did I mention I gave the car a name? -- she might feel less like she'd been hoodwinked into coming on a three-day test drive disguised as a fun trip. But I couldn't get the word all the way out. It was stuck!

As a concession, I agreed to keep the top up on the drive home. And I only went a few hours out of our way.