COVID, Cars and Conversation Street
Or how three bickering middle-aged British men helped me learn to stop worrying and love cars.
When I was a kid, my dad told me that he would buy me whatever car I wanted if I got straight A's in all my classes
This wasn't an idle promise. My dad was rich, although we didn't really live ostentatiously. Looking back, I'm sure he wouldn't have bought me some crazy supercar. But I was determined to take him up on his offer. And that probably gave him reason enough to sweat.
Because I loved sports cars. Red, flashy, loud—these were cars I'd pretty much only seen on TV or in magazines. Living in a small, rural Florida town, I'd never actually seen a Lamborghini. Oh, but I wanted one. Even more, I was a straight A student. This was going to be easy.
Luckily for my dad, he never had to make good on his promise, despite my academic prowess. My family life fell apart when I neared driving age, and instead of rocking the shiny 1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse convertible I'd privately settled on, I was hauling myself and my sister to school in a Ford Taurus wagon.
I died a little inside every time I drove it. (Pictured is not my actual car, but it still inspires the same sense of despair.)
And while I stubbornly held onto the dream of owning a Mercedes SLK convertible in Bahama Blue all throughout college, my love of cars slowly faded away.
Then, the world caught fire
It's April 2020. COVID has closed down our world. As a freelance marketing writer, I suddenly find myself with a lot of free time and nowhere to go but my couch. I had watched all seasons of The Grand Tour and Seamen as they aired, but I had weirdly never actually watched Top Gear in my life, other than the occasional YouTube clip someone had shown me over the years. I figured there's no better time like the present to remedy that.
I fired up the MotorTrend app, hit play and...my world changed.
Dramatic? Yes. Overly dramatic? Well, probably also yes.
A stupid thing to say, right? But it's not to me. And I'll bet not to some of you either. Let me explain.
I have an autoimmune disease, which means if I caught COVID, my body would probably just nope out of the whole life situation. So I had to stay home. No friends. No grocery store. No anything. I didn't interact with a single person for two months.
But every day in my living room, I got to hang out with Jeremy, James and Richard. We laughed, we smirked, we failed epically and we went on the craziest adventures together.
We all agree Richard was/is dyeing his hair, right?
Over the course of a few months, I watched the evolution of cars and technology and filming quality. I watched three men age considerably in body but not mind. I questioned Hammond's hair and wardrobe choices as the 2000's progressed. I saw James transform from someone with only 5 weeks' television experience into a strange and wonderful TV and Internet icon (standard). I marveled at Jeremy's genius and his general ineffectuality at fixing things.
I bet he did this in the mirror every morning.
Now, I'm not delusional. I know they are not really my friends. I know that I'm just another grain of sand in their beach of fans. But the camaraderie, the jokes, the teasing, the snickering and the shared passion—that's what I was missing from my own friends. With the lads on my TV, I felt less isolated. I was having fun, smiling and laughing. I was alone, but I wasn't so lonely.
And inside my soul, an engine started.
I accidentally made a car post
I intended to keep the MotorTrend subscription just long enough to watch all Top Gear seasons and specials. That was three months ago. Still paying for it. Will keep paying for it.
It was because of this new obsession that I bought a BMW 330i in May. I never knew I could love a car so much. And, this new obsession led me to Drive Tribe, where I'm rediscovering a love of beautiful, powerful cars worth dreaming about and connecting with a community of awesome, welcoming people who share my appreciation for Jezza, Hamster and Captain Slow.
I've gradually been seeing friends in safe situations. I've gone grocery shopping (with mask). I even escaped to the beach for a few days (in an AirBnB, socially distanced when out and about). I don't need the boys the way I needed them a few months ago. But I still visit them often, appreciating old endeavors and enthusiastically supporting new ones.
Thank you for reading, And oh, in case you're wondering, James is my favorite.