6/30/08 – Detroit Driver Takes on Boston

At the risk of sounding like Rainman, I’m a pretty good driver. My high school Drivers Ed class took place on the D.C. Beltway and I was weaned at age 16 on the NJ Turnpike while driving my mom to Cape Cod. So, I’m pretty hard-core. No slouch. I like to drive really fast but, honestly, that’s pretty much the depth of my talent. It’s that realization that I don’t have the total package that drives me to hand the wheel over to Jackie. Jackson. Jack-o-rama. She’s a true pro. Raised in Detroit, the Motor City Girl rolls with the big boys and I’m in awe.

What makes a good driver? Well, among many other things like knowing how to jam an inferior engine in order to make an 80 MPH merge, a good driver sees getting lost as no cause for alarm. The answer is always just to keep driving. We got lost Friday night driving home from the Boston airport, arriving at my aunt’s house at 1AM before we raided the refrigerator to eat leftover ribs and find the makings for pizza bagels. And we got lost the next morning heading to the Red Sox’ Fenway Park for the Jimmy Fund event.. . . We instead headed over a modern suspension bridge that I quickly realized would land us in Charlestown, a loooooong way from Fenway Park. And then we got lost leaving Fenway Park. Exhausted from the day we kept seeing signs for I-90W (that’s the Mass Pike, which would eventually land us in Seattle…) But we needed I-90 EAST. Finally, the navigator (me) steps in. “Jack, don’t worry which way it’s going,” I said. “Just get on the f**king highway.” She didn’t bat an eye. She got on the highway and we headed for Seattle. A good driver knows to listen to her navigator, no matter how misguided things seem. We got lost returning our rental car. I… think that’s it.

It would be reasonable to think that the navigator is responsible for all of these missteps. This wouldn’t be a terribly far-fetched notion – just not a particularly creative notion. It’s easy to blame the navigator. But I, as the navigator, was hampered because I didn’t have a map. You see, I’m Portuguese (that explains a lot of things, among them: a penchant for packing). I know a little about Boston and, well, the bottom-line is that as long as you have a good driver at the helm, there really is no need for maps. Jackie just kept driving and laughing while I tried to channel my innate sense of direction – born from the aforementioned Portuguese heritage – to figure things out. “We aren’t lost,” Jackie would say. “We just can’t get there.” Eventually we did. I think we passed Fenway… let’s see… was it five times on the highway?

But Jackie’s a good driver and that’s all that matters to me when we are on a tour like this one. Sure, she’s good at other things but when we’re on the road, she is most valued behind the wheel of a car. She is also the liaison with most teams, as she was when we got to Fenway Park. We were on a panel of authors including my 1967 season bookend buddy Saul Wisnia and cutie Andy Wasif just in from Santa Monica, CA. Jackie claimed I flirted mercilessly with dear Andy but I don’t think I did. And – just for the sake of argument – even if I did flirt mercilessly… what woman can resist a really cute, sensitive guy with a firecracker wit and brains to match? And he was there with his dad, which made him all the more endearing. But, sorry girls, I think he has a girlfriend. Well, I’d be willing to bet. Alas.

We met so many wonderful people at the Jimmy Fund event and had such a good time that we could hardly breathe afterwards. So we went to the nearby Boston Beerworks and had a, uh, beer. Jackie had a cuppachowda and said that she’d do that everywhere we went. By the time we finally got back to my aunt’s house Jackie was embroiled in a full-scale war with Enterprise Rent-a-Car. But I still don’t think they know – or care, which, as you might imagine, is really the crux of the issue.

Tomorrow morning a dear old friend is picking us up and delivering us to the Rte 128 train station near Brockton, MA. We should be in NYC by noon. Then, interestingly, as Jackie clinks champagne glasses with an old flame at one of Manhattan’s most swank rooftop restaurants, I am tasked with taking the subway out to the Bronx with a handful of cash and marching orders to scalp tickets for the night’s Yankee v Rangers game. Indeed, you can just start calling me “Short Straw” Silva.

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