Alex, The Malibu & The Man In The Ochre HatThursday, January 05, 2012
Guest Blog by John Lekich
Alex, the Malibu and the Man in the Ochre Hat.
In our younger days – thrust into a freelance magazine world that was still voraciously interested in everything from punk rock to exotic dancing – we spent a fair amount of time in Alex’s Fiat. An aggressive little two-seater convertible whose tape deck was overtly fond of blasting out Art Bergman.
Although I’ve always had a variety of mobility issues, I never thought much about the difficulty of squeezing into the Fiat’s shotgun seat. Even back then, I walked with a cane. But, as I mentioned, I was young and - unduly influenced by the alternative music writing of Les Wiseman – somewhat impetuous. It was not uncommon for me to go hatless in the rain. And I still had enough hair to feel it blowing carelessly in the wind as Alex surged through potholes that you could feel travelling up your spine.
Many people assume that only drivers reap the benefits of an alluring sport car. But, every once in a while, an obliging passenger can collect some of the exotic spillover. I recall the time that Alex was unable to tactfully refuse an insistent friend’s plea for a ride home. “I’m giving John a ride and there’s just room for the two of us,” said Alex.
“That’s okay,” said Alex’s friend. A lovely – if somewhat generously proportioned – blonde. “John doesn’t mind if I sit on his lap, do you, John?”
I can’t remember exactly what I said. But she took it as a yes. We ended up barreling down Richards Street with the top down. She was a giggler. This was in the era before air bags. And her arms clung desperately to my neck while the rest of her mimicked a position from that classic scene in Some Like It Hot where a pretzel-like Marilyn Monroe seduces a startled Tony Curtis.
I recall mentioning to Alex that I couldn’t see where we were going. He answered me by stepping forcefully on the gas.
Eventually, Alex moved on to a sleek – if somewhat temperamental - Maserati. Style-wise, the Maserati was the automotive equivalent of Sophia Loren in a cocktail dress. When the two of us had an assignment on a local film set, Alex was able to drive the Maserati inside. The crew – traditionally composed of people with a deep appreciation for fine machinery – gawked in open admiration.
But then, looks aren’t everything. By the time, Alex began driving an Audi, I had developed a deep and sincere respect for extra legroom. His Audi was a fine car. But, as far as I’m concerned, nothing can top his current ride. A Chevrolet Malibu that has plenty of extra legroom and at least one other feature I find endlessly endearing.
I should explain that – since I can’t seem to balance carrying an umbrella while walking with a cane – I’ve taken to wearing hats. I’m fond of a lightweight, water-resistant fedora made by a company called Bailey’s of Hollywood. Alex is especially taken with one such fedora – describing the colour as “Mexican Ochre.”
The only problem with wearing a fedora in today’s spotty transportation universe? Not enough headroom. The act of getting into a cab – and virtually every other car I enter – succeeds in lopping off my hat as if I’ve just missed being beheaded by an invisible guillotine. I was delighted to find that when I entered Alex’s Malibu wearing the Mexican Ochre, the process was effortless.
But the Malibu is not content with unusually generous headroom. Recently, Alex was giving me a lift home on the way to dropping off his two lovely granddaughters. It was a cold evening and I was chatting with Rebecca and Lauren about how much I liked the car. “I don’t know what it is about this front seat,” I said. “But my back feels great.”
Rebecca – Alex’s eldest granddaughter – leaned forward and politely explained: “It’s the seat. It’s heated!”
A few months ago, Alex was demonstrating the Malibu’s excellent stereo system by showcasing one of our mutually favourite jazz albums. Andre Previn playing West Side Story. The days when the two of us sped down the street with a blonde on my lap are long gone. And, even though the Malibu could pull off this dubious stunt with remarkable ease, that’s probably a good thing. These days, I’d rather keep my hat on while listening to Andre Previn. The heated front seat? Don’t get me started.
More guest blogs by John Lekich: