In Canada, owning a convertible makes as much sense as owning a swimming pool. You spend two months of the year considering it a brilliant decision, two months pretending that it was, and eight months waiting for one of those other four months to come around.
People who buy convertibles are much like those who buy motorcycles. Whenever I see a motorcyclist kitted out in thousands of dollars worth of high tech clothing, boots that buckle and clip almost all the way to the gauntlet gloves, a Bluetooth microphone protruding from a helmet that cost thousands to protect the brain that was stupid enough to buy a bike in the first place, I only wonder one thing: why didn’t you just spend the money on a car?
I know convertibles have come long hard miles from the canvas sieves that shuttered the cars of my youth. I remember the rain leaking onto my lap from the cracked seams of a 1964 Plymouth Valiant; I remember the fractured plastic window on an old MG, torn so wide I could insert my arm through it to wave at my friends who were walking home in the rain, and getting no wetter than I was.
I remember the huge roof of that Valiant staggering under its own weight, erecting itself like a giant sail as we prayed it would reach the apex and meet our grasping hands to do up the buckles. I remember mostly doing this in a driving rain by the side of the highway, because of course the storm clouds were just passing by.
Like many things in life, it is the idea of a convertible that is so appealing. Convertibles in movies lie; they are filmed in sunny places where apparently no delinquents live who will slit your soft top and steal your B-52’s and Blondie cassettes while you’re in the theatre watching another Rocky movie even though you wanted to see Kramer vs Kramer. Maybe if it was still early in the relationship, he would have let you pick the movie, and you would have gotten out in time to see the little felons who had good taste in music but questionable social skills.
Convertibles can actually extend relationships, however. You can’t possible have a conversation in one, which delays the inevitable question of whether or not you were flirting when you shouldn’t have been. You can barely hear Blondie, let alone recriminations.
Owning a convertible will guarantee you better than average dating targets in the two glorious months of a Canadian summer; the winter will see you lonely if you don’t have a beater, and a beater was never much of a date magnet in the first place.
But convertibles mirror romance in many ways. In the early goings, there is no reason to put the top up. Every trip is a chance to explore new territory, to be seen as someone footloose enough to own a convertible. But as the sun fades on a lengthening day, much as it does on a lengthening romance, the top will come up quicker each night, if it ever comes down at all.
At the risk of sounding longer in the tooth than I actually am, I will agree that convertibles have come a long, long way from the bare metal framed leaking pup tents of my youth.
Convertibles ride waves of popularity as manufacturers try to predict where consumer’s whims will take them. At this stage of my life, I am fairly whimless. I can’t imagine a scenario that would have me entertaining a convertible.
Wait. What’s that? The new Mercedes E Class Cabriolet? The Mediterranean coast of Mallorca as spring blooms in Spain? I think I just imagined a scenario.