Off-course: Touched by Tesla ... or just touched?
Published 3:43 pm, Thursday, November 3, 2016
“November: a fleeting and windy visitor, who causes us to lose our breaths.”
My friend, Fred, just bought a Tesla, and he’s not happy. He’s not exactly unhappy either.
The first day he brushed it off by saying, “It’s just not me.”
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“I’m not really a Tesla person.”
“What’s a Tesla person?”
Just to clarify, for months all Fred talked about was Tesla. For years he had driven a Mazda with an electric conversion. He’s big on electric cars and isn’t into the whole gas thing. The Mazda worked. Then, as such things go, the car started acting temperamental.
“The Mazda is becoming increasingly geriatric,” he said.
Around this time, Teslas were gaining in popularity. It was, in car terms, the Rolls Royce of electric cars. The only car that might surpass it was an actual Rolls Royce.
“Maybe it’s time to get one,” I prodded.
“Too expensive,” Fred said. And the conversation ended for a while, until it resumed again.
Then, one day, six months later, he announced, “I might need to explore my Tesla options.” In Fred terms, that meant checking out the situation as one would a prospective spouse. He had prerequisites. The car would have to prove its worth and suit his needs and desires. It would have to provide a satisfying ride and behave properly. Above all, it shouldn’t be difficult or moody.
He also began counting the number of Teslas he saw on a given day. “Three,” he said on Monday. “Two” on Wednesday. “Four” on Friday, and then he got serious. “So, I’m thinking of getting myself a red one,” he said.
“Red is so you,” I concurred.
“Maybe now, all those maniacs on the road will finally show me the respect I deserve. With me behind the wheel of a Tesla, they’ll know who’s boss.”
And so, imagining himself as “King of the Road,” Fred assumed that like the Red Sea, the stream of cars would part, allowing him to speed down the highway in a Tesla trance, oblivious to all the other drivers.
The following week, he announced he had bought a Tesla. “They wanted an extra $1500 for red paint, so I settled on white,” he said. “The only problem is, I don’t know how to drive the car. It has too many bells and whistles. It even comes equipped with a ‘backseat driver,’ who reprimands me when I’m going too fast. It feels like a nagging wife. Yesterday, when I got too close to the car in front of me, the display panel lit up in red and alarms sounded. It was yelling at me. I was humiliated.”
(The car seemed so attentive that I secretly wondered if it cooked meals, too. I imagined a martini shaker and perhaps, a robotic butler serving drinks.)
“You’re scared of the Tesla,” I said.
“Terrified,” he admitted. “The car is so luxurious and capable, it can practically drive itself. I feel so irrelevant and neglected. My self-esteem is being adversely affected. And even worse, I wanted to look something up in the handbook, except the handbook is electronically displayed on the screen. I didn’t know how to access it. I’m telling you, I’m a Tesla deviant.”
“You might need to see a psychiatrist,” I said.
“I am a psychiatrist, remember?”
“I know, but maybe the Tesla support team can help.”
“Are you kidding?” Fred snapped. “They’ll charge me for a 50-minute therapy session, and it won’t be cheap.”
And so, for a while, the car sat in Fred’s driveway like a stunning piece of sculpture. Yesterday, he phoned to say he took the Tesla for a spin around the block.
“How did it go?”
“Surprisingly well. She’s very user-friendly.”
“I feel more comfortable knowing my Tesla is a babe,” he said. “It’s more intimate and beguiling in a sexy sort of way.”
Now that Fred has bonded with his Tesla, he’s back in the groove and feeling rather sporty. He’s even taken to wearing a blazer and tie, befitting the occasion.
“Oh, and that horn,” he lapsed into effusiveness. “It’s the best horn I’ve ever heard: majestic and bold, tasteful yet assertive. In fact,” he confessed, “the real reason I bought the Tesla is because of the horn. It was impossible to resist. I like driving around and tooting. People in the neighborhood take notice.”
“Hmm,” I thought, wondering if this was just the beginning of Fred slowly veering over to the dark side. The Tesla, I’ve heard, can drive a man crazy.