The Fast and the Spurious
Beavis revved the engine a third time and they both looked at me in slack-jawed expectation. I raised one eyebrow, Spock-like, then rolled my eyes, shook my head slightly and went back to watching the red light. Undaunted, Beavis blipped the throttle yet again. This time the car lunged forward slightly. Obviously he was spoiling for a fight. After all, what did he have to fear from the middle-aged guy in the rear wheel drive midlife crisis car with an automatic transmission who was listening to the same music his grandparents liked? What was that group? Something called The Beach Boys? What could a fogey like that possibly know about cool street machines? I decided to teach him that he should be careful what he wished for.
The light turned green. Beavis must have had the engine fully tached up because he actually managed to chirp the Hyundai’s front tires when he took off. He was winding the engine for all it was worth, blaaat-blaaaaat-ing through the gears. I sat there and watched the show as they headed toward the next stoplight about a mile up the road, at full throttle.
After waiting a three-count I took off. No drama, no smoke, no squealing tires. Just the transfer of copious amounts of all-American torque to the tarmac, accompanied by the mellifluous soundtrack of the LS1’s 310 horses. It’s the sweetest music this side of heaven, but a sound that’s totally foreign to a generation raised on four-cylinder front-drive econoboxes and SUV poseurmobiles. It’s a sound I don’t think B & B ever heard before, and probably one they didn’t soon forget.
As I closed in on them I could tell they were beginning to panic. I could see them both lurching back and forth in their seats as though they hoped their bodily inertia would improve their forward momentum. The frantic exhaust note told me the Accent was giving its all to the cause, but to no avail. B & B were about to experience first hand what happens when youthful ignorance and arrogance run head first into the cruel, unyielding roadblock of reality.
The end was mercifully quick. Before I got halfway to redline in second gear, I passed them and gave them a slight wave. (Yes, I used my entire hand.) Their expressions were priceless, like they’d just learned the truth about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy all at once, in a single blinding flash. I actually felt sorry for them– for a moment.
Then my pity gave way to laughter as I considered the utter ridiculousness of the situation. I felt a little like Evelyn Couch (Kathy Bates) in the parking lot scene from “Fried Green Tomatoes” – minus the willful destruction of personal property, of course – scoring a small victory for old farts everywhere. As you get older, such victories are fewer and further between. You take ‘em when and where you can get ‘em, and you revel in ‘em as long as you can.
I drove that same route every day for about a year. I never saw Beavis, Butthead or that Hyundai again. I’d like to think they pushed it off in the nearest arroyo and invested their money in a real car and some driving lessons. And hopefully by now they’ve learned kanji isn’t Korean and that VTEC has no relevance to a Hyundai. Probably not, though. They probably just added more decals, ground effects and badges to that poor Hyundai and kept on getting humiliated. Either that or they’ve moved on the latest fad and donked their whip with 26-inch spinners, candy paint and Lambo doors.
And me? I still enjoy the Beach Boys. I now drive a six-speed Corvette instead of the Z/28. I still enjoy an occasional stoplight challenge, too. Anyone with a Sonata want to run for pinks?
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