Trackday Diaries: An Evening With Miss Melisa Mae.
Of all the many reasons to avoid automotive press events — interminable middle-seat flights, lost income, some nagging sense of ethical obligation at the back of my mind which has yet to be fully extinguished by the sweet nectar of free alcohol — the biggest one is what I think of as the “Surf City in Hell Factor”. The alert reader will recall that, in the mythical Surf City, there are two girls for every boy. Well, at the average North American press event, there are twenty boys for every girl.
This past week’s soiree was no different. Twenty-five names on the roster. One was mine. Twenty-two others were male. That left two girls for this one boy to consider. I should note that, after some time and effort, I’ve separated all working female autojournos into three categories: Ain’t Gonna, Don’t Wanna, and Already Did. This time, the distaff entries before me were both Don’t Wannas, disqualified on the basis that they were entering middle age when I was entering kindergarten.
What to do? Was I really going to spend all evening crossing swords with the polyester-button-down crowd? Pas du tout. I picked up my battered Droid and made a call. An hour later, the maitre’d at LA’s famous “Tower Bar” was mispronouncing my name in a distracted fashion as he stared at the woman on my arm. From a distance, Miss Melisa Mae could be mistaken for Anna Nicole Smith; after years in the modeling business, she still has the height, the body, and the vicious charm to fool the casual observer. Look past the dangerous curves and the leopard-skin print outfit, however, and you will find a jaded, satirical mind. Her blog, which has made a big splash in the past year among the Twitterati and dater/hater crowd, chronicles a lifetime spent in the sexual jungle. Read it, and you’ll see that her unvarnished approach to sleeping with, and post-coitally evaluating, a nearly endless stream of contenders has earned her a healthy dose of both fans and foes. Sounds kind of familiar, right? I figured we’d be kindred souls, or at least similarly soulless.
Having tricked her into meeting me, my intentions were simple: interview her about cars and dating for a bit, drink her under the table, drag her across the street to my hotel, and show her that I was more than a match in the sack for the gym rats, firefighters, policemen, and African nationals that populate her recollections. It wasn’t the best-laid of plans, but it was a plan for the best, er, oh, just click the jump before I have to finish the joke, okay?
Los Angeles is Ground Zero for high-dollar automotive enthusiasm. As I’d stood on Sunset Boulevard, resplendent in my go-to-hell plaid Zegna Trofeo jacket and Marol point collar, I’d seen three Astons, a Maserati Granturismo, and perhaps a dozen AMG/M whatevers… all the space of twenty minutes. It’s also a city where people tend to derive a fair amount of their self-image from their cars. I figured Melisa would have a little bit to say about the intersection of automobiles and dating, so that’s where we got started.
JACK: Melisa, you meet guys everywhere — from dating websites to frozen-food aisles. How often do cars come into the picture?
MELISA: Not every time, but often enough. At the very least, the guy has to get to the first date somehow.
J: Have you ever decided to go out with a guy just because of his car — or “close the deal” with him based on the car?
M: Absolutely not. That ends up being just another way to say that you’re dating somebody because of their money. As soon as you start doing that, you’re — ugh. It’s no good. Doesn’t work out. And I’m not the kind of girl to do it. Gold-digging is a profession for the young girls out there. My interests lie elsewhere.
J: Have you ever walked out of a date, or simply done “the fade” beforehand, because of a car?
M: Not exactly, but there was one date that was doomed to failure from the beginning because of the car. It was in ’97. He told me he drove “a sportscar”, so I’m thinking ’97 Corvette. Instead, he shows up in an ’86 Z. What the fuck? That’s not a sportscar, it’s a… something ugly, that’s what it is.
J: Would you be more likely to sleep with a guy if he had a particular car, or collection of cars, say…
M: (interrupting) Don’t say “three Porsches.” I did my research, too.
J: …er, three Aston Martins?
M: (annoyed) What time does this place close? I have things to do.
J: No time soon. (Motioning to waiter behind back with vague gesture meant to indicate “more vodka tonics”) What do you drive?
M: A Corolla. I’m proud of it, you know, I paid for it, it’s mine, it’s nothing special but it’s never let me down.
J: What’s your favorite car?
M: 911 Turbo, all the way. Fast, expensive, with a big ass. Just like me.
J: Have you ever considered writing about cars? Your dating site is doing pretty well.
M: No, but it looks fun. There doesn’t seem to be much to it.
J: I don’t know about that.
M: Really? The way you describe it, you just fly around, drink for free, try to humiliate your fellow writers in impromptu “races” where the other guy might not even know you’re racing. And then you over-season your stories with way too much personal information and unwanted bullshit about how great you are.
J: (in clipped tone) You know, your bottom looked smaller in photos.
M: Sometimes things are larger than you think. Sometimes, they’re smaller. (Meaningful look).
J: Ah, let’s, um, get this back on track. You’ve dated, and slept with, a pretty wide variety of guys. What are you looking for?
M: Literacy, a little intelligence. Should be decent-looking. And I require that they pack a little something, too. Don’t brag about what you’ve got unless it’s worth bragging about.
At this point, Melisa told me a story which would be entirely too risque in uncensored form for the pages of TTAC but which involved her habit of simply reaching out and personally investigating the, ahem, cubic capacity of a fellow’s, ahem, engine during a date in order to determine whether or not said date would continue. I had to give her credit to knowing what she wanted and making no bones about getting it.
As our date stretched into the fifth hour, the bar closed and we found ourselves in a parking lot, leaning against the trunk of her Corolla and talking about the blogging business (it sucks), her male readers (who consider her to be Madonna and whore in equal, frustrating measure), and my growing certainty that she should give writing about cars a solid shot. Although I was just five hours away from being loaded into a shuttle bus and taken to the usual artsy-ish location for the usual self-congratulatory engineering speeches, and I knew I should spend those hours in bed, I thought I’d be better off if I had a little company for the aforementioned bedtime. Time to make my play, in my usual subtle fashion.
After a moment’s worth of consideration, I determined that the “set” that would do the trick would be the rarely-used, but highly successful, “We Could Leave This Night With Nothing, Or We Could Look Back On Memories Of Passion.”
“Melisa,” I began, as my hand sought hers, “I don’t know when I’ll be back here again. I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t even know if I will live through tomorrow’s trackday. Danger will be my constant companion on the other side of what racing champions such as myself call ‘the limit’. But while we’re living, while we have life, I want to ask you this simple question —”
“Let me ask you something,” Melisa sharply interrupted, removing her hand to somewhere in the vicinity of San Jose. “Don’t you have a girlfriend? Isn’t her name Julie? Don’t you call her ‘Vodka McBigbra?'” She really had done her research. I attempted to save the situation, but the noise I was making sounded less like a coherent explanation and more like a bad wheel bearing. “See you next time,” she laughed, swishing into her Corolla in a flash of leopard-skin fabric.
The next morning found me sleeping awkwardly with my drooling face plastered against a window of the media shuttle. “Where have you been?” a colleague asked. “Why are you wearing sunglasses inside? Are you okay?” My response, delivered from behind a high-tide headache that was busy drilling its way between my aching eyes, didn’t seem to make any sense to him.
“Surf City?” he asked. “Isn’t that Huntington Beach?”
Many thanks to Miss Melisa Mae for the evening, the conversation, and the insight. I recommend that any of my readers who are in their dating years check her site out… at the very least, you’ll learn how not to screw things up when you have a fabulous blonde in front of you — JB
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