Sports cars attract attention, even when the driver is a little old lady

(Note:  This was written in April, 1993. That was 17 years ago and I was a mere 79. Hmmm. I guess I have grown up a little.)

As a certified little old lady, I have had to give up doing a lot of things I like to do. Fortunately, there are lots of satisfactory replacements.

I don’t play tennis any more, but I can watch the really good athletes on TV. I don’t climb mountains any more, but I walk a lot on level ground. I don’t ride a motorcycle or water ski, but I can play with my computer, which is a lot safer physically and more stimulating mentally.

In the interests of safety, I have given up wine with my dinner when I need to drive home, but there is one thing I can do. I can still indulge my love for sports cars. And therein lies a tale.

I’ve always loved sports cars. In college I dated a guy who had a Model A Ford roadster with a rumble seat. In those days, that was the ultimate sports car. Years later I had a little blue Triumph Spitfire. A wonderful car until it got run over.

I had a Plymouth convertible once that allowed me to do some scientific experiments. A friend swore you could stay dry in a convertible in a rainstorm with the top down if you drove fast enough. I proved that theory wrong. Another time several of us tested whether you could drive over Grand Mesa at night in autumn, top down, without freezing. That one is also untrue.

The car I drive now is very comfortable, with all the safety features of a modern automobile (including a top), but it has a very sporty look. It’s a wonderful compromise between the Ferrari of my dreams and a conservative gray little old lady sedan. It was the look that got me into trouble.

A friend and I had dinner one night last summer at a restaurant on the road to the Colorado National Monument. We were in my car, so I drank only coffee. As we came out into the desert night, the Monument was a coal-black silhouette against a deep orange sky. We decided to take the long way home to enjoy the beautiful evening.

Almost immediately there was a car behind me, the headlights interfering with our enjoyment of the scenery. Every time the road widened, I slowed down, hoping he would pass me. (Notice I say “he.” This is a folk fact. When muttering at another driver, women say “he” and men say “she.”)

Anyway, he stayed safely in back of us, but made no effort to pass me, and I continued to slow down whenever there was room to pass. Finally the unthinkable happened. The car behind me suddenly speeded up, and sprouted red and blue flashing lights.

My friend and I are the most law-abiding souls, and I had no idea what I had done wrong. When the officer came up to the window and looked in my car (probably expecting to see a couple of joyriding teenagers), it was hard to know who was more surprised — us or the officer seeing two innocent looking white-haired little old ladies, stone cold sober.

The officer courteously explained that variation in speed is often a sign of a drunk driver. I explained that I had slowed down hoping the car behind me would go around so I could enjoy the scenery. I promised to drive at a uniform speed, and we parted amiably.

My friend snickered in a most ladylike way throughout the conversation. I am convinced that if I had been driving a battered black sedan I would not have attracted the attention of the law or anybody else. A sporty car leaving a restaurant that has a bar is automatically suspect.

Apparently little old ladies in sports cars do not fit the stereotype either of cars or older women. Too bad! There’s no law that says you have to quit having fun when you hit 70. I’ll give up tennis and wine with dinner, but I’m not giving up my sports car as long as I can climb into it.

Guess I’ll just have to take my chances with the cops.

Henrietta Hay can be reached by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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