So amidst all the madness of impeachment, Oscar bozos, the agonizing mystery of where Patriots QB and multimillionaire Tom Brady and his supermodel wife will dwell, living in an absolute Heaven On Earth time to be alive on Earth, coronavirus and Corona beer in 6-ounce bottles (why bother?), I was stuck in traffic the other day behind a Bentley.
For the rare Middle Ages peasant laboriously dragging a soiled index finger over these paragraphs, a Bentley is the ultimate standard in road luxury. They can set you back a quarter-million bucks and if you get the cattle guard bumper on the top-of-the-line Mulsanne, we’re looking at nearly a half-mil.
Personally, I like the Mulsanne. I’m Western. And Mulsanne almost has “Mule” in it. I’m thinking the Mulsanne Speed in a soft maroon and grey (my old Hart High school colors) with the understated solid silver longhorn steer skull over the solid silver radiator. Perhaps if it’s not too-too, I’d have a big “68” decal on the doors to signify the year I allegedly if not graduated then left Hart in an angry albeit mutual consent.
I’m stopped at a light. Sitting right in front of me is a dark blue Bentley. What makes this so unusual was that I wasn’t motoring in the South of France, Beverly Hills or along the azure coast of Monaco.
I was in Canyon Country.
This is the part of my column where my editor, a Mr. Tim “One Writing Award” Whyte groans. Tim hates seeing the words, “Canyon Country” in one of my essays because he unjustly feels that I will make some disparaging remark about the region involving dazed people in skimpy rabbit pelts, tattered Salvation Army tennis shoes and blue face paint howling at what they perceive as the daily afternoon solar eclipse.
It’s not a solar eclipse.
It’s just the sun dipping below the 94-&-a-Half-Cent-Store/Live Nude Housecleaners billboard at Soledad and Sierra Highway.
It’s unusual to see a late-model luxury car like this so close to Jakes Way. Plus, the dark blue sedan was — it pains me to type this — dirty.
I was tempted to dash out of my car, spit on a hankie and scrawl “WASH ME!” on the trunk, which you cannot do. As part of your purchase agreement, Canyon Country Rolls Royce & Yugo Sales have ’round the clock snipers to wound people who creep too close to your auto.
Years ago, a friend gave me a Rolls Royce rental as a birthday present. I still have the biggest smile on my face, remembering that weekend.
Three days, driving around in a saddle tan Corniche convertible.
Except for a couple of bathroom breaks and attending a banquet, I Did Not Get Out Of The Car. Saturday night, I motored to Downtown L.A. to the Biltmore to attend a prestigious journalism awards dinner. People. It took every ounce of strength I possessed to not jump out of the car and walk around like Cheetah making chimpanzee noises as I handed the keys to the valet.
An insufferable smile so immense weighted my face. Stunning date. Free dinner. (Cloth napkins!) I was getting an award for being The Best Columnist in Los Angeles (for the benefit of Tim Whyte, who is editing this piece, not the first time I got an award for being Best Columnist in ALL of Los Angeles).
I was driving a tan Corniche convertible. I was representing the Newhall Signal. The only thing that could have made the night better was if there had been square-dancing afterward.
Piloting a Corniche was like floating on a magic carpet. You glide. Effortlessly. It was a perfect spring weekend. Driving that work of art through Beverly Hills and Lyons Avenue (because Soledad Canyon was jammed with goats and buckboards?), the one memory that sticks with me was from the Biltmore underground parking garage. After the ceremony, we were bunched together with some bona fide media and entertainment executives. One by one, a car hop would breathlessly sprint up to them and they’d say things like: “Silver Mercedes,” “Black Cadillac” or “Light Green Corvette.”
Holding out 37 cents in loose change as a tip, I said: “Mine’s the tan Rolls Royce Corniche convertible. Blessings on you, simple motor carriage-fetching engineer…”
With my thumb, I made a small Sign of the Cross on the car-getting engineer’s forehead.
In unison, all the mucky-mucks turned to look at the scruffy young scamp in the rented tuxedo from Newhall, California, representing an even scruffier tri-weekly, holding a plaque that should have joined others on the walls of some cavernous L.A. skyscraper.
I should have said: “Bond. James Bond.”
“Goooo, SIGNAL!!!” I said, holding up my trophy. I smiled. I shrugged. “They pay us well.”
My date and I drove off, laughed, soaked in being the object of envy and hatred, went to Bob’s Big Boy in Van Nuys so we could get dinner on trays, then cruised some more.
Not making this up. I actually had a knuckle-bitingly gorgeous redhead pull up next to us at a stoplight to ask if we had any Grey Poupon mustard.
Comes with the car.
John Boston is Canyon Country’s only living writer with 119 major awards, and, as of press time, no Rolls Royce.