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GENESSA -- AUTOMOTIVE!

GENESSA's Lady G does not drive. Lionheart therefore often drives Lady G... crazy!

Lady G did drive, briefly -- about three years out of her now rather lengthy life. She never took Driver's Education in school; she was afraid of autos and rather unconfident as well. She attempted to take private driving lessons once, as a young adult. The instructor, from the driver's seat, put his hand on Lady G's leg and asked, "Does it scare you when I do this?"

"It didn't until you asked," replied Lady G.

Lady G had frequent nightmares about driving. Need we mention this was most likely a "control" issue? Lady G, in these nightmares, was always unable to control the car. She was driving the wrong way, she was driving on the wrong side of the road, she was driving into oncoming traffic, she was unable to manipulate the controls.... you know. Nightmares. As she got older, the nightmares became less frightening and Lady G found herself gaining more and more control in them. When they ceased to be nightmares at all, but rather dreams in which Lady G was successfully navigating her imaginary landscapes in her fictional vehicle, she decided (in her waking life) to learn how to drive.

As it happened, at the time she made her decision, her best friend, Erik, was employed as a driving instructor for Sears. In aid of his career (well, at least his finances, for he went on to bigger and better things, albeit eventually dying at the age of 45, to the chagrin and sorrow of those who knew and loved him), Lady G employed Erik in this capacity and learned how to drive in the rain, for she learned in Los Angeles in February, the city's only rainy season. The first time she had to start the car in dry weather she was momentarily baffled; what came after, or now in place of, turning on the windshield wipers?

Having learned in a Ford Escort, a vehicle she now (and for a long time) eschews, Lady G decided to acquire a vehicle. Unfortunately, her friends Peter and Ayako were moving back to Japan, and fortunately they were not bringing their iffy Mazda Rx4, which Peter had named "The Ked," by virtue of its being white with a red stripe, like a running shoe, overseas with them. For a few hundred dollars that Lady G did not possess, The Ked could be hers. Other dear friends, Tom and Laura, lent her the required sum, and she was on the road!

Well, not quite. The Ked wouldn't start in the rain. No problem, right? It never rains in Los Angeles except in February. Of course, the year Lady G acquired The Ked, it rained all the time, relentlessly, ceaselessly, and disastrously. The Ked would only start for a friend of Peter and Ayako's who gamely came running every time Lady G wanted to drive. He must have been relieved when it finally stopped raining.

Now Lady G was chugging along. She was, and is, of medium height (for an American woman) but most of said height being in her legs, she found herself too short to see out of the windshield without the aid of a pillow on which to sit and another pillow behind her back to prop her upright. These accoutrements being in place, she began her short stint as a driver.

She found herself giving rides to folks who had previously given her rides, and to other folks who hadn't (because they couldn't). She was thrilled! She was paying it back and paying it forward, and this was, to her, delightful. She even helped her friend, Clayton, move from one apartment to another. She had been helped to move so many times, and now she could help someone else in this endeavor! This was indeed thrilling. We are not being facetious here. Independence and the ability to help others in situations in which one was previously helpless, oneself, is a heady thing!

Lady G had renamed The Ked "Sneaky Pete," keeping Peter's running-shoe theme but sneaking his name in, as a kind of tribute to her friend. However, she soon came to rename the recalcitrant vehicle "Deathtrap." Deathtrap would now start regardless of weather, but only for Lady G, her friend Louie (AKA Lulu) and Erik. No one else could start Deathtrap. Many tried, often illegally. Lady G would often find signs that an erstwhile auto thief had tried his or her hand at nabbing Deathtrap and been foiled. Sometimes the frustrated felons would leave behind tools; Lady G acquired a perfectly good wrench that way. She had to be careful sitting down, though; one resentful rogue left a clear message in the form of a rather large tack, point up, on the driver's seat. Others simply vandalized. Valet parkers cursed under their breaths. (Why was an impoverished soul such as Lady G encountering valets? She was the associate editor of American Premiere magazine, now known as Inside Film, perhaps to avoid confusion with the better known Premier, and she had occasion to drive to the fancy hotels at which visiting film directors, for example, were lodging, in order to interview them without unduly inconveniencing them. (For more on this, you may wish to read Lady G's essay, DENCING -- and no, that is not a typo.)

One day, Lady G was tooling up Cahuenga Boulevard toward Barham and espied a red light at that intersection. She put her foot on the brake. There was no brake. The car barrelled into Barham just as the light turned green, Lady G turned left and, still brakeless, glided to a stop at the next signal, which happened to be red. (Had she sailed straight forward at the first, critical intersection, she would have found herself entering the exist ramp of a freeway; she had to turn right or left.) Her passenger, then-roommate (about whom the less said, the better) Rosemary, had blanched almost as white as Deathtrap would have been had Lady G ever paid for a carwash. "Did you feel me having no brakes?" demanded Lady G, herself breathless.

"Yes," declared Rosemary. "Did you feel me feeling you having no brakes?

An expensive trip to Midas rendered Lady G broker than she had been before the visit but Deathtrap still had only intermittently functioning brakes. Midas collectively shrugged. Lady G drove around Los Angeles on the hand brake for quite some time.

Lady G finally found a shop whose employees knew how to fix her brakes, and thereafter she felt much safer driving about the city. She took to turning the radio up loud and singing (Beethoven, R.E.M., whatever worked) at the top of her lungs as she headed toward the beach. She was reminded of Oscar Levant, who was once stopped by a cop who informed him he'd been speeding. "But Officer," said Levant (pardon my misquotation), "I am listening to the third movement of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony. Nobody can listen to that and drive slowly!" He turned the volume up. The officer listened and agreed. Levant didn't get the ticket.

Brakes or no brakes, Lady G was terrified of freeways and never used them. She once found herself lost on a road whose speed limit was 50 mph... that was scary enough. She understands that Erik and Louie undoubtedly drove Deathtrap on freeways; she may be blocking the memory of being a passenger during any of these unthinkable escapades. She never did so herself. In Los Angeles, this abstention is quite a feat!

Lady G has two motorcycle stories but isn't sure she wants to share them yet....

In 1985, just before leaving for Japan herself (Peter and Ayako had invited her for a visit whose duration was to be six months to a year; Lady G ended up staying, albeit not as her friends' houseguest, for a full decade) Lady G was approaching an intersection for which she had the right of way, and noticed that the only other car on the road was coming in the opposite direction, and entering the turn lane. The other car stopped, so Lady G proceded, at which point, the other car suddenly started to move, turned and hit Deathtrap on the driver's side. Neither Lady G nor Deathtrap has been the same since, or at least so Lady G assumes of Deathtrap, for they parted ways when Lady G expatriated herself. Of course, in Japan, one drives on the left, not the right as in the United States (even Los Angeles!) so Lady G did not dare to attempt to regain that kind of mobility even after she recovered somewhat (never fully) from the incident. Her nightmares returned. They persist to this day.

But that doesn't mean she and Lionheart don't admire a nice car or a smooth ride! If you need a new vehicle, or part of one, or a loan to buy one, or some gear or accessories to help you enjoy one, or a place to rent or lease one, step right this way! (Don't forget that while you're here you can protect your bike for just $1 per year by registering it with the National Bike Registry.)



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