When the kind folks at Mercedes (or DaimlerChrysler or whatever) offered me the use of a Maybach 57—a $320,000 car with a 543-horsepower V-12 engine that accelerates 6,017 pounds of superluxury from 0 to 60 in 5 seconds (give or take, depending on how much champagne is onboard)—I sent a terse e-mail in response: “Before I do this, I need to know how buoyant the car is.”
My thinking was, “Big deal. I’ve worn a wristwatch that costs more than that car.”
But these were highly trained public-relations professionals who would not be put off by insolence. They enticed me further by providing a driver. Plus, My Fair Lady had been hounding me for weeks to plan “date night.” Bingo. I would put her in the Maybach for an evening on the town. If absolutely necessary, I would tag along.
The driver’s name was Kevin. Kevin looked like he was 18, ill at ease in his black suit, but he was a font of knowledge about the Maybach (pronounced “my-bock”). About the car itself, I will say this: with its 600-watt sound system, DVD player, opulent inlaid burled amboyna wood, and massaging backseats covered with creamy Grand Nappa leather, it feels like the best room in a house owned by a hedge fund manager who employs lawyers so expensive and so clever that he just smiles when he gets subpoenaed by the SEC.
I hadn’t told My Fair Lady about the car. The surprise would delight her. But when Kevin and I picked her up, she said, “You’re going to write about this. Is this your idea of balancing work and family life?” I pulled a bottle of Veuve Clicquot from the small refrigerator mounted beneath the center armrest and filled her flute.
First stop was a football game at my high school alma mater, Cistercian Prep. Kevin was good enough to block the main entrance to the field and stand at attention in front of the car while MFL and I sipped champagne, got massages, and watched U2’s Rattle and Hum DVD. Cistercian beat Trinity Valley in overtime (go Hawks!), but by then we were long gone.
Dinner at Paris Vendôme was followed by a nightcap at Sense, the private club on Henderson. Here the Maybach performed beautifully. Kevin pulled up to the valet and helped MFL out of the car. She greeted the doorman, who stood behind a velvet rope.
“Are you members?” he asked.
“Nope,” she said confidently.
“Are you on the list?” he asked.
“Perhaps you know someone inside, then,” he ventured.
“Uh-uh.” With the Maybach idling behind us, MFL was daring the doorman to turn us away.
“May I ask how you know about Sense?” the doorman said.
“C’mon! We live in Dallas!” I said, with a bit more exuberance than was called for, on account of the champagne (and the bottle of wine at dinner).
“Then please come in,” the doorman said, unhooking the velvet rope, mumbling about how, under normal circumstances, Sense admits members only.
From Sense (where I topped off my tank with Knob Creek), it was on to the grand finale: parking at White Rock for any and all amorous maneuvers MFL would tolerate. We motored to my favorite spot, overlooking the north end of the lake. Kevin excused himself from the car. The lights of downtown twinkled in the distance. I produced three movies I’d rented earlier. And we were all systems go. Or so it seemed.
MFL couldn’t stop thinking about Kevin. He’d taken up position at a picnic table, and seeing him sitting there in the darkness, MFL worried that he was lonely. “He’s not lonely,” I said. “He’s a professional driver. His job is to wait.” Then she ventured that Kevin could get West Nile.
Making matters worse, of the three movies, MFL chose the historical naval flick Master and Commander. I’d hoped that Russell Crowe would appear shirtless in it, thereby unhooking MFL’s own velvet rope. But there’s an early scene in which the ship’s surgeon saws off a kid’s right arm without anesthesia, and this turned out not to be an aphrodisiac.
That was it. I summoned Kevin to drive us home, and date night ended with a whimper rather than a bang. Alas. But probably for the best. Because at that point in the evening, I’d taken on water and was listing badly. My powder was wet. I doubt I could have done her any damage at all.