By Emily Atkins, Provinz Editor (from Provinz February 2014 page 31)
My car is a giraffe. No, I have not painted it with brown and beige blotches. Let me explain.
There’s a contemporary movie in which an aging father is giving relationship advice to his single, serially monogamous, 40-something son. The father says, “Let’s say, since you were little, you always dreamed of someday getting a lion. You wait, and you wait, and you wait, and the lion doesn’t come…but along comes a giraffe…You can be alone, or you can be with the giraffe.”
Son: “I’d wait for the lion.”
My 944 Turbo is the giraffe. I settled, out of expediency, on the car that came along. It’s not pretty, it’s not that fast, it’s prone to malfunction, but it does the job. Giraffe and I get along just fine. We have pretty good times together—even a few adventures—and seem to understand each other pretty well now.
But I secretly jones for the lion. I feel a little bad about this; it’s just about Valentine’s Day and I didn’t get Giraffe anything. It’s locked in a frigid garage, probably frozen in place. The battery’s low; there may be a raccoon using it for a bunk. It’s neglected.
But I don’t feel that bad—I’m waiting for my lion. I know the lion is out there. I’ve seen it; I’ve got its number… and it ends in 11. It’s a little wild, a bit skittish, definitely a handful, but it’s coming to me…just taking its sweet time.
It might be black, or maybe red, possibly green or blue. It’s not young; it’s been around and seen some things. Its purr is barely contained. The tiniest of tickles behind the ear and that deep vibration is unleashed into a throaty roar. It’s a feisty, fiery beast.
The pent up savagery behind those big yellow eyes and sinuous, carved haunches demands respect, but it cannot be caged. It requires exercise. Regularly. This beast can run, and it will. Challenge this lion and watch it hunker down on its haunches, launching from its powerful hind end a second later into a full-bore frenzy of acceleration that won’t let up.
It can play like a kitten too, chasing its tail in merry circles, or sometimes losing all control as it careens after smaller prey. Like every good cat, though, it never admits a mistake, always maintains the pretense that whatever happened was done with intent. I can almost see it casually licking a paw, big, round eyes carefully observing who saw.
The lion’s not perfect, of course. It may have an old injury or two, perhaps a scar here and a scab there. But the patina acquired through a productive, adventurous life is worth exploring. It adds a layer of complexity and beauty. It offers more to discover, keeps the mystery alive longer.
This is a cat with character, with a past, a mysterious present and an inexorable future. And that future is mine. I can feel it. I will find my lion, or it will come to me. I’ll be walking down the street and there it will be. Or it will appear in my driveway, conjured up by the fates.
I can feel it—the wait won’t be too long. The lion’s out there. Not far away. Could be it’s hibernating for the winter. Maybe it migrates south. Or perhaps it’s just out of sight around the corner, watching for me.
When I see it I’ll know. The thrill of immediate recognition will tell me, this is THE ONE.
No more giraffes for me. I’m waiting for the lion.