By Di Chapman
“Are the guys looking you over in that thing? A beautiful blonde at the wheel?” My husband is so cute. I’ve just pulled into the garage in my new convertible sports car. “Sweetie, blonde or otherwise, I’m a 63-year-old woman behind that wheel! Botox or no, I don’t think anybody is looking at me. They’re lookin’ at the car!”
Somewhere along the path of life, we mature women kind of become invisible to men. Ladies, am I right? We don’t turn heads, younger men’s eyeballs never connect with ours, and no, they’re definitely not interested in the “beauty of women of a certain age” and experience. From our perspective, most of us adopt the “I really don’t care what anybody thinks of me” syndrome. This collective mindset of 60-something females is the reason many of us don’t care if we’re wearing plaid pants with a flowered top; or if we’ve created a teased hairdo shaped like an animal’s den before we run out the door; or if we accidentally put on two different colors of blush: one cheek pink, and the other cheek deep cherry. We’re good.
But, I understand completely that young men are driven by an evolutionary mandate. In monkeydom, males want female monkeys with the most colorful flared rumps. The flare indicates fertility and is a total “Come hither, young monkeyman. Let’s do this for our tribe.”
We “mature” women, on the other hand, might no longer have the ability to “flare” flamingly, and perhaps that’s where the irresistible desire to score a convertible sports car comes in. Hey! Guys have been flaring themselves with cars since the first one came off the line over a century ago. Ladies, if they can do it, we can set afire to the flare of an engine. Why, a girlfriend and I recently flared as brightly as hot coals one beautiful evening with the top down. We relished the lushness around us, the breeze, and the stars. We cruised Canton Street chuckling together with “Yeah, everyone, we’re cruising, and you’re not!”
There’s something about getting a convertible that changes things around you… it’s hard to explain, but people are fascinated by them, and perhaps jealous of the driver. I admit they do look fun. And when I’m opening the top in 11 seconds I still marvel. And perhaps I swagger a little at the wheel. I can go topless while waiting at a stoplight.
I really don’t know what the convertible mystique is, particularly the sports car version. I’ve never needed a slammin’ set of wheels for defining myself or creating an image. I’m comfortable in my own skin, as they say, but I know it’s hard to believe that I’d be okay with driving a dented Celica. It’s true. I’ve never “defined myself” by the car I drive, which, by the way, was quite unheard of in Southern California. It’s kind of a “It’s not who you are, it’s the car you drive. Who cares who you are?” place.
I recall one embarrassing moment years ago when I borrowed my little sister’s cute, but aged, sporty little Japanese car. Earlier, it had been one of the “it” cars. I was visiting her in California, from Texas, and she offered those wheels to get around. She was making the leap to driving a lovely sedan. In the meantime, I was sputtering around in that cute little road weary car, very much aware of the “image” I was projecting.
I pulled into a gas station, and a nice man offered to fill ’er up, but not before I managed to rip out the parking brake handle from under the dash. With a flushed face, I explained. “It’s my sister’s car.” Uh huh. I held my head high as I squealed out of the gas station.
My first look at a convertible was in the 60s, when my car salesman neighbor brought home a big cruisin’ Pontiac Bonneville with the top down. It was Seattle, for crying out loud, but that did not deter him and his family from having fun in that boat-sized convertible. That vehicle had panache. I remember his wife laughingly cozying up in the front seat, with the standard convertible women’s wear, the scarf that preserved her ultra-bleached beehive hairdo. Cloudy skies didn’t deter their fun.
Driving a toll road on an unusually rainy day in Southern Cal, my sister saw the craziest convertible story yet to be told. Driving beside her was a mature woman, convertible top down, singing with the music at the top of her lungs, ignoring the rain that pelted her. Now, that was a woman enjoying her convertible, weirdness aside. All she needed was Gene Kelly dancing on the hood.
When you climb into a sports car convertible, it indeed changes the way you see the world. I can’t believe my first convertible arrived when I turned 63. My husband and I are celebrating our 20th anniversary this year (No way!!), and he announced it was time for me to have a hot car. Even then, I wasn’t sure. Who needs a hot car? I honestly said, “Sweetie, I’d be happy to drive a used something.” The conversation continued over the next few weeks. We both agreed that, although Georgia’s 85- to 95-degree summer daytime temps might kill the top-down activity, a convertible sure would be cute to drive. I caved. Why not?
I’m revving around town, doing nothing exciting but hitting the gym and the grocery store. I’m having fun.
The upside of being a 60-something woman driving an awesome convertible is that, even though she knows the young men who stop beside her are thinking, “What a waste to have that woman driving that car,” WE get the last laugh.
We’re stepping on the accelerator in that baby, and they’re not. ❍
Di Chapman is an inspirational author and speaker, a branding expert, and an executive coach. Di’s latest book is Rekindle Your Purpose: Break through your disappointments, discouragements, and detours to resurrect your purpose and live it!