FIERCE ANTICIPATION: The Eric Sims Edition
Top Gear Series 15
As anyone knows who has ever had the misfortune of being within earshot when I need a ride home, I’m a career non-driver. As a result, I tend to view driving as a purely pragmatic activity designed to get one from point A (home, work, winery) to point B (work, home, next winery) quickly and efficiently without having to rub elbows with the human detritus that befouls the Los Angeles public transit system. As with all activities that require sobriety (telemarketing, cat juggling, childbirth), though, I don’t view driving as “fun.” Furthermore, in the era of environmental self-righteousness, my non-driving status is one of the few things a hopeless carnivore like me has to be consistently smug about — “Oh, you drive a Prius, well I’ve got the original hybrid- TWO FEET, BITCH! That’s right- this little piggy SAVED THE PLANET. Now get out my face before I put my carbon footprint straight up your tail pipe. Oh, wait, uhm- can I get a ride home?”
So how did it come to pass that one of the highlights of my summer — if not my year was hearing the unmistakable roar of a Bugatti Veyron as it blew by me on the PCH? Why have I recently scoured the manual of our Scion XA to see how big the engine (about a 6th of the Veryon) was and how much horsepower it can generate (about a tenth of the Veyron)? Why do I now have a favorite Ferarri (Daytona), Dodge (Challenger) and Volkswagen (Veyron- duh) Two words – Top Fucking Gear.
How to explain the appeal of TOP GEAR? It’s hosted by three badly dressed, middle-aged limeys — and even the handsome one is too short and schlubby for American television. They perform juvenile antics around the globe and drive ridiculous cars with the fuel efficiency of the Deepwater Horizon like raging lunatics. At the center of it all is Jeremy Clarkson- the clown price of global-apocalypse. The grand buffoon of peak oil production. A man who will deny global warming even as he attaches a snorkel to his Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder. There is no reason why I should have anything but absolute contempt for this show’s buffoonery and shameless display of idiotic male behavior. After all, I’m a sensitive guy- liberal, artsy, environmentally conscious, empathetic toward menstruation, thoughtful and progressive (pussy) – this should be the last show I’m obsessed with.
And yet, I am hopelessly drawn in- and who can blame me? Where else can you see Michael Gambon going up on two wheels in a cheap car on a track, violently competitive airport vehicle racing, ill-conceived poorly fabricated amphibious vehicles sinking in the English Channel, and two out-of-shape middle-aged guys merrily swilling gin and tonics while they attempt to drive to the North Pole in an attempt to prove just how easy arctic exploration can be (turns out it’s not). It’s great fun — a thick juicy steak in a locavore turnip world- an unabashed, guilt-free reminder of just how much fun we had in the 20th century, paving the way to our extinction (or death from boredom) in the 21st. Best of all, there is edge of self deprecation epitomized by the motto- “ambitious but rubbish” – which perfectly suits my own miserable driving career. I can’t wait for more.
KINDA WANNA SEE
My ugly mug on a California Driving License
You might actually think that this is something I would be fiercely anticipating, Certainly, there are a lot of people that are — my wife, employer, friends, co-workers, employees, fellow bus riders sick of my sneering condescension and all the other lovely people in my life kind enough to haul my ass around (suckers). Plus, all this TOP GEAR watching should have sharpened my appetite for my own crazy driving adventures. Still, there are a few good reasons why it might not be a great idea
- I’m incredibly distractible- It’s taken me 20 minutes to finish this sentence because there’s a particularly amusing episode of Psych on (the one where Gus tap dances — awesome!)
- I’m probably the only person to ever get road rage on a bus (“Picking up a wheelchair? Are you fucking kidding me? Just grab the bumper and roll behind us, asshole — you served in Nam, how hard can this be?”)
- I like drinking more than I like saying no. A lot more.
- I have no feel for wheeled vehicles of any kind. The old saying “it’s just like riding a bike” has often led to me lying on the ground, covered in blood screaming profanities (also happens when I make lasagna)
- I multi-task compulsively and terribly. As a result, I frequently send out emails with no attachments and subject lines like “You Stupid Bitch”, while at the same time utterly failing to make coffee, build pivot tables and masturbate.
Clearly not a person suited for driving in the civilized world. I mean, it’s not like we live in Boston or something.
WOULDN’T GO IF YOU PAID ME
Yeah, I know it’s a smart, sassy comedy with a smart, sassy lead actress doing all sorts of smart sassy shit. And, I’m sure there are all sorts of good reasons why I should want to go see it, but there is one major reason why I can’t — I’M NOT GETTING SUCKED IN AGAIN.
See, it was fine for me to enjoy the teen movies of the 80’s- The Breakfast Club, Better Off Dead, One Crazy Summer (underrated classic), Say Anything, Heathers — after all, I was a teenager — they were made specifically for me. Gradually, though, John Cusack and I grew up and it was time to leave the genre for more adult fare featuring Meg Ryan. In the late 90’s though, I found myself seduced again by hormone-saturated antics and clique warfare of teen comedy. First, there was Can’t Hardly Wait, a delicious slice of teen life with a heaping scoop of nostalgia served a la mode. Then, Drive Me Crazy, a red plastic cup of super-sweet bug juice, spiked with a splash of Melissa Joan Hart’s spunky charm and Adrian Grenier’s low-affect smirkiness. Pretty soon, though, I was chasing the dragon, watching everything with a 3-word title no matter how bad it got == Bring it On, She’s All That, Down To You, Get Over It. I was halfway through Head Over Heels when I finally came to my senses and realized that, much like Freddie Prinze Jr, I was too old and wrinkled for this crap, and it was time to get out.
Since then, I have managed to stay clean, helped in no small part by Stephanie Meyer, whose profoundly creepy and bafflingly popular Mormon abstinence propaganda allowed me to settle into my proverbial rocking chair, shake my fist in the air and assure myself that, once and for all, I couldn’t relate to these damn, mopey, Jesus loving, kids today.
But now, I can hear the siren song calling me once more. A smart girl hatches a scheme to achieve popularity by faking her own promiscuity. It’s got everything: the hormones, the fluffy social satire, spunkiness out the tuchus and hoary life lessons regifted and left under the narrative tree for a new generation of saps to open. For my own good, I know I’ve got to stay the hell away before I get sucked into all the crappy knock-offs that are sure to follow B Mine, Sunny D, F Sharp– all guaranteed to get progressively worse until a bloated, balding Justin Bieber humiliates himself badly in C U L8ter. This time, I’ll know better. This time, I’m not going to get sucked in. This time, I truly will stay away.
Plus, my wife doesn’t want to see it, and I can’t get a ride to the movie theater.