Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Hot Wheels Dreams

2014 Tesla Model S and 1970 Bugeye
As a child I had a gold Hot Wheels car with blue windows, a panel opening on the rear-mounted engine, and a bounce in the wheels. I have that car here on my desk pulled down from the shelf for a bit of remembering. In the early seventies, my best friend and I used to play cars behind his house for hours at a time and the gold Hot Wheels was my dream car. I was its driver.
Most of my childhood toys are gone. The car survives not because it was my favorite toy — that was my Space Glider Micronaut — but because it is small, durable, and reminds me enough of the others to stand in and represent who I was.
And who was I? A dreamer and wannabe hero. The driver of the impossibly fast, infinitely durable gold car. We could do anything. The driver I imagined becoming was fearless, able to take on anything. He did the impossible every day. He was happy and strong. He led the good life.
For Christmas this year, I bought myself another Hot Wheels, the Tesla Model S. I have it here next to the gold car, just above the pages on which I am drafting this. It is dark grey and black, has the glass roof and red-rimmed wheels, and sports the 2014 front-end. It stands in for dreams I still harbor. It cost a dollar at a dollar store. The real thing starts at $70,000.
As a child I imagined becoming the adult who drove the gold car. I drove the Hot Wheels daily for long enough that it seemed we would both grow up to be full sized as I had imagined. I’ve grown up but my car is a decade-old Scion xA that suffers over speed bumps let alone a jump over the Snake River Canyon. And I’m no Evil Knievel. I’m a guy driving to a job I no longer love or to Wegmans the bulk pack of toilet paper.
I’m as nutty for the Tesla as I was for that gold Hot Wheels. Buying a real Model S isn’t practical but that’s the point. The idea has me dreaming childlike. It has me planning a path. I have no desire to jump it over a canyon, but the rest of the dream is intact and alive. I can do with a bit of dreaming. For two years I’ve held the impossible dream of the Tesla. Why not dream? Why not save and see what happens? Maybe childhood dreams aren’t so impossible.
This morning my friend who used to play Hot Wheels will be here for a run. I’ll mention some of this and ask which was his favorite car. Rather than talk about buying a Tesla (he’s heard me go on about that too many times), we will talk about dreams we still hold and plans we both still hold out for. We’re both 48 now, but still kids playing Hot Wheels behind his house on Wellesley Road. Innocence and hope still glows as we run through the December cold.
I’ve held onto the toy car and I’ll hold onto the dream, picturing myself behind the wheel of one of these cars, doing the impossible, being some kind of hero if to no one but myself.