"Go for it."
I heard that phrase so often as a child.
Nan, my paternal grandmother, said it to me constantly.
It was her answer to everything.
The trip didn’t take long. The dealer would surely be coming up soon; we were told it was right across the river, in New Jersey. My heart was beating so fast; I was so nervous. I couldn’t believe what was about to happen. Could this really be true? Am I really going to be able to see one?
It’s a couple hours earlier that same day. I’m roughly 10 years old, and I’m in visiting Nan. My family lives in Illinois. Our entire extended family lived in the northeast, predominantly New York. Nan has an apartment in Manhattan. She’s had a place there for nearly my entire life. The apartment changes over time–she and my grandfather got divorced a couple years ago, and she moved out. There have even been stretches of time that she instead lived in a lake house in upstate New York1. Nevertheless, Manhattan and Nan are inextricably linked in my mind.
I am sitting on the floor of her apartment, looking at a Car and Driver. This particular issue was special, as it featured my new favorite car, the Lamborghini Diablo.
I’ve spent the last hour or two looking at that issue. I read it over and over again. I can recite all the statistics about the car. Top speed? 202 miles per hour. 0-60 time? 4.5 seconds. I know that car inside and out, as much as a 10 year old can, anyway.
Eventually Nan took notice of my obsession.
"What are you looking at, Casey?"
"My favorite car."
"What is it?"
"A Lamborghini Diablo. It’s the fastest car in the world."
"Oh? Have you ever seen one before?"
"Haha, no, of course not! They’re way too expensive!"
"Would you like to see one?"
"Well, sure, I’d love to. But I don’t know how we could."
"Lamborghinis have to be sold somewhere. I bet there’s a dealer close by. This is New York, after all. Let me look."
Immediately, Nan walks to the kitchen, and fetches something that I can tell is big and heavy. Turning around, she carries a phone book to the kitchen table.
Her search takes a couple of minutes. “Lamborghini” wasn’t fruitful. She turns instead, to the “Car Dealerships” section of the yellow pages. Paging through countless pages of domestic brands, and the stereotypical foreign ones, my anticipation starts to fade. I don’t suspect that she’ll find…
"So, what are you going to do?"
"I’m going to see if we can go visit them and see their cars."
"You can’t do that!"
"You’re not going to buy the car! It’s too much money! And they’ll only let you in if you’re going to buy a Lamborghini!"
"Casey, what do I always say?"
"But you can’t say that now! They’ll get mad at us!"
"What do I always say?"
"Go for it" I reluctantly recite for her.
"Hi, yes, are you the Lamborghini dealer? Yes, okay, great. I have an interesting situation here. My grandson is visiting from Illinois. He tells me that Lamborghinis are his favorite car, and he’s never seen one before."
"Yes, I’ve seen pictures, they are beautiful.”
"Well, I was hoping I could bring my grandson, Casey, in to take a look at your Lamborghinis."
My stomach is in my throat. Nan is on the phone with this Lamborghini dealer that she says is close by, even though it’s in New Jersey, which is a whole other state! I’m sure she’s going to get yelled at by the person on the phone, and then she’ll get mad at me. Nan and I are really close, and she doesn’t usually get mad at me, but I bet this time she will.
"Yes, you could say that, couldn’t you! So you wouldn’t mind if we came by for a little bit?"
"Excellent! We’ll leave right away."
Now I’m really freaking out.
"What did they say, Nan?!"
"Well, to tell you the truth, she said to me ‘Your grandson is a potential client; I’d love to show him what we have in the showroom. Bring him in.’"
We’re turning off the road, into what I can only assume is the dealer’s parking lot. It’s Nan, my mother, my father, and me. I look out the front window of the car we’re in with both giddy anticipation and intense fear.
I wait for one of the adults to get out of the car first, though I’m hardly paying attention. I look out the car, through the dealership’s large windows, and just behind the doors, I see a Lamborghini Countach.
It’s parked perpendicular to the entrance, and white as snow. As with nearly all instances of this model, it has a wing over the tail, and tremendous mouth-like openings behind the doors. While not my favorite anymore–the Diablo is the new hotness–I used to adore this car. I can’t believe we’re about to walk in.
As soon as Nan and my parents get out of the car, I jump out. I’m trying to contain my excitement and behave, which is a little easier since I’m so scared. I still have my doubts this is going to work. I remind myself, “Go for it.”
We walk into the dealership, and a lady dressed up in fancy clothes meets us at the door. There’s no one else in the showroom. I wait for her to introduce herself to Nan, or Mom, or Dad. She doesn’t. She walks right up to me.
"You must be Casey. I’m Linda Marmora. Welcome to Marmora Lamborghini."
Over the next hour or two, Mrs. Marmora shows me the two Lamborghinis they have in the showroom. The first, a Countach, is a used car. It is white, with a bright red interior.
She opens the door to the driver’s seat by lifting it vertically; instead of pivoting outwards, it pivots upwards. Mrs. Marmora gestures for me to sit in it; I waste no time. I try to play it cool, but I jumped in immediately.
I notice this particular Countach has a car phone in it. This is surprising since I’ve only seen a couple car phones in my life, but not that surprising at all given how much this car costs.
As I’m sitting in the driver’s seat, Mrs. Marmora explains the car’s heritage. She told us that it was previously owned by Mario Andretti, the race car driver. He decided to upgrade to something else, and she ended up with it.
I am having the time of my life, and still can’t believe this is happening. I’m loving every inch of the Countach, but I can’t wait for what’s next.
To the left of the entrance, as we walked in, I immediately locked in on it. Easily the most beautiful car I’ve ever seen in my life, it sits there, quietly. The exterior is black as the starless night sky in Manhattan. The rear tires seem to be impossibly wide; they would make a steamroller jealous. The wheels are exactly as I envisioned–sheets of some silver-looking metal, with five circles cut out. I hope so much that I’m allowed to take a closer look at it. But I can’t think about that right now–I need to enjoy this moment. I’m sitting in the most expensive car I’ve ever been in, one that almost no adults get to sit in.
Eventually, I do leave the Countach, and Mrs. Marmora allows me to walk over to the Diablo. She opens up the door the same way as she did on the Countach, and gets out of the way to let me look at it. I immediately look in, making sure not to let anything actually touch the car. The interior is beautiful. Instead of that really loud red that the Countach had, this one is black, through and through. I look to the center console to see the clearly-gated gearshift. Instead of a boot like my Dad’s car has, this one has a rod that protrudes out of a piece of metal with lines cut in it. You can see the H pattern clearly; there is no margin for error.
"You can get in, Casey, if you want."
I’m speechless. I’m about to sit in a Diablo. I back up a little, as I was still leaning in admiring everything. I take a half-step forward, on my way into the Diablo’s cabin.
I immediately jump back, my eyes tripling in size. This is it. I’ve ruined it, just as I feared. I’m going to get scolded by this very nice stranger, then by Nan, and then by my parents. I’ve done it.
I look back at Mrs. Marmora, eyes nearly popping out of my head with shock. She smiles at me, and moves in front of me, to get in my way and block me from getting in the Diablo. Instead of turning around and beginning her lecture, she reaches in.
I peek my head around her to see what’s going on, and I can’t tell. I look back at my family, and all of them are starting to realize what’s happening. They seem really happy about it, so I guess things may be okay after all.
I hear plastic moving, and then paper. Finally, after what seems like forever, Mrs. Marmora turns around, with a lot of clear plastic in one hand, and a large piece of paper in the other.
"Sorry about that, Casey. I wanted to get this silly plastic off the seats so you could sit on the leather. I took the paper off the floorboard as well.
"You can go ahead and get in now."
So I did.
The next five or ten minutes were a blur. In the span of just a couple hours, I went from ogling a fantasy strewn across the pages of a car magazine to touching that fantasy; it was no longer a fantasy–it was real. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was.
And all because of three words. 7 letters.
"Go for it"
While Nan and I are still close, we are nowhere near as close as we were then. In many ways, at that point in our lives, we needed each other. We were best of friends. That’s not to say that we aren’t now, but with time comes age, and with age comes the loss of the youthful innocence; with age comes new and shifting priorities.
However, two decades later, I still think back to that day. I think back to how amazing it was, and how lucky I was to be able to be a part of it. To be the cause of it.
Most of all, however, I try to remind myself every day how lucky I am to have this woman in my life. How lucky I am that she has no shame, and no fear. How lucky I am to have been able to spend my formative years in her company. And most importantly, how lucky I am to have learned from her, just
"Go for it."
This lake house is a crucial element in another story, perhaps for another day. Suffice it to say, that lake house has dramatically changed my life. ↩