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Speeding instincts

books Updated: May 21, 2012 15:03 IST

Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Was there ever a love affair as loyal or obsessive as that between a 16-year-old and his first shiny car, even if it’s an old rattletrap?

Something about the quivering power of the car, the rounded curves of its flanks and its headlights, excites him. There’s something about the grumbling moan of the engine, which responds to his touch when he turns it on.

Hours of grooming
He spends hours rubbing, grooming, and polishing it. And even more time cruising around town, slow enough to ogle girls and be ogled back, loud enough to impress other males, or fast enough to slay the more pedestrian of life’s demons.
In both senses of the word, cars express a young man, by rushing him through time and space at the sexual high speed he feels gushing through his mind and limbs.

Fast.. furious
Cars are fast and furious, dangerous and alive, ready to spin out at a tight curve or a hairpin. It’s how he feels at times — all revved up and ready to explode.

Many teenage boys find in cars the embodiment of their surging sexuality. Older men are so often seen trading in sensible, affordable family cars for brightly coloured sports cars that it’s become a cliché.

They leave their wives for sexy young women, and they leave their station wagons for sexy new cars with loud mufflers and only room enough for two.

Hot and fast
Cars are hot, fast, hard, phallic objects that hurtle through space. Cartoons sometimes show a middle-aged man riding on a steel-plated erection. The caption restates the obvious.

Men of any age and state of marital happiness can be counted on to look admiringly if a beautiful woman walks by or a beautiful car zooms by.

(Excerpted from A Natural History Of Love by Diane Ackerman)