It’s summer in the Caribbean and it is hot. Melt the road hot, cases of cold beer hot, behind the wheel madness hot.
What better way to be cool, and to cool off, than by driving the coast road in your Mini Cooper convertible, a colorful designer scarf at your throat and your best beau at your side. A happy couple living the dream, being super cool, taking the bends at speed until they are stopped by an old jeep that is moving slow because ahead of him are two taxis full of tourists enjoying an island tour.
I love cool people and there’s room in the world for everyone. So when I heard the convertible’s throaty roar coming up behind and clocked the handsome couple in my rear view mirror, it made me smile.
The mini sat behind me for a minute and then the driver slammed the wheel with her hand and pulled out to overtake. No go. Another impatient slap of the wheel and she tried again.
We were on a stretch of road linked by a series of double bends and short straights. The two taxis in front were lumbering along, slightly increasing speed on the straights and slowing down on the bends while the drivers gave the tourists the spiel.
The mini's next three attempts to overtake made me laugh and shake my head and I could tell by the woman’s body language that she was watching me and my mirth was making her crazy.
People trying hard to be cool hate to be laughed at. Tail-end-Charlie in our four vehicle convoy now began taking both hands off the wheel, holding them palms upwards and tossing back her head. The fact that she had to brake for a speed bump while her hands were in the air didn’t help her poise.
If only she could relax and enjoy the evening drive all would be well. But I knew what was coming. And I wasn’t the only one. The guy at her side was bracing himself like a nervous cat. The only way his woman could claw back credibility was to humiliate the knob-heads in front with some fancy driving.
She made her move on a blind bend. The results were inevitable. She was alongside the jeep when a car approaching from the opposite direction shot round the bend. I stood on the brakes, the back wheels locked and the jeep filled with the stench of burning rubber. The approaching car bounced onto the hard shoulder and the mini cut in between me and the taxi in front.
I’d had enough of Miss Cool and slammed my hand on the horn—and kept it there. And when miss cool started shouting over her shoulder, I shouted “go, baby, go” and laughed even harder.
Now, I admit that my wife was not impressed by my behavior. “You’re as bad as them,” she said. And maybe she was right, but the woman driving the mini had crossed the line. To prove she was cool she had risked the lives of several strangers and she was lucky because I know quite a few people who would have retaliated with far more than laughter and mockery.
Eventually we hit the long straight that runs into Marigot and the road ahead was clear. The woman downshifted and stomped on the gas. The mini wiggled under the torque and flew past the two taxis.
I couldn’t resist and leaned out of the window and gave her the finger, a shit-eating grin all over my face. I don’t know what she shouted in return, but it didn’t sound like “Cooool.”
Five hundred yards further on and she had to slow to a crawl for three speed bumps or risk dragging the mini on the ground.