ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: Searching
Book Two, Chapter 148: Practicing Yet Again
Joshua spots a 1962 Corvair convertible, ermine white with red leather seats, for sale for sixty-four hundred dollars. He drives beyond Indianapolis to see it. He meets the seller’s wife, too.
“I could see the sadness in her eyes,” he tells me later. “She really doesn’t want to sell it. Maybe she’s thinking of the fun times they shared riding in the car.”
He offers the owner thirty-nine hundred for it. The owner turns down the offer.
Five days later, the owner calls Joshua back.
“He’s willing to take forty-five hundred,” Joshua tells me. “It’s a steal. Karmann-Ghia convertibles — toys compared to this car — are going for fifteen thou. This man doesn’t know what he has. I’ve done the research. The engine number matches the body number. I know when and where the engine was manufactured — July 1962 in Tonawanda, New York. Daddy worked on the Tonawanda newspaper at about that time, and he had a Corvair, too. It was red. I remember his telling me about it.”
Joshua shows me photos of the convertible. It looks like Marilyn Monroe — very sexy.
“I’ve always had a passion for collector cars. This is a show car. I’ve driven it. It makes me feel good. I know how to work on it. It’s pretty simple. Air-cooled. No radiator. It needs some work, but I’ve located a Corvair mechanic in Indianapolis who only charges twenty dollars an hour.”
Joshua asks my opinion. I think: I have to give him good advice.
It’s a luxury car, a car he’d use only for fun, that will cost more than a third of his present capital. How wise is that? On the other hand, he could flip it for a big profit. But would he want to?
I call Joshua. “This is your decision. I’m neither for or against the purchase, but have you thought about the reason behind your wanting it?” I start to talk of money, time, his need to impress, but he cuts me off.
“I’m thirsty,” he says. “I’ve just gotten in from exercising. I played basketball, and I have cottonmouth. Let me rest and hydrate. I’ll call you back in forty-five minutes.”
He’s angry. He doesn’t really want my advice, and I don’t really want to give him any.
Back off, Ernestina, I tell myself. This is Joshua’s decision.
And suddenly I feel relieved. Lighter. Freer. It’s not my responsibility to tell him what to do. It’s his.