With Hurley beside me and the toll basket looming, I rolled past, threw the money in, and accelerated. But the bar across the road didn't go up, and I braked. The bar rose, and I lurched forward. Hurley said nothing. Good. He was supposed to be sleeping so he would be fresh for the first race at 8:30 a.m. With relief, I got back up to speed and cruised into the night.
What was that choking sound? I looked at Hurley. His hand was clamped over his mouth. His chest was heaving; tears were rolling down his cheek.
"What?" I demanded.
"Buh-HA-HA-HA!" was his reply.
"You didn't like my clutch foot?" I said through clenched teeth.
"More like club foot!" He couldn't stop. He howled with laughter, wiping his eyes, controlling himself for a moment, then losing it again.
"Get a grip," I muttered. "You haven't laughed this hard at any of my jokes."
"Who would have thought you couldn't drive?!" (One Lap For Practice, December 1994)
"Who would have thought you couldn't drive?" he quotes himself from the passenger seat, seventeen years later.
"You are so slaying me now," I snarl, and nail the gas. Thank God this car has PDK, I think.
Hurley loves the Turbo: "This is absolutely my most favorite of the 911s. It has power, comfort, looks. It's so good that it makes even a bad driver look good." (I give him the stink eye.) "I am just making a statement, not pointing fingers."
Getting through the cold, gray wasteland that is Ohio is our only chore. "Where are we?" asks Hurley, as we approach industrial Dayton on the Great Miami River. "It's depressing." "No, it's not. This is the home of the Engineers Club of Dayton, started in 1914 by Charles Kettering. It celebrates great Dayton inventors, like the Wright Brothers and the guy who invented the pop-top can." I believe I hear a snort.
"Is this Cincinnati?" he asks fifty miles later. "Depressing. If I lived where it snowed, I would want it to snow a lot. Not this gray, depressed..."
Hurley: "Not what I had in mind.
"Aspen," we say in unison. I'm on to him.
As I drive, Hurley cheerfully immerses himself in a special BBQ issue of Popular Plates magazine featuring Roadfood's Jane and Michael Stern. Hurley is a fabulous cook and is carefully reading each of the ninety-some recipes within its pages. "Lemon icebox pie!" he exclaims. "That's my favorite! I make this. Wait. Egg whites? It says here, 'Whip egg whites until frothy.' Egg whites! This is a damn secret revealed!" he chortles.