We tally up our times, and it was a photo finish. However, the boat's first-leg lead was ultimately negated by the car's run from the Tiki Bar to Duck Key. According to our numbers, the car was the winner -- by a thin two minutes. If I'd been willing to put on my swimmies on the approach to the Duck Key dock, this might've ended differently.
But there's still the matter of our other contest, the poker hand. We turn our envelopes over to Jones, who opens them with an air of proper gravity. And while Lorio narrowly won the race, my two pair trounces his weak hand. And yet I don't take the AMG-Cigarette Cup, an actual trophy that Jones commissioned for the occasion. You see, our whole sordid band of travelers participated in the poker run, and Mercedes photographer Greg Jarem beats my jacks and deuces with a pair of jacks and threes. The real kick in the Cup? The card I traded to Lorio back at the Tiki Bar turned out to be a two. Which would have given me three of a kind-the winning hand. I tempted fate, and fate punished me for my insolence.
Call me a glass-half-full guy, but I'm still pretty chipper for someone who just conceded both a race and a poker hand by a manatee's whisker. It's hard to get too upset on any day that you got the chance to unleash 2700 hp, in the open air, without traffic or radar traps.
I'll always love cars, but boats offer a palate-cleansing respite from the structure -- both physical and legal -- of the road. You can go over that way, or maybe the other way. Rip some donuts if you want. See what's on the other side of that island -- nobody's stopping you. I'd argue that you can still have a transcendent experience in a car, but generally you have to go looking for it. With boats, those moments just happen. And on a Cigarette, they happen fast.