Italian cars and cocaine make a good pair, and they hang well on the nouveau riche. Both the shinier the better and made for speed that life doesn’t quite let us open up into.
When in Bologna a few years back, I visit the headquarters, factories, and museums for Ducati, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati on Christmas eve.
Of these, Lamborghini is my clear favorite. Beautiful design.
Ferrari, though, has the best story – and Enzo Ferrari is no doubt the rockstar of the Italian automobile universe.
“Give a child a piece of paper, colours and ask him to draw a car, and surely he will make it red”. —Enzo Ferrari
Bologna is vibrant and interesting, especially right before Christmas.
I climb the classic tourist leaning tower above the other one that is leaning more (and too much to be open to the public) and get my view of the city, but the real magic to the city is on the ground.
Driving around Emilia-Romagna makes it clear why the region spawned so many motorists. It is largely sparse and flat, and the roads are straight. I stay in the one exception to this, the region just south of Bologna, in the foothills of the Apennines, just outside of a small town called Sasso Marconi. But this isn’t where I pair Italian cars and cocaine.
A week later, I round it out with the Alfa Romeo museum. Seeing the machines close-up helps me learn about them. Again, not where I pair Italian cars and cocaine.
I appreciate the passion and beauty of Italian cars. I think they’re sexy. Def wouldn’t kick one out of my garage.
Sadly, Maserati is actually closed, as this is the day before Christmas in a Catholic country. It’s a wonder that any of them are open. I am disappointed, but not too badly, because of all of these vehicles Maserati is the only one I’ve actually ridden in.
The deep hum of the engine distracts me from the fact that the driver is drunk.
She’s a sweet Kansas girl that’s been augmented a bit to play the beauty pageant game among fly-over city royalty. Her prey, a self-made hundredmillionaire and the owner of the Maserati, is in the front passenger seat, also drunk on expensive wine, but doesn’t know that Dorothy has been drinking.
I do, but Dot knows I’ll keep it hush hush because I keep all her dirty little secrets.
Like the time we snorted cocaine together all evening in the bathroom at Mastro’s steakhouse in Manhattan.
But I digress, because now we are here, in Kansas City, driving slowly through traffic in a Maserati that I know if I sat in just long enough in just the right way could make me come.
The sound and the vibration transmits. It feels like something trying to break through. The archetype of power at the ready, unused, is reflected in so many things. Horses at gates. Undrawn light sabers. Banking commercial airplanes.
And at his hometown restaurant here he is, shaking hands and kissing babies, because of course he knows people. He’s a big time real estate developer and she plays the socialite game hard. Clean-cut, robust, balding businessmen and their trophy wives come up to them, say hello at dinner. And she plays her part, gabbing about the next event and the latest charity. And more wine is drank, but this time it’s him that drives us home because, well, men can hold their liquor better, right?
They can maybe, when they aren’t pumped full of cocaine and when that cocaethylene isn’t pachenkoing its way down a different detox pathway allowing them to pour in more of the liquid poison.
But that’s another night. That’s this night.
This night… is ladies’ night.
We’ve dropped the Maserati, it’s New York. This time it’s meet at the restaurant after they take a private plane in.
I’m not drinking much, tonight. The table is having wine and a seafood tower and tons of steak. I don’t do any of those things. I’m eating a small salad and having a couple shots of Mezcal. I’m an expensive date in many ways, but not for the truly wealthy. I wish I could take full advantage of what I know will be a free meal, but I’m sated early.
She’s already past wine-tipsy when we start dinner, and between four of them they go through three more bottles of excellent, expensive wine before she announces she has to go to the ladies room and looks at me expectantly.
It’s a long walk. A carpeted spiral staircase. A lavish bathroom with private stalls with fountains in each. Easy to memorize when you take the trip near half a dozen times. On our way down the first time she says
“I have coke, you want some?”
I think about it for a minute and mistakenly hope that it’s pure. That rich people have good stuff. I forget that she’s not rich people, she’s a rich person’s accessory. And I don’t process yet that she is hiding it from her beau and therefore getting it from her own low market sources.
“Sure!” I say. Part of me knows I’ll regret it. Indeed, it’s the last time I did cocaine.
It’s rarely worth it.
And so we make our way into one of the stalls together, giggling nervously at the closeness and the naughtiness. And she pulls out that telltale folded magazine page with some altogether too dusty and not crystally enough “cocaine”. Tis surely only cocaine in the minority, and many other ridiculously toxic adulterants in the majority, each telling their tale about the places and people the substance passed through on its way from Colombia to Kansas City, and finally today on a private plane to New York City.
My new friend sanitizes and dries the back of the toilet like a pro, and lines them up, two fat rails for each of us. And then she takes out a Benjamin and rolls it tight, placing it under her nostril, slanted over her admittedly compelling Botoxed, lipsticked puckers and away go the lines, one up each side.
I follow. It doesn’t seem like the WORST coke I’ve ever seen. It certainly doesn’t seem like the best, either.
Tonight’s special is not at all what my mind conjures up when I think of Italian cars and cocaine. It should be glossy.
Instead it is chalky. However, it does have enough cocaine in it to make us best friends for the next twenty minutes. I hear about how she is in love with someone else from long ago, but doesn’t want to break hundredmillionaire’s heart, and of course if she sticks with him her life is made.
We take a lot of selfies.
We’re back upstairs for another forty before down again. Then it’s every thirty for a dinner of two more hours. I’m careful about how much I consume, taking smaller and smaller bumps as we go, but it still grounds me the next day.
She has a good heart, but the need to be naughty and do stuff behind his back stems from feeling controlled as a trophy. Kansas City’s groomed her whole life for it, though, and I’m not sure what to make of Dorothy’s gilded cage. She is kind.
Shocks me that no one notices what we’re up to. Maybe they do and just don’t care. Girls will be girls.
After dinner we head to the bar and hang out for another drink. I talk to hundredmillionaire for a while and he asks me what I think. He says he has kids of his own, and she wants ones of her own.
“Give it to me straight, Zoe, we’re doomed, aren’t we?” he asks.
I don’t lie to hundredmillionaires.
They don’t last nearly as long as the Maserati.