Jay Leno gripped the wheel of the affordable Saturn Aura sports sedan so tightly that his knuckles went as white as the exterior finish, and he could feel the skin of his palms wearing away to blisters. Perhaps he should have brought one of his many, many pairs of calf’s leather driving gloves. Calves, of course, are baby cows that have barely had a chance to live in this world, babies really. But it was important to slaughter them and turn them into driving gloves because their hides were softer and they felt nicer against Jay Leno’s fat, important hands. One time, a cousin offered him regular leather driving gloves as a birthday present. “I know that you love driving your cars, Jay,” his cousin said. “I thought these would be fun to wear while you’re driving, just like a real race car driver!” Jay Leno’s eyes went flat and dead. He shoved his cousin into a swimming pool and stormed out of the party. At home, he burned the gloves over a burner on his Viking 8-range stove. It was the only time he ever used that stove.
A car next to him at a stop light was honking its horn, and the people inside were pointing and waving. Jay Leno wanted to die from embarrassment. He shielded his face, but it was too late. A woman in the passenger seat rolled down her window. “Hi Jay, we love you!” she said. “This is so exciting!”
Jay limply waved back. “It’s not my car,” he said.
“What?” the woman asked, brightly.
“This isn’t my car,” Jay Leno said. “This is a poor person’s car.”
The woman looked puzzled. “That’s not your car?”
“No,” Jay Leno said. “This is FUCKING HUMILIATING.”
The woman smiled thinly at him as she looked at her children in the backseat. “OK,” she said.
“DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY MOTHERFUCKING INCREDIBLY RARE AND CRAZY EXPENSIVE CARS I OWN?” Jay shrieked.
The woman nodded. “You know, you do talk about cars a lot, so that makes sense. I find that facet of your personality extraordinarily boring. We all do. But I guess I can see now how driving a sensible Saturn Aura sports sedan would go against your self-indulgent love and appreciation for vanity automobiles.”
Jay Leno just shook his head, and he began to cry. The woman got out of her car and came over to Jay and put a comforting hand on his shoulder. It was a very long traffic light. Maybe it was broken. “Hey,” she said, “come on, Jay Leno. It’s not so bad.”
Jay Leno looked up at her, his chin quivering (you can imagine) and his eyes glossy and red-rimmed and full. “But,” Jay Leno said, a catch in his throat, “how will I prove that I’m better than other people. That I’m richer and have a more exciting life?”
“Aw,” the woman said. “People know that you are rich. Everyone knows.”
Jay Leno turned, his hands still on the steering wheel, the plastic of which was getting much hotter in the sun than he was used to with antique leather-wrapped steering wheels, or at least steering wheels beneath his beloved calfskin leather driving gloves, and stared out at the road ahead of him. “But how can I flaunt it? If I am not driving around in a preposterous sports car on which I spent way too much money, one that gets terrible gas mileage and is an insurance hazard to have on the open road, not to mention the fact that while you might not realize it, being a civilian with an income that probably isn’t even the tens of millions of dollars and who has never seen a 1969 Lamborghini Espada much less been behind the wheel of one, but some of these cars are very difficult to drive and not that fun in reality, how will people know: hey, there is Jay Leno, and he is better than us, you can tell by that car?”
The woman stroked Jay’s heaving shoulder with her thumb but said nothing.
“Do you have a website for all of your cars?” Jay Leno asked, hopeful.
“Of course I don’t. It wouldn’t be much of a website. And besides, only an asshole would have something like that.”
“I have a website for all of my cars. It’s called http://www.jaylenosgarage.com. It’s a whole website just about my airplane hangar full of cars. And here I am, sitting in a regular car that some stupid idiot who actually thinks I am funny might own.”
The woman smiled sympathetically. Jay realized now that she had been riding in the passenger seat of a Saturn Aura sports sedan herself. It was such a normal, mid-size car that he didn’t even see it. His eyes couldn’t process such a non-ridiculous and non-too-expensive-people-are-starving-in-this-world thing. “Can I ask why you’re driving this car in the first place?” the woman asked, not unkindly.
Jay Leno frowned and looked around as if the answer were written down somewhere. “I think it’s just the conceit of this story,” Jay Leno said. And then Jay Leno started to cry again. And the woman gave him one final pat on the back and got back into her car. And the light finally turned green.