A red 1967 Mustang convertible, black interior, a boss 302 V8, top down, headed into Arizona Red Rock country. Feels good. Anyone who thinks a car is just transportation should ask a sixteen-year-old boy or a forty-two-year-old man. Rob, or Rob-Bob-Bobby-Robert, each name he was called by a variety of people, was thinking about what it was all meant, in that place, at that moment.
Rob-Bob-Bobby-Robert took off about an hour earlier, with his ‘67 version of pop culture at a speed of a hundred on the open, flat, straight Arizona highway. How could he not? It was a thrill, but not like the first time. Rob-Bob-Bobby-Robert wondered if there were any first time thrills left.
Ford came out with a 1994 version of this car that Rob-Bob-Bobby-Robert thought came close. Yet, it was the version for 40-50-somethings who wanted the sixties experience with air bags.
Rob-Bob-Bobby-Robert wanted the real deal, just like the one he had in college. Sure, it had the loose, rattle build of US cars of the time when dominance meant not trying harder. Muscle was all that mattered. Taking a Mach 1 Mustang above a hundred miles per hour, with the loose feel of cheap construction, was the supreme high for American youth.
Rob, as he was called at this point in his life, wondered if his mother realized that such a simple name for her son would mean a life of confusion and identity mistakes.
“Robert,” someone would say when they first met, “Do they call you Robert or Bob?”
“Do they call you Bob or Rob?”
“Do they call you Bobby?”
It was strange that, through the years, they never hit what name he was currently using. In the Robert-Bob days, he was Bobby, as in Kennedy. In the Bob-Rob days, he was Robert, what his wife called him. As a little kid, he was Robbie, but he put that name behind him as quickly as possible.
Now he was Rob. Simple, just as he had made his life. It was just him, his car, a few things in back, and the highway.
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