Karim will arrive in four minutes. My phone tells me he is driving a Tesla with the license plate NEWCAR.
The car is quiet, black, and shiny and there are no plates. As it pulls up, the window lowers, revealing a man with a black moustache and white polo shirt. He smiles and explains how to open the door. I push on the left side of the shiny rectangular metal piece and the right side pops forward.
Resting against the leather seat, I think of the day I once sat in a Batmobile, one of the actual cars from one of the Michael Keaton movies. A family friend collected cars, including a James Bond one. We arrived for Thanksgiving dinner to find the Batmobile in the driveway. Soon after, my dad bought a vintage British taxi with a rear-facing bench backseat.
I am not a car person. In Australia, I drove a used SUV for two years before a young child asked me what kind of car I drove and I realized I had no idea. At this moment, I think it was a Mitsubishi but I would not bet my life on it. Now I drive a Honda because I insisted we buy one. Ten years ago, a Honda saved my life in a head-on collision by releasing its air bags and folding like an accordion. I walked out of that accident with a tiny bruise on my nose. Maybe I am a Honda person.
“Nice car,” I say to Karim, as he speeds toward Dewey Boulevard. He just bought it and tells me it’s a Model 3. “Well it’s really nice,” I say again, checking my phone. I am on my way to meet two friends for dinner. “The ceiling is all glass,” Karim says. Isn’t it though, I want to say, cracking a feminist joke. But I stay quiet and look up to see twinkling stars where I would normally see car. It is exquisite. I ask permission to take a photo to send to my husband. I am in a Tesla Model 3, I text Dave. I do not hear back. He is away with friends for the weekend, kayaking and drinking wine and not caring about what sort of car his wife is sitting in.
Karim presses something on the large touchscreen attached to the dashboard, and tells me he lost $2.7 million in the stock market in 2008. I tell him I’m sorry and that must have been hard. He tells me it was awful, that I have no idea, and then says, “Too bad we’re not going on the highway because I would turn on Self-Driving.”
We talk about the Salesforce tower lighting up like the Eye of Sauron on Halloween and he asks if I’m going out to dinner. I tell him I’m meeting two friends I’ve known since sixth grade. He tells me friends are the most important thing in this life, while driving fifty-two miles per hour down Clipper Street, past red and white signs that say, Drive like your children live here.
Karim pulls over in front of the tapas restaurant and shows me how to open the car door from the inside. I have arrived before my friends so I sit on a bench outside and look up at the sky. I live in a city where an Uber driver owns an electric self-driving robot machine and thousands of people petition for a skyscraper to light up like a Tolkien fairytale. I hear screaming and turn around to see a toddler throwing a tantrum in the middle of the sidewalk.