"Follow the signs to Terminal C temporary parking." It was beautiful bright Saturday in August, the kind of day that can only be described as perfect with a perfect minute maid yellow sun hovering in the sky blue. August stickiness had miraculously evaporated.
As I led my friend's 13-year old nephew across the temporary parking lot of LaGuardia Airport, even the airport seemed like a pretty place in weekend midmorning hours. Toting a roller bag, that was bigger than him without complaint, I could tell he was a good kid. And suddenly, I anticipated his reaction to what was coming next.
When the boy spied the chariot of choice to transport him, I had suddenly earned instant cool points. Major cool points. I was now officially, for ten seconds, his aunt's coolest friend. Shameless exploitation of youth is not beyond me. Shoot if I was 13, I would get excited at the site of a freshly gleamed 2007 Cadillac EXT glistening with 22-inch chrome rims.
With unabashed glee he opened the lift gate and took great pleasure in hoisting his bag in and took his place in the front seat, fiddling with the Navigation system. I informed him that it would be his job to guide us there. He told me that he hoped his dad would get this truck.
In the early teen years, when fancy stuff started to have major appeal, a sticker price of $53,335, and an extra $8405 in options would have seemed like no big deal. Come to think of it, $1295 for rear seat entertainment would have probably seemed like small change. The extra fixings on the car, in fact, are what made the three-hour car trip fly by.
We were off to meet his auntie and our other friends at the very scenic Shelter Island, destination Sunset Beach Hotel for a birthday celebration. They had left the day before. I offered to scoop up the nephew since my departure was delayed by a deadline.
As we pulled onto the I-495 optional power sliding sunroof ($995) open, the excitement was infectious - he was pumped for the ride, and I was dreaming about the beach chair awaiting my arrival.
When you get other people kids in your care, and you're not a parent yourself, certain rules come into effect. When it's not your kid, slightly spoiling is deemed definitely okay. When the boy pulled out his rap CDs most assuredly father-approved clean versions, I let him play DJ, turning up the volume on the Bose 5.1 surround system.
And after we made our way through Lil' Wayne without curse words, I allowed him to tinker with XM radio. The unedited XM hip hop station had quite a few phrases I pretended not to notice, as we exchanged coconspirator looks.
I gave him some tips on football training and he in turn showed me how to lean with it - the dance all the kids have been doing. Together we found that whenever I "leaned" with the music in a backup, the traffic seemed to move along.
As we made our way outside of New York City traffic, I was able to open up and taste the roar of 403 hp in my hefty load and my young companion, encouraged my lead foot. "Pass him!" he exclaimed. I could felt the stability of all wheel drive on slick surfaces, scooting through the heavily traveled path to the Hampton's - New York's summertime escape.
The handling was similar to the rest of GM's full-size lineup, but the additional weight distribution of the truck did make it a bit more work to handle in snug lanes, and with stop and go, I needed to give myself ample time to work the pedals, managing all the extra pounds.
The final test of EXT's cool came on the Ferry ride to Shelter Island. By then my young friend was right at home. He took his time getting out of the truck when we arrived at the trendy hotel, unimpressed by the scene on the beach and the bar.
I on the other hand was ready to sprint for a taste of relaxation. But when it came time for sandcastles, all was in order. On the next day, I set off for home alone, refreshed and relaxed, as my friend and her nephew followed later in the day in the BMW 325 convertible.
He was happy to be with his aunt, but let everyone know he was sad to say goodbye to his seat riding high in the Escalade. Yet, I wasn't entirely on my own, slowly making my way back to New York. My friend, her nephew and the BMW caught me buying sweet corn on the side Route 25, the lady in the Escalade EXT, standing out from the Sunday drivers.