Do you know someone who, every holiday season, no matter how great a present that you think you found, manages to find something better, something just perfect? That someone is my sister—the mother, aunt, sibling, or daughter who always seeks out the greatest gift that you never knew you wanted. The person who “wins” Christmas every year. The Master Of Gifts. The Queen.
And let’s be clear: It’s not because she gets the most expensive or the largest or the fanciest gift. No, she triumphs by finding the right gift.
Take, for example, my son’s first car. He was eighteen months old, and she was the only one who clued in to the fact that car was his first word. (I know, I know. Bad Dad fail.) He awoke to find his present sitting invitingly under the tree, at which point the rest of his gifts may as well not have existed.
There is also a pair of animal-head sleeping bags that permanently occupy space in the children’s lower bunks; they were her doing. On occasion, I think about how attached the kids have become to those fluffy contraptions—that and how infrequently they get washed.
This past December, my wife was determined to take the crown with sequined mermaid pillows for the kids, only to be outdone by a simple wooden ice-cream serving set. It would be like getting your best friend a brand-new M4, only for someone else to show with a bright red bow on a Redux E30 M3.
The Giftmeister sister has only two restrictions: children get priority, and her powers are most prominent during the holidays. In fact, for many, many years I never even received a birthday present from her—nothing. Now, this could be because I celebrate getting a year older in February, which is right around the corner from Christmas, and thus succumbs to the second restriction. I simply assumed that she moderated her gift-giving prowess, so as not to imbalance the mystical mojo-karma fueling her.
Wrong. Turns out that she was just biding her time, waiting for the right combination of opportunity and surprise. Then, a few years ago, on an unassuming winter day, a box appeared on the porch. Upon opening it, I found a most magnificent pair of driving shoes. With a quick test-fit, I confirmed that they fit, well, perfectly. A simple card read, “Happy Birthday, Brother.”
It’s still unclear how long my sister was plotting her purchase. She knew that I was driving my car as often as possible, including track time and fun drives, but this does not explain how she was able to get my exact metric foot dimensions. These things fit so well that I have to be careful which socks I wear, so as not to pinch any vital pipelines. They even fit as snugly on the right as the left, which is most peculiar, since my feet are not the same size. Amazing.
And a revelation: Until this point, I had never properly understood the importance of footwear to the process of driving well.
Like a pair of supple leather driving gloves, the right shoes flow with your own appendages, connecting fingers and toes with the steering wheel and pedals. Perhaps one of the great automotive conundrums, tactility is actually increased by adding these extra layers. I can partially understand this interaction with gloves, as our hands are hardwired to sense quite a number of sensations, not all of which are pertinent to the act of driving—filter out the unnecessary signals and enhance the useful ones.
Shoes are a bit trickier.
There are similar benefits with the direct senses, but for me, it’s the improvement to that crucial heel pivot point that transforms the experience. Indeed, with a fixed, rounded, and bulbous extension added to my admittedly imperfect foot, the act of heel-and-toe rev-matching became far more fluid. So that’s how you do it!
Several years after the shoes arrived, on my birthday, an anonymous package of ultra-lightweight wheel spacers arrived. This time there was no note. It would have been redundant anyway.—Chris Doersen
[Lead Image Courtesy of BMW Classic]