This is Gabe. He's three years old. I heard him before I saw him, he was attending the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR in Puyallup, WA (on the 5th of June, as you can see in the photo) with his mother and his two grandmothers, and when he saw MAX, he yelled, "Wow, what a big car!"
"Never heard that one before," I told his mom.“Everybody else thinks it’s a little car.”
MAX did look bigger than usual, because it was scooched (mostly) into a 10-by-10 booth inside one of the display buildings; the previous tenant of the booth had decided he'd rather be outside so MAX snagged his booth space.
Big or little, Gabe thought MAX was pretty fantastic. I assured his mom he could touch it all he wanted and he pored over every inch of it. I told him he could push the Honk button (I warned our neighbors first) and told him he couldn't push the Start button (I'd taken the keys out of course, but it’s good for three year olds to be reminded there are buttons in this world that are best left unpushed). He sat in the passenger's seat and then he sat in the driver's seat and he asked a million questions...
"Is this Speed Racer's car?" he asked. I've never seen Speed Racer's car so I couldn't say for sure, but I know MAX looks like a lot like Speed Racer's car because people ask me that all the time. All I know about Speed Racer is what it says on Wikipedia; it was a Japanese anime that ran on U.S. television in the late 1960s and has retained something of a cult following. Apparently Gabe is a big Speed Racer fan, courtesy of his dad, and Gabe's reaction to sitting in MAX was like he was in Disneyland on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. What could be better?
The FAIR was closing in about an hour, and I'd be heading out then. I asked his mom, very discreetly, “Do you think Gabe would enjoy a little drive around the parking lot before I go?” Yes, she was confident he would enjoy that.
This trip from Cave Junction to Puyallup was my first drive on the Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max tires (mentioned in MAX Update No. 69) and while I’m not prepared to draw any conclusions until I do actual comparison tests between these tires and others, I do have one interesting observation to share. I wanted to push MAX outside before driving it (safety first) and MAX, at 1,200 pounds and with high mileage tires on a smooth flat cement floor, pushed around as easy as a grocery cart. So when the time came for our drive, I said, "Hey Gabe, how about you push and I'll steer?”
In brief, Gabe pushed MAX all over that building. We’d almost made it to the big doors on the east end when they sent us across to the big doors on the west end (I’d tried to Exit through the Enter door) and when we crossed the hall for the second time, people were giving me that child-abuser look. I was briefly tempted to say, "And you’ll keep pushing that car until you apologize, young man," but Gabe laughed enough that they could tell I wasn't punishing him. We got outside eventually, and Gabe got strapped in while mom and grandmoms took a zillion pictures, and off we went for a spin. Gabe loved it, and we had this big empty parking lot, so I figured what the heck and said, “Gabe, do you want to go fast?
He didn’t answer. "Gabe?"
He looked up at me and said, "I'll have to think about it."
My gosh, three years old. I doubt I spoke those words before I was 30, and I have the X-rays to prove it. We drove back to his folks at a mom-pleasing sedate pace, for another extended photo session, and I'm tempted to put a big number 5 on the door, so MAX will really look like Speed Racer's car.
Here's more on MAX at the FAIR: