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images of a hard sell

the international auto show

By David Beach

Long after you have forgotten the skinny little kid living macho fantasies in the cockpit of the MG Midget or the paunchy men pretending they are seriously considering the Jaguar, and long after all the slimy automotive marketing hype has slipped from your mind, one sad image from the auto show stays with you.

It is the image of a woman.

She stands on a revolving platform, an altar carpeted and decorated with flowers. She wears a beautiful evening gown. Her hand rests on the showroom-perfect car.

As you approach she does not move, more like a mannequin than a model. But you can tell that she sees you, watches you. Sizing you up. Plugging you into the categories--do you come to leer or just to look at the car?

And thus you are dismissed.

But if you stay a while, linger and watch her eyes with more than the usual purient interest, maybe you can see her soften.

Maybe her eyes will brighten for you. Perhaps they will even take on a sudden urgency, as if she wants to tell you something very much, as if she wants to explain and justify--yes. I can also see the awful absurdity, the politics of the situation, but it's not really so bad, it's a job, there are coffee breaks, for a while it's okay...

And maybe she will rush to you and, now fiercly animated, try to speak aloud.

Before the revolving platform carries her away.

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