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Here & Now

I don’t know about you, but it seems that each year I’ve become less and less inclined to step out of my routine. All that changed the night a truck ran a red light and made a significant impact, so to speak, on my outlook. Living through a serious crash not only dictates how you will dispose of your savings; it makes you want to change things. Play more. Stop sweating the small stuff. Color outside the lines. Dust off some dreams and fantasies, and see where they lead. 

So naturally, when I got the invitation recently, I grabbed my checkbook and headed over to London Aviation’s hangar at Naples Municipal Airport. To the accompaniment of excellent wines and artisan hors d’oeuvres—and flanked by two cushy, state-of-the-art Learjets (also available for investment this evening)—Bentley Motors was unveiling its sassy but refined Continental Supersports Convertible. Is “British blueblood sex appeal” an oxymoron? With its twin-turbocharged W12 engine capable of 202 mph, Bentley simply calls it “potent.” Potent, indeed: This proper little sports car is, in fact, the fastest four-seat convertible in the world.

Still, after my truck encounter, I’m more inclined toward “solid” than “potent.” So I turned my attention to the stately 2011 Mulsanne: old money classiness to the max, every handcrafted, hand-polished millimeter of it. Even the gearbox and fuel filler cap are described in jewelry and fine furniture terms. Bentley spokesman James Barclay has popped over from London to point out the obvious: The 2011 Mulsanne is the most sumptuous car the 90-year-old company has ever made. The cost of this rolling objet d’art, with a few simply-must-have extras, is approximately $300,000, not counting the chauffeur. (Well, really, who would have a Mulsanne, with its privacy blinds between front and rear compartments, without a chauffeur on call?)

I’m pretty sure most of the guests this evening have their checkbooks handy also, so while I have Mr. Barclay’s attention, I ask, “What if I am prepared now to purchase this satiny, sapphire-blue V-8, with its buttery leathers and burr walnut woods, integrated multimedia system and mood lighting?”

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” Mr. Barclay says. “All 800 of the 2011 Mulsannes are completely spoken for. Orders placed this evening are for the 2012 models.”

A pity. I’m in the mood for change right now. With a final wistful glance at the Learjets and the Mulsanne, I depart in search of more immediate fantasy satisfaction.

There’s no sticker price on “stop sweating the small stuff.” So, starting today, I plan to send loving thoughts to people who do annoying things. This means you, dear grocery checker with your finger on the conveyor belt button while you check out the customer in front of me. I will think happy thoughts and practice my yoga breathing as my bread gets mushed in a pileup between the laundry detergent and the cranberry juice, and my greeting card slides under a bag of wet red grapes. And you will feel the love and take your finger off the button, and it will be a perfect world.

After I master that one, I’ll get bolder. I’ll toss out my neutral lip-gloss in favor of Lancôme’s bright red L’Absolu Rouge, and supplement my safe black wardrobe with vibrant colors. My hair has been brown all my life. How boring is that? I should go burgundy. Or an “I own this room” auburn, a la Nicole Kidman at the 2010 Oscars. I’ll get invited to more parties. Perhaps a certain former Paramount Pictures president, who happens to live just down the road, will invite me to his exclusive annual Academy Awards party on Oscar night. All the guests come as film superstars. I’ll be channeling red-haired Cher, from the movie Burlesque.

I can’t actually be Cher, of course. But I could reinvent myself. I’ll use the name method I once read in a magazine. If you’re considering a career in burlesque, the article said, you’ll need an appropriate name. Like Renee Zellweger as Roxie Hart in Chicago. The best technique is to combine the name of your first (or favorite) pet with the street name of your childhood. My first pet was a cocker spaniel named Lady, and I grew up on Winter Drive. So, my burlesque name would be “Lady Winter.” Yes. Perfect for an auburn-haired, lipstick-wearing, confident and serene woman of a certain age, don’t you think? 

Oscar night is coming up Feb. 27; so if you’re reading this, Mr. Paramount Pictures President, call me. To everyone else, have a great February anyway. Be kind to your grocery checker. Color outside the lines. And don’t wait for an inauspicious meeting with a truck to fulfill some fantasies here and now. 


What’s your burlesque name?

It’s easy to try your burlesque name on for size: Name of first pet (or favorite pet) plus first street name. Don’t mention to her that I told you, but Tessa Tilden-Smith, our creative director here at Gulfshore Life, could have a great burlesque career as “Honeybun Palmyra.” For Kellie Burns, it would be an easy jump from NBC2 anchor to burlesque queen as “Billie Camelot.” And when the eminent Bill Barnett retires his gavel next year as Naples’ mayor, he’ll definitely need some wardrobe consulting in his new role as “Duchesse Burling.”

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