Yesterday, I did some research. I didn't set out to do the research, but I was driving by a parking lot when I saw a little, pastel yellow VW Beetle convertible. "That's it," I said. "That is the car in the book I'm currently writing." I had already done a scene that takes place inside the car, and I knew I needed to check out a real one before long.
But I needed to examine the interior, and wanted a few shots. There was no way to see through the glare of window without cupping my hands and pressing my nose against the glass.
Really hard to be unobtrusive with your nose against the glass. Besides, I was afraid I'd leave nose prints that would be admissible in court, and there was a woman in a minivan watching my every move. I wasn't sure how the "But, Officer, I'm a writer, and..." defense would work on the police.
So, I locked up my car and with the camera strap dangling, I paced into the bowling alley, and straight up to the snack bar. "I have a weird request. I'm looking for the owner of the light yellow, VW Bug out in the parking lot. Do you know who owns it?"
The waitress balanced a plate filled with beefy french fries, a thick hamburger, and a fat dill pickle in one hand, and a club sandwich with a bag of chips in the other. She nodded to the way I came in. "Yeah, it is one of the people in the hair salon, I'm pretty sure."
I raced out and across the parking lot to the beauty parlor. Three woman sat in various states of dubious beauty, while three other women stood behind them with scissors, bottles of die, or blow-dryers. They all looked up when I came in.
"May I help you?" The nearest employee glanced at my hair and grimaced, probably realizing my hair is beyond help.
I took a bracing, I-am-totally-confident-and-I-do-this-all-the-time-and-it-it-no-big-deal-and-I-am-not-acting-like-a-weirdo breath. "Yes, I have a question. I'm a writer and I need to speak to the owner of that cute little VW convertible out in the parking lot."
One of the women stopped, scissors open above a clump of hair held up by a comb. She glanced down at my camera, then up at me. "That's my car."
I trotted over to her. "I'm a writer and I've just written a scene which takes place in your car, well, not your car, but a car just like yours, and I realized I wasn't sure about the interior of the car. Would you mind if I get a few pictures of it?"
As soon as she had finished with her client, she came out in the parking lot and answered a bunch of questions, pointed out how to open and close the windows, the roof, the automatic locks, and made me promise to bring her a book if I get published.
When I was finished, it occurred to me I could have gone to a dealership and looked at one there, but that is too dangerous. I miss my VW Cabrio too much. I was afraid I might trade in my Subaru.
Aren't those flowers cute?