‘You need two weeks for that. If you give them your notice tomorrow, which is October 27th. You should be free by November 10th. Can you leave on November 11th?’

‘But I also have a whole household and the lease to worry about.’

‘Let’s not worry about all that now. Once you have done the next issue, you can find a window of time and come back to Chicago for a couple of weeks and wrap things up’.

‘And I have just bought a brand new car!’ It just slips out of my mouth. I hesitate to mention the woman I was in love with.

‘We could ship your car along with your personal belongings!’

Wow! Though I don’t say it. I am tongue tied. It would be something to drive around in a big flashy American boat of a car in the cobblestoned streets of the city of Munich. Well, why not?

This is my first new car and I have madly fallen in love with it. I have dreamt of her sleek, sexy and streamlined shapely body for sometime now. It’s a bit shorter than the long phallic Oldsmobile Cutlass I owned, but somehow classier. I can still ill afford to buy a new car, but one fine morning I find, or more accurately, don’t find my metallic gold  Olds on the street twelve floors below my South Shore apartment on the 67th street and when it’s determined that it’s irretrievable gone, I have no choice but buy another car in a hurry. My job at Time is totally dependent on my ability to drive. So I decide to take a plunge. And as long as I am buying a new car, I decide to buy its top of the line model in gleaming white color and the mottled chocolate-brown vinyl top. Air conditioned and with factory installed AM/FM stereo, rear defroster – automatic transmission of course, slippery sleek beige vinyl interior, power steering, white walls and all. The only thing I miss out on is a cassette player. Eight tracks are barely out of the door and the cassettes are just about to make their tepid entry into the market, having one installed in my car  doesn’t even occur to me. Something that would soon sting me. But not even having to consider leaving behind my Buick makes me enormously happy. It also means that Playboy does things in style!

So on Saturday October 11th, I check into Frankfurt bound Lufthansa flight and arrive in Munich on Sunday the 12th. Work on the Christmas issue, make a short detour to Milan, Italy and return back to Chicago to wrap up my life of four years, bid farewell to all my friends and board another trans-Atlantic flight and return to Munich.

When my stuff and the Buick arrive in January, my friend Dieter (Stark) rolls his eyes and calls it a tank. Dieter’s swanky Opel Sports was my envy when we worked together at Burda in Offenburg, five years earlier.  Dieter now lives in Munich. Amazingly, he works in the second wing of the same building on Augustenstrasse for the graphic reproduction company that does Playboy Germany’s color separations. He rolls his eyes again, pouts, and adds, so ein lastwagen! What a  truck! And then when we would drive around, amazed at my parking skills, he would go, jests du hast zwei parkplätze weggenomen! Now you have taken away two parking spots. But as skeptical as he is, he gets used to my tank-truck, while now he himself is driving a Volkswagen Bug. A perfect city car. But when you’re in love with your chariot, you don’t think of minor details like ease of parking!

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