“Right this way, sir.” said my chauffeur.
And here’s where I stop myself. Normally, I’d play this by doing the whole “a chauffeur? Pour moiI?” thing. But not today. Today I didn’t want to be a fish out of water. I wanted to pass for something buttoned up for once. I wanted to experience “class” without it immediately followed by the words “action lawsuit.” And I wanted free appetizers. Can’t judge me for that. Everyone likes free appetizers.
So when my chauffeur pulled up in a white Maserati Ghibli and opened the door, I went for the full Draper.
“Took you long enough, you salty piece of garbage.”
A quick elbow from my editor brought me back down. “Too much. Just…stand up straight, and look like you’re supposed to be there. Be relaxed and vaguely disinterested.”
“Like how I am during my daily visit to Goodwill?”
“For the last time, I don’t want to hear about your personal life.”
We got in, and our driver took us the short distance to the event. Picking his moments carefully, the driver occasionally revved up the engine and took us speeding across 54th street. I don’t know if it we clocked the 5.5 seconds it takes a Ghibli to reach 60 mph, but we couldn’t have been far off.
“Do you do this every day?” asked my editor of the chauffeur.
“Yep. Driving Maseratis all day every day. You get used to it,” he responds. Heavens. What a life.
I wondered how this model was different. We were in Maserati’s new Ghibli model, which is smaller and sportier than their flagship Quattroporte. It’s also available at a lower price point – starting around $65,000 (chump change, for sure). The company is apparently looking to compete with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5s.
According to the Internet, anyway. Being that my most dependable ride was a 1986 Buick Century, this was a new experience. I knew it was fast. I knew it was quiet. I knew they had a special shaded curtain drawn over the back windows, so we looked important. Felt important.
Upon arriving, I felt a little out of place – but that was partially my fault. I had, to date, probably the thickest beard I’d ever grown (in my defense, it was for a public shaving that I was taking part in just a few days later. Still, the guests of this event looked mighty suave and beautiful, compared to my whole Paul Bunyan deal.
I was surprised at what was waiting for us inside the event. Typically, at events like this, it’s hard to escape the features and benefits of the product in question. Here? It felt like the Ghibli was all part of the tapestry.
Let me explain. What I saw felt more like a celebration of the Maserati lifestyle. In other words, there was a chance that there were gearheads there — folks interested in the Ghibli’s 345-horsepower, 3-liter V6 engine, or the fact that it features a Bowers and Wilkins sound system (come to think of it, that’s something WE’RE pretty interested in). But this wasn’t about the nuts and bolts. This was about the kind of person that drives a Maserati. This was about the feel. And with the Ghibli, that feeling became a little bit more attainable.
What we saw were a number of stations with different, non-car-related things to offer. First, we chatted up a gentleman who operated a private airline charter service. To showcase his product, guests were invited to don a pair of 3-D glasses (the new kind, not the blue and red kind, sadly) and view a short film that showed off everything the interior of a cabin could be. Lounge areas. Big, comfy beds. The works. The only potential misstep was that they showed a fireplace with a fake fire screen in front. More than once, they had to field questions about where the smoke went during the flight. Oh, honey…
Approaching the back section of the event we found, much to our surprise, a casino. And a silent auction. Turns out that the party was being hosted by Jets (tie-in!) wide receiver David Nelson, and the auction was benefiting his charity. I checked the autographed Peyton Manning helmet (my nephew is a big fan, you see) but the starting bid was about half of my usual paycheck. Alas. I also wanted to play some blackjack with Man Cave’s generous per diem, until my editor reminded me that Man Cave doesn’t have a per diem, and I’ve accidentally been trashing my credit score for years.
Realizing my sip of the luxurious life was limited, I resolved to make the most of it. Was this what life was like for people who can afford such fine things? They’re just 007ing all the time?
To round it out, the folks at Maserati also offered an open bar with tasty beers (I was not shy about indulging in many a Peroni and Kwak) as well as a selection of hand-rolled cigars. When we arrived, there was one left. I decided to give it to Charity, a dancer I believe was really into me at a club I recently frequented.
All told, we got a nice snapshot into what I’d call an aspirational lifestyle. Good food, good beers, nice cigars, private jets, and — oh yeah, — 6’3” robot models. Er, model robots? Anyway, them too. If this is what Ghibli drivers experience everyday, I’m going to start putting extra nickels in my piggy back pronto.
Brian Cullen really, really enjoys robots but doesn’t understand how they work. He also enjoys drinking beers, and has a pretty solid understanding of how that works. You can read about his musings about both on Twitter @BucketCullen.