CORNWALL, N.Y. -- Bad times are best enjoyed in the rearview mirror. So mostly for the heck of it, I got in the 2009 BMW 135i coupe and drove here nearly 300 miles from my home in Northern Virginia.
The women in my family would've had me do otherwise -- hop a plane, take a train or, God forbid, ride a bus from Virginia to New York. I will do that sort of thing eventually.
But now I'd rather revel in my hypocrisy, passionately proclaiming my support for mass transit while doing everything in my power to avoid it.
That, to many people, including some in my family, is an unseemly charade, one worthy of a politician -- other than, of course, Vice President Biden, who seems to have a genuine thing for Amtrak.
But I can explain.
I love cars. I am hopelessly addicted to them, although I am keenly aware of their rather steep downside in matters environmental and energy. I require no intervention. None would work, anyway. Just put me in something like the 135i coupe and let me go.
It is the kind of car loved by people who love driving -- rear-wheel drive, diminutive yet gifted with power (in this case, 300 horsepower delivered by an inline six-cylinder engine) and wonderfully agile on surfaces such as Angola Road here, which twists, turns, dips, disappears and reappears around curves.
There's just something to love about a car that intuitively follows all of that. It's like the motorized version of a faithful dog -- I'm thinking chocolate Labrador -- who follows you everywhere, knows your moves, and senses your mood. It is the car as pet.
That means it also comes with a few surprises -- happily, all of them good. The first is comfort.
Coupes and roadsters inherently are selfish cars, "me-mobiles" often expressly designed for the pleasure of the driver. The 135i certainly delivers on that score. But even there, it does its job in a way that doesn't wear out the car's driver or its passengers.
A part of the secret is BMW's application of common sense. Unlike some of its rivals, BMW does not attempt to stuff five seats into a compact coupe that is more desirable for four people. There are four seats -- two up front and two in the rear, and that's that. The result is enough headroom and legroom for four people, which helps to keep those four people reasonably civil on long trips.
The second surprise is the sheer ease with which the135i graces the road. Put another way, it does a good job of providing driving excitement without demanding Grand Prix racing competence from the driver.
I like that. I want to have fun behind the wheel without being made to feel less than worthy for sitting there, which is the way some automobiles -- I'm thinking the $1.45 million Lamborghini Reventon -- can make you feel.
Models such as the Reventon are so expensive, so powerful, so technologically sophisticated, and so darned fast, they quite literally leave you breathless, thinking that you should be somewhere else instead of the driver's seat, overwhelmed with the anxiety of possibly crashing the thing or doing some other damage that will scar you and the car forever.
There is excitement in driving cars such as the Reventon. But, for me, there is no fundamental joy in doing so, certainly not the kind I get from getting behind the wheel of a well-crafted, well-balanced, reasonably affordable (for successful entrepreneurs or wage slaves still fortunate enough to be in jobs that pay higher tax-rate salaries) coupe such as the BMW 135i.