THE LANE OF oncoming traffic ahead of me is clear, so I use one hand to spin the wheel to the left and point the hood of the car up Pescadero Creek road. My other hand is cradling the white cue ball that tops the stick shift, and as I tighten my grip, I push the stick forward and away to put the car into third gear.

I back out the clutch and press the accelerator—really, just giving it a little nudge—and my passenger and I go leapfrogging straight up the hill, the exhaust popping and burping behind us.

The mighty Brraapp comes rippling up through the back of the car and swats our ears in the same way a wet, low B-flat from the sousaphone in a New Orleans brass band rattles you when you’re standing a little too close but you don’t care because you’re so lost in the heat and the booze and the rhythm. I push down harder toward the floor and suddenly we’re doing 54 mph straight up the hill. It’s exhilarating.

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