The Perfect Date
Lightning wants nothing more than to give Doc a night he'll never forget, but he is clueless about how to go about doing it.
Disclaimer: This story is based on Cars and its characters and situations, all created and owned by Disney and Pixar.
"Hypothetically speaking, say you really like someone and want to take them out on a date, but you don't think that they like you that way. You're not even sure if you're their type. What would you do?"
The two cars were parked at Flo's V8 Café, enjoying an early morning bout of fuel. The usual cars were there as well: Fillmore, Sarge, Flo, and Ramone. Today, Luigi was there as well. Fillmore was arguing with Sarge about government conspiracies as usual while Flo, Ramone, and Luigi were chattering about how great their businesses had been doing since the influx of new customers.
"Aw shucks, Lightnin'. Didn't you and Sally jus' stop seein' each others las' week?"
The tow truck was right. Just last week, he and Sally had gone on their last date. Lightning had taken her out and then broken up with her.
"Is it another car?" she asked.
"Nononono!" Lightning protested, albeit a little too enthusiastically. "It's not that! It's just… I realized that I don't like you the way I thought I did." At Sally's confused and slightly hurt expression, he hastily continued. "I like you more. Like I would a sister. I love you a lot but the spark's gone, you know what I mean? But it's not you; you're still the prettiest car around. I just… I don't know, but I didn't want to lead you on or anything."
Sally looked thoughtful. "I guess I know what you mean. Like…we've been through so much together that we feel more like best friends than lovers?"
"Yeah, yeah!" Lightning latched onto the idea like a lifeline.
"I'm kind of surprised, but thanks for not leading me on. And well, there is this rather dashing car staying at the Wheel Well who has been dropping hints all week…"
Lightning laughed, glad she had taken it so well. "You give him one of those looks of yours and he'll never know what hit him." She smiled and looked wistfully down the road.
"You up for one last drive, Stickers? Just for old times' sake?'
"You sure do move on fast. So who's the lucky gal this time?" Mater commented, sipping his fuel.
"Of course I'm fast! I'm Lightning McQueen! Ka-chow!" He flashed his bolt, chuckling. But he sobered up quickly. "I can't tell you that, Mater. It's a secret."
"But Lightnin', we're best friends! Y'know you c'n tell me anythin', righ'?
"I know, but this is different. It… It might make you think differently of me or maybe even hate me. And I don't want that—or anything—to come between us."
"Nothin' you say c'd ever come between the two o' us," Mater declared proudly.
Lightning sighed. "I want to believe you, Mater, but this is… This is just too big."
"I don't git what's wrong. Are you embarrassed about her? Is she rusty? Is she married? Is she old? Shoot, Lightnin', it's not me that you're fancyin', is it?"
"No!" Lightning yelled.
"Gosh darn, I'm not that hideous, am I?"
"No, of course not, Mater," Lightning assured his friend. "It's…" He frowned, looking away. "It's not you, but it is a guy." He stopped there, unsure about how this new information would be received. Oh, no. Mater was giving him a funny look; he could feel it. He felt like shrinking into a tiny ball.
"Well?" Mater asked impatiently.
Lightning gave him a bemused look. "Well what?"
"Well, is you gonna tell me or not?"
"You mean, you're not grossed out?"
Mater gave him a pitying look, as if he were the stupidest car in the entire world. "We isn't hatin' folks 'round here," he replied. "Love is love, n' whether you like guy cars or girl cars don't matter. And jus' 'cuz a car likes them gentlecars better than the misses don't mean his love ain't real."
Lightning stared at him, jaw dropped. Those were the wisest words he had ever heard from his best friend. Inspired by Mater's alleged open-mindedness, he decided to confide in the tow truck. He sighed.
"It's Doc Hudson."
"Doc Hudson!" Mater exclaimed, staring at him for a full ten seconds before bursting out in loud, raucous laughter. "You've got the hots for ol' Doc?"
"Shhh!" Lightning glared. Ramone, Luigi, and Flo were driving over to join them.
"'ey, Lightning, did I just hear what I think I heard? You like ol' Doc?" Ramone asked first.
Lightning glared at Mater, refusing to speak a word. Clueless about the daggers his friend was sending him with his eyes, Mater nodded enthusiastically.
"He was jus' askin' me fer tips on how t' ask Doc on a date!"
Mater's audience "ooh"-ed and Lightning sunk low toward ground, mortified, as they nudged him teasingly with their tires.
"Look, guys, I was just kidding, okay? It was just a joke between good friends, right?" he said nervously. Then he added, "Please don't tell Doc. I don't want him getting the wrong idea or anything." He sighed when they gave him skeptic looks.
"Well, I, for one think it's cute," Flo announced. "Doc's always been part of us, but he isn't usually one for socializing. He just stays at his office all day, doing who knows what. I think it'd be nice to see him with someone who would make him happy. He deserves it for taking care of us all these years, that's for sure. And I'm pretty sure you'd be perfect for the job, sweetie."
Lightning grinned at the show car. "Do you really think so?" he asked hopefully. She gave him a smile and a nod.
"My girl's right, Lightning," Ramone added. "Man, what you gotta do is make a good impression. You gotta show him what you've got and why he should say yes. Make him think, 'Damn, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that would be a shame to turn down.' If you really impress him he won't even think twice before agreeing to whatever you suggest." He grinned impishly, winking at Lightning. "If you stop by my shop Ramone will help you look better than you've ever looked."
Lightning's grin widened. "Thanks, Ramone. I'll be sure to do that."
"Lightening," Luigi spoke up in his heavy Italian accent, "Luigi have advice for you. Do something that you will both enjoy doing. In Italy, I used to take my girl to watch racing because we both were fans of the Ferraris. You must think about what you and Doc have in common and work from there, because your date will turn out very bad if one of you has a bad time."
"Well, that's easy," Lightning said thoughtfully. "We are both racecars."
"Go racing, then," Luigi replied.
Lightning frowned. "But we already do that all the time… I want it to be more than just what we do all the time. I want it to be special." He looked at the floor sheepishly.
Mater laughed. "Who ever knew our Lightnin' were such a romantic fella?"
"Take him out to dinner," Flo suggested. "Sally's opened up a fine new restaurant at the Wheel Well. Simple, but nice. I don't think Doc has gone yet. It'd be a nice place for you two to talk. I'm sure he would appreciate it."
Lightning nodded. He wasn't sure about the Sally part (how in Chrysler's name would he avoid telling her that he was on a date with Doc?), but dinner was a good idea. "Thanks, Flo, I'll definitely keep that in mind."
"You're so wrong, dude. Lightning would so be better off with some of my homemade organic fuel in his system."
The group whirled around to see Fillmore and Sarge join them. Apparently they had overheard the conversation and had decided to give Lightning their own advice. Fillmore gave Lightning's front left tire a friendly bump, nodding slowly. "Show him the love, man. You know what I mean?"
Sarge interjected before Lightning could reply to the hippie van. "Well, soldier. Don't let his attitude discourage you. Show him that you like him just the way he is, grumps and all."
Lightning sighed. "This is going to be more complicated than I'd thought."