The sound of a big band jazz ensemble started to permeate in my ears. "I wanna wake up, in a city that doesn't sleep. And find I'm king of the hill, top of the heap", he said.
Ever so slowly, I started to awaken from the past night's deep slumber. Slipping in and out of consciousness, my senses started to pick up. My skin, gracing the finest silk is teased by the rays of sunlight peeking through the windows - bathing the white linen sheets in a bed of warmth. Gently, recollections of last night enter my thoughts like a zephyr on a warm summer morning.
Visions of the sleepy-eyed lady in red, gracefully spinning around in a flamenco dress with the most insatiable laughter come to me. The whiff of the smoke-filled yet fragrant gentleman's lounge in its dim-lit beauty is as lucid as can be. My state of trance finds me approaching the lady, now seated lonesome at the bar with a glass of whisky in one hand and a cigarette in the other. This is looking good, Enzo.
"The loudest thing inside is probably the ticking of the clock, and that doesn't make any noise."
Snapping back into consciousness and still on my bed, I roll over to one side and gather myself. I turn on the shower in the Italian marble bathroom and start pacing in my thoughts as my body starts to detoxify from last night's debauchery. As I step out of the bath, I find my neatly pressed Sunday wear - a tailored chocolate brown sports jacket, a light blue polo, a pair of navy blue slacks, complemented by some brown loafers and only the finest silk pocket square - all beautifully prepared by my valet. Neat work, Eugene.
As I folded the pocket square into my coat, I noticed a blank white card slipped under my wallet. "The Cathedral, 6pm", the penned writing said. For the sake of not stating the obvious, Eugene hands over the keys to my car. With the same odd sensation of my consciousness slipping away, I play with the keys as I walk down the spiral staircase. Peeking in my peripheral through the glass, a provocative and grandstanding automobile grabs my attention. So this is my car? This is spectacular.
Designed to provoke.
Exquisitely bathed in a two-tone paint scheme of Smoky Quartz and Silver Sand, its presence is enigmatic. Paralyzing, even. I'm taken aback by its ability to create drama without yet, the slightest bit of motion. It is a Rembrandt for the driveway. The way its sweeping lines taper off into the rear are reminiscent of a fine Aqua Riva, the quintessential tool for getting around the French Riviera - only this time with a limitless bonnet, four wheels, and a hood ornament.
The Spirit of Ecstasy that has adorned Rolls-Royce bonnets for more than a century can be set to rise and retract as you please. On the Wraith, it is angled a few degrees forward to pay its respects to what is at its feet - the most powerful motorcar engine ever produced by the British carmaker. The self-righting wheel caps ensure that the double R logo is always upright, just in case the people seated on the sidewalk are unaware of what has arrived.
Power. Style. Drama.
I pulled the door handle and the coach door swung unconventionally. I stepped inside a modern contemporary interior that has not at all, hurt the traditional values that make a bespoke Rolls-Royce cabin. A push of a button ignites a 6.6-liter twin-turbocharged engine. Never has a V12 awakened in such blissful peace. With another push of a button, the door swings itself shut, because pulling it yourself is peasantry. Cocooned in the most decadent varieties of leather, I switch it into D, and start rolling off.
Certainty tells me that there is no car in our world, or even theirs, that is as special as a Rolls-Royce. Wafting around at 40 km/h while occasionally glancing at the Spirit of Ecstasy makes you the uncrowned king of a world you once thought was much bigger than ours. Everything is as it looks. If a panel looks like Buffalo hide, it's only because that's exactly what it is. The cabin lights are enclosed in frosted green Art Deco glass, reminiscent of pâte-de-cristal glassware. It is ostentatious perfection.
"Small things make perfection, but perfection is no small thing." - Charles Rolls
The on-board computer system, an aesthetic twist of BMW's iDrive, is the most elegant and tasteful display I've ever seen. The moment Lou Rawls started crooning into the 18-channel Naim HiFi speakers, I was astounded at the quality and separation considering that I was handicapped to Bluetooth audio streaming. I told myself that I wouldn't stare at the polished 'organ stop' controls that operate the air ventilation, but never has allowing air into the cabin felt so opulent.
You can tell that these cylindrical mechanisms have been meticulously handcrafted by artisans and are scrutinized to the millimeter until they are no less than perfect. Only until then are these pieces sent to the assembly line. The teflon-coated umbrellas are concealed on each side of the fender in a compartment equipped with a water drain, a feat that speaks volumes about engineering brilliance behind luxurious extravagance. God, I really do hope it rains.
BORN TO BE BESPOKE.
In a split second, I found myself in what seemed to be an endless road. I buried my right foot on the pedal, and instantaneously the power reserve meter dropped to zero percent, indicating that I've unleashed all 624 horses on the road - enough to launch me from naught to a hundred clicks in a hair-raising 4.4 seconds. It breathes you down the road at supersonic speed, while still on a cloud - a supersonic cloud. As the speed rose, the Spirit of Ecstasy, lower and sharper than ever, conveyed the Wraith's boundless determination as it cut through the wind. Such rapid pace has never, ever been this divine. The engine is so smooth, it must be fueled by single malt whisky. I'm caught in a daze.
At law-breaking velocities, there is all but a suggestion of wind and road noise. Still so unapparent, it could merely be a figment of one's imagination. At low speeds, the outside world is inaudible. The loudest thing inside is probably the ticking of the clock, and that doesn't make any noise. It is no wonder that it takes 450 hours to assemble and craft this machine. The leather inside, so buttery and smooth, develops its own character as time goes by. It doesn't squeak or crack and it never will. Those are Rolls Royce's words by the way, not mine. Only they offer unparalleled personalization for a car. Should you have the patience for it, you may select a color from 44,000 paint hues. If you don't find any, well, they'll create one for you.
"Take the best that exists and make it better. When it doesn't exist, design it." - Henry Royce
More than anything, it's the way the Wraith makes you experience the world through rose-tinted glasses that is elating. Many cars today are dripping in bells and whistles, which dictates that the Wraith should not be anything spectacular, yet here it is, absolutely peerless. No spec sheet can express how you will see the world cocooned in the lap of unapologetic luxury.
Yet here I am, flowing through Manila's unusually empty roads where bumps and potholes can no longer be felt. The tropical sun is two notches brighter, and the sky - two shades bluer. I've laughed aplenty at the wisdom elders have imparted to me for they no longer apply today, but the one thing still truer than true is that, "Nothing announces that you have arrived the way a Rolls-Royce does".
As I pulled up into the cathedral, there she was, sat gracefully in the middle of the courtyard. Rolling into the main ramp and entering the presence of likewise, such a gargantuan and imposing structure, I couldn't help but reflect on how incongruous yet deliciously satisfying it is to drive the most powerful Rolls-Royce through the streets of Manila. Every input I made was featherlight and gentle.
I stepped out of the Wraith with overbearing aplomb. We exchanged a few words and then I realized that it would be unbecoming of me as a gentleman to not waft her away to dinner. As I tucked her in the luscious seats, I made my way to embark the Wraith. While strapping on my seatbelt, she leaned over and seductively whispered words that could never be more true, "This is reverie". I awakened.
Our truest life is when we are in our dreams awake.