Mai-Lee Acea is nothing if not a doting wife. When her husband asked if he could get his vintage car into the house ahead of Hurricane Irma, she dutifully replied, "Yes, no problem, babe."
There was just one tiny condition: He had to figure out how to wedge it in through the sliding glass doors of their Hialeah townhouse. The home doesn't have a garage.
For Mai-Lee, it was the perfect plan. She'd get some points for feigning "compromise," a skill the local couple, married since 2012, have been working on since stints on reality TV shows "Bridezilla" and "Marriage Bootcamp" on We TV.
"We are always arguing, so we've learned a lot of compromising techniques during our marriage," she said. "But I never thought he would do it — it was a joke. That was the compromise."
The joke, it turned out, was on her.
As Mai-Lee was upstairs Friday evening, Tomas Acea was downstairs dismantling the sliding glass doors that lead to their living room, making just enough space to squeeze in his dark red Datsun 240Z, a 1987 Nissan model he has been restoring for two months.
In a video Mai-Lee posted on Facebook, she walks in on her husband and brother-in-law taking apart the glass doors.
"What the f--- did you do to my glass door?" she asks incredulously.
"Where else am I supposed to put 'the Z,' " Tomas replies.
"Actually, that was the fastest I had seen him work," she said Saturday in an interview. "The rest of the shutters must have taken hours but the sliding glass door must have taken 10 minutes."
Tomas backed the car into the living room Friday evening, hours before the first gusts of Hurricane Irma were felt in Miami-Dade County. And for good measure, he covered it with plastic, reassembled the glass doors and boarded them up with metal shutters.
"Babe, you gotta get me some tape," Tomas told his wife in a video on her Facebook as he wrapped the car in plastic.
"Sure, sure. I'll get you some tape for the car in my living room. Not a problem," Mai-Lee replied sarcastically.
And just like that, Tomas joined the ranks of car-obsessed South Floridians, who, faced with the potential devastation of a hurricane, adopt the age-old mantra: No car left behind.
Last year, a couple in Cutler Bay drove a Toyota Venza into their family room ahead of Hurricane Matthew, which ultimately left South Florida relatively unscathed. Including the car in the hurricane plan dates back at least to the 1960s.
The Aceas ultimately boarded up their house, said goodbye to 'the Z,' and went to stay with family to weather Hurricane Irma.
Mai-Lee is still pretty bitter she was duped, though.
"He loves that stupid car more than he loves the rest of us," she said.
Contact Chabeli Herrera at [email protected] or (305) 376-3730. Follow @ChabeliH.