Last week I rolled The Red Shark from her darkened cavern into a weak sunshine that lapped at her pale skin for the first time in many long winter months. Seven days shy of the ides of March, I fired her up and the glorious sound of a 5-liter Porsche V8 hit the sterile air and bare trees with a reverberating and authoritative thump that transcends anything Detroit ever bolted together.
I pressed a button and opened the sunroof, and as the late winter sun fell upon my receding hairline I swear I heard the heavens open in a crescendo of violins, harps and angel song. I considered that the fuel she was burning was several months old, but The Red Shark was ingesting it with a gusto that divulged her inherent and lusty hunger, and within moments the windows were down and I sparked a smoke to commemorate the occasion, feeling expansive and perhaps even a bit imperious as I blew my noxious fumes into the frigid wasteland of my birth.
I pulled into a diner that advertised breakfast for $3.99, and shutting down the big Porsche 928S4 I intended to load up on a hideous mountain of scrambled protein, animal bi-products, and cured, salted meat. I found myself at the counter with two ancient codgers, and one of them leaned over towards me, his breath foul with the odious scent of processed meat, and he said, That’s a nice car you got there, boy. Betch’a put in a lot of extra hours for that little trophy bride, eh? And he and his pal degenerated into the low and knowing chuckles of pernicious wisdom.
My three-egg Lumber Jack Special was delivered with all the fanfare of the previous 10,000 plates which came before it. Yup, he added. I’m sure that Dolly cost you a pretty penny. He took another bracing slug from his bottomless cup of coffee, his hundredth of the day, and as he tried to refocus his eyes on me he added, Had me a fancy car once, with a rumble seat and a metalflake paintjob. Just had to have it--Lord knows why.
What are you, some kind of wiseacre? he asked heatedly. What else do you think they’d put in that spot? A satellite dish? A microwave oven? He looked at me as though I were an idiot.
Well, I began, fumbling, I’ve never actually sat in a rumble seat
Figures, he spat. Let me tell you something. It was never actually worth the cost. Oh, it looked like a good deal, that leather seat gleaming in the sunshine, but I never actually got to sit in it, to enjoy it. I was always too busy working to make the payments on time! It breaks my heart to think about the time I’ve wasted driving to work, droning along in the passing lane at a crawl, day after day, week after week. I don’t think I ever enjoyed a minute of it. I’d like to have all that wasted time back.
It was then that I decided to take leave of my breakfast companions, and I stepped into the sunlit promise of a spring day in early March. I drew a full breath of fragrant and inspiring air into my lungs and felt infused with the potential for rebirth. I looked at my car across the lot, sitting pretty against the drab backdrop of late winter, a brilliant red mechanical jewel contrasting the empty nakedness of the dreariest New England months. I found myself once again admiring her lines and long curves, the stance of the machine, the way the rear of the car transitions so beautifully into the sideso unmistakably Porsche. I climbed in and twisted the key and for the second time on that wonderful day the bare trees echoed with the thumping and rhythmic sound of a Teutonic V8.
I watched the gauges spring to life and thought about what that old geezer had said. I’m sure that when I get to his point in life I’ll have my own set of unimpeachable gripes, and that, like him, I’ll be more than willing to heap them onto anyone who’ll listen. But one thing I’m sure of, my dear Hanzy, one thing I’m absolutely sure of, one of them won’t be moaning about time I’ve spent driving to work in my car.