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Finding My Way To P-O-R-S-C-H-E



I must have been seven, maybe eight years old. My recollection is that I was in the backseat of one of my father’s massive American gas guzzlers—loud, bumpy, and filled with the rattling tools of his construction trade—fighting with my maniacal little brother. Desperate to end the bickering, my father yelled out, as he often did, “Who wants to play a game?” and we both shot up against the bench seat, knocking him forward into the wheel, tempting death. He said, “I’m going to yell out a name of a car that I see, and the first one that finds it gets a point. Whoever gets five is the winner.”


My father, who’d been divorced from my mother four or five years already, was always making up games like this to help pass the time and make us laugh. My parents were both loving, hysterical, and engaged in our lives, even while loathing each other for most of the seventies, and much of the eighties, too, if I’m being honest. They found a nice groove in the nineties and up until his death in 2012, though, often recounting tales of their early time together with us kids. Those stories were priceless snippets of an often absurd, riotous life filled with frequent moves, unending cats and dogs, and repeated failed attempts at reconciliation. My father’s alcoholism and sporadic returns home at 4 am with an injured seagull he was going to “rehabilitate,” or random new friends he showed up with, each with at least forty tattoos adorning their torsos, were simply too much for mom, so eventually any notions of reconnecting ceased for good.


Back in the car, playing the game with my brother and me, my father yelled out, “Porsche,” and I feel like I wanted to burst out laughing. It was like he made up a word, “POUR-shah,” just to be ridiculous and elicit giggles from the two nutjobs in the backseat, bopping around the cabin like squirrels on Red Bull. There would have been laughter, but then I saw it. A beautiful dark blue “squished Beetle” parked on the side of the road across from the bright orange Howard Johnson’s restaurant.


“It’s not a Beetle,” my father explained, “It’s a Porsche. A sports car. Your Godmother, Carolyn, has a Beetle. Did I tell you that I dated her before your mom? Well, sort of while I was dating your mom, but…” OK, so that last part may have been fabricated, at least in that moment, but the story was true and added another layer to the saga that was Peter & Mary Abare. Even if he’d mentioned it then it wouldn’t have mattered because I was transfixed, enamored with the sloping metal form parked against the curb.


“Looks like a Furr-arr-ee,” my dopey brother probably said at the time, and I likely snickered, but I all I cared about was that it was there, in my eye line, and I’d never seen something so beautiful.


“It’s a German sports car. Porsche. Let’s see if you can spell it. Dave, give it a shot,” my old man said, and the figurative wheels began turning in my head.


“P…O…U—”


“Aaaaaaaaaaaa,” my father said, mimicking a game show buzzer. “Close, but you’re not pouring a drink, so skip the ‘U’.”


“P…O…R…S…H!” I shouted, confident, cocky.


He made the sound again.


My brother, I’m sure, laughed and stuck a wet finger in my ear, which was a move in regular rotation during those days of adolescent sibling torture.


“P.O.R.S.C.H.E.,” my father spelled out. He repeated it over and over, then summoned us to do the same. We complied, and before long we both could spell the name of that squished Beetle forwards, backward, and sideways. It was the first word I ever consciously recall learning to spell other than maybe “cat,” or “mommy.” Something simple from the early paste-eating days.


Although he always admired the Porsches, my father was never obsessed with sports cars the way I was. For me, early in my teen years, I became intoxicated by anything low to the ground with sexy lines, loud noises, and a cool name. Firebirds. Camaros. Corvettes. Mustangs. The latter became my very first car. A 1979 Ford Mustang 5.0, the first year they made it, and tuned to well over 300HP according to my pal Lance who sold it to me. I was barely seventeen, wearing parachute pants with a ginger mullet and sporting a Slayer T-Shirt—this had disaster glowing in neon all over it.


Incredibly, I didn’t crash the car, per se, but I did beat it into the ground so horribly that the entire rear end fell out of the car while I was driving friends into the A&P parking lot in Suffield CT. This may have had something to do with me dropping the automatic transmission into a lower gear while driving at “elevated” speeds on the highway (to make it sound cooler!) on the way home from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I was an excellent driver. Yeeeeah.


The car bug didn’t fade, despite my inability to understand or care for them properly. Although I was broke for most of my late teens and early to mid-twenties, my eyes were drawn to exciting cars. For a while, I satiated my need for speed and adrenaline by owning Japanese sport bikes. Suzuki Katana’s, ZX-11’s, YZF1000’s and all sorts of ridiculous and dangerous toys. It’s amazing I survived the 80s and 90s considering the speeds I’d often travel on these jet-fueled death machines. As fun as the two-wheeled lightning sleds were, they weren’t sports cars. They weren’t a P…O…R…S…C…H…E.


In the mid-nineties I was working as a freelance music writer, interviewing bands as well-known as Blues Traveler, Motorhead, and Van Halen. It was a small regional paper and paid me peanuts for the work, but the owner soon realized that he couldn’t sell ads to save his life, so he let me give it a whirl. I sold twenty-five plus ads my first go around. Don, the owner, was astonished and doubled my commission rate immediately. Then, weeks later, he went out of business. Or at least he told me that he did and instead took all my ad dollars and bought his own Porsche and moved to the Berkshires. I'll never know, as I don’t think I ever knew the guy’s last name even though he was my boss for six months. I was a smart, responsible guy. Still am.


Well, fast forward a smidge from the writing/ad sales debacle, and the father of my then girlfriend, who works in Insurance, asks me, “So how much did you make selling those ads for that paper?” I tell him that I made about four grand in commissions over three months, before the unfortunate implosion.


“Four grand?” he asks, giddy.


“Yeah.”


He and his wife laughed. I mean belly laughed. Roared. Even my girlfriend, his daughter, chuckled. Her brother howled. I think the dog rolled his eyes.


“What’s wrong with that?” I asked.


“Nothing, if you want to drive a ten-year-old Hyundai the rest of your life.” The gang all cackled.


He knew I was obsessed with cars and as harsh as his criticism was, he knew if I stayed on the path I was on that there was no way a cool car would be in my future. The guy owned the newest generation Nissan 300Z, and in previous years had owned Jaguars, Corvettes, a Bricklin, and, yup…a Porsche 911. Who was I, Mr. Four Grand Unemployed Ad Sales/Music Writer to argue with him? So, I dove head first into his line of work. The sexiest, most exciting, soul-rewarding, awe-worthy career path any young person could aspire to!


Insurance sales! Womp womp.


Megadeth T-Shirts and denim jeans were put away for khakis and button-up shirts. My beat-to-snot 1980ish Honda CVCC with a rusted back end, missing tailpipe, and completely eviscerated foam seats got replaced by a brand-new Nissan Altima. Not a sports car, but at least it had modern safety features and didn’t smell like diarrhea and hamburgers. I started selling insurance like it was my job…because it was my job.


After a few years, and another new Altima lease, I drove by a BMW lot in West Springfield, MA, and saw one of the most beautiful machines I’d ever laid eyes on: A red E36 M3. It wasn’t a Porsche, but it was magnificent. Beautiful, angular, sexy, and far more expensive to own and maintain than the Altima. It was perfect! I bought that car so fast I don’t know what I signed, how badly I overpaid, and don’t even recall what I did with the Altima. It might still be parked at my old house. Definitely has French fries between the seats.


The M3 was a wonderful car. Intoxicating to look at, quick, handled like a go-cart on a magnetic track, and relatively efficient as sporting cars go. But…it wasn’t a 911, and the new 996 had just been released and pictures were everywhere. They were starting to show up in my neighborhood. A friend’s father bought one. A coworker took delivery of a gorgeous black 996 Cabriolet. Four out of five dentists had them. Fried egg headlights and water-cooled engines for everyone! Couple this with the 993’s and 964’s that were abundant in my area, and let’s just say Stuttgart was taunting me.


I kept the M3 for a couple of years, loving every minute of it. The E46 M3 launched, and I ended up with two different versions of that brilliant car, but still no 911. In 2003, I took a trip to San Diego to see my father and play golf with him, my brother, and a close friend. Parked at one of the courses we hacked around on was a red 996 Turbo with beige interior. I stared at it, drank it in, and ran my hands across the rear fender and onto the roofline. The folks watching the security cameras surely had a field day enjoying the fool from back east rubbing a member’s car. “If that was my car, I’d go smack him upside the head,” one says, to which his cohort replies, “You couldn’t afford that car if they tripled your salary. Plus, you can’t drive worth a lick.” They laugh and then return to the video feed coming from the swimming pool.


“Why don’t you get one of these? You’ve lusted after them since you were a kid. Remember when I—”


“Taught us how to spell it in West Hartford, CT? Yeah, pop, I remember,” I interrupted. I don’t recall if it was right there in front of that Porsche Turbo when my father asked me, as we saw at least thirty 911s while I was on that trip, but he asked. I never had an answer.


Fast forward several years and a failed marriage later, and sports cars were no longer part of my day-to-day life. I’d languished in my career, made a wealth of poor choices, and my father passed away in December 2012. He’d spent much of his adult life in AA, sober for almost thirty years, but in the end, old demons beckoned and he was taken down by the disease of addiction. During the hundreds of times he spoke at meetings, he’d talk about hitting “rock bottom,” and how that was the place one often needs to arrive before change for the better could begin.


I was at that bottom. Felt like I was under the rock.


In the months of depression and sadness that followed, I did what I could to reconnect with people and activities that might rekindle joy and motivation. Friends, family, and a wonderful woman I met and later married were a huge part of that. So was the automobile. Specifically, a BMW 3 series with a manual transmission. This incredible woman I’d met embraced my lust for and obsession with cars, and she not only welcomed it but also helped facilitate it, even if she didn’t fully understand it. For months after our first meeting, I struggled to find work and get back on my feet, all while she helped support and encourage me, including pushing beyond my comfort zone and jumping back into a car a bit beyond my means because she knew it would light a fire. And ignite an inferno, it did.


It wasn’t long before I was a top agent in the new Insurance company I worked for. Multiple BMWs followed the one I bought when I first met her, and yet there was a car she kept hearing me refer to, point out on the road, and gush over in parking lots and YouTube videos: The 911.


“Why do you keep buying these BMWs when you’re so obsessed with the Porsche?” she’d ask. Great question.


Like my father, when he’d asked, I didn’t really have an answer. Sure, cost was a factor, but I was doing well and wifey was a rock star in her career, we had no kids, and we’d survived the pandemic relatively unscathed, other than some personal grooming that could use a little kick in the pants. Why not a 911?


Imposter Syndrome. And money, sure, it’s always at least partially about the money.


I’m an insurance agent that also happens to write novels. I have one coming out on a small publisher in a couple of months, but nobody knows who I am, and even if I sell ten thousand books, I’ll still be the guy that had a ginger mullet and got beat up by a kid three grades below me when I was eleven (a story for another day) and sells insurance. As much as I adore cars, my YouTube Channel has thirteen subscribers. Not thirteen hundred, THIRTEEN. Yeah. I still do well at the insurance sales game, but I’m not setting the world on fire. What business does a goober like me have owning a Porsche 911?


“Do you have any GTSs?” This was my wife about six weeks ago to the Porsche salesperson, Silvio. He’d just arranged a drive of a five-year-old base Carrera parked outside, and it was wonderful but didn’t have quite the intensity that the F80 M3 I was driving possessed, though I was still quite smitten.


“A GTS? Well, this orange one right here is a GTS,” Silvio tells her. “Oh, wow. It’s beautiful…can we take this one for a ride?” she asks.


The car she was referring to was a mint condition, 2018 CPO Lava Orange Carrera GTS with 8400 miles on it, sitting smack dab in the middle of the showroom floor. She’d known I saw the GTS days earlier on a quick stop at the dealership, right as they were preparing it for sale, and how captivated I was, but surely it was out of reach. Such a desirable car, hot color, low miles, in perfect shape, a warranty, a price that wasn’t much lower than what it was listed for new four years earlier…


My wife smiled at me, wryly. Silvio, without hesitation, scrambled for the keys to the car, slapped a plate on, and pulled the car off the floor and onto the dealership lot, grinning ear to ear. Somehow, he knew. I think we all did.


“Take your time, enjoy it!” Silvio told us as I buckled up in the driver’s seat and my wife did the same in the passenger’s. “Get a good feel for the car, no rush.”


“Thank you! Will do,” I told him, and off we went.


Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to drive several 911s. The first was a 2005 base Carrera sitting on a used car dealer’s lot in Newington, CT. He insisted on taking me for a rip ride first, likely to show off his perceived skills in the car because he got that thing up to triple-digit speeds and loved to illustrate its ability to gobble up turns. When he let me take the wheel, I remember all I wanted to do was listen. Hear the sweet melody of the rear engine flat six while accelerating on the back roads. It was a sound like no other. Mechanical, whiny, high pitched, meticulously blended with a constant, linear throaty whoosh. The suspension was a bit jarring traversing the weather-worn CT roads, knocking me around in my seat. This was a car that told you everything that was going on beneath you. Shouted it even.


The 997 possessed me that day, but I couldn’t afford it. Years later I went to Las Vegas on a work trip and went totally nuts, renting a 996 Turbo identical to the one I’d seen on the golf course with my father. The cost of that excursion exceeded the total of my mortgage payment, but a month in the house never made me smile the way one day in that 911 did. I ripped the red Porsche around Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, the area highways, and rolled down the strip multiple times, grinning like a guy who’d just won half a million bucks on the Monopoly slots. I had a mission after that: Own a 911 before the end of the year.


It never happened.


“Wow…just wow!” I told my wife, accelerating in the GTS on our test drive on 384E in Manchester, CT. “This car is astonishing, seriously.”


“I can feel it!” she chimed in, which was something great to hear from her, finally.


“The power delivery is insane, and it’s just so smooooooth,” I said. She nodded.


“I think we need to find a way to make this your car,” she told me as I was dissolving into a sloppy pile of stupefied goo in the comfortable 18-way seats. I don’t remember much else.


The next week and a half were torturous. Nothing like the blissful hour or so that we’d spent in the GTS. I agonized over the possibility of taking the plunge and finally buying my dream car. A gorgeous, glistening, exploding orange, twin-turbo, almost one hundred-and fifty-thousand-dollar version of that dream car. I woke up one morning and declared, “No way, not going to do it.” Right before bed, I’d say, “I think this is going to happen!” The next morning I’d have a financial plan outlining how easily this could be accomplished, and by that night I’d bumble around in Jockey boxers, misty-eyed, mumbling to myself, “I can’t have this car…”


All this time my wife would just smile, have reasonable conversations with me, and assure me this was not only doable but may even be vital. It was time.


“Can I really do this?” I said to her, and to myself at least five dozen times in those days following the test drive.


Well, did it I did…do. There was a morning I awoke where the vibrance of Lava Orange had saturated my senses and the brilliance of the rear axle steering aligning the car around the off-ramp of Exit 3 on 384E was all I could feel in my body. The sound of the Sport exhaust echoed in my ears, and the sensation of turning the small dial on the wheel to the right was tingling in the tips of my fingers. I felt myself falling into the driver’s seat, as you almost do in every 911. The power of the car’s acceleration radiated up my right leg as I imagined tipping into the throttle. My head buzzed and hiccupped, growing dizzy with the amount of money I’d need to bring to the dealership that afternoon. My head hadn’t been that dependable with making decisions in the past, so I ignored it and went with the ol’ ticker, who was banging around in my chest like a bass drum in a Black Metal band.


Amid the insanity of the GTS decision, I had a dream about my father. He shows up in my dreams from time to time, so that fact wasn’t odd on its own, but this dream was more vivid. More tangible. He was driving a pickup truck, descending a small hill, driving towards me. I could see the grin on his face, I could hear the rumble of the old engine, make out every color and nuance of the shirt he wore, and the lines of the baby blue pickup. His arm rested on the frame of the driver’s side door through the open window. It was a sunny day, and cottony clouds dotted the sky above him.


“Porsche,” he said. That was it.


I’m not a spiritual guy or one who reads anything into dreams or coincidence. However, when your long-passed father, who taught you how to spell the name of your favorite car manufacturer some forty-five years earlier, shows up in your slumber while you agonize over buying a car from said manufacturer and says the name of that car maker, well…I think it’s time that you STFU and do what they say.


I can see my car out the side window as I write this. Brilliant orange that glows like fire light in the late summer sun. Rich, black wheels that only a year ago I couldn’t stand on cars, but now make me grin ear to ear as I stare at them on the GTS. A wide, menacing rear end that would turn both J Lo and Shakira’s heads, if they weren’t still fighting about the Super Bowl. An iconic, shapely set of lines that have existed for almost sixty years and haunted the chambers of my mind for at least forty of them. I own a 911.


This wouldn’t have happened without the love, support, and absolute kickassery of my wife. She is the port in the storm, the titanium foundation to my often rickety structure, and the best cheerleader any human being can have. It may not have happened without my father, although he would laugh if I said this because he’d always remark, after giving advice or offering suggestions, “Eh, you’re just going to do whatever the f*** you want anyway,” and then laugh the crazy way he did. Maybe he’s right, but he’s the one who lit that fire so many years ago, and he’s the one who took a break from his bass fishing and golf trips in whatever realm his energy exists in at this point to drive a crappy pickup truck down a hill and suggest I stop whining and go buy my dream car.


I heard you, Poppy. I still know how to spell it, too. Never make a mistake with any of the letters. Perfect every time. It better be, because when I write that massive check out each month, I’d hate to see it bounce because the bank has never heard of “Pourshah.”


-DA







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