Friends don’t let friends miss opportunities

Freshly bought 240Z - 89K miles, original paint

All car guys have special friends who can help them rationalize a completely insane car purchase regardless of how impractical the terms or timing of the purchase might be. Without them, you’ll spend your life behind the wheel of a Camry or a Caravan, because logic would dictate you drive them. But if you’re lucky, and spend some time with the right people, you’ll have that person you can reach out to in your time of need.

Let’s say you and your spouse have a baby due within 10 days and you’re working like a dog during the day in anticipation of missing a couple of weeks of work. Maybe you’re spending every night refurbishing the home office into a nursery.  It could be that your in-laws will be arriving on Sunday. You’ve exhausted your checking account and your secret stash of $100s buying paint, trim and furniture to fix up the nursery and purchasing items you previously didn’t know existed that your wife knows she’s going to need like a baby wipe heater, and a diaper disposal unit that appears to have come from a space station.

I can GUARANTEE it will be times like this when the old guy down the street finally decides to turn loose his 1967 Alfa Romeo Duetto that you’ve been eying since you moved into the neighborhood 6 years ago. He can’t get in and out of it any more because it’s too low and it bothers his knees, and he figures it’s time for a  younger man to have the car. He remembered you always liked it and talked to him about it a few times. Would you be interested in buying it, for, Ooooooh, $4500?

And this is where many an unfortunate soul has made their mistake. They don’t call that special friend. They’re overwhelmed and immediately convince themselves they’re already spread too thin to even consider the purchase. The car needs too much work. They don’t have the time, the money or wherewithal to take on a project like that right now. Those fools think, “Well, it’s a great buy and all, but I can’t do it right now, and there will be others.”

And the karmic universe, that energy that surrounds us all and creates these moments, the universe which knew you were always a decent fellow and wanted THAT car, and here it is, HANDING it to you, will simply shrug and say, “Oh. I guess he didn’t want it that badly.” And the universe will remember.

That car will be gone the next day, given to an ungrateful grandson who has never driven a stick shift and mulches the syncros in the first month, leaves it in the rain with the top down, and eventually plows it into the back of a Volvo 240 wagon while checking a text message.  And you’ll still be kicking yourself when you watch your daughter cross the stage to get her college degree.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Just reach out. Call your car friend and tell him what’s going on. You tell him you’re days away from  your first kid,  you’re broke, and that soon you’ll be hosting the people who would have preferred their daughter have married that nice boy she knew in high school who became a pharmaceutical sales rep and bought the house down the street from his parents. (Ass)

And your friend says, “Holy Shit! That one down the street!? What will it take to get it running? Should I see if I can borrow a trailer? Does it roll? Can we push it to your house? I can store it here for a while. You have to get it. There’s no question. The universe it handing it to you and you’ve been talking about that car since the Clinton administration. It’s DESTINY.”

Your special friend, he’s one smart guy. He knows an opportunity when he hears it, and he knows it’s not going to last, and he knows it isn’t going to come again like this. Ever. Really, he’s just helping you to listen to your own gut, amplifying what you know to be true. Giving you that little push.

Now just because it’s right doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. Things worth while are rarely easy. You WILL bear slings and arrows, so don’t go back and blame your friend. You will get withering looks from your mother-in-law. ( Or more of them, anyway. ) She’ll look at you and wring her hands and shake her head. Your wife won’t talk to you for 3 days.  She’ll curse the day she met you during childbirth. (This will happen anyway, but has nothing to do with the Alfa Romeo) You’ll be holding your newborn baby girl and overhear your father in law talking on the phone to someone about his ass of a son in law who bought some piece of shit car 2 days before his daughter is born.  Yes, your wife’s friends will think you’re an insensitive jerk, and they’re only partially correct, but by God, you’ll have one of the most beautiful cars ever to have rolled out of Italy.  And guess what else? It’s entirely LIKELY that you would have suffered through all that bullshit ANYWAY, even if you DIDN’T get the car. The only difference is it would have all been because you chose the wrong shade of pink for the nursery, or mentioned that you like the way your wife looks with bigger boobs or asked when, like specifically, what time your in-laws were finally leaving so you can line up a drinking binge.

Time will pass and eventually the pain of the purchase will blow over. In a few months, you recover from the outlay of cash. You’ll get over the buyer’s remorse that came when you realized you had to pull the head.

And then one day you convince your wife to actually sit in the car. You tell her that car looks good on her.  She smiles and says this thing will be fun when you get it running. You get the head back from the machine shop and get it running after a few weekends. Sometimes your daughter sits in her seat on the workbench while you work on the car. Eventually you have that magnificent, first, real drive and that little double overhead cam motor just SINGS. You replace a few bushings here and there and it’s really starting to come together.  You spend a weekend with a borrowed buffer and that oxidized red paint comes back to life like it was sprayed by Antonio just yesterday. Seven months after your daughter was born, you and your wife get your first night out together and you take the Alfa to the little Italian place in the village, drink red wine and life is very, very good.

If there’s a problem with this whole story, it’s that you’ll have to listen to your friend tell you that if it weren’t for him you were going to let that car go. He’s probably right, and you’re pretty much obligated to let him borrow it some time. Just fork over the keys and be done with it. He’s the reason you have that little gem after all.


This is my friend Leigh who didn't let this original paint 240Z get away.

My special friend that pulls me through those moments and  helps me make the right decisions is Leigh.  ( Sounds like ‘Lee’ ) Since Jr. High, before marriages, homes and children, we’ve made some decisions that others would call dubious and lived to tell the tale. Fetching a car from a foreign nation might be the topper. And we still make a few dubious decisions, but boy are they fun to drive. Here we are with our most recent. An original paint 240z Leigh found for me, found only 1100 miles from home. This was that first, magnificent drive.

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