The Porsche Factor
Mitali Perkins
 
I held my ring under the light and watched it sparkle. Newly-married life was as bright as my new diamond . . . except for one nagging shadow of doubt. The Porsche factor, I called it secretly. Yes, my new husband actually owned one of those sleek, red cars that belonged in a James Bond movie.
 
The Porsche was a constant reminder of the different worlds we came from. His family belonged to a country club, donated generously to charities and took exotic vacations. My family struggled to make ends meet. We shopped at thrift stores, cut coupons and took public transportation.

Rich people seem to care so much about stuff, I thought. After the honeymoon was really over, would my husband love me more than his stuff? If only there was some way to be sure...
 
On his first morning back to work, he handed me his keys. "Iíll take the bus, he said. You drive the car."
 
I fingered the worn leather key ring. "Are you sure?" I asked. Iíd never driven the Porsche, although heíd been offering it ever since my ancient car died a month before the wedding.
 
"Sure," he said, "but . . . be careful." " I promise to be careful with the car," I replied. He answered, "I don't worry about the car, I worry you."
 
I still felt a twinge of apprehension about driving his porsche. I said a prayer as I started the engine. After all, this was no ordinary car.
 
My father-in-law had driven it home for the first time almost fifteen years ago. Under his care, the car gleamed like a jewel and purred like a well-fed tiger.
 
The boy who grew up to be my husband spent hours beside his dad, handing over a needed tool, studying the correct way to wax and learning the well-crafted intricacies of a Porsche engine. Sometimes heíd even sneak out to the garage in the middle of the night and climb carefully into the driverís seat. Without actually touching anything, heíd pretend he was driving fast along the curves of an empty road.
 
One day, his dad took him aside. "Son, if you save the money by the time you turn sixteen, your mother and I will sell you this car."
 
The amount he named was far less than what the Porsche was worth, but it was a big amount for a boy to earn and save. My husband found a job cleaning the garage in an apartment complex, emptying garbage cans, sweeping and mopping. He worked after school and on weekends and saved every penny he earned. On his sixteenth birthday, he proudly handed his dad a check and took the Porsche out for a drive.
 
There  seemed to me, to be a mystical male bond between my husband, his dad and that car. Even now, when we drove the shiny Porsche into the driveway of my in-lawsí house, his dad came out to meet us and I suspected to check on the Porsche. 
 
With all that history in mind, I drove slowly at first, like I was handling a piece of heirloom china. I pulled to a stop at the first hint of a yellow light and clung to the right lane on the freeway. As the car picked up speed, my confidence grew. I rolled down the window, turned up the radio and nosed into the fast lane.
 
After doing some shopping, I couldnít wait to drive home. I walked eagerly to where Iíd parked the car in the crowded lot and stopped. The Porsche had moved a good three feet forward in the parking space. Somebody must have hit it from behind.
 
I stood for a moment, trying to gather my courage to inspect the damage. The back end wasnít bad; the bumper seemed to have absorbed most of the shock. But when I saw the crumpled fender and the dent on the hood, my heart sank. A sign that read ten-minute parking only leaned over it like a warrior gloating over a fallen enemy.
 
Oh no! I thought. Iíd left the gearshift in neutral instead of park, and the car had lurched forward when it had been hit.
 
I drove home slowly, fighting my tears. For the first time since our wedding, I didnít want to see my husband. He found me hiding under the covers. "Whatís wrong, honey? Are you sick?"
 
"The car," I said, my voice muffled. "Something bad happened. I left it in neutral and somebody crashed into it while it was parked and they didnít leave a note."
 
I waited while he went down to the parking garage to inspect the damage. When he returned, hid my face in the pillow again.
 
"Itís okay, honey," he said. "Donít worry about it. The important thing is you are okay."
 
But I knew that this was no ordinary car. To make things worse, we were scheduled to drive that very night to his parentsí house.
 
"Do you want me to tell them youíre not feeling well?" he asked.
 
"No," I answered grimly. For better or worse Iíd promised just a couple of weeks earlier. And this was definitely the worst day so far.
 
As we drove to my in-lawsí house, I felt a rush of hatred for the Porsche. Why was this material object such a treasure, anyway? It was a pile of metal welded together with some wiring inside, destined for rust and decay. And it is going to destroy my marriage and my friendship with my in-laws
 
When we pulled into the driveway, I shrank in my seat. My in-laws were coming out of the front door, both of them beaming as usual.
 
My father-in-law began walking around the Porsche with an appraising glance. When he reached the front of the car, I caught my breath.
 
"Oh no!" he shouted. "What happened?"
 
Feeling like a criminal about to be sentenced, I waited for my husbandís answer.
 
"We had a little accident, dad. But we are okay, so it's fine." my husband replied.
 
As the two of them began to discuss repairs, I wondered if Iíd heard wrong. Had he really said, we? I was responsible for the first damage ever done to this family treasure. Surely heíd explain to his dad that there was no we about it at all. Before I could speak up, my mother-in-law pulled me into the house.
 
Iím going to tell them the truth, I told him, when the two of us had a moment alone later. "Itís not right for you to take the blame."
 
"There is no blame. You are my wife and my best friend. That is just a car. The only detail that is important is my wife is okay." My father-in-law overheard us. He told me, "The only purpose of the car was a teaching tool. It taught my son at an early age, goals and responsiblility. And now I see he has moved far past that, caring more about the feelings and and safety of his wife than any material object."
 
Through the tears, I shouted for joy, hugging both my husband and father-in-law. The secret shadow of my last doubt was gone. Without the Porsche factor, our life together sparkled more brilliantly than any diamond ever could. I no longer hated that Porsche. My husband used it to show just how much he really cared.
 
Mitali Perkins
Chicken Soup for the Bride's Soul 
http://www.chickensoup.com
 
Have a great day!
 
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