The Missed Opportunity – A Story From My Childhood

When I was a young lad of 11 in the early 1980’s, my uncle took me on an adventure. He was flying to DC to look at a new car, and he had asked me to join him. His friend had a private plane, a twin engine Beechcraft prop, and he happened to be going in that direction. I said yes, and off we went.

We landed in DC in the early morning and were met by a very stately black Bentley. I was amazed. It looked like a Rolls Royce, but with the flying “B” on the nose and a driver who wished he was at LeMans. We toured DC’s various neighborhoods, and though it seemed to take hours, I realize today, it was the only way to avoid DC’s, well, lesser appreciated parts (AKA “The Hood”)

We arrived at a dealership or warehouse, I’m not really sure. I was having a blast. It was an automotive addicts candy store. Cars of every type and style. Old and new, familliar and very strange. I was beside myself and wanted to get in all of them. I didn’t even know what most of them were! My uncle, however, was interested in only one, a blue Ferrari.

At 11, I was a dumbass punk, without a clue what we were even looking at. My uncle spent over an hour going over one old car. Under the hood, under the rear end. He sat in it. He looked under the dash board, he pulled the dipstick and looked at the oil on a paper towel. Hell, he stuck his finger deep in the exhaust and sniffed the soot. Weird!

After a few hours of them talking, we left for lunch. We went to one of DC’s nicer spots (as a punk ass kid, how could I really tell, it had cloth napkins…) and they discussed cars even more. They were telling stories of Daytona and LeMans, the Targa, Nurburgring and races I had no idea even existed. They told jokes, some were even dirty! I was interested, though didn’t have a clue. I was having fun. The man selling the car suddenly looked at me! He asked, “what do you think?”

WOW, he spoke to me! I sat straight up, looked as calm and cool as I possibly could. I looked him dead in the eye. I boldly spoke.

“He’s going to paint the car RED!” I proudly proclaimed. “He likes all his Ferrari’s red!”

I proudly looked over at my uncle, smiling. Then noticed him looking at his napkin, covering his eyes with his hand and shaking his head. There was no more laughter, no more jokes. The conversation just ceased.

The bill was quickly paid and we were quickly hustled out. The ride in the Bentley was quick, we drove through the roughest parts of DC and directly to the airport. With just civilties passed between my uncle and the driver, we got back on the plane. It was a quiet trip back home.

I’m now 46, and even today, that day is joked about in our family. My uncle still tells the story of how he almost bought a Ferrari 275 GTB/4 for a song and a joke, and his young nephew just had to open his mouth!

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