I Am the Wife of a Petrolista
Story by Hellena Miron
Photography by Lucile Pillet & David Marvier
Sometimes when I walk into a car event, or a car show, or anything pertaining to cars with my husband, I find myself searching for others like me, as if it was a support group. I feel the need to introduce myself by saying, “My name is Hellena…and I am the wife of a car nut. Are there any friends for me here?”. I dream that the crowd might reach out to me and say, “Hello, Hellena. We’re here for you.” In need of a sympathetic ear, then, I’m here today to share my experience as the wife of a Petrolista.
My husband drives a 1997 Porsche 993 4S. The “4S” is important somehow, and the “993” is apparently even more important. I just know it’s black, has tan seats, a stick shift, and is air-cooled. It even has a fire extinguisher – I’m scared to ask why – and I know I’m not allowed to open the sunroof, lest it jam. Other car-lovers wave or give the thumbs up as we’re driving by sometimes. Other times, they start babbling at my husband, talking in this strange form of automotive-speak to him as if they’re fellow members of some secret society. I just stand there and smile… patiently waiting for them to finish.
He talks too much about his Porsche, and he buys me too much car-related gear. If I wore every piece of car-themed clothing he bought me, I’d start to look like him. Instead, I’ve taken to wearing the clothes to bed so that I won’t hurt his feelings.
On our first date, he drove his 993 to meet me, but he was late because he’d parked blocks away from where we were meeting. Whereas I always try to park on the same block as the restaurant, he always has to find the “perfect parking spot”. When he did finally arrive at the restaurant, I thought he was nervous because he was excited to meet me, but now I see that he was probably just worried about his car’s safety.
He won’t valet our car, unless it’s mine. He says he needs to see the valet’s resume. I find this hard to understand.
My husband spends many, many hours, and much, much money on car-anything. Countless magazine subscriptions keep our house inundated with car-related reading material. Our counters, kitchen, and bathrooms are overrun: we could open our own newsstand. And don’t even get me started on the Rennlist and the forums he is tapped into like an IV drug user. Our DVR is cluttered with car-related shows, and my Grey’s Anatomy always gets deleted. Patrick Dempsey would be very upset (though I hear that he’s one of these car guys, too). When I question him about it, my husband reassures me that it’s good for me to learn about cars. Yeah, sure, like learning about tooth extraction techniques. I’ve learned to accept this lifestyle, but I now mostly view our TV as a sleeping aid – a 60-inch, high-definition tranquilizer.
The first argument we ever had, very early in our relationship, was about what my next car would be. I was driving a Prius at the time and wanted something safer. I explained to him that I had done extensive research on safety, and that Volvo had always been on my list of cars to own ever since I was a little girl. My wonderful, calm, and seemingly polite boyfriend, however, soon began to assume the loud, annoying, and repetitive tone of a dictator.
“You can’t buy a Volvo!” he said. “You have to look at this, you have to look at that. Hey, how about a 993?”
Hours and hours later, I had a headache, and I’d had enough. I may have even told him to shut-up. We had just started dating and it was my money, so who was he to tell me how to spend it?
He managed to win me back as he haggled the dealer down on price while leasing my Volvo, and I am happy with the car. In fact, I began to suspect that he was even beginning to warm to it – maybe a little too much – but then I realized that he simply didn’t want to put the extra miles on his precious 993. My lease on the Volvo ends later this year and that aforementioned headache has returned, this time prompted by words like “the velvet hammer” and “BMW M-Sport wagon,” whatever those phrases are supposed to mean.
So there you have it: a bit of insight into the challenges of living with a car guy. Does anyone else out there have a similar headache….er, story?