My requests for Mother’s Day are simple: let me sleep as long as I like, until my eyes naturally open at a decent (after 7am) hour; allow me to enjoy a long, hot bath without interruptions of “Where is my Lego Ninjago™ Sensai Wu head?”, “Where is my turquoise fineliner that I left on the kitchen table last week?”, or “Where is my favorite Tshirt from the 80s with the huge holes in the armpits that I haven’t seen in ages?”; and if I dare to be bold, a meal in a restaurant so I don’t have to cook or wash the dishes, and where we all chat nicely to each other without playing on anything that has batteries or needs to be charged.
Fairly low maintenance, I think.
Unfortunately, the past Mother’s Days haven’t panned out as such. The children usually injure each other on purpose and my husband yells at them to let me have peace and quiet. When I suggested I go alone to the coffee shop in The Village to read a book in peace for an hour, I was guilted into staying because “On Mother’s Day the mother should want to be with her family.”
Until the big kahuna of Mother’s Days past, Mother’s Day 2015.
Two weeks prior to the Mother’s Day that took the cake, my husband bragged that this year the fighting and frustration of Mother’s Days past would be erased.
“But I don’t want or need a present,” I said, “I just want peace and quiet and maybe a nice brunch out.”
“Oh, this is something you’re going to love. Something you’ve been dreaming about.”
“Really?” I asked, “A weekend away at an organic spa with a pile of books?”
“No. Something with four wheels.”
Four wheels? He bought me a car? That was extravagant for Mother’s Day, I thought. But with my husband, youngtimer auto collector and prone to making spontaneous automotive purchases, this wouldn’t be so out of the ordinary. He surfs car websites like I do shoe and golf catalogs, always looking for the next great deal, buying low, investing as little money as possible, and selling at a profit.
I was happy with my Audi A6 station wagon with the perfect amount of horsepower (239) and a 3.0 tdi diesel engine with more torque. It was a used car, so the kids could eat and drink in the back without me worrying about destroying the original condition of the interior.
There was one car I dreamt of though. The Mercedes G Model, a rectangular box on high wheels. I love this model and sigh every time one passes. My husband rejected the idea of buying one because it was too heavy and wouldn’t have enough horsepower for the sporty drive I like. The models with more horsepower were also too pricey for everyday Mom’s taxi use. However, that was the only four-wheeled item I had my eye on. Could he have found one in our price range? Was this my Mother’s Day present? I decided he had purchased a toy replica of the G Model for my nightstand.
Mother’s Day Sunday arrived. The kids, in their excitement, checked repeatedly if I was awake. I gave up on sleeping in and called them to bring me my “surprise” breakfast in bed. Cuddling my cuties, my husband came in beaming, kissed me, and presented me a plastic sleeve with papers inside.
I opened the file, my heart beating faster in anticipation.
It was not a toy model or photo of a toy.
It was not a Mercedes G Model.
It was a photo and specifications for a 1978 Renault Alpine in metallic green.
“I don’t understand,” I said.
Then it clicked. Several months ago, while I read in bed, my husband perused used car websites on the laptop next to me.
“What do you think of this?” he asked, turning the screen towards me.
“What is that?” I asked while wrinkling my nose at the sight.
“The car I always wanted in my youth. A Renault Alpine. Only 8,000 pieces made of that model. And I doubt many were made in that color.”
“How much?” I asked.
He rattled off a 5 figure sum, ridiculous for a French wannabe Trans Am.
Yes, car fans, call me a heathen, but my Mother’s Day was ruined. This car wasn’t for me. This was for him. He tried to pass it off as a Mother’s Day gift.
“This is bullshit,” I said.
“What? I thought you’d like it.”
“You showed me that car before and I said it wasn’t worth the money, especially when we need to fly to The States for summer.”
“We’re still going to The States. We have enough time to save up.”
“You used the plane ticket money for that car?” I was shouting now, “Our holiday is two months away and we still don’t have tickets because you said they are too expensive at the moment, but you can buy this monstrosity?”
“I promised you we’re flying to The States, and we will. The car was kind of an accident.”
“How do you buy a car on accident?”
“It was an online auction and I typed in what I would be willing to pay.”
“So you’ve never seen the car in person?” I asked.
“Never driven it?”
“Does it even drive? What kind of condition is it in?” I began shouting again.
“The guy from the auction house assured me…”
“Of course he did! He’s a salesman! Auctions are caveat emptor! Once you buy it, you’re screwed!”
“I know. That’s why I couldn’t tell you. Max said I should make it a present and maybe you’d fall in love with it and not be mad.”
“I need some fresh air. You’ve ruined my Mother’s Day. I’m going to the coffee shop.”
In the civilized, auction-house-car-free-zone of the coffee shop, I collected myself. I’d use this to my advantage. He’d buy the plane tickets immediately if he wanted to set this right. The car would be stored out of my sight until he found a buyer. I wasn’t about to set foot in that vehicle on principle. I would boycott Renault Alpine and the Formula 1 Renault team (sorry Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer – it’s nothing personal).
I returned home and discussed the terms of our truce. No, I would not be his second driver to collect the Renault Alpine in Berlin. I would have nothing to do with the car, and it would be sold as soon as possible.
“Sure, you can sell it,” my husband said, “it’s your car.”
“That car is dead to me,” I said.
My husband convinced his buddy to drive to Berlin with him on a Saturday and collect the green monster. To my surprise, the car made the journey back to The Village without problems.
My husband’s evaluation of the car was, “It doesn’t drive like I thought it would. It’s also not in the best condition, certainly not worth the money.”
I don’t need to type my answer.
My son, car freak in the making, sided with my husband, “Wow! What a cool car!”
My daughter, brutally honest and loyal, said, “Mama, it’s not nice. The inside is old and smells, the seats are cracked and some animals are living in the front.”
“Animals?” I laughed.
“Yes,” my husband confirmed, “mice made a nest in the footwell.”
Buyer beware indeed.
The car needed more repairs than my husband was willing to invest. He posted it on an international automobile website, and got a bite from a clothing mogul in Australia with a serious car collection. This would probably be the only Renault Alpine in Australia, he figured, at least the only one in this color.
“Did you tell him about the mouse family?” I asked.
“He knows everything. But the mice are no longer living there,” he added.
The car eventually made its way down under by ship in a climate controlled, padded crate.
I waited for the phone call from an irate Crocodile Dundee shouting down the phone that my husband sent him a crap car with a nest of mice carcasses.
With the Renault Alpine now on another continent, life returned to the status quo.
I asked my family for no more Mother’s Day surprises.
This Mother’s Day I’ll be celebrating with a mommy friend at an art exhibition followed by lunch in Munich’s pedestrian zone – without a Renault Alpine or car of any kind in sight.