Friday, March 7, 2008


Many years ago it entered my husband's head to order a car kit from Florida, a copy of James Dean's Porsche Spyder. He recruited his mechanic/basketball buddy, Mario, to work on it. It was bright red and looked like a real Porsche sportscar, but the engine was a Volkswagen. Mario worked on it only when he had time and it took sometime before the thing actually ran. When it was functioning, my husband would take it out for an occasional spin, but then he started complaining that he was too tall for the car. More and more it sat in the garage, covered with canvas for protection.

Now, around this time, Santa Monica park was being cleaned up, and apparently the rats there scattered throughout the neighborhood. We had a rat epidemic. I started to hear scurrying sounds in my office ceiling. I also heard little noises in the second story crawl space. My sons heard the sounds, and so did our cat who jumped nervously when she heard soft squeaking noises. My husband kept insisting he heard nothing, and nothing was wrong. Period. End of story. The rest of us finally kept quiet, even though we KNEW there were live things moving around.

One day, after not checking his Porsche for months, he decided to take his car for a drive. I was with him in the garage when he flipped open the canvas cover and went, "What's that smell? And what're those black pellets in the back? Rats? Rats? Rats! We have rats!"

That same day, he went to Home Depot and bought an arsenal of rat poison and rat traps which he scattered throughout the house and garage. He spent a fortune getting his Porsche Replica (which by this time I called the "Whore") thoroughly cleaned off the rat turds and pee smell.

There is no need here to elaborate on the gory sights of rats caught in traps and the awful smell that started to seep out of the upstairs crawl space. We got rid of the rats.

What remained was my husband's realization that the car was sitting unused in the garage. He tried to sell it, but the best offer he got was $5,000, less than half what he'd pumped into the car. Before he did any thing foolish, I told him I could sell it. My book business had an Ebay Store, and I figured if I could sell books, I could sell a car.

I posted it right around Christmas. I took nice pictures of the car, shining bright red, just gorgeous. My ad mentioned it was a replica of James Dean's famous car, Porsche 550 Spyder; and after describing it I talked about how the original car had been the one which crashed on State Route 66, killing him.

The Ebay listing was for 10 days - enough time for people to notice the car. For the first few days, nothing happened. On the third day, I got an email from a irate man who basically said, "You fool, he didn't die in a Porsche 550 Spyder, it was a Porsche 356 Speedster."

Embarrassed, I did an addendum, saying something like, "Someone has just informed me that Jimmy Dean died in a Porsche 356 Speedster, not in a Porsche 550 Spyder. I apologize for this mistake."

The next day, another guy emailed and said, basically: "You fool, you were correct in the first place. He did die in the Porsche 550 Spyder."

I corrected myself once again.

On and on this went, with people emailing me comments about James Dean; it was quite fun getting up in the morning and opening my email and reading some new tidbit about James Dean. I swear quite a lot of James Dean fans were watching that particular Ebay auction.

Needless to say, a car collector bought the car. It was the quickest transaction ever. The guy wired his payment and the very same day had the car picked up by a huge truck/van. The new owner was absolutely delighted with the car because he wasn't tall and would fit it nicely.

You see - one man's trash IS another man's treasure!
Picture shows Lauren, not with the Porsche Replica, but with Mercedes Benz

Read also
The Schools I attended, Part 1, St.Theresa's College
The Schools I attended, Part 2, UP & Maryknoll
The Schools I attended, Part 3, UCLA

Saying Goodbye to Papa
Where the Daydreaming Came From 
Death of a Carnival Queen

Cooking with Cecilia - Chicken Soup for my Bad Cold
Cooking Lengua Estofada for the Maryknollers
Food Essay - Fried Chicken Caribbean-Style
How I Learned to Make Leche Flan (Or How I Met My Husband)

tags: James Dean, Porsche, cars, actor, Spyder, sportscar, car crash

All for now,


Anonymous said...

So in what Porche did james Dean die?

Cecilia Manguerra Brainard said...

The 550 Spyder. I've also been corrected. I should use "James Dean" for the actor, not "Jimmy Dean."