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When you discover your spouse’s mistress is a Porsche 911

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Article and photos by Beti Spangel 

I have no one to blame but myself.

My first mistake was taking my husband, Larry, to the U.S. Vintage Grand Prix event weekend at Watkins Glen International Raceway. Located in the wine-soaked Finger Lakes region of New York, it was a win-win — cars for him, a bed and breakfast getaway for me. 

Up to that point, I had witnessed only a moderate interest in fast cars in my husband. We’d attended enough classic car shows in our area for me to know what he liked. While I am a died-in-the-wool fan of 1955 Chevrolets — the four-door (NOT two door) Belairs, thank you — Larry gravitated towards the small sports cars. What I didn’t know was that ownership of one was a long-smoldering desire of his.

Watkins Glen fanned it into a full-blown forest fire.

I suppose the fact that he wanted me to take his picture with every single Porsche on the grounds should have been a giveaway. Every. Single. One. 

In the weeks that followed, strange things began to appear in the mail. Large envelopes from the Porsche Club of America. Some fancy magazine called Porsche Panorama. Oversize postcards announcing this or that high-horsepowered event. His secret obsession was out in the open. I still didn’t know enough to be worried.

Because I try to be a Good Wife, I encouraged this interest, figuring it would never go any further than a few memberships in things that would eventually expire. Let it run its course, I thought. He talked to me about the various makes and models of Porsches until my eyes glazed over and showed me pictures of cars that looked too small to be of any use. (I adore my Ford F-350 pick-up, a vehicle that does everything I need a vehicle to do. Porsches were pointless to me.) 

His dream was to own a Porsche 911. This meant nothing to me. I thought 911 was a number you dialed when your house was on fire.

My second mistake was buying him books about 911s for Christmas — everything from buying, fixing, and driving to rationalizing them to an unsuspecting spouse.

After browsing the classifieds in Panorama, Larry talked about flying to California or Chicago to look at 911s that were for sale, and driving the new purchase home. I nodded and humored him and said, “Sure! That sounds like fun!”

In May of 2015, Larry transferred jobs within his company, a move we wanted to make. We sold our house in upstate New York and bought one in southern Mississippi. I headed south with our cats and the movers to set up our new home. It would be another four weeks until Larry wrapped up business in New York and would be able to join me.

We talked nightly about progress in our new house and caught up. Then one night, about a week before he was scheduled to come to Mississippi, I got The Call.

“So I had to go to Plattsburgh today to get some new work boots, and there was a foreign car dealership that had a 1999 911 Carrera sitting out front! In Plattsburgh, of all places!” Larry said. “It was so sweet, I just had to take it for a test drive.” (Plattsburgh, New York is a college town about an hour south of Canada, not exactly a hub of high-end automobiles.)

A tiny red flag went up in the back of my mind. “Oh, how cool,” I said. “That must have been fun.”

“Yeah, I put it through all sorts of moves,” he enthused. “Figure eights and stuff, trying to get it to oversteer, and I just couldn’t do it. The car was amazing. Beautiful condition too — I couldn’t believe how it was exactly like what I’ve been looking for.”

A siren began to wail in my head. “Well, isn’t that something…” I could feel it coming.

“So,” he paused, “I bought it.”

They say if you love something, let it go; if it comes back, it was meant to be. As a younger man, Larry had a passion for road racing and sports cars, and the course of life threw him off track, as it does for so many of us: raising our families, earning a livelihood, trying to manage the twists and turns life flings at us through the years. For those of us who get derailed, to finally be able to recover that passion, well, you can’t fault a man for getting back something he loved.

And because I try to be a Good Wife, without a second’s hesitation, I said, “Good for you!” And I meant it.

Now I have to find a way to like it.

Beti Spangel and her husband, Larry Phillips, recently joined Porsche Club of America after Larry’s purchase of a 1999 Porsche 911 Carrera. Determined to support her husband’s passion for 911s and find her own, follow Beti’s stories of their (mis)adventures from the perspective of a Porsche greenhorn.

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