The Dream Beside the Fantasy

by Herman Labuschagne

I was at the motor show this weekend, while hundreds of people came strolling by, admiring the scores of classic cars that were parked across the grounds. I was with one of the two most impressive cars on the show which always seemed to attract most of the attention – a black Rolls Royce limousine. It was standing close to a big old pink Lincoln continental. Of the two, the Lincoln with its Elvis aura attracted by far the most of the admiration.

 

All of a sudden I noticed a boy who stopped in his tracks for a moment. He gave the Lincoln a glance, and then his eyes fell upon the Rolls Royce. Completely ignoring the fantasymobile, he went straight for the Rolls. I’ve never seen such an enthralled expression in anyone staring at a car. He suddenly stopped and hesitated, as if wondering what he was going to do when he reached the vehicle. And then he just stood and stared, looking breathlessly excited, yet uncertain. I recognized hat expression and invited him to come closer.

 

 

“What is it?” he asked.

In his impeccable British accent, my friend John calmly let the words drip like golden honey: “This is a 1958 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith with the coachwork made by…” But I don’t think he heard the rest. He was just staring.

“Would you like to sit inside?” I ventured.

The lad looked guiltily towards his mother. She just laughed and motioned for him to go about it while she looked at something else. He needed no further encouragement, and quickly slid into the back seat. With a little encouragement, his little sister followed suit.

 

At this point, I noticed something else. He was not only eying every detail of the car. He was also feeling it. His hands slid along the polished walnut veneer, smooth as glass. The plush leather – and the silver air conditioning vents. He was in a world where he could not take in all the features fast enough. I then opened he drinks cabinet and showed him where the crystal decanter with its matching whiskey glasses is supposed to go. He practically had no words.

 

We were standing by the radiator afterwards, while he kept asking me questions about the car. I asked the lad his story. He said he was 15 and went to the agricultural school in Riversdale.

Then he asked me more questions about the car – and finally – came to the question which he seemed to have reserved for last on account of its awkwardness: “How much did it cost?”

 

Just then John came by again and in his dignified way, suddenly added to the conversation: “When I was a boy of 12 years old, my father had no car at all. We were so poor that he had to ride a bicycle. One day I was standing by the street side when the lord mayor of Liverpool drove by in a car just like this one. In that day I told myself – “one day when I’m grown, I shall drive a car like this.”

 

John looked at the boy with a kindly expression and then added: “If you would like a car like this yourself one day, tell yourself you will have one – and it shall be so.”
He smiled absent-mindedly, and then softly added with a faraway look towards the horizon: “It took some time, perhaps, but my dream came true eventually – and today I have two of them.”

 

I never asked that boy’s name. But it doesn’t matter, because I already knew him. I knew him in the moment that I saw him stop and stare the first time. I knew him, because when I saw the look he had – I knew that he was me, when I was precisely the same age.