The other day, mon frère d’Luxembourg, Fränz Schneider (pictured) texts me, asking if I want to go for a ride in his Porsche. Sure, say I. I’m not a car aficionado by any stretch, but I know a cool car when I see one and Fränz’s 1985 Porshe Carrera 911, which I’d previously only seen sitting in his garage, is tres, sehr, immens kool!
So Fränz picks me up and we head for the rural, winding roads of the beautiful Luxembourg countryside. Past waves of grain, fields of mooing cows and up and down curvy-swervey forest roads. The Porsche’s engine roars and growls as Franz winds each gear out to the max and expertly maneuvers through serpentine turns—it’s really quite exciting!
Thing is, I’m not quite used to this. In the past six months, I’ve been in a car maybe four times and I’ve never been a particularly comfortable front seat passenger. Plus, I’ve never been in Porsche before, let alone not one zooming across the European countryside on curlicue roads not much wider than a sidewalk.
Thus, my feet are pumping imaginary brakes pedals left and right and I’m desperately searching for handholds to get a grip. Searching too for somewhere in the car to point my mouth should I have no choice but to toss my cookies in this vomit comet. A couple times, I check the mirror because I’m curious if a person really does turn green when they’re nauseous. (They do.)
For his part, Fränz senses my discomfort and sets out to put me at ease. Men are like that; they’ll help each other out whenever they sense that another of their kind is in need. For instance in this case, Fränz starts driving about twice as fast. He winds each gear out even higher so that the roar and growl are deafening, and he seems hell-bent on finding the curviest narrowest, one-lane roads in all of Europe. At one point, when he floors it going straight up a hill, the passing scenery speeds by in such a blur I feel like I’m in the Millennium Falcon when it jumps it to light speed. Oh, and Fränz is laughing at me and my terrified reactions the whole time too. So there’s that.
Actually, Fränz does try to help me out.
“Maybe you won’t feel so sick if you drive,” he says, and he pulls off to the side of the road and stops.
Again, I’m not a car guy per se, but I do know that in the future, it’d be pretty cool to look back on that one time I drove a Porsche Carrera 911 in Europe, even if the whole time, I felt like I was gonna hurl. So I jump at the chance and after some struggle getting out, Fränz and I switch places . (The car is so low, that getting out from the passenger seat feels like I’m getting out of a sleeping bag after a night spent on the ground.)
I have to say, that sitting in the low cockpit, gripping that tiny, Speed Racer-type steering wheel in my hands, my nausea instantly subsided. To be replaced by high anxiety—not only have I not driven a car in half a year, but this is a Porsche for Chrissake, and my friend’s most prized possession; the last thing I wanna do is crack it up. So I take it slow. Really slow. In the rear-view mirror, I swear I can see cars backed up all the way to Brussels but I don’t care, I’m not gonna crash Fränz’s car. And even though I never get beyond third gear or above 50K per hour, the Porsche growls like I’m lettin’ her unwind on a straightaway at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It makes me extremely nervous.
Finally, I can’t take it anymore. I decide I’d rather be a nauseous passenger on the verge of throwing up than suffer a full-on panic attack while behind the wheel of Fränz’s car. So I pull over and let him drive us back to d’Stad. On the way, I just closed my eyes, stuck my fingers in my ears and tried to think happy thoughts.
All in all though, I’d have to say, it was another fun time with mon Luxembourg frère, Fränz.