"Get a Jeep." "Buy a Kia." "Manual?" asked those who mistook, "I want a Porsche," for "I want a car".
The Air Bag: Dream of owning a Porsche Boxster becomes a reality
Most people could tell you the year they got their car, perhaps even the date. I can tell you the exact minute. Well, I can at least tell you the minute the reality of the purchase hit, because I'd just received a text - it was February 29, 8.04am.
"OMG. You have a Porsche. Can I say we have a Porsche?"
"Sure, why not?" I responded, drowsy with sleep. I closed my eyes. Then I opened them - wide. "OMG. I have a Porsche."
I laughed out loud with sheer delight.
A few weeks earlier I didn't even have my UAE driving licence. It may be sacrilege to say here, but during my year in Abu Dhabi I'd never even wanted a car.
Back in London, I had a 1991 Mazda MX-5. I zipped around town. I drove across France, acquiring the burnt forehead of a convertible first-timer. I drove for 11 hours to Scotland, skittering on snowbound roads. I drove it. I loved it. But that was there. That was then. Here, I took taxis.
Then something changed. The desire sizzled to life like a neon sign: "I want a Porsche."
"Get a Jeep." "Buy a Kia." "Manual?" asked those who mistook, "I want a Porsche," for "I want a car". You see, I was looking for "my" car. That was a Porsche. Why? Because they're beautiful and powerful? Because they speak of luxury and seethe with promise? Yes. But that doesn't quite nail it. I wanted it because I wanted it.
I trawled Dubizzle, Auto Trader and beyond. "I want" became "I'm getting". The more blithely I talked my Porsche into existence, the more it had to happen.
I'll be honest, there was an element of the ludicrous. Not having my licence, I depended on this section's editor and deputy and spent test drives as a passenger. Well, I reasoned, they do this for a living.
The process proved a frustrating pleasure, tinged with the deflating knowledge that none of the cars I had seen were mine.
I was distracted by an Alfa Romeo but it had been around the block a few too many times. It was roadworthy (just) but it wasn't trustworthy; the engine gave out on the test drive.
I thought I'd found "the one", but a shop's inspection proved otherwise. Ultimately, a friend found my car, he just didn't know it when he forwarded the link. Clicking on the 2004 Atlas Grey Boxster S, I felt a flicker. I knew the moment I sat in it. No, that's not true. I knew the moment I heard - felt - its throaty growl.
Look, I could dress this in the garb of practicality. I could say I took advice. I did. I could say the Boxster is one of the best value used luxury cars on the market. It is. I could admit I swerved away from the 911, conceding something might be too much for me to handle. I did. It (probably) is.
But could I say that, were none of this true, it would have made any difference once I'd found my car? No.
The desire that led me here wasn't emotional. It was as visceral as the pleasure it gives me. I love how it pushes me back in my seat as it takes off. I love how it kicks round and out of corners.
I've heard it called a girl's car. True, on learning about the front and rear boots the word "handbag" popped into my head. Seriously. But this car packs too much punch to be frivolous.
There have been mutterings of midlife crisis. I look at my car with the blinkered gaze of the besotted and I don't care if I am just a toyboy and leather jacket away from full-blown manifestation.
Of course there's a risk buying a second-hand car. But a life without risk isn't much of a life. Besides, right now it's the least complicated, most dangerous love affair in my life and I reckon it can get me out of just as much trouble as I can get me into.