I have a confession to make.
I am a fraud. A fake. A phony. I've been living a lie.
For two weeks last month, I tooled around the Greater Toronto Area in a BMW 650i Cabriolet – price tag $124,900 as configured, and before taxes and destination charges – acting as if I own the road, and this car.
It is a beauty. Four-hundred horsepower and more high-tech modcons than I could figure out, bells and whistles for this, gizmos and gadgets for that. What with all the backup and parking assist cameras, night vision, different ride settings, safety warning systems and the iDrive infotainment hub, I don't know how I ever got by in my Toyota Matrix or Pontiac Montana.
Thus began my stint as a faux rich guy. And life really was different on the other side, where the grass is absolutely greener.
For starters, two lovely women, both of whom I have known for a while now, told me I was “hot.” Neither happened to be my wife (as if) and neither had previously felt compelled to share this secret with me before. I tried to tell myself it wasn't merely the new car.
Then there was the teenage drive-thru attendant at the Tim Hortons in Sutton, Ont., who couldn't stop staring at my ride while he processed my order. Maybe a car like this is better suited for Starbucks.
Next came the two kids on bicycles, a boy and a girl each about seven, who yelled out to me as I drove through my small town with the top down, “Your car is cool, dude!”
Uh, thanks. I gave them the thumbs up. Is that what you're supposed to do? Or is cool, steely indifference the way to go?
Even my neighbours acted differently toward me.
“Nice car,” said Heather, who lives six doors away. “Word on the street is that you have won the lottery.”
Even though my time with the BMW was brief, it consumed me. I quickly grew accustomed to being the centre of attention, the belle of the ball, king of the road. No matter where I drove, there were admiring glances from the occupants of other vehicles and jealous, hateful stares from pedestrians. I revelled in all of it.
That is, until that fateful Sunday in a Canadian Tire parking lot in Bowmanville, Ont.
I parked the Bimmer in the almost-empty far reaches of the lot and entered the store to do some shopping. Upon my return, there was a white Lotus Exige, parked just three spaces away, glistening in the afternoon sun and triumphantly commanding the attention of every passerby. My car was suddenly invisible, no longer the bride, but merely a bridesmaid. I might as well have been behind the wheel of my pathetic minivan. I wanted to cry. I quickly gunned it out of the lot, unnoticed.
Later that same day, I went food shopping and, after loading my groceries into the 650i's reasonably sized trunk, I discovered a green flier slipped under my windshield wiper congratulating me because I was “pre-approved for a loan.”
Clearly, not everyone was fooled by my act.
Correction: An earlier online version of this story misidentified the location of the Tim Hortons. It has been fixed.