The Nobel Porsche Prize (or How Ms. Joy Handley got her 911 C4S): Retired millworker Ray Handley of Norway, Maine was surprised to learn he’d been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Handley told the scrum of excited reporters who crowded the front yard of the trailer he shares with his wife Winifred, his daughter Joy and his smelly 16-year-old golden retriever Carl that he didn’t recall entering any contest.
In Oslo, Norway, a spokesman for the 5-person Norwegian Nobel Committee that selects the yearly prizewinner wouldn’t explain why Mr. Handley was chosen over a field of more famous people. The selection process for all Nobels is a closely guarded secret. Self-nomination is not allowed.
Queried by foreign correspondents in Oslo about the coincidence of a committee in Norway honoring a resident of faraway Norway, Maine, the committee spokesman looked confused. The translator explained to the reporters that in the Norwegian languages Bokmå and Nynorski, the nation is known as Kongeriket Norge so, in effect, there was no linguistic coincidence. The translator then solemnly and movingly sang the Norwegian national anthem Ja vi elsker dette landet (Yes We Love This Land) while the group of correspondents quietly melted away.
Past Peace Prize winners include Albert Schweitzer, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Henry Kissinger*, Mother Teresa, Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Al Gore and the Dalai Lama.
[Henry Kissinger’s name is usually accompanied by an asterisk(*) on the list of winners because no one is sure how he came to be awarded the prize, although recent research suggests it may have been the result of a simple typo. At the same time in the early 1970s that U.S. Secretary of State Kissinger was directing military operations in Southeast Asia by day and squiring aging pneumatic Hollywood actresses at night, an Israeli named Henry Nissinger was attempting to broker Mideast peace talks by day and at night helping his wife get the kids ready for bed. So it’s likely than Henry N. was the actual Peace Prize candidate of that year, not Henry K. A case of mistaken identity. An admirer of Mr. Nissinger once remarked, Nissinger wuz robbed goddamn it!]
Neighbors of the Handleys opined that Mr. Handley’s prize was a lifetime achievement award for a man who never loses his temper and never stirs up trouble. In a half-century of adult life among difficult people, Handley has patched up numerous quarrels between his wife Winifred and her disagreeable sister; preempted disputes with his deranged next-door neighbor Herb by handing over all the windfall apples from Herb’s tree that landed on the Handley side of the stone wall; kept generations of local boys out of trouble by teaching them to whistle, whittle and fish; pacified impatient New York tourists at the local store by allowing them to cut into line ahead of him to pay for their gas and snack foods.
Among other notable achievements in a lifetime of self-effacement and imperturbability, Handley has apparently never once pushed his dog Carl out of his way with his foot; never refused to eat his wife’s truly awful codfish balls and noodle casserole; never threatened to move to Canada if his choice for president didn’t win the election. And he’s never uttered a word of complaint about his daughter Joy. He’s never chided her for her tattoos, piercings, combat boots and buzz cut; for being single at age 30 and still living at home; for getting a costly BA in Art History from Bowdoin, then choosing to make her living as a motorcycle mechanic. He’s never said a cross word about the sign on her bedroom door (Joy to the World: Keep Out!).
The Peace Prize consists of a gold medal, a diploma and a monetary grant worth about $1.2 million U.S. dollars. When Mr. Handley was asked by reporters how he would spend the million dollar prize money, Winifred, hearing of the money for the first time, swooned. Carl started barking at the reporters and actually nipped one of the people from People.
The Handleys took advantage of the diversion to escape back into their trailer and resume normal life. Mr. Handley sat in his chair, smoked his pipe, and leafed through a fishing magazine. The missus busied herself darning holes in her daughter’s cherished vintage Ramones T-shirt. Joy lay on the bed in her room, gazing thoughtfully at the posters of sleek foreign sports cars tacked to the walls. [There were Xena: Warrior Princess posters too, but that’s another story.]
In the end, the laureate of Norway, Maine didn’t attend the December 10th presentation of the prize in Oslo, Norway. He couldn’t make it. December 10th is the date in Norway, Maine of the annual NFD Pancake Breakfast to benefit volunteer firemen, and Mr. Handley alone of the organizers can cook pancakes fast enough to keep hungry diners from getting impatient. When the Peace Prize committee realized that Handley wouldn’t attend the presentation in person, the disappointed members cried out in one voice, Ja vi hater denne utlending! (Yes we hate this foreigner!). Later they recovered their composure and apologized.
As soon as the million dollar check cleared, the Handleys bought a few things they’d long wanted but couldn’t previously afford. Mr. Handley splurged on a $114 Penell spinning combo rod & reel with top-grade cork handle, lightweight graphite reel seat and fold-down hook keeper. Mrs. Handley spent $120 on a Kenmore Self-threading Drop-in Bobbin Sewing Machine with 90 stitch-functions and one-stop buttonholer. Joy paid off her student loans, then treated herself to a $102,915 2009 Porsche 911 C4S AWD dipped in Arctic Silver Metallic paint over full Stone Gray leather interior with power comfort seats, BOSE stereo and XM Radio.
Mrs. Handley thought $102,915 was too much to spend on a car and said so at dinner. Joy bristled. Mr. Handley intervened. He said, “It has a top speed of one hundred and eighty-eight miles an hour, mother. That’ll come in handy on mornings Joy oversleeps and has to get to work in a hurry.” Mrs. Handley said, “A hundred and eighty-eight miles an hour! She works three blocks from here!” Mr. Handley said, “Say, this fish ball and noodle dish is good as ever. Any chance of a second helping?”
I don’t usually get political on this site (it is about Porsche after all) and I’m not about to now. However, when I read the story above in my PCA region’s quarterly newsletter, I just couldn’t stop laughing. I contacted the author for permission to repost it here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
About the author: James Swan lives and writes in Vermont. He can be reached at Justmoulds at toast dot net.
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