YOU HAVE TO LAUGH

I’VE NEVER BEEN A CAR PERSON. BY THAT, I DON’T MEAN I’VE NEVER BEEN A PERSON WHO IS HALF CAR, HALF PERSON IN THAT TRANSFORMERS TRADITION, BUT RATHER I’VE NEVER BEEN MUCH INTERESTED IN CARS.

Akmal Saleh

So why am I writing an article for a magazine that is entirely devoted to cars? The main reason I’ve agreed to write this article is that Wheels has generously paid me, which I intend to put towards my car registration due next month.

My unwillingness to embrace the joy of cars was a constant disappointment to my family and most of my friends, who would get together and endlessly discuss things such as mag wheels, carburettors, tinted windows, extractors and, of course, 12-inch subwoofers. They might as well have been speaking in Arabic. Come to think of it, they were speaking in Arabic, which I understand but still had no idea what they were talking about.

Despite my lack of interest in cars, every major landmark in my life has been marked by some

I had an emotional connection to my Mazda because it's where I lost my virginity

type of motor vehicle. These include buying my first car, my first sexual experience, getting arrested and meeting my wife.

At the tender age of 18, armed with $400 earned fairly and lawfully, I visited Fair Dinkum Car Sales in the Sydney suburb of Guildford and impulsively bought my first car, a 1975 Ford Falcon. It had four weeks of rego and tyres that were Peter Garrett bald. As I drove out of the yard trailing an enormous cloud of smoke that resembled a war zone, I felt like a king and thought, “Never again will women be able to ignore me”.

However, I learned that this newfound power came at a price. As I took my rightful place on the road, I noticed some of my fellow motorists looking at me with envious eyes, and a few yelled, “Get off the road, you f--king idiot”. Some people are threatened by a little competition. How sad.

My second car holds the most memories for me, and is the car with which I’m most emotionally connected. Even today I occasionally wonder how she’s doing or if she’s even still with us. Probably not.

It was a magnificent Mazda 323 with six months of rego and a brand new spare tyre. It also had a great feature – the front passenger side had holes in the floor that gave a terrific view of the road beneath you. In retrospect, I should have used it for Japanese tourists: “Come and see the wonders of the Australian roads, from the comfort of a Mazda 323!” I would’ve made millions.

The main reason I had an emotional connection with this car was because it’s where I lost my virginity. A girl named Lisa agreed to join me in the back seat. I was thrilled, although I couldn’t help thinking she was a gold-digger, after my brand new spare tyre.

It was an amazing few minutes; dark, hot, sweaty and very passionate. Then I turned on the lights and Lisa was gone. I suspect that for the last few seconds I was probably making love to the back seat.

The night was not a complete disaster, though.

I found 40 cents.

Have you heard the one about…?

EGYPTIAN-born Akmal Saleh moved to Australia with his family in 1975 as an 11-year-old. The Sydneybased comedian presents a hysterical look at modern-day life in Australia, never afraid to touch on topics as sensitive as religion and terrorism. To see Akmal perform live, go to www.akmal.com.au for tour information.