Do You See the Numbers, Too?

Photo credit: Porsche - Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Porsche - Hearst Owned

I am sitting on the couch with my wife and her dad, watching The Bourne Identity. Amidst this familial idyll, I glance at the clock to see it read 9:28. A Porsche flashes before my eyes and now here I am, remembering every detail of the V-8 grand tourer, every one I have ever seen parked on the street, the name of my friend who owned one and let me drive it, the feel of the shifter, the sound of the engine. I repeat to myself tropes about its reliability and attempt to recall its exact production years. In a flash, it is gone.

The numbers are everywhere. The car numbers. My phone offers me a verification code, 500986. I see a Seventies Cadillac and a Nineties Porsche convertible. 991427: I see my buddy's 911 and the LS6 Chevelle I dreamt of in high school.

I spent so many years learning the Car Numbers. I know why I see "427" and recall an orange-painted big block, Chevrolet's great engine of the decade before the first Energy Crisis. I spent god knows how long reading and re-reading every page of, studying year-by-year differences in trim and engine options for every Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Plymouth, and Mercury of the era. All of that rests in some dark and dusty corner of my brain, recalled when a set of numbers appears. It's like the tumblers on a lock falling into place, a door opening.

They tend not to bother me, the numbers. I know they are always around me, ever-present. It is just that sometimes they are called out of the ether, and I know that any time they materialize, they will soon disappear again. The 928 moment is just that: a moment. I am back in the movie again, watching as Bourne struggles to understand himself, why it is that he has these sudden bursts when he is overtaken by his past memorizations and then returns to long stretches of amnesiac normality.

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