Around this time of year, every decent-sized city has a big car show. I went to one recently. The place was packed wall-to-wall with shiny vehicles, most of which I desired in a way that borders on sin. A Rolls Royce with doors that open backwards? Yeah, I’ll take that one. A Corvette with a clear hole in the hood so I can look down and lust after all that horsepower. Give me two of those.
Next to a sports car that was so blue it hurt me, a beautiful girl in a miniskirt arched her back, smiling at me, motioning for me to come over.
Let me explain at this point that such behavior seldom comes my way, so I didn’t know exactly how to deal with it. And I had a foot-long hotdog loaded with mustard in my right hand, which didn’t help.
I walked over and smiled and said, “That is one blue car right there.”
“Yes it is,” she said. “Have you ever considered a sports car?”
“Considering is about as far as I’ve ever gotten,” I said trying to chew up the big chunk of dog I had in my mouth when she first motioned towards me.
“Well, my dad is about your age and he just got one,” she said.
All hope and confidence left me at that moment.
“Mid-life crisis?” I said, now free of any need to put on manly airs.
“Probably, “ she said. “So what brings you here?”
“A man my age doesn’t have too many entertainment options and this one only costs twelve bucks,” I said, slumping my shoulders back down the way they were before I saw her.
“You look like a truck guy,” she said looking over at the new Chevy Silverado.
I glanced over to see a sad congregation of old men admiring the Chevy truck.
“You know,” I said, “It wasn’t always this sad. My life, that is. I was quite a dashing young man. I could have driven a sporty blue car like this.”
She started laughing and said, “A woman came by here a minute ago and gave me this dirty look and told me to go put on more clothes.”
I nodded, not quite grasping where this was leading.
“She told me that she had a daughter my age and she would never let her leave the house wearing a dress this short,” said the girl. “So I guess we’re all more than we appear to be tonight. I have a young daughter too. I’m working my way through college. This is just one of the jobs I have.”
“I feel a whole lot better knowing your life ain’t perfect,” I said, grinning to make sure she knew it was a joke.
She laughed again.
“You ever had a MoonPie?” I asked.
“No,” she said, brow furrowed. “What is that?”
I pulled one out of my coat and sat it on the trunk of the sports car.
“Now I’m going to go look at more cars I can’t afford,” I said. “Take care.”
As I left, she was examining the MoonPie, holding it up and looking at it closely, reading the label.
About that moment, an unhappy woman came by – probably the same angry woman she told me about – and the woman said, “Yeah honey, now you’re just taunting me, aren’t you?”
I turned around and walked back over and smiled at the angry woman.
“Excuse me, ma’am,” I said. “That’s my daughter right there and I just brought her lunch by. MoonPies started as the lunch of hard working folks. I’d give you one too, but they don’t make them angry enough for some people. But here’s a half eaten hot dog to stuff in your mouth. Maybe it will give people around here some peace.”
The woman looked at me, snarled and stomped off.
“You are just like my daddy,” she said. “By the way, that was my boss. I’ll probably get fired now.”
“That wasn’t the other woman you told me about?” I said, shocked.
“No,” she said.
I had to chase down the angry woman and try to explain my bad manners and how the girl wasn’t my daughter and in the middle of all my mea culpas, I had a brilliant idea.
“Ma’am, you’ll just have to forgive me,” I said. “I been a little crazy ‘round the edges since the tractor accident. You know how it goes, first you get arrested for aggravated assault then you end up having a plate put in your head cause the plow broke. Don’t hold my un-seeming conduct against that girl. She ain’t my daughter. She kinda looked like her and I got confused. Now that I think about it, you kinda look like my ex-wife. Your name ain’t Lodelle is it?”
She took off and left the building. I walked back to the girl beside the car.
“I think your job is safe,” I said.