It was mid-afternoon. I needed a cup of coffee and if I waited any longer the caffeine would keep me awake that night.
I pulled into the parking lot of my favorite coffee shop and was surprised to see a familiar old Studebaker pick-up at that time of day. The rusty pick-up’s owner is Ebeneezer Griper, a longtime “frenemy.” We’re friends but I have a way of irritating Eb who usually hangs out here in the morning.
Sure enough, I found Eb sitting in a booth at the back of the coffee shop but I was shocked by his attire.
Eb has always been a blue overalls kind of guy but today he was dressed in plaid Bermuda shorts and a polka dot golf shirt.
“Eb, my man,” I said as I slid into the café booth, “you’re looking… er… sporty today. What happened to your bibs?”
“It’s too hot to wear bibs to the State Fair,” Eb began. “I dressed cool because I am cool.” Pleased with his word play, Eb flashed a missing-tooth smile.
“So you’ve been to the State Fair already?” I asked. “Why did you leave so soon?”
“What do you mean?”
“There were too darn many people at the Fair so I left. I needed a little alone time to drink coffee.”
“I understand,” I said. “It does get busy there by late morning. I like people but only a few at a time.”
“That mess at the fair has made me all jumpy,” Eb explained. “Darn near got run over by a bunch of old women on those motorized scooters,” Eb said. “Six of ’em, heading right towards me.”
“Eb,” I countered, “they weren’t out to hurt you; they were just attracted to your cool wardrobe. Black socks and brown oxfords with Bermuda shorts make women crazy.”
“If you’re funnin’ me, cut it out. I’m not in the mood for it.”
“Sorry, Eb.” I said. “So was there anything you enjoyed at the fair this year?”
“Oh, I enjoyed seeing the farm machinery,” Eb said. “And I always like to visit the barns.”
“What did you think of the big boar and the big bull?”
“I feel sorry for them. Poor critters ̶ so fat they can hardly move. Another few pounds and they could put you in one of those pens.”
I ignored the dig and asked, “Did you take Hilda to the fair with you?”
Eb looked up over his greasy wire-rimmed glasses. “At ten bucks just to get into the fair? Are you crazy?”
“You’re not much of a spender, are you?”
“Listen, buddy, my daddy told me to be so careful with my money that when I take a dollar bill out of my wallet George Washington blinks at the light!”
Ignoring Eb’s daddy, I continued the conversation, “Well, if the admission prices bothered you I’m sure you wouldn’t take in a grandstand show. Did you see any of the free shows?”
“Not my kind of music,” Eb snapped.
“So what kind of performers would you like to see at the State Fair, free or otherwise?”
“Well, if you’re askin’ I’m tellin’. I would enjoy hearing the Andrews Sisters again. Now that was music.”
“You do understand the Andrews Sisters are no longer with us?”
“Yeah, and good music is no longer with us either,” Eb lamented.
“It hasn’t been a good day for you, has it, Eb?”
“Nope. I spent ten bucks to park my truck, ten bucks to get into the fair, ten bucks on a two-dollar meal and then I had to run into you. It’s been a crappy day.”
“So what are you going to do now?”
“I’m going home and put on my bibs, listen to an Andrews Sister record and give Hilda some gifts from the State Fair.”
“That’s sweet, Eb. You bought Hilda some gifts at the fair?”
“Well, I got some free stuff in the Varied Industries building…”