Conversations With Joe

You guys remember Joe, right? Joe has been a long time member of my Supper Club at Fifty Forward and honestly, he provides me with most of the fun stories I have even though I almost never share them here. He is a lifelong bachelor and you wonder when you meet him if that is by choice or circumstance. What I mean by that is he’s sneaky. He will begin a conversation with you in a myriad of ways:

Jimmie, I watched a show on tv the other day and did you know that they inject corn with high fructose corn syrup? It’s true, they do. The guy said that the only time you should ever eat corn is if you grow it yourself.

Hey Jimmie, have you ever been to Canada? I have. We went to that part that is so rich you need to have green blood to afford a hotel there.

I’m giving up refined sugar. Unless it’s a sorbet. I will eat some sorbet but I won’t eat refined sugar. It’s bad for you.

Jimmie, what’s a starch? (This one is asked in the middle of dinner when he hasn’t spoken for twenty minutes because he’s intent on his hamburger and fries – his favorite meal. Once he asks and gets an answer he goes back to his burger and never brings it up again.)

It’s in Banff Springs! (When you ask him “What?” he replies, “That hotel in Canada? The one that is in the rich part? It’s in Banff Springs. We were there.)

You know what that guy said, he said that if you want to give someone cancer you should send them to chemo. (At this point I was no longer really tracking because it was the third time he mentioned it, but I suspect this was another tidbit from the guy on the tv show he recently watched.)

After a couple of hours of conversation with Joe, you find yourself wondering if he’s all there. He drives just fine and always has money to pay for dinner and it is clear that he held down a steady job for many years so that he could retire in relative comfort, but you wonder if maybe he has a benefactor of some sort or a guardian who stays in the shadows. It isn’t until he pops off with something like the below that you see how sneaky he really is:

Jimmie, I would never finance a car. You should never buy a car that has a payment larger than your rent. People who do that are just showing off and the amount they pay in interest could be invested into a 401(k) and they could increase their retirement income by 7.5%. That could mean a higher grocery budget every week and people later in life need to pay attention to these things.

And you look at him in utter astonishment because in the five years you’ve been doing this, you never suspected that underneath the wavy eye and the shuffling feet and the nearly incoherent Kroger rant he subjected you to two years ago for the sum total of three hours, Joe is a pretty smart guy. Not even pretty smart, but very smart as in he paid cash for his car AND his house and lives debt free today. Damn. Caught me off guard, that one.

I leave you with one final Joe conversation.

“Joe,” I asked, “did you ever have a girlfriend that got away?”

“Oh, yeah,” he said, “several of them. And some of them I had to kick away. Bad news.”

I LOVE THESE PEOPLE!

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Oh, For Crying Out Loud

Madre was here for a Mother’s Day celebration which involved attending the Sounds game to consume hot chicken. Not to watch baseball, mind you, but to eat some hot chicken.

An aside. When Woney and I were returning from Ireland via the Dublin airport, we met some strangers from Minnesota who were perusing an Irish-published travel magazine and found an article on Nashville’s latest phenomenon, hot chicken.  When they discovered that I hailed from Nashville, they invited themselves to my house so that they could try hot chicken for themselves. I had no idea what they were talking about. That’s just like me to go halfway across the world to discover what my city is known for.  Anyway, hot chicken is just chicken coated in a batter than contains hot sauce and fried in oil, either pepper or regular.  Some places will drizzle more hot sauce-type stuff over it and some will not.  All of it should come with a pickle.  I imagine that hot chicken, complete with pickle, has been a menu staple in numerous soul food-type kitchens in numerous cities for numerous decades yet some genius in Nashville coined the phrase, and waalah! We are famous.

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From The Row, because I don’t have a picture from The Sounds

Also an aside, Madre prefers the Sounds’ version of hot chicken over say, The Row or Party Fowl, and I prefer the tight bums of baseball players over, say, the less tight bums of men at McDonald’s, so the Sounds game it was!

Once Madre and I commenced celebrating we hauled all our stuff into her truck so that we didn’t miss a minute together of our party, and only after we got done did I haul all my stuff back into my own car. When we finally parted ways we hollered all of our “I love yous” and “arrivedercis” back and forth through our respective windows and then I drove off into the sunset.  The point I’m trying to make here is that I didn’t spend much time in my car and when I did, I used a lot of that time to yell out the window to Madre.  The other point I’d like to make is that all that yelling didn’t let me fully hear what was going on with my engine when I tried to start it so later, on Tuesday, when my car croaked at the Greenway it was a total surprise.  Daisy and I had been walking and since we don’t often holler “I love you” or “arrivederci” out our respective windows as we leave the Greenway, when my motor went rowh-rowh-rowhhhhh, tick-tick-tick, I noticed.  And then when it made this sound –> *crickets*, I really noticed.  Frick.

“Do you want to try to jump start it?” Daisy asked.

I knew it was the alternator because I was due for a new alternator as it’s been almost a whole year since my last one croaked. “No,” I replied. “I’ll have it towed over to Austin’s (plug for 5th Gear Automotive) and get him to replace the filth flarn alternator. Again.”

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“Are you sure?” she asked.

“Totally sure. I know this sound.  I have, against my strident and strong will, become a mechanic you know.  This is just going to require some planning.  Frick.”

Daisy drove me to dinner and then home and then I made all my ride/tow plans with Pee-Tah and Katniss and Austin (another plug for 5th Gear Automotive) and a tow truck driver named Brad.

When I called Pee-Tah, he queried, “Do you want to try to jump it, just in case? I can meet you over there.”

“No, it’s the alternator,” I sighed. “All that money that I saved for my cookie doctor cell burning procedure is going to be spent on my new used alternator and I’m annoyed. Plus I took off my bra and I’m in pajamas.  So, no, thanks.”

The next afternoon when I met tow truck driver Brad at my car on the Greenway, he backed his big flatbed up to me and said, “Have you tried to jump it?”

“Nope,” I replied. “I have it scheduled for an alternator replacement tomorrow morning.  That’s what is wrong with it.”

“Okay,” he said, and then hooked up my battery to his jumper machine and my engine started right up.

“Alternator’s fine,” he hollered over the engine. “Runs great!  You still want a tow?”

Well, shit.

As it turns out, I am not yet certified as a mechanic and as it turns out I only needed a new battery. Still pisses me off, though, because that battery was only two years old. Things just don’t work like they used to anymore.  Also, as it turns out my favorite people over at Advanced Auto Parts (not a plug for Advanced Auto Parts) went way up on their battery prices and no longer rush out to your vehicle to replace said batteries. (Currently reevaluating my system for determining favorite people.)

“There’s going to be a thirty minute wait,” the clerk said. “There’re only two of us here right now and we can’t leave the store like this.”

“Tis fine,” I said. “I already waited two hours for Brad the tow truck driver so what’s another thirty minutes?  I’m just going to drape myself on your curb out here until someone can help me because despite the numerous times I’ve had this battery replaced, I still don’t know how to do it myself.” Mechanic, my arse.

I draped myself and watched people for about three minutes until a customer who had been in the store walked out and offered to change my battery for me (plug coming! This is called foreshadowing!).  “It won’t take but a few minutes,” he said.  “I’d be happy to do it,” he said.

*Dun, dun, dunnn (foreshadowing music)* Y’all, I would like to introduce you to Brandon, my new favorite person. Ta da!  

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It didn’t take me a moment’s hesitation to yelp my yes to Brandon’s offer of help and he responded in kind. He was already waiting at my car with his tools at the ready before I made it outside with my big ass battery.  It took him approximately seven minutes to change that thing out and in that time he reassured me that I really do have a good car.  He explained why that big bolt is in front of the battery and why I need to make sure it’s tightened.  He also explained that he has a mobile auto repair business (FORESHADOWING COMPLETE: Plug for Brandon’s auto repair business!) and I squealed over the good fortune of me and all my non-mechanic friends who now have the number of a great guy who will rescue us when needed (and, I feel like I should say, when he is available).  Then he carried my grungy old battery into the store for me so I wouldn’t get dirty.  Sigh.  It was just so great.

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I meet the best people, don’t I? Don’t know shit from shinola about cars, nor can I successfully change a battery by myself, but I sure do have the nicest people in my life.  I’m so lucky.