Friday, August 20, 2004

The Arkansan Beer Bottle Story

In a roundabout way, a single southern guy reminded me of this touching story of two youths discovering America. No, seriously - this is real. This guy is out there, somewhere in Arkansas, and I'd bet my liberal northeastern ass that he's still cool as hell, hard as nails, and helping dumb college kids out of gas-station-free zones to this day.

So, I'm living in Athens, GA, with my soon-to-be ex-boyfriend, VW Boy. I've got a gig lined up with the costume shop at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis (why, yes, I DO have skills other than dog-walking and occasional quiz posting! Thanks so much for coming!) and have inexplicably concluded that it would be great for VW Boy and I to drive there, rather than accepting the Opera's proffered airfare.

Two things about VW Boy. One: he considered himself extraordinarily clever, dare I say brilliant? He had ambitions of becoming an English professor who used his spare time to write and direct independent film, among other delusions of grandeur. He was average to pleasant looking, but considered himself to be a mighty fine stud. Not to put too fine a point on it, but he gave himself just a leeeettle bit too much credit in a lot of departments, including VW maintenance and general, manly sense-of-direction not-needing-a-map type thingies.

Two: he smoked way, waaayyyy too much pot all the time. Which simply tended to exacerbate the glowing qualities mentioned in one.

So, we're well on our haphazard and ill considered way to Missourah, part way through the long, no-exit having hell known as Arkansas. The ol' VW Rabbit is getting a bit low on the petrol, and I suggest that we exit and gas up. VW Boy won't have any of it. She's fine, he insists. This car's good for another hundred miles on empty.

We venture another twenty miles... pass an exit... another ten... no signs tell us there's an exit coming... ten more... The Rabbit is strictly empty now, puttering on fumes. I'm not sure I've ever seen a gas gauge so low. It's in negative gas numbers now. Finally, an off ramp. We idle down into not a goddamn thing. It's a big field. More highway. A shingled general store with no gas pumps.

VW Boy ventures in and makes nice with the locals. He returns alongside a crusty, leathery looking older guy - he could have been forty five, could have been ninety with his ropey arms and overcooked cracked clay smile - holding a case of Golden Anniversary in one arm and pointing down the amber waves of highway with the other.

We start the car and sputter about two hundred feet down the road when the inevitable finally happens, and the car rolls gently into the gravelly shoulder, out of... well, out of gas. We've barely climbed out of the carcass when a shiny new pickup pulls alongside. Golden Anniversary man pokes his head out of the passenger side window.

"Get on in. Ya'll drink beer?" Sure. It's already ten in the morning.

VW Boy and I crawl inside, not sure whether to become believers or expect a scene from Deliverance. GA Man hands us each a cold beer. A much younger man, who we learn is his son visiting home, is in the driver's seat. Both are swigging Golden Anniversary without evidencing much concern for the horrors of mid-morning drunken driving.

"Like I toldya, you can fuel up just up the road a piece. We'll take ya'll up there and back to yer car." We thanked him profusely, gingerly sipping our beer. He looked embarrassed. "Nah, you kid's'd do the same for me".

We arrive at the station. VW Boy moves to exit the vehicle, but Golden Anniversary Man stops him. He proceeds to purchase a container, fill it with several gallons of premium, and purchase it. He won't accept our money.

The road back is filled with pleasantries - you kids go to school? Me & my boy are fixin' to do some fishing today - until we get back to the dehydrated husk of VW Boy's sky blue Rabbit.

Everyone piles out of the pickup. Too late, we realize there is no funnel included with the gas container. VW Boy hesitantly rummages through his hatchback, knowing he won't find one.

Golden Anniversary Man wastes no time.

He guzzles his remaining beer, smashes the empty bottle on the ground, and comes up with the mouth intact. He stuffs the bottle into the tank and proceeds to fill us up. Duty done, he and his son proceed to their day of drinking and fishing.

Ever since then, I've smiled at thoughts of Arkansas and the badass, get-the-job-done people who must live there.

I'll tell about my adventure with a cracked engine block in Only, Tennessee some other time. Or the Baptist Preacher who made me let him save me before he'd call for a tow. Some other post. Some other time.

Thank you, Golden Anniversary Man, wherever you are. I salute you.


At 1:22 AM, Blogger The Ursine Calamity said...

that's a great story. What a hoot!

At 3:06 AM, Blogger Katie said...

dude was crazy. and i loved it.

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