With clean clothes and fond memories of a fun evening in Indiana, I headed west to Illinois. Staying south enough to avoid the congestion of Chicago’s traffic I was on a surface highway, perhaps Old US 30, and was looking forward to getting some miles behind me before winter set in. An older model sedan pulled over and I jumped in beside a gent of some 50 years sporting a comfortable old business suit and eager for someone to chat with.
It turned out this gent spent his time on the road selling wholesale plants to local nurseries. He was off to a major buyer and suggested I come along and he’d get me lunch. I was enjoying his company and it felt good to be having a ride so I forgot about making miles and stayed on for an adventure on local roads. Several miles later he said he had always wanted to “check this place out” and swung into a potholed parking lot in front of a rather dilapidated hometown bar advertising food. Always up for lunch, I followed him in.
Anyone who knows rural bars would have been instantly at home. There were dart boards and a pool table. Along the left wall worn out bar stools stood before a bar top who’s surface had areas of underlying wood exposed by forty years of wiping off the original finish. Some tables with kitchen chairs were scattered about a small dance floor tucked in the far corner. Five or six early afternoon customers were entertaining one another with familiar yarns just as neighborhood bars have had similar stories spun since civilization began.
The woman behind the bar was absolutely at home. Perhaps fifty-five, she had the salesman and I sized up before the door closed behind us. She was a smart, no-nonsense lady thanks to years of making people feel welcome, putting up with their antics, and telling them to behave when emotions began to run away with themselves. She had no need for makeup and was too busy taking care of business and probably kids and grandkids to worry about whether or not her waist size equaled all her other measurements.
One look and my companion was vibrating with lust. By the time we were sitting down he was telling me she was just the kind of woman who knew how to treat a man. How skinny broads only think of themselves but ladies like her appreciate how well you treat them. Once the spigot of appreciation opened there was no stopping him. His focus was singular and set.
Before I knew it he was at the bar telling her how beautiful she was and how he appreciates women who are overweight and not all that good looking and she and her kind are the best and he’d sure like to get to know her better and he’d treat her right. She gave him a most uncomfortable look to say the least but his manner was not rude or mean and before long she was listening. Our food came. He’d grab a bite and run right back to her, making it obvious he was just as sincere as an infatuated (no pun intended) fella can be. Before long I caught her eyes give him a deliberate once-over and her face reflect an assessment of, “Well. He’s not such a bad looking fella.”
He explained he had to make a call on a nursery five miles away and he’d be back. She looked like she’d believe it when she saw it—but it would be just fine with her if he did.
We went off on a winding side road to an out-of-the-way nursery and he seemed pleased with the sale but it did not distract him from his obsession with the barkeep. Before I knew it we were back at the potholed parking lot. To my surprise he was eager for me to come in and have a beer.
The beer would have gone down just fine but I had doubts about being the third wheel. I grabbed my pack, walked across the potholes, and stuck out my thumb. I hope those two had a great evening.
Heck. I hope they are enjoying a happily-ever-after.