The Model T Ford

Old Story for Lori

As I’ve mentioned before it was my life’s ambition as a child to grow up and be a hoodlum. After realizing my physical limitations I later modified it to, “I want a double-wide and my pick of house dresses.” Some of you are thinking, “oh Beth, another one of your stories…” well, so be it.

I’m the kid that got a young Ernie to play Bonnie and Clyde in the schoolyard (I was Bonnie, just for clarification), which I like to remind Ern about. See, if you talk to Ernie about his recollections of his childhood, he was precocious, wise beyond his years and a joy for all adults to be around. He’ll admit though that the one weight dragging him back into some sort of reptilian existence where you do things from the gut and not the brain was me. I was the perfect Bonnie/Mallory to his Socrates. Why life had to interfere with my lofty goals, I’ll never know.

For Lori, here’s a story from my glorious past.

Back in the day when I still lived in Dallas I had a best-friend named Richard Jones (anyone who can find him for me will get big prizes). Now Richard was a lot like Anna in the sense that he had a corner on the mischievous market and as I said before, I’m a great sidekick for this type of personality. I guess AA meetings would label me “an enabler” and I suppose I’m a bit of “an instigator”, too. There are worse things to be. As I told Kendra, my particular knack is helping people realize what they want to do and to encourage them along those lines. Now Richard owned the streets of our cul-de-sac on his bright red Big Wheels with yellow handles and I was usually perched on the back holding onto his shoulders as we’d make our rounds. Typically, we’d head for Julia’s family’s garden (Julia of the water pistol duel fame – my arch nemesis) where we’d leap off the Big Wheels, load the little plastic box on the back with freshly picked baby tomatoes and make for our hideout to enjoy our plunder. We limited our delinquency to ill-gained produce and occasionally breaking into empty duplexes to play around. Back then, if our antics ever got me grounded, I’d just go to my room and wait until Richard appeared at my window. The windows had a crank and I’d just roll them open so we could continue to play. Richard was my partner in crime so to speak and my first younger man – he was a kindergartner while I was a grown-up 1st grader.

Well, one day I guess the weather was just right and I was mixing up a fresh batch of mud pies outside of Julia’s house. Julia wasn’t around, so we were a bit restless when Richard had an idea. He scooped up some mud and slung it at Julia’s grandparent’s Model T Ford (they lived next door to Julia’s family). This was a vintage, working Model T Ford – not something from a kit. Watching Richard cake this car put me in the mind to do the exact same thing. Let me say that in hind site, I’m completely embarrassed – the adult that didn’t grow up to be a thug is completely appalled, but this is an old story. The Model T was covered inside and out. Did I mention it was a convertible?

Richard and I finished our handiwork, which I’m sure in some twisted way was a message to Julia and went about our scheduled business of hitting toy gunpowder strips with rocks, I’m sure. Julia’s grandparents arrive home and are justifiably devastated. The grandmother approaches us, but Richard has a story about some kids who came into the neighborhood. Now a fact about me is I can’t lie. Ask Anna. If I’m confronted face-to-face (which is the key) I cave. So there I am standing next to Richard and I decide to embellish. The kids that came to the neighborhood – well, there were at least 12, all of them tall basketball player kids and my tongue just flies along until Julia’s clever grandmother trips me up with, “Beth, is that true?” and I respond with a big grin, “NOPE!” I’m pretty sure Richard groaned, collapsed in on himself and fired me on the spot.

We spent the next few hours giving that Model T Ford the best cleaning it received in a long time while Julia sat in the front seat and taunted us. (Thus, I should have been allowed to pour my chemistry set into my water gun for our infamous battle.) Julia’s grandmother eventually emerged and told us we did a fine job, that she wanted to give us a party, but her husband wouldn’t allow it. Which, by the way, I rate in my Top 10 Oddest Things People Have Ever Said to Me list. The lesson we walked away with – caking cars in mud is not worth it, but free tomatoes are and Beth can’t lie – it’s a bona fide disability on my part. * sigh *

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