Monday, May 18, 2009

Buford's Sunday night.

Sunday night I was sitting on my front porch enjoying a visit with my friends Jack Daniels and Arturo Fuentes. Sundays are usually the night of the week that Ol' Buford gets to spend some quality time alone with my thoughts. Wendell is usually attending one of his get rich quick group meetings and it is the only night that Dan doesn't try to cram green tea and shitaki mushrooms down my throat. The penguin trucks have just started to roll in across the street but haven't been here long enough to have the entire northeast section of Des Moines all smelled up. All in all a good night. About 9:30, the phone rings and it's Sandy Torgelston. She says her juicer is on the fritz and if Walli doesn't get his fresh squeezed carrot/plum/onion juice in the morning there is going to be hell to pay. I told her that I would be happy to take a look at it but Gabes Wholesale Parts was closed and if it needs any extensive repairs we would be up a creek. She said she understood and could always stop by the Hy-vee and pick up some prune juice for one day.

About 10:00 Sandy pulls up the drive and gives the horn a little honk. I wave at her from the porch and she takes a good ten minutes to get outta the car. She finally gets out, walks around to the trunk, opens that and pulls out a box. As she's walking up the steps she says "Hey Buford, where should I put this?" I said "we'll look at it in a bit." "Have a seat and enjoy some city night." I said "I'm visiting with Mr. Jack Daniels would you like a visit too?" She laughs and said "God no, Walli would shoot me if he knew I was drinking like the old days with Buford Picklebery" She says "I better not have any Jack.... Make me a double vodka with orange juice please." This ol girl has always made me laugh and feel a little lighter every time I see her.

I get her drink, she's sitting in the rockin chair next to mine and we just each sit for a moment enjoying the night. "tough luck that ol juicer breaking on a Sunday night" I say. "yeah tough luck" She went on "I don't know, might be OK, may have just been the outlet I was plugging it into." I laughed a bit. We sat another 10 minutes not saying a word. Just listening to the dogs barking and the trucks howling over on 80. Suddenly Sandy blurts out. "Buford, I don't know what the hell is wrong with Walli anymore?" "He doesn't do nothing since he retired" "his life is rotated between the bed and the tv couch and the bed." "He's living his life in 8 hour segments of sleep, Maury Povich and sleep."

Now ol' Walli never did set the world on fire. I've known him and Sandy for probably 40 years. Walli was a mail carrier for 28 years and retired about four years ago, maybe five already. I think the only thing he substituted from his old life into the retired life was to replace Des Moines postal route 37 gossip with ABC 5 Maury Povich gossip. I think the rest remained the same. Sleep, mail, sleep rotation. He provided a safe life for his family and that was his sole goal in life.

Sandy retired a school teacher and I first met her way back in 62'. I was asked by a judge to give a talk to some school kids on the dangers of the Devil's Lettuce. A little leftover request from the days of running with the Basillicians outta Dyersville. Sandy and I got along famously and enjoyed a couple of drinks after her class that day and have been friends ever since. Sandy and Walli had just started hitting the town together at the time so her and I have been nothing but friends for all these years.

She said, "I don't know Buford, I shoulda hopped onto the back of that panhead with you in 1962 and never looked back." " She kind of chuckled and I saw her steal a glance my way and look away in the same motion. She had a very far away look on her face and just the slightest tear slowly inched down her left cheek. She never even moved to stop it. We sat listening to the penned up penguins squawking across the road and I obliged her request for another drink. I said "you know, those damn penguins they got penned up across the street are all just waiting to die." I said "They run around, half fly, squawk and poop all day and never get anywhere." I said "But, every now and then one of em gets out, I see em streakin across my lawn or out in that field and we never see em again." "I don't know where they go but I do know they are probably loving their freedom even if they are stuck here in the middle of Iowa, miles from where they thought they would ever be." "Heck, when they take off outta that pen they probably have no idea where they're going either." "They probably miss some of their buddies but not enough to go back to em!" Sandy didn't reply.

We sat a long long time without saying a word and I finally said "we should look at that juicer." She kind of whispered more to herself than to me, "let it go for tonight, he can drink some prune juice" "Let's just sit here awhile" We sat and listened to the night. I was thinking about 1962 and a beautiful bright eyed school teacher named Ms. Sandy Brooks and some of life's wasted opportunities. I'm not sure what she was thinking but at one point she had reached over and lightly rested her left arm on my right arm. We sat gently connected. We listened and watched and didn't say another word.

I'm sure she'll come by and pick up that juicer some day. I've not even tried to plug it in.


  1. Excellent write up, funny, witty and nicely done...I think I'll go visit with jack Daniels and take care

  2. Sounds like you two had a wonderful evening together. Sometimes its good just to sit and enjoy like this.Quietly.
    Retirement can change people but it doesn't need too. It's a different journey, kinda like when you were teens and free.