In a remote, small town in Idaho an old pickup pulled into a lonely roadside diner. Farmer Joe stepped out into the brisk air as the sun peaked over the horizon of the potato-farm landscape. Joe tucked a crumpled sack under his arm and strolled inside.
June, the plump and squatty, overzealous waitress, greeted him at the door, glanced at the sack under his arm, and said “What’s in the bag?” Joe passed on the question with a look of disdain and said, “I’ll have my usual,” as he brushed past her. As June smacked on her gum, she retorted, “Some fancy-pants city fella came in here lookin’ for ya. He’s there in the back. Looks real nervous.”
As Joe settled into a booth in the back of the shabby establishment, he startled the man sitting there staring out the window. Clyde had been in a zone, fixated on the highway as if spotting the next car coming by would be the highlight of his day. He looked up at Joe and said, “You got it?”
Under the watchful eye of a pair of potato shaped ceramic salt and pepper shakers, Joe slowly passed the paper sack across the table and said, “It’s in there, plans and all.”
* * * * *
Back in the day, before my hair began its migration from the peak of my crown to the depths of my nose, I was blessed with a head full of hair. Now, as my forehead continues to grow while my hair does not, I think back to those days in high school when thick locks of hair cascaded down my neck, much to the disapproval of my mother.
I never knew that this hairdo of mine had a name until just a few years ago, which exposes my ignorance of pop culture knowledge. My son Zachary, now a senior in high school, has always been happy to discuss the fact that I had a “mullet” when I was his age.
I’m not sure where the name mullet originated, but when I looked up the meaning on Dictionary.com, references to fish came up. As I scrolled down the page to definition number three where it said “a sucker”, things became very clear to me. Nevertheless, I thought I was pretty cool when my hair was short in the front and long in the back—as Zachary says, “business in the front and party in the back.”
I’ve never been much of a comb guy, always using a brush instead, especially since I had to work hard to keep up my hair image. Now I’ve always been one to keep up with my things, and my hairbrush was no exception. Our children, however, do not subscribe to that nonsense. When they use something, they don’t seem to think it necessary to deliver it back to its point of origin.
On many occasions in which I’ve been in a hurry to get my hair up to par, I’ve discovered that my hairbrush has fallen off the planet. When I start asking who took it, the children are always anxious to direct the blame on that brother of theirs, Notme. It seems as though Notme is always the one who makes messes, leaves all the toys out, and never flushes the toilet.
In addition to Notme taking things like my hairbrush, our house has been plagued for years with an imaginary “black hole” where everything goes that is missing. We have lost many an item to the black hole. Shoes, battery covers to remotes and toys, car keys, phones, and clothes. I think that the black hole must be getting pretty full just from the other half of our massive odd sock collection.
At last glance in the bathroom, I believe my old friend the hairbrush is still a resident, but due to the sparseness of my brow, the hairbrush wars are over. The rest of the family can all fight over the hairbrushes amongst themselves as I happily give my slick head a once over with my towel every morning. If the brush falls into the black hole, I probably won’t care.
* * * * *
Clyde quickly opened the crumpled bag to reveal a pair of beaters from a mixer. “What the heck is this?” he asked Joe.
“It’s a windfall for you and me both,” Joe says. As Joe illustrated the elongated beaters to the small appliance engineer, Clyde’s eyes grew big with excitement.
“Ok, now let me get this straight,” Clyde said, “I create a new kitchen mixer, and this new mixer has longer beaters that are not interchangeable with old beaters and mixers. Then, when a housewife is cooking mashed potatoes and can’t find her two new beaters, the potatoes will over-boil on the stove, go bad, and then she will go to the store later to purchase an extra set of beaters. While she’s there, she’ll also buy more potatoes since she wasted a half-a-bag of potatoes when she couldn’t find her only set of new beaters. It’s a win-win. I sell more mixers and beaters, and you sell more potatoes. Let’s do it!”
After they enjoyed a greasy breakfast delivered by June, complete with bacon, eggs, and hash brown potatoes, Joe and Clyde happily departed with glee, anxious to put their plan into action.
* * * * *
Our most recent addition to the list of missing household items occurred a couple of nights ago. Katrina was in the middle of cooking mashed potatoes to go with our dinner, and in the height of hot food discovered that she could only find one beater to our new mixer. After we both looked all through the kitchen drawers, dishwasher, and sink the beater’s lost mate did not turn up.
After putting our heads together, we decided that our daughter Olivia had wandered off the other night, beater in hand, happily licking cookie dough as she played. A quick search of the living room and surrounding area did not produce beater number two, so Katrina proceeded to mash the potatoes with the lone beater. It worked great, especially considering how powerfully our new mixer worked. The half-beaten potatoes turned out fine and dinner was served!
As we mulled over where the extra beater could have gotten off to, I looked at the three sets of old beaters we had in the kitchen and told Katrina that it was a conspiracy dreamed up by the mixer company and some potato farmer to remove all the money from our bank account. They didn’t get the best of us though, because they made the mixer too powerful, the potatoes didn’t go bad, and they underestimated the fact that Katrina and I would sooner mash them with a fork as to throw them out.
As predicted, after a thorough cleaning the next day, the beater was rescued from the black hole. It turned up where Olivia had been playing, and the pair of beaters was happily joined together again. Our bank account remained intact.
* * * * *
One year later…
As June poured a second cup of coffee for Joe and Clyde, she said “Ain’t you boys gonna order no food?” Joe and Clyde hung their heads low and asked for the check. “No, just coffee today,” Joe said. “Times are tough. By the way, can we pay in potatoes?”
Written by David Steen, with God smiling, February 6, 2010