Bobby Winters Guest Columnist
The Ada News
The other day as I was working on my column, there came a knock on the door. This surprised me as I hadn’t heard anyone pull up. I looked out the front and saw a bright red Honda Pilot. I was confused as I don’t know anyone who owns such a vehicle. As I peered from the window above the computer that I keep in my office at home, I saw the shape of a man in the passenger seat, but I couldn’t make out who it was.
When I opened the front door all questions were answered when I saw the tall hair and the cherry-sucker red fingernail cradling a cigarette.
“Aunt Vidalia!” I greeted her. “Is that Bum out in the car? Why don’t you bring him in?”
“It is,” she said, “but I’m not bringing him in because I want to bring you and your wife out. I thought you might want to go for a ride in my new car.”
It just so happened it was one of those days when the kids were all out of pocket, so Jean and I were able to oblige. As we went out to the car, she handed me her keys.
“You drive,” she said, “because you will know where to go better than I do. I can sit in the back with Jean and catch up on the kids and you can talk with Bum because I’ve heard just about everything he has to say.”
As you may be aware, Vidalia and Bum have an interesting relationship.
They share a love of casinos and the varieties of pleasure that can be had at such places. When it comes to politics, they part ways.
Bum is either a Republican or a Conservative Democrat. I forget which. Vidalia is a Bill Clinton Democrat. She voted for him twice and would vote for him again if he ran a third time whether the constitution were amended to allow it or not.
After we all got in and Jean and I had exchanged greetings with Bum, I asked Vidalia the all important question: “So where do you want me to take us?” I figured it was someplace in Joplin. I was about to be surprised again.
“You are going to take us to Kansas City for barbecue,” she said.
“Barbecue is about all we can agree on right now.”
Before I could ask if they had a particular place in mind, Bum chimed in:
“You got that right!”
Vidalia stared daggers at him.
I was about to list out the places I’d been — Gate’s, Oklahoma Joes, Arthur Bryant’s, and Jack’s Stacks — when I thought better of it. If they were as at odds as it seemed, then they might have trouble agreeing even on barbecue. It was time for me to make an executive decision, so I did, but I kept it to myself and just started driving.
As we headed toward Kansas City, everything was pleasant until we got to the abandoned dog track just north of Frontenac.
“What’s that?” Aunt Vidalia asked.
“That’s an old dog track,” I said. “It was only in use for a short while before it went out of business.”
It was then that Bum felt compelled to comment. I suppose he couldn’t resist.
“What happened?” he said with a look of mischief on his face. “Did Obama eat ‘em all?”
I tried to think as quickly as I could of something I could say that would defuse whatever Vidalia might want to say in response to that, but her brain is quicker than mine.
“Well at least he didn’t tie them to the roof of his car!”
From that point until we got to Fort Scott an argument ensued. For the sake of the gentle-reader, I will not reconstruct it in detail.
Vidalia’s side used the key-words: etch-a-sketch, wishy-washy, out-of-touch, and robber-baron. Bum for his part worked in: floppy-eared, pencil-necked, empty suit, foreign-born, and teleprompter-reader.
It was in Fort Scott that Jean started talking about all of the points of historical interest and managed to get them distracted from politics. About an hour later, we turned onto 135th street, drove over to Morris City, and parked in front of the Original Jack’s Stacks.
“What’s good here?” Vidalia asked.
“Everything,” I said, “but you must try the coleslaw because it’s life-changing.”
Vidalia got the prime-rib sandwich, Jean got the burnt ends, and Bum and I each got a half-rack of ribs. After the food arrived, they each tasted the coleslaw and that improved the mood noticeably. In about five minutes, they were holding hands, everything was going fine, and all arguments forgotten, or so I thought.
We finished as much of our meals as we could and then asked for boxes.
When we did this, Vidalia asked the waitress if they sold the sauce.
It was then that Bum just had to say one more thing.
“So,” he began, “are you going to have them send a bottle to Obama so he can use it on a terrier?”
They argued all the way out the restaurant, all the way home, and were still at it when they pulled out of the driveway.
Bobby Neal Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, is Assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of Mathematics at Pittsburg State University. He blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com.