Colorado Springs—I found a twenty-dollar bill on the sidewalk. And because I am a competent, responsible adult, I raced toward the money, shouting, “MINE! MINE!” at my wife.
There they were, two Andrew Jacksons, crumpled. I made the same sound a five-year-old boy makes when he discovers the Tootsie Roll center to a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop.
I don’t often find money. It’s not one of my skills. I have a friend who finds money everywhere. He once found a hundred big ones outside a convenience store. I happened to be with him when it happened.
I never forgave him.
Thus, with my newfound wealth, I walked into a giftshop to do some dutiful vacation-junk purchasing. Here in Colorado, I am a tourist, and a tourist can never have enough plastic junk to clutter up his home, office, garage, guest bedroom, or storage unit.
Then, I overheard his voice.
He was behind the cash register, talking to a customer. His accent was pure Alabama. It had to
be. He drew out his vowels the same way Good Ole Boys have been doing since the invention of the beer koozie.
I waited in line with an armful of overpriced trash. I was buying more than twenty-bucks’ worth—three T-shirts, a snow globe, a coffee mug, and a few bumper stickers for my accordion case.
That’s right, I play accordion. My grandfather played, too. Grandaddy told me long ago that the accordion was a great way to pick up chicks. He was grossly misinformed.
When it was my turn, I asked the gray-haired man at the cash register where he was from.
“Montgomery,” he said.
Bingo. Alabamians, you’ll note, don’t say “MONT-gomery” like the rest of the free world. They say, “Muh-GUM-ree.”
“How’d you get out here?” I asked.
“Long story,” he said. “I came here for my parents. They’re old…