Somewhere in Kansas. I'm in town for a funeral. The ceremony is in a few hours. I stopped by this breakfast joint to meet someone. The place is packed with old men.
A gaggle of old guys sit at the bar, wearing cowboy hats. One wears an oxygen cannula and a John Deere cap. Another Stetson man is sawing his chicken-fried steak with a forty-inch stag handled pocketknife.
I’m immediately struck with the fact that this place is crawling with tough guys. Really tough ones.
I can’t help but marvel at what a wimp I am compared to the grizzled men of yesteryear. I am nothing like these old birds. They have sawdust and 10W-30 running through their vascular systems. Me? I handle sentences for a living, and I watch “Steel Magnolias” twice per year whether I need it or not.
I hold the door open for more weathered cattlemen who enter. The bell over the door dings. I wish I could take a picture of them all because they look like illustrations from a
Louis L’Amour novel.
When it’s my turn the waitress approaches and asks where I’d like to sit. I tell her that I’m meeting somebody and that I’d love a booth.
“Sure thing, hon,” she says. “Got plenty’a booths.”
The waitress puts me in a seat facing the parking lot and keeps me full of caffeine while I wait, sip, and think about the solemn ceremony ahead. I will be a pallbearer today.
After a few minutes I hear a rumbling noise. I look through the plate glass window to see a monster Ford dually charging through the parking lot. The herculean F-450 nearly takes out six Nissans, two Mazdas, and one Prius, chugging like a nuclear locomotive through a Steinway factory.
All the cowboys have paused eating to watch this giant truck make its matinee entrance.
The truck parks. The door opens. Out from the…