Trees everywhere. Big balsam firs. The old man who runs the Christmas tree lot is almost seventy-three. He keeps a small travel trailer, sixteen feet, with a television, a bed, and a microwave. When things are slow, he’s inside, eating his TV dinner.
He has a dog. The dog’s name is Brownie. He doesn’t even remember how he named this dog because Brownie is pure white.
“He pees all the time,” says the old man, poking a fork at his dinner. “Brownie loves to pee on people’s tires, I don’t know why.”
The old man is a friendly salesman. When customers look at his trees, he accompanies them and entertains. He has a little routine, complete with jokes, and hard candy for the kids. Sometimes horehounds, which is a candy I haven’t had in ages. My grandfather used to eat horehounds.
“I used to give out caramel chews,” the old man says, “But they’re expensive.”
Brownie runs all over, wandering between trees. He checks on people, and gets free rubdowns from anyone who will touch him.
he’s a little Cassanova,” says the man. “Never met a stranger, and never met a car tire he don’t wanna tee-tee on.”
The old man’s son helps manage the lot. But he and his son aren’t “super close,” as the man puts it. The old man admits that he walked out on his son and his family when his son was a little boy. Years later, they reunited, but it’s been slow going.
“When you screw up like I did,” says the man, “there’s no coming back from it. All you can do is try to be in your kid’s life, be a friend.”
There are customers at the tree lot tonight. A young family. The old man leaves his TV dinner to help them. They have two kids; a boy and a girl. The man does his usual routine, a joke or…