Monday, January 24, 2011

The Story of Birthday Roses

Once upon a time in the very early 1980's, it was one of my friends, Tina Stewe's, birthday. 

The gang collectively thought that it would be fun to treat her to the Benton County Fair, and I agreed to be chauffeur.  It helped that I had access to my Mom's Chevy Impala Station Wagon ("Hop in my Chrysler, it's as big as a whale!")   The car easily sat nine: three in the front, three in back, and three in the way in the back (a backwards-facing rumble seat).

Anyway, because there was some bicycle grease on one of the way-in-the-back seats, I put a sheet over it (I'd gotten some grease on me after a recent family trip and I didn't want the same thing happening to one of my passengers).   And because it was Tina's birthday, I thought it would be fun to have roses.  In the car.  I should point out at this point that Tina was perfectly happy with her high school boyfriend (they married each other a few years later) and the roses were simply an effort on my part to add some ambiance to a fifteen minute car ride.  I set out to equip the car with roses.

In those days, Chevy Impala Station Wagons stored spare tires within the cabin of the car, way in the back, underneath plastic wheel well covers.  The covers  had a kind of built-in tool bin that collected dust, screwdrivers, pencils, and assorted car junk.  I cleaned the bins out, filled them with a little bit of water, put in a spiky flower trivet or two, and filled them with roses from the yard.  Viola! Everything's coming up roses!  And they smelled nice, too. 

The only bump in the evening was hit while we were traveling through Avery Park.  Literally.  I think between the speed I was driving, combined with the number of high school students in the car, caused a hubcap to roll off into the side of the road when I got to one of the park's many speed bumps.  We discovered it was missing when we got to the fairgrounds, but I couldn't find it when I went back to look. 

Tina and everyone had a great time at the fair.

So, the next day, my parents sort of obsessed about the missing hubcap and went to the dealer to get a replacement.  The dealer said something along the lines of, "Well, there's probably a hubcap with the spare..."  at which point the three adults discovered a rumpled sheet and floral display in the back of the car.

"Whoa," said the dealer.  "I've seen them [the wheel well cover bins] used for a lot of things, but this is the first time I've ever seen them used for this!" 

My parents asked me about the roses when they got home, but it took about two years for them to work up enough courage to ask about the sheet. 
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