|Tow Trucks and
Snugglers and Snuff, Oh My!|
by Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
II: Broken Down in Tennessee
So, friends, here’s more of the story about running home to Oklahoma City to Mama
and Papa, with a car full of babies and roadmaps and stuffed animals and regrets
and hopes and ‘Nilla Wafers, if you want to hear it. Mrs. B. drove us to her mechanic
and we hugged her and thanked her, hugged the mechanic too probably, loaded up
and hit the highway. The kids were proudly sporting the snazzy new sunglasses
our newfound friend had given them, and our tummies were full of pancakes and
orange juice. Everything was looking up and our bad luck was behind us.|
gone far enough down the road to get into Tennessee, which was not too far, when
the car began to act up again. The man we were leaving, my soon-to-be former husband,
was a mechanic so I was well aware that things like that happen, as they do in
medicine sometimes too – "Well, apparently it wasn’t your appendix that was the
problem." So our car, a dusty red 1985 Ford Escort with a bad case of cholecystitis
or something (but a pleasant attitude about it), developed symptoms again and
then suffered an episode of syncope. We eased on down the conveniently located
exit ramp. Now if this should ever happen to you, you might think, as I did not,
that there are more people on a busy highway and hence a better chance that someone
will help you than you are likely to find on a little two lane county road. Generally.
Of course, with the increased chance of help there is also the increased chance
that you will meet a cannibal or terrorist or kidnapper, but at least there will
be witnesses later for the "Forensic Files" folks to interview. We coasted onto
the county road and finally rolled to a stop on the dusty shoulder. We four sat
there quietly for a minute listening to the engine tick and the grasshoppers fiddle
and our hearts beat. At least that’s what I was doing. The kiddos were snoozing.
What to do, what to do?
Well, there was a store down the road a half
a mile or so, and that seemed like a likely place to start. Everybody out, all
shoes tied, diapers changed, Cabbage Patch Kid strapped safely in a car seat to
nap while we were gone, "Sweetie, she doesn’t look hungry to me right now, just
sleepy. You can give her a bottle when we get back." "But Mama, she said she is
hungry." I was being brave, you know, and grown up, so I just waited patiently
until she had been fed and burped. Fortunately, the Cabbage Patch Kid had always
been pretty piggy about her bottle, and it didn’t take long for her to finish.
Off down the road we went, 28 year old me with a kid on each hip and one holding
onto my belt loop, our usual way of walking anywhere (when they were all big enough
to walk on their own I immediately gained ten pounds), worrying about snakes and
bad guys and engines and money. Not much different than the scene the day before,
only I hadn’t thought to worry about snakes then, and there was no Mrs. B. this
There was a dude in a hot rod 1972 GTO, which was not any particular
color so much as it was bondo and primer with plenty of Pennzoil decals and Confederate
flag stickers to spice things up. Set the tone. Hold the side panels on. He cruised
on by, trying pretty obviously to be casual and disinterested in us, which was
stupid because there were exactly six people on that road for ten miles in either
direction – he was one, the store clerk was one, and we were the other four. It
would have been weird, it was weird, to try to pretend he didn’t notice us. It
was this inappropriate and feigned disinterest in us which made me sure he was
I may not have mentioned this, but my first husband was foreign.
In addition to his native language he had moderately good English. He also had
a whole vocabulary of his own invention, which he thought was English. As the
shine on my marriage became increasingly scuffed I began to take a perverse and
not very laudable pleasure in failing to correct him when he used a made-up word.
"Snuggler" was one of his words. It meant a man with questionable morals and poor
hygiene who showed an unwholesome interest in somebody else’s girlfriend or wife.
This interest sometimes manifested as a wink or a lingering glance, but sometimes
just being on the same street or in the same restaurant was enough. You would
not believe how many "snugglers" my husband noticed wherever we went. This was
one of our problems. I was a snuggler magnet in those days. Everywhere we went
there were snugglers in the same room or building or town.
I’m out of
time now, and will have to tell you about this particular snuggler next time and
how we got away from him. Out of the pan and into the fire, and how we met some
mighty interesting people in the process.
III: Snake-Eyes and the GTO next page