One rainy morning not long ago, while searching for elusive Christmas decorations, I stumbled across a box of family photographs. When I opened the lid, the room filled with that distinct smell of “old memories.” Black and white images of family members long deceased, smiling into the Brownie camera, knowing that they would never be a minute older than that particular moment.
One particular, faded picture, made me smile. It was my late Uncle Ray leaning against the trunk of his 1957 Cadillac, dressed in his best Sunday suit, holding a shotgun and a can of Pearl beer. I’m not sure how those odd ingredients came together for that picture, but it was nice to see his face again. He smiled a lot-and drank more.
As I studied the photo, remembering Uncle Ray and the joy his car gave to him, a small object sitting on the rear deck caught my eye. It was barely visible and obscured by the suns reflection on the glass, so I placed my magnifying glass over the picture, and it popped into clarity. There it was, Uncle Ray’s long lost Bobble Head Dog – Mr. Pooch.
Ray loved that plastic mongrel as much as that Detroit battleship of a car, a fact that his eight ex-wives grudgingly affirmed.
As family stories are told, I recall the night a wandering opportunist, broke into his Cadillac and stole his precious Mr. Pooch; leaving a loaded shotgun and a cooler of Pearl beer in favor of the faded plastic ornament. Uncle Ray, beyond consolation, moped for days, sitting at his dining room window, stalwart, praying that the thief would find remorse and return Mr. Pooch. His hope diminished by the hour, and that happy reunion never materialized, Uncle Ray, saddened to his last bone, mourned his Mr. Pooch until his end day.
That evening, I made a trip to the pharmacy to collect a prescription. My errand accomplished, I turned for home, and while stopped at a traffic signal, found myself staring at the rear end of a well preserved 1957 Cadillac. I marveled at the rocket tail-fins aerodynamic design, the beefy rear bumper, dual tailpipes, and the glaring chrome appointments. An excellent machine representing the best efforts of an era past. Seeing that old car reminded me of Uncle Rays cherished Caddie and the lost bobble head dog, Mr. Pooch.
As I slowly followed the Caddie in the slow traffic, I glimpsed something odd sitting in the cars rear window.
Pulling closer, I identified the object as a small brown dog perched on the rear deck, happily shaking its head.
The driver, worried that I was following too close, tapped the breaks to warn me off, and, with that warning, the dog’s eyes “flashed” like red lasers. Startled, I slowed and gave the Caddie a wider berth.
After a few blocks, my curiosity won over safety, and again, I closed the gap between our vehicles. Mesmerized by the dogs blinking eyes, I failed to notice the old Caddie had stopped, and I rear-ended the beautiful machine.
At 20 mph, you can’t do much damage to an old tank like that, but my “thin-skinned” foreign auto was in pitiful shape.
Gazing through the cloud of steam that spewed forth from my radiator, I saw the door to the Cadillac swing open and a ” white-haired gal” way shy of five feet, exited the car.
“Dressed to the nines” in designer duds, all the way down to the required white Rockport’s, she was the perfect poster girl for “Sun City.” My golfing buddies had warned me about these old gals. “Little Pit Bulls with lipstick,” as they were known, and they all had at least one off-spring that was an attorney.
I concluded I might be in big trouble.
Exiting my ailing vehicle, hat, and insurance firmly in hand, I attempted a half-baked explanation for the accident: the dog with the piercing red eyes, the memory of my Uncle Ray and his long lost Bobble Head Dog- Mr. Pooch, my poor driving skills. The more I rattled on, the more it sounded like “mental ward gibberish,” so I ceased the blabber and politely inquired if she and her little dog were alright?
She said she was excellent, and the dog, absolutely “felt no pain.” All was well and good. Minor damage, no harm done.
I noticed the collision had un-seated her little dog and he was feet up on the rear deck.
” I really think your little dog may be hurt, he’s not moving,” I said.
She chuckled, and explained that: her old dog, “Giblet,” had been dead for 20 years or more, and that her late husband Murray, who had been an electrical engineer with an “off-kilter” sense of humor, missed the little guy so much, he had the mutt stuffed. Then as a nod to his own electrical wizardry, he installed red lights in the dogs’ eyes that light up when you mash on the cars breaks. I suppose my Murray turned my little Giblet into a real life bobble head dog. Her story was so outrageous, I couldn’t control my laughter, and neither could she. Crazy people laugh the loudest.
Relieved that she was uninjured, I accompanied her back to “her car” to exchange insurance information. Finishing the exchange, she opened the car door, and there, in the passenger seat, illuminated by the dome light, sat and an older gentleman. Startled, I asked, if her passenger was okay, did “he” need to see a doctor? Shushing me off with a wave of her hand, she exclaimed that he “didn’t feel a thing.”
Now, having just heard that morbid explanation regarding old Giblet, I asked,” why didn’t he feel a thing?”
With a twinkle in her eyes and a saucy wink, she replied, ” oh that’s just Murray, he and Giblet go everywhere with me.”
On that parting note, the little gal gunned the Caddie, pulled into traffic and faded away, while I stood staring at the departing Bobble Head dogs red eyes blinking back at me.