Me and Buddy Wiggleton and Bob Edwards used to push and shove our way through the baseball glove section of Robert Hall’s Western Auto. The new leather had such a wonderful smell. And you mix in the distinctive aroma of the Neat’s foot oil and the rubber hoses from the auto displays on the next aisle and that combined scent was the Western Auto store. We didn’t linger to enjoy it. As a matter of fact, we were in such a hurry to get the good 99 cent Wilson baseball that we barely noticed.
I wish life had a do-over. Not so much to correct things, to avenge a wrong or to bet on a different horse. We should have just paid more attention. I remember the unique smell of that wonderful store and Mr. Hall smiling down at us but I didn’t appreciate the time or the pace of life or the joy of the moment.
Blame it on youth.
It was the same for the locker room smell. You put 20 sweaty bodies in the dressing room at the back of the McKenzie High School gymnasium in 1963, mix in some dirty practice pants and some old jock straps and you had an aroma for the ages. But we mostly were fussing about running those extra laps. Or we were making fun of the new girl Billy Barksdale was keen on. Or we were discussing how great life would be if we could just get out of this little town. Or we got engrossed in stopping up the drains in the shower so the water could build up and we could slide buck naked across the length of the floor. We missed, again, the significance of the moment.
Someone should have had a camera.
We spent our time trying to speed life up. I should have been nicer to Mr. Frank. I should have taken notes on all the funny things Leon said. I should have walked right up to Kay King and told her what I was thinking. That 1960 Chevy I thought was so bland is now a classic.
What were we thinking?
Once upon a time I thought my opinion was better than yours. I would argue with folks a lot. Mostly over important things like why lasagna was enhanced if you left them little green leafy things out. Or how Stan Musial was a better hitter than Ted Williams. I’ve listened to the Ford versus Chevrolet controversy for years. I’ve debated politics, beauty queens, whether wrestling is fake, if we really did land men on the moon, who shot J. R. and which one of those O’Riley girls had the biggest nose.
It was fun and it killed a lot of time. But it really is like one of those little gerbil things fighting to stay on top of the ferris wheel. It just ain’t worth it. And I’ve learned that my opinion is just that.
Think how much better off we’d have been if these “revelations” had taken hold while were still squinting from the sun as we exited the Park Theatre. Or when we walked into the Western Auto for the very first time. Or plopped down 40 cents for a burger…