Sunday was Dooley’s birthday and last week Irene asked if she could host a surprise birthday party at her house. I told her I thought that was a great idea. Irene’s dog Lightning is Dooley’s best friend and they always have a fun time when together. Some other dogs were invited including three of the nicer McCroskey dogs, Harry’s brindle bulldog Luke, Mrs. Sherman’s female cairn Dazzle and a few others from the “better” side of town that I was not familiar with. My job was to get Dooley into town at 2pm without him suspecting the big bash. Usually on his birthday I would take him to town anyway for a bowl of ice cream (soft serve) at the deli in Harry’s grocery/hardware/feed store. They have an amazing 26 flavors of soft serve. If you should ever find yourself at Harry’s I highly recommend the Cinnamon Apple Cobbler Deluxe (French vanilla soft serve with add on crushed cobbler bits and a generous sprinkle of fresh ground cinnamon).
Sunday rolls around and we do our usual birthday gift ceremony and brunch at the cabin. The chickens provided egg salad sandwiches and the goats chipped in for a very nice rock polishing kit. In addition to a book on Eastern Indian Tribes, I got Dooley a new harmonica to replace the one that accidentally fell out of my shirt pocket and into the composting toilet one morning last month. I had used the harmonica the night before as a distraction device during a poker game and forgot to return it to his keepsake box.
We wrapped up the faux party and Dooley spent the next hour or so down at the creek gathering polishible rocks. About 1:00 I called him back to the cabin to clean up so we could go to town for our traditional birthday ice cream treat. Right on schedule at 1:40 we got into the truck, I turned the key and nothing happened. Absolutely nothing.
I got out, popped the hood and jiggled the battery cables. I yelled through the open truck door for Dooley to give it a try. He turned the key and the truck started right up. I told him I had to stop at Irene’s first, to drop off some blog stuff. We got to Irene’s right on time, his friends jumped out, yelled “surprise!” and the party was underway.
I was still concerned about the battery cable issue so I excused myself after a few minutes to drive over to Harry’s to get a terminal cleaning brush. I was certain a quick cleaning job would correct the problem. I got in the truck, turned the key and nothing happened. I got out, jiggled the battery cables, leaned back in the truck, turned the key and it started right up.
At Harry’s I bought the brush and some cleaner gel that he recommended, cleaned the terminals and cable ends thoroughly, got back into the truck to return to the party, turned the key and nothing happened. One of Harry’s customers said he was certain I needed new cables. That seemed a reasonable assumption so I bought the cables (Harry has everything) and spent the next 45 minutes hooking them up in the parking lot. When I finished, I opened the door, leaned in, turned the key and it started right up. Just to be sure, I turned it off, tried it again and it started right up. By this time a small crowd of concerned men had gathered to watch the cable installation. I looked over, nodded, they nodded back with approval of a job well done and all, certain the problem had been solved, went back to their Sunday business.
Remembering Irene had asked me to bring some ice when I came back to the party, I got a small bag, a week’s supply of Swisher Sweet Double Barrel Rum Outlaw cigars, said good-bye to Harry , thanked the customer who had suggested the new cables, got back in the truck, turned the key and ……..…nothing happened!
(I may have said something out loud at that moment that I meant to say in my head. A number of heads that turned my way suggesting I had. It was something that was not appropriate to say at any time but especially not on a Sunday afternoon. For those who were present, I apologize.)
When the hood went back up the crowd of men quickly reassembled at my truck. There was a lot of “huumming” and chin scratching and just about everyone peered in to the engine compartment once, some twice. The crowd quickly divided into two major factions, those who were certain it was the starter motor and those who were equally certain it was my ignition switch. I was certain it would be the thing that would be the most expensive to repair. Harry was about to call his brother-in-law, a mechanic, from the next town over when a sweet young girl who had been standing quietly up on the loading dock from the very beginning of this debacle spoke up.
“Hey, Mister, I think I noticed something. Get back in your truck, close the door and try to start the truck.”
I did. It didn’t start.
“Now, open your door, stay in the truck and try to start it.”
I did. It started right up.
The crowd gasped.
Harry had his mechanic brother-in-law on the phone, explained what just happened and soon we all knew the answer to the puzzle. The little switch in the door frame that turns the interior lights on and off was defective and grounding out part of the electrical system when the door was closed. I needed a new switch. A $12.00 fix.
I offered to buy the little girl a Cinnamon Apple Cobbler Deluxe soft serve, but her father said dinner was waiting for them at home. I openly gave Harry two dollars and told the girl the next time she was at the store a soft serve would be waiting for her. The crowd of men respectfully applauded as she and a very proud father drove out of the parking lot.
As they disappeared around the big bend at the end of town, I looked over at the crowd of men, nodded, they nodded in return and we all went back to our Sunday business…all just a little less certain of our certainty…. and all better men for it.
Irene Note: Dooley’s party was a hoot!
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