over the light. If I ever win $228.9
million in a lottery, I’m not buying
a new car. I’m buying more duct
tape. Unfortunately, I had used all
the duct tape fixing my binoculars.
Hey, the binocs are paid for. Finding
no duct tape, I rebooted the car by
getting in and out of it. I popped the
hood and stared at the engine as if I
were doing auto repair by “the look.”
I found things that didn’t look right,
but I am quite sure that was the way
they were supposed to look. They
were like snowflakes. No two parts
My mechanical ability approximates that of pudding. I find out
what I can’t do and then I don’t do
it. I am not completely inept when
it comes to automotive things. I can
use a tire gauge.
I pulled out my old cell phone.
The one with the rotary dial. I called
the nearest dealership. It happened to
be in Mountain Lake, Minnesota. A
fellow in the service department told
me that I shouldn’t ignore the “check
engine” light. He said the light might
go off, but any problem that goes
away by itself returns with company.
He admitted that it might be nothing,
but ignoring it could make it mad.
I drove my car with the “check
engine” light to the dealership.
It turned out to be a gas-cap
problem. A $32 gas-cap problem.
It could have been worse—
something like a radiator belt or a muffler clutch.
While my chariot was being
repaired, I employed my cell phone.
I would have texted, but the rotary
dial makes texting difficult. I called a
friend who lived nearby. Some people call him a space cowboy. Some
call him the gangster of love. I call
him Maurice. We spoke not of the
pompatus of love. He was overjoyed
to hear from me. It turned out that I
owed him $50.
“Are you here for the bird?” he
“Wow,” I said. “A turkey? Have
I been in Mountain Lake so long that
Maurice replied with verbal
shorthand that we’d perfected over
the years. It’s a guy thing.
“Huh?” said Maurice gormlessly.
“No,” I answered. “I drove
here so I could call you without
the call being long distance. What
kind of bird?”
“It’s in the pastor’s yard. I think
it’s a green-railed towelry,” Maurice
“A green-railed towelry?” I said.
“That sounds like a towel rack.
Could it be a green-tailed towhee?”
“How should I know?” growled
Maurice. “I don’t name them.”
I wasn’t driving through Moun-
tain Lake, Minnesota, for no appar-
ent reason. It’s a fine city, but I
wasn’t motoring through when I
suddenly exclaimed “Golly! That
looks like a swell green-tailed
towhee in the pastor’s yard!”
That would have been cool.
The planets aligned. Work and
bird cooperated. I didn’t find the bird
first, but I found it. That was cool.