Rick the Smear was shallow and damned proud of it.
He bragged about it.
He repeated funny stories his friends created to describe his reading habits (Clair Bee baseball stories, Agatha Christie cozies, and the Sunday funnies) and viewing habits (Ed Woods’ DEVIL’S NIGHT ORGY, NBA regular season basketball, and reruns of GILLIGAN’S ISLAND…he was a dedicated Ginger fan……sigh).
He claimed he couldn’t even spell “conspiracy theory.”
He even invented his moniker; “I’m so shallow I’m a smear.”
Nobody was fooled, but it sounded great and you could riff on it forever.
The truth was he was a pretty sharp guy. His acting work was beyond superior and his painting and watercolors were beyond that. Plus, he could sing a little and his juggling was mesmerizing. The man could fling a half-eaten muffin twenty feet in the air, deliver an act-ending Oscar Wilde zinger, and then catch and swallow the soaring pastry in front of a full theatre house. I admit that last might not testify to his profundity…but YOU try it.
But now…he had bought a Vespa.
Topping out at about six-foot-five and pushing 70 years, he had indulged in a mid-life dream about thirty years late. He was ecstatic, living out the memory of a 22-year-old hippie-type art student zipping along the 1971 perpetually summer (but beautiful) coastal lanes of Santa Barbara, in the guise of a 70-year-old silver-haired mensch on the often stifling (but also beautiful) ocean-less county roads of Central Kentucky.
A dream perhaps tainted just a bit by the heat and humidity, or the jacket-requiring chilliness of Kentucky’s changeable weather. And compromised a just smidge by the prudency of taking a quick inventory of every passing pickup (and there were plenty of those, given the restraints in velocity of what a Vespa can do) to ascertain the presence of a gun rack and a passenger with a free hand. We all know how that flick ends and it’s not with; “This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
…there was such glee…such jubilation…
…there was a beyond-inconvenient flat tire on a hunting-and-gathering foray to the Dixie Café.
Scrapes, bruises, an embarrassed call for rescue and a ride home, and a screwed-up reuben on rye…
<< sigh >>
The Vespa was sold the next week.
As Rick the Smear was fond of saying; “I didn’t say I was stupid…just shallow.”