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The Man with the Famous Name
It was a bright sunny day and the young man with the famous name was driving his girlfriend to parts unknown. She did not yet have the famous name, but very much hoped that in time she would.
“You know where we’re going?” she asked, as he drove, eyes darting between the road and the dashboard GPS.
“It’s the next exit,” he replied. “Don’t worry.”
“I still don’t know why you couldn’t have had the thing delivered!”
The man with the famous name shot her a sharp look; it indicated that the conversation, and many others like it, were of an ancient nature, and better off not being had.
“Sorry, but dad’s thinking of announcing, and”-
“Really?” said the girlfriend of the man with the famous name. She had been hoping for another sort of announcement, and was trying to not seem cross at this news. “When?”
“Whenever she tells him he’s allowed to do so.”
“Oh, her,” said the young woman, and laughed. “Figures.”
The young man with the famous name sighed and spun the wheel off the exit ramp. His face softened and he spoke affectionately.
“Hey, we’ll have that trailer rigged up now and be on the water by afternoon. It’ll be great, you’ll see.”
They soon reached their unknown destination, which looked well and truly forgotten. It was an overgrown parking area between pine trees and centered by a shabby office. Here and there were sprawled out the aluminum skeletons of boat trailers and, in one corner, a pickup truck.
“This is it?” said the girlfriend, unimpressed. “I hope you didn’t tell them your- Where’d you find this place again?”
“On the internet, of course!” said the exasperated young man with the famous name. “Just trust me.”
He parked and they went out. Both were surprised to see the owner, an old man with a white beard, supported by crutches, energetically emerging from the office. No one else was about.
“Hello, hello! Are you here for the jet-ski trailer?”
The couple affirmed that they were; the girlfriend winced at the sight of the owner’s gait. He favored one hip and his progress across the humble parking lot was slow though determined. He reminded her of her own grandfather.
The old man spoke rapidly and vigorously, assuring them that this was among the best trailers yet created for their purpose, and that they could not go wrong with it. He spoke so much and so convincingly that all they could do was nod and keep quiet; this actually suited the man with the famous name perfectly.
After confirming the price, the young man with the famous name backed up his own vehicle and was shown how to connect the trailer. The shop owner led them back to the office to pay. This was always the uncomfortable part of life for the man with the famous name- not because he wasn’t good for it, but because he was perhaps too good for it… But the shop owner seemed a genuine sort of local, not like one of those who might demand a selfie, or worse.
“Er… do you take checks?” the young man nervously ventured.
“Of course!” enthused the old man, who somehow did not seem to recognize his famous guest.
The young man took out a checkbook and, very carefully and neatly, inscribed the sum of $1,500 and signed the check, in small letters, beneath the leading line where his famous name was inevitably revealed in full block letters. He handed it to the old man, who briefly glanced at it.
Then, with the faintest of a wink, the old man looked up at the young man with the famous name, and wished him and his girlfriend a pleasant time with their new trailer and jet-ski; but rather than mention the famous name, the shop owner mentioned only that, should they ever need a sailboat trailer, he had plenty of those on offer.
It was some minutes after the young couple had left that the old man remembered that other morning, sixty-odd years before and not too many miles away, when his own father had pushed him into the front row of the crowd, so that he could touch the hand of that passing famous ancestor of the young man with the famous name.
Then he realized he had somehow forgotten to tell his own children of that memorable childhood encounter; and he promised to himself that he would do so, just as soon as he spoke with them again.