County Lines by Bob
Albert Einstein was correct when he said, "Imagination is
more important than knowledge." But he didn't mention that
channeling enough imagination to write a newspaper column worth
reading each week can be as frustrating as trying to start a stubborn
You crank and crank with no success. You change the spark plug,
but to no avail. You clean the air filter, but that doesn't help
After yanking off your hat and slinging it to the ground, you give
the lawn mower a good cussin': "You dirty, rotten, no good
piece of stinkin' junk, I'm replacing you with a new one first chance
To show the lawn mower you mean business, you kick it. After jumping
up and down on one foot while yelling "I broke my big toe!
I broke my big toe!Ó, you say the heck with it and start looking
for your trusty can of ether to spray in the carburetor.
You remember putting it somewhere. But where? As you ramble through
the garage looking for it, you say to yourself, "I'm going
to clean this mess up one day"
A little voice in your head says, "Who you tryin' to kid?
You're never going to clean the garage and you know it."
"Shut up," you reply, "just shut up. I'm looking
for something and I don't need you buggin' me."
Your better half, or so she believes, opens the inside door to
the garage and sticks her head in, "Who are you talking to?
I didn't know we had company."
You think, Don't be hassling me, woman, I'm busy. You say, "Nobody,
honey, I'm looking for something."
She says, "For what?"
"Some ether," you reply, "to start the lawn mower."
"What does it look like?" she asks.
"A tall spray can," you answer, "with Starting
Fluid written on the front."
"Oh, that," she says, "my brother borrowed it the
other day while you were at work. I hope you don't mind."
That two-bit moocher, you think, too cheap to buy a can of his
own. You say, "No, honey, I don't mind. I'll drive 17 miles
to town, buy a can and drive 17 miles back. I don't have anything
better to do on my day off."
"You're not being sarcastic, are you?" she asks.
"Of course not," you reply. "I like your brother
taking my stuff and never returning it."
"I'm glad you like my brother," she says. "It'll
make it easier when he moves in with us."
Be a cold day in hell when that happens, you think. "Moves
in with us?Ó you say. "What do you mean?Ó
"He's going to live with us," she replies. "We'll
turn your den into his bedroom. He needs somewhere to feel comfortable
now that he's out on parole."
"I don't know, honey," you say. "That might not
be a good idea. Maybe we should think it over first."
She starts a fake crying jag. "You don't love me anymore.
I'm going to live with my mama."
Not a far trip, you think. Not when her mama lives in the back
bedroom. You say, "Now, now, honey, don't be crying. You know
how I feel about you."
While you're trying to calm your wife down, her mother comes out
of the back bedroom, wearing a tattered bathrobe and dangling a
cigarette with a three-inch ash from the corner of her mouth.
While you're wondering why anyone would dye her hair the color
of peach ice cream, she starts in on you. "You no good bum,
see what you done, you made my beautiful angel cry."
You resist the urge to say, "Angels come from the other direction."
Instead, you reply, "I'm going to town. Need anything?"
Your mother-in-law says, "Two cases of Bud and a carton of
On the way into town, you stop at a local country store to buy
a Mountain Dew. As you're leaving, you bump into a friend. "Look
kind of down," he says. "Want to talk about it?"
When you finish explaining your situation, your friend says, "Write
Bob of North County Lines. Tell him what's wrong. He'll know what
After receiving Bob's reply, you complete a short home-study course
in Spanish and withdraw all your money from the bank.
Early one morning, while your wife and her mother and brother are
still passed out from getting loaded the night before, you throw
a few things in a suitcase and slip out the back door.
After stopping for gas and coffee, you pull onto the main road
and locate your favorite station on the radio, no fake country,
no Garth Brooks, no Wynnona Judd, no plastic trash, no Michael Bolton,
no Spice Girls, only good rock Ôn' roll, music and lyrics with drive
A blast from the past reaffirms your decision: "Bankin' off
of the northeast wind, sailin' on summer breeze, I'm goin' where
the weather suits my clothes."
You merge onto the interstate and head for Mexico, to the land
of beautiful senoritas, cheap cerveza, and long afternoon siestas,
to a land far away from your wife and her freeloading family, far
away from the eight to five grind, far away from everything that's
been dragging you down, far away from that stinkin', good for nothin'
Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570