When Baby Daddy and I had been married about two weeks, he had a two-week work trip to Phoenix. Since I’d just dropped out school, moved to the foreign land of Oklahoma and had no job yet, I decided to tag along. While there, he worked with a gentle giant of a man named Pete and three nit wits by the names of Chris, Oren and Bubba. (I had the pleasure of making their acquaintance once, so I can verify those names are not made up)
Pete was the son of Mexican immigrants who worked harder than most and complained less than almost all. Because he traveled with his job, he lived cheap on his per diem and saved tons of money. He had a whole investment plan, of which I cannot recall the details, but the man had his act together.
Chris, Oren and Bubba came from the swamps of Florida. Their county had one stoplight. Their accents were so thick when they told a story about Florida tourists, it sounded like they were saying, “terrorists.” By the time that kerfuffle was straightened out, everyone was tired. One of them had an uncle or some such relation who got them on Pete’s crew. The hope was some time away from home, working hard and earning pretty good money for high school graduates would grow them up a bit. Pete was also the kind of guy who could be trusted to keep them from real harm.
They regularly marveled at the wonders of modern society. In 1997, they were AMAZED you could get pizza delivered… to. your. door. They blew through their money like pre-teens with their allowance, buying everything from roller blades to tennis rackets. My hand to God, they were spotted on the tennis courts one Saturday afternoon trying to play tennis while wearing roller blades.
They never made their paychecks last until the next. Occasionally, Pete would take pity on them and buy them dinner. One night, I’m pretty sure it was the last night he felt sorry for them, he took them to the Sizzler. According to them, the Sizzler was fine eats. The waitress came to the table:
Oren: I’ll have a Mountain Dew.
Waitress: I’m sorry, we don’t have Mountain Dew. We have Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Orange Drink, tea or coffee.
Oren: OK, I’ll have a Dr. Pepper.
Waitress: We don’t have Dr. Pepper. We have Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Orange Drink, tea or coffee.
Oren: Oh. I’ll have a coke.
Bubba: I’ll have a Mountain Dew.
Waitress: *pauses, slightly surprised* I’m sorry, we don’t have Mountain Dew. We have Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Orange Drink, tea or coffee.
Bubba: OK, I’ll have a Dr. Pepper.
Waitress: *starting to get irritated* We don’t have Dr. Pepper. We have Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Orange Drink, tea or coffee.
Bubba: Oh. I’ll have a coke.
Chris: I’ll have a Mountain Dew.
Waitress: *gritting her teeth* We don’t. have. Mountain. Dew. We have Coke. Diet Coke. Sprite. Orange Drink. tea. or. coffee.
At this point, she shot a look at Pete who could only mouth the words, “SO SORRY. BIG TIP.” Then he interrupted and blurted as fast as he could:
Pete: He’ll have a coke, so will I, and we’ll all have the food bar.
The Three Stooges cheered and ran toward the all-you-can-eat buffet. Pete sat there with his head in his hands wondering how he ever got mixed up with such a crew.
I hadn’t thought about those guys in years. Until this week. I was trying to get Monkey Boy ready for school when he began to channel the swamp rats:
Me: Do you want yogurt or a cereal bar for breakfast?
Monkey Boy: Cereal bar.
Me: What kind?
Monkey Boy: Purple (they are all identified by color, not flavor)
Me: We don’t have purple. We have red, pink or green.
Monkey Boy: OK, blue cereal bar.
Me: We don’t have blue. We have red, pink or green.
Monkey Boy: Oh. Green.
It was at the moment, when I considered flinging my coffee cup across the kitchen, I knew why the crew called him Saint Pete.