Kenny and I live in a small Oregon town that has a delightful wealth of yummy wineries, with new ones cropping up seemingly daily. Since we are both lovers of all things red and winey, we’ve developed a Thursday evening ritual of trying new local tasting rooms after work.
This week, we went to a small tasting room called the “White Buffalo.” It’s small and cozy, with the tables and chairs close together, a single guitar player in the corner, and an unexpectedly large offering of different wines from Oregon and Washington. We happily settled in to share a bottle of wine recommended by the wine steward, while we shared stories about our day. The conversation moved, inevitably, to our son and his future plans with his education, career, and family.
I told Kenny that when Jake finished college next term, the military was sending him to Florida for several months for specialized schooling as an officer. That was the good news. The not-so-good news was that he was planning to drive his Jeep across the country, since he was traveling with all his belongings. This particular Jeep had been sideswiped and t-boned, and leaked so much oil that Kenny made him park in the street when they came to visit.
“WHAT??” Kenny cried. “He can’t drive that piece of junk across the country! He needs a decent car.” “I know that,” I replied, “but they’re young and broke, and that’s just not going to happen.” Kenny gave me a long look and asked, “Is this your way of telling me we have to buy him a car?” “No,” I said, “I’m just telling you what they’re planning. What do you think we should do?”
At this point, a 60-ish gentleman, sitting with his wife at the table next to us, leaned over and said, “Excuse me. I’m ex-military, and I think you should buy this young man a car. He’s serving our country.” Then the table full of women on the other side chimed in. “We agree,” they all said, “he’s a soldier. He needs a car. Yep, buy him a car!” Then ex-military guy’s wife jumps in with, “You could get him a reliable used one for about $5,000. You can do that, can’t you?” By now we were cracking up, trying to get a word in as everyone in the room got into the conversation, shouting questions over each other. “What’s he do?” “What branch is he in?” “Does he have kids?” “Is his family going with him?”
Finally, Kenny stood up, whistled loudly, and called out to the room, “Okay, here’s the deal. Our son is graduating from college next term and is driving to Florida for 9 months for officer training. He’s been to Iraq and will probably be re-deployed at some point. He’s married with two little ones, and his wife and kids are staying here with her parents while he’s gone, so he’s leaving her with their ‘good car,’ while he takes the Jeep across the country. Who thinks he’s now a married man with kids, a college graduate, and an officer in the military, and should be paying his own bills and buying his own car?”
There was dead silence in the room.
“Okay then,” Kenny laughed. “Who here thinks we should buy him a car?”
The entire room promptly stood up, applauding and cheering. As the ruckus died down, Kenny looked at me, “We’re going to buy him a car, aren’t we?” “Well,” I replied, “either that or do the Walk of Parent Shame out of this bar and never come back again.” “Okay. But since this winery just cost us $5,000, I think we’ll come here every other week.” he sighed, “And I’ll call my car guy tomorrow.”
I’m thinking I’ll wait til next Thursday to tell him about the grandkids’ college funds.