Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Me and Dudley Try to Commiserate

I have a friend; we’ll call him Dudley. He’s old oil money, not big time, but he inherited quite a few producing wells several years ago and with light sweet crude topping $120/barrel, he’s not hurting.

I think he’s benefiting from this oil crisis.

We were talking the other day over plates of fried eggs, bacon and toast. “Melissa has been after me to get rid of that little old Toyota truck I’ve been driving since Methuselah was on the earth. ‘You’re gonna get killed when some big old Dodge Ram hits you on the road. You need to get you a big one, too.’ That’s all she says, all the time.”

“Put that fork down, Dudley,” I said, trying to spear a piece of egg. “You’re going to hurt one of us.”

“So anyway I’m gonna get a big Ford,” he said, setting down his fork and picking up his butter knife and a packet of grape jelly.

I put my fork down and counted to ten. “I think they ought to outlaw all full-sized trucks and SUVs,” I said in my most reasonable voice.

Dudley didn’t even blink. He finished spreading the jelly on his triangle of toast – he can really paint that stuff on there - and looked at me out of the corner of his eye.

“Are you a communist or something, Emmitt?” he said. He bit into the toast, not taking his eyes off of me.

“No, Dudley,” I said, “I’m as American as you, but this is ridiculous. Everybody’s scared of getting smashed by SUVs and big trucks, so they go out and get SUVs or big trucks, and it’s getting bigger and bigger every year, and the gas prices keep going up… There’s no end in sight!”

Dudley shook his head. “People don’t like to be smushed, Emmitt. That’s the American way.”

“But what about the people that can’t afford to buy bigger and bigger SUVs and trucks, Dudley? What about them?”

“Come on, Emmitt. You know good and well that they go out and get big old cars! I was downtown yesterday and I saw this fella in a 1976 Caddy that was as big as a boat. And those things are heavy, heavier than that Ford I’m looking to get.”

I sat there and steamed.

Dudley,” I said, “I’m not mad at you…” I paused for just a second. “Well, maybe I’m a little mad at you, but that’s not the point. I’m not hostile towards you…” I hesitated again.

Dudley paused from putting together a bacon and egg sandwich with his toast, casting an apprising eye over at me.

“You’re feeling a little hostile, aren’t you?” he said.

I rolled my eyes. “Well, yes, maybe a little. But your attitude is so typical of rich people. You’re totally clueless about the consequences of your knee-jerk spending. The economy’s in a death-spiral!”

“I hear you, Emmitt.” He got up from the table and shook my hand. “I’ll see you later, hear? I’ve gotta run over to Home Depot and pick out the flagstone flooring for that new wing of the house we’re adding on next month.”

“You have a good one, you hear?”

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