When you live on the road and your home address is a PO box, you have to make money every day. Motel room, gas, eating out, entertainment, laundry mats and bar tabs, etc., they all ad up, quick. We got up every morning at 6 am, had breakfast at 7, then on the road looking to make a sale by 8:30. Hopefully, you can make a sale early and then you have the rest of the day to goof off.
I sold a load of tools early one morning. I arrived back at the motel honking my Dixie horn, spinning tires and cutting donuts, as usual. Maudie was still brushing her teeth. I asked her if she wanted to go to the baseball park in Arlington to see the Texas Rangers play a game. She wasn’t 100% enthused about it. I think she had her hopes up for Six Flags. Maudie wasn’t exactly a baseball fan, she liked the eight dollar beers alright, but it just something about those 10 dollar Dilly Dogs. She agreed to go, if I would take her out to eat Chinese food later.
The normal game time for most week day games was one o’clock. It gets so hot in Texas that most games are scheduled for later. The start of today’s game was delayed until five for a television broadcast. We got there early. Maudie and I were walking around the outside of the stadium sightseeing and killing time. We saw a white, on white, on white Lincoln Mark V, with the front license plates that read “MICKEY.” Immediately I recognized the name. Hey, that’s Mickey Rivers, he’s the center fielder for the Rangers. He got out of the car wearing a Malcom X cap, sunglasses, and a black jogging suit with a big gold chain. He walked over and started to unlock the gate. I went up to him and started a conversation. “Who’s gonna win the game today? Is Nolan Ryan gonna pitch today? Who do you think is gonna get MVP? Then he acted like he had to go. Before he could leave though I asked him if he would sign my program. He said, “Sure, do you have a pen?” I told him how to write it out, “To Mike and Maudie, enjoy the game.” When he handed it back to me I glanced down at the scribbled signature and I read, “Jerome Johnson.” I asked him, “Who in the hell is Jerome Johnson? Ain’t you Mickey Rivers, center field?” He said, “Who me? Hell no. I’m Jerome Johnson. Mickey is in the training room, I just got his car washed for him.”
It was a great evening for a baseball game. After watching the fireworks from center field and after half dozen stadium beers I was more than ready to take Maudie out to go eat. Chinese sounded good to me. Jerome had told me how to get to a great Chinese place nearby. His directions were a little off though. Instead of coming into the restaurant from the front, we ended up coming in the back way.
Not being familiar with the place, when we saw the sign over the door China Gate or something, we walked right on in, the door wasn’t locked. By mistake, we entered through the kitchen door. On every wall it seemed there were skinned animals of some kind, hanging high up on the wall, from a hook. Immediately I thought they looked like cats, but it couldn’t be. I knew that one hanging off to the side sort of looked like a bluish duck, maybe it was just my imagination. The menus were written in Chinese. I had to ask what each entrée was and was told it was either “chicken this, or chicken that.” Funny, I son’t remember seeing any chickens in the back.
I just ordered some egg rolls and won ton sauce. I couldn’t get my mind off of what ever that blue thing was, hanging from a hook in the kitchen. Not Maudie, she put on the feed bag. She wanted chicken this, that and the other and got her wish. The waitress kept bring her one order after another. She kept saying, “You should try this. It’s the best chicken I ever ate.” A man at the table next to us leaned over shaking his head and told me, “Tell her it’s not chicken, it’s rabbit.” Maudie lost her appetite after that. She got up from the table holding her mouth, stomping her way to the bathroom. I don’t eat fortune cookies, but I won’t ever forget what Maudie’s fortune read “Hare today, gone tomorrow.”
Maybe those 10 dollar Dilly Dogs weren’t such a bad idea.