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     The other day I got a hankerin’ for a Wendy’s Triple with cheese. Yea, though I had worshiped at the Golden Arches for these past three years, I did ‘go off the reservation’ as they say, and I did partake of the square cow. I know, I know; but I could not fight the urge.

     Yes, I can also say that it was wonderful, if a bit sloppy. Perhaps I should equip myself next time with a fork and knife. This would be due to not being able to wrap my lips around the damn thing.

     Eating that thing was so decadent an experience it made a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder BLT seem almost parochial by comparison. Yes, even after I arrived at McDonald’s later that evening, I carefully avoided eye contact with the cashier. I was also careful not to exhale through my mouth, for there was still square cow upon my breath. I felt unclean, yea, I felt – Guilty!

     However, having heathen blood, I was unrepentant. I only ordered a medium sized soft drink.

Trick Wiring the Corolla

     I have done this thing before. Sometimes with disastrous results. One instance that comes to mind was my trusty 1982 Corolla liftback. I durn near destroyed that thing with my ignorance. Well, at least the engine.

     The spark plug wires from Toyota cost 35 dollars. That may not see like much, but to an E-2 in the Navy, it was a small fortune. That’s okay, I thought, I’ll just shop around and see.

     After a couple days of searching, K Mart had them for 12.99. Great bargain I thought. Of course, I was WRONG!!

     Anyway, I got them and attached them. I threw the Toyota wires away. Can you say DumbAss!?! Yes, I did that, before even testing the new ones. Well, let’s just say that not all cylinders were firing. Also, being cheap and clueless, I drove that thing around like that for several months.

     One day, ol’ Betsy wouldn’t start. In fact, the old girl felt like the engine would tear away from its mounts when I tried turning it over. So I did what I had to do; I called a tow truck.

     The dealership wouldn’t take my car at first. At least until I sheepishly explained what I had done. The guy was a young salesman and explained to me the vagaries of buying knock off parts. Anyway, he gave me a discount and I had to leave the car there for a week.

     After paying the bill (lesson) which was over 200 bucks, not including the tow, he offered me some small comfort. “Don’t worry, guy, you aren’t the only one.” A very small comfort, indeed. I was still embarrassed. So much so, I took my car 50 miles to the next town to have it worked on until I transferred.

The Lord Works In Mysterious Ways

     Do you think I learned my lesson? Maybe I did at the time. However, I eventually forgot it. Yes, several years later, poor ol’ Betsy was tired and very rusty. She had been a loyal carriage, ensuring I arrived safely and on time for over ten years. However, it was time to get a new car.

     After shopping around, and being pressured by my new wife, I settled on what was a new brand at the time in America. I’d read a lot of good things about the company, and I felt I got a good deal by getting a luxury sedan for only thirteen thousand. Besides, the wife was the one who really wanted to be seen in it.

     Six months later, the problems started. First, the sun roof, then the alternator. After that, the windows quit retracting one by one. The day after the warranty expired, the transmission fell out of its housing. Even the front bumper fell off when I was in traffic.

     It took four years, but I got out from under that car. How did I do that? My wife filed for divorce, so I gave it to her as a parting shot. She tried to make me pay for disposal, but sorry, the papers were already signed.

     So, for the first time in nearly twenty years, I was hoofing it everywhere. But my freedom was restored. I later bought a Tercel.

Kentucky Blue Grass

     No, I am not talking about a special kind of marijuana. Indeed, it’s a special blend of tobacco.

     I was young, very young. And I was willing to take up a vice that seemed sophisticated and yet inexpensive, unless one counts the cost of good quality pipes.

     San Diego was the locale. Sonar Class A School was my occupation. Seaport Village tobacconist was where I secured my supplies. They had everything there, including the cool lighters that looked like very expensive pens.

     However, I always bought the Captain Black White Label, a mild blend that smelled like chocolate powder and fresh baked bread when smoked. An entire can was cheap enough and it lasted me over a month. Actually, it didn’t, due to the sudden interest of others in my pastime. I never realized how many bums there could be in just one place.

     So I was there at the tobacconist one Saturday. He knew that payday was still a bit far off, so he offered me a new blend, Kentucky Blue Grass at a deep discount. I asked to see it.

     Seeing it in the jar, it was very dark. The sun hitting it just right made it look like steel shavings, the kind of deep blue-black color that nutra-rust coating gives. Even the inside of the jar seemed to be coated, but the coating was the light brown color of nicotine. I was even offered a sample to smoke right there in the store.

     The aroma was pleasant, but a bit strong. It had a nasty bite, and well, if I was smoking on the prow of a ship, the film billowing out of my pipe and from my mouth could have provided a very thick smoke screen. So I took it.

     The next day, there were six of us, sitting around after classes, in the lounge. We were starting a session of D&D. Several had brought their pipes. I brought two pouches of tobacco. The last of the Captain Black and the Blue Grass. After an hour, I ran out of the Black and switched to the Blue. My plan to make the others use my new acquisition had backfired!

     Yes, we were all smoking it. And, after a couple of bowls, we had to evacuate, as we were overwhelmed by the thick blue smoke. Some of us were coughing; even one had to run to the head for fear of throwing up.

     The barracks watch at first wanted to call the fire department as he thought there was a fire. We convinced him otherwise and he brought a fan to clear the air. However, our heads were not clear. Well, at least mine, and I begged off to go to my room.

     When I got there, I found the canister of the Blue Grass and I tossed it into the trash. Then I climbed slowly to my bunk and I lay there in agony, the room spinning and my head pounding. The only good thing that came out of that was that no one ever asked me for tobacco again.

     That may be the one brand loyalty lesson that has truly stuck with me all my life. I still smoke a pipe, and I only smoke Captain Black. Unless you can find me a pouch of Paladin Black Cherry!