Sweet Al’s secret fan club


My Sweet Al has a secret fan club. Who would have thunk it? Over the years, I have heard from a number of men who have expressed how much they appreciated my column. I always figured they were speaking on behalf of their wives. Until recently, I didn’t know that there are those who secretly hail Al as a hero. Maybe it’s because their own wives are giving them a hard time, too.

I received the following email from Jim. He wrote: “Regarding one of your articles on Al’s junk car, I am now speaking up for Sweet Al. I think he needs to keep it. You should turn Al loose on it so he can do his old car up right. He would look great driving it in the 4th of July parade. This is not a paid for commentary on Al’s part. I said all of this of my own free will and I know that I am right. Al, Keep it all. KEEP the car.”

Seriously? There are men who rally together in support of another man’s junk? Clearly and officially, I have heard it all.

My Sweet Al and I were invited for an evening out at a friend’s house. We were told that it would be a small gathering of some fans. Fans? That’s enough to make a girl go out and buy a new girdle and shave her legs. Shortly after my Sweet Al and I cleared the front door, the conversation landed on Al’s junk and his prize mutt, Whiskey.

I knew my star had faded when Ken looked at Al and said, “When I come from Albuquerque, the first thing I do is run and buy a paper and read your article.”

I gave Al the side eye and mouthed the words, “Your article?”

Then there was Tony. All he wanted to do was to talk to my Sweet Al about his junk because, of all things, he loves his junk, too. At one point during the evening, he said, “I love to hear about other people’s lives. I can hardly wait until paper day to read about Sweet Al. By the way, how is Whiskey?”

Whiskey? This is what my life has been reduced to? I now handle public relations for a dog that eats and sleeps better than me?

Bob said, “The funniest article you ever wrote was about the time when you went to the hospital for your sleep study, and Al drove around and around that circle because he couldn’t make a right turn.”

I just smiled, it wasn’t a day I wanted to relive.

My Sweet Al perked up and added to the conversation, “When I go to the lumber company, Mark yells across the store, ‘Tell Betty to keep writing.’” I, of course, had to finish Al’s sentence. “When I go to the lumber company, Mark yells, ‘Poor Al, are you still making him work around the house?’ Of course, and that is why I am buying more paint.”

All things considered, we really did have an enjoyable evening. There was a lot of laughter and I let my Sweet Al take his rightful place under his own spotlight. But as all things come to an end, the spotlighting of the night would fade the moment we walked in our front door. My son was standing in the kitchen. Without looking up from whatever he was doing, he yawned and said, “Well, how was your fan club?”

“My fan club is just fine. Jim, Bob, Mark, Ken and Tony love me. In fact, I was even on Tony’s bucket list as someone he wanted to meet in person.”

With words dripping in sarcasm, my son looked up and said, “So sweet.”

I didn’t dare mention who the real star of the evening was. I couldn’t handle being heckled by my own son.

My family finds great sport in my attempt to be a writer. I don’t think they even try to understand me. But when it comes to their dad, they scrutinize every word and every story, and are more protective than his own mother was.

Not a week goes by when I don’t hear one of my children say, “Would you just leave him alone,” or “Would you just let him do what he wants.” If only they knew they were egging me on to pick at him more and then write more.

And what about my Sweet Al’s secret fan club? Evidently, they are cheering him on, waiting to hear if he has discovered anything new around the house. After all, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

Final brushstroke: As an artist turned writer, there is a special bond that forms with others when you hear how your work impacts their lives. It was a surprise to me to know just how much that bond was being created with my Sweet Al rather than myself. So, to the brotherhood of merry junk admirers, I promise to keep you up to date should Al discover anything new. Even with and, begrudgingly, if only about Whiskey.

Comment from my Sweet Al: “I have five Ghias, two VWs, two work trucks and one dune buggy. The fact that they don’t run does not make them junk. Most of them even have all four wheels.”

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