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OPINION | JOHN BRUMMETT: Bubba's bright light

by John Brummett | July 6, 2021 at 3:00 a.m.

I called over and asked Bubba McCoy last Wednesday what he was doing for the Fourth.

"Oh, we're supposed to go to Memphis to see the daughter," he said. "And the granddaughter is supposed to be there--with some guy, I'm told. But I told the missus a few minutes ago that we're already late considering how long it's gonna take to get over that bridge."

I wondered if Bubba's used-car business had been affected by the Interstate 40 bridge closure and the consolidation of America's east-west commerce onto the remaining bridge he always used.

"Not really," he said. "In a normal situation I'd have gone over to an auction in Jackson, Tenn. But I can't afford wholesale used-car prices right now anyway. It's crazy.

"One of my best sellers is a Toyota Tacoma pickup. They're asking more right now for one two years old than it sold for new. I can't get away with charging those kinds of prices to folks over here in the Delta, so I'm out of luck.

"I'm half a mind just to have Landers or McLarty or somebody come over and buy out my stock, which they'd probably do at a good price, because everybody wants a late-model used car right now."

I suggested Toyota Tacomas might get more affordable now that Toyota has been caught giving money to insurrection-supportive Republican congressmen. Bubba responded profanely about everything being political anymore.

Was Bubba contemplating retirement?

"Yeah, I reckon," he said. "I'm about to turn 72. I'm fat. I sit here in this office chair with the air conditioning running and spend more time dozing off than awake. I guess it's my snoring that wakes me up."

Does Bubba have enough money to retire comfortably?

"Yeah, except I want more so I can be sure and have some to leave my granddaughter."

She's Bubba's light, as we've discussed before.

He loves his heroic wife and mourns his late son.

His daughter is fine. But Bubba feels a kind of disconnect to her life in the McMansion with the dentist over in East Memphis.

But that granddaughter ... suffice to say that the guy Bubba was to meet on the Fourth, no matter his attributes, won't deserve her in Bubba's view.

She's sweet and smart with a master's degree in social work and a new practice that's doing well. She's the one Bubba taught to ride a bicycle and fish, the one who comes to see him when others don't, and who hooked up his Roku, and rides him hard to take care of himself and the planet, and who confuses him by being a wonderful person while having all those socialist ideas.

His plan is for her to get everything he has to leave. But he wants her to bear no burden if he needs tending to in his declining years.

That's as long as she'll do everything she can, as she has promised, to keep him out of either a nursing home or one of the dental mansion's bedrooms. He's told her that, if it comes down to it, he'll take the nursing home.

I asked Bubba to tell me more about his beloved granddaughter's socialism, as he labeled it.

"She was out protesting last year with Black Lives Matter. She's got a car that plugs in, and says I ought to start selling 'em and install a plug-in on my lot.

"She says she's got more student-loan debt than I ever had in a mortgage or business loan and that it ought to be forgiven. She says her dad can't do enough root canals to help her make a dent. I'd offer to pay off as much as I could, but then I wouldn't have anything to leave her. If I'm going to have to die, I want it to amount to something.

"Oh, and she says Joe Biden is a corporate sellout."

Bubba asked if maybe I could talk to her and disabuse her of some of that.

I told him I wasn't going anywhere near that assignment.

He said it was just as well because he remembers mentioning me to her once and she said I was ... well, the word "dinosaur" was in there somewhere.

"She said it was pitiful that you were what passed for a progressive in Arkansas," he said.

I had to agree with that. I said Bubba ought to give her a copy of that column praising Joe Manchin, then stand back.

He said he didn't know who that was, or care. He said he was down to reading only the columns about himself and the ones with the arrows.

He asked if I'd give him a downward or upward arrow. I said upward for no other reason than that his granddaughter loved him, and vice versa.

John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

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