I called over to Bubba McCoy at the car lot, disturbing a gripping episode of "The Rifleman" on old-person television.
He asked why I was calling. He said I only call when I need a column. He said there was no long holiday weekend requiring I get an extra column done for Tuesday so I could take Monday off.
Look at the calendar, I advised.
There were sounds of slow, agonizing movement, a creaking I attributed to the chair and a groan I attributed to Bubba. I gathered that Bubba was trying to turn his 70-plus, 275-pound self in his abused and near-collapsed recliner--from positioning to look at the television to positioning to look at his desk calendar.
"Oh, hell, that's 2021," he said. "I've been on the wrong calendar all year."
Be advised, I told him, that Monday is the Fourth of July. Did he not have plans with kinfolk and friends?
"I haven't been advised of any, or I wasn't paying attention when I was," he said.
"But I'll tell you all I need for the Fourth. I need burgers cooked on charcoal and some fresh tomatoes and some of those oblong, nearly flat purple onions, and I need the old lady's tater salad which is soft chunks of boiled taters, bread-and-butter pickles, chopped-up raw onion, sweet relish, boiled eggs, a little yellow mustard and a lot more Hellman's, and some salt."
Sounded like Bubba could make that potato salad himself.
"We could make it side by side and hers would taste 100 percent better every time. The only problem is that she's started cutting back on the Hellman's."
I asked how Bubba could engage in automobile commerce based on last year's calendar.
"I don't need to know the date to take somebody's money for a pickup," he said. "But I am now wondering if I've put the wrong date on all my sales papers."
I asked how business was. He said it would be great if he had the energy to get out of the chair and engage in it. Used vehicles are hotter than fire, he said, costing more in some cases than the new ones people can't get or have to wait for. But accumulating inventory in today's madness is a young man's game, he said.
"I did just land a dark-red Lexus SUV that a real refined upscale woman over at Stuttgart drove around town for eight years. Your transportation tastes are about the same as a refined upscale woman, ain't they?"
Probably, I said, although I preferred to have the money and no eight-year-old Lexus than the eight-year-old Lexus and none of the money.
"People like you are going to give us a recession," he said.
Bubba explained his current business model: "Here's what I'm doing. I've put out a mailer in five counties that says I'm buying used vehicles for top wholesale dollar, and that you ought to bring your vehicle to me because selling it yourself is a pain in the a - - and I'll hand you easy money to go get you another one. Let me deal with the public for you, I tell 'em. It's worth it to you. I say.
"My plan is to sit here and let 'em come to me."
"I've bought six vehicles that way in three weeks and sold three of 'em for a nice little wholesale-to-retail profit, and I think another boy is going to try to come in with his money today for a fourth.
"It's worth my sitting here in peace and quiet instead of listening to the missus tell me I need to go the doctor and to church on Sunday."
Was he ailing?
"I won't be unless they run some bloodwork and tell me I am."
Bubba asked if I was going to bring up politics. I asked if he had anything to say.
"I've watched that Liz Cheney committee a time or two and I think they've pretty much done Trump in. I think Biden is the biggest screw-up as president of my lifetime, which is saying something.
"I don't think I'm up to runnin'. So I don't see much hope. Do you?"
I told him I had much hope--that Mrs. Bubba's potato salad would spare no Hellman's, that the burgers would be juicy, that people would keep bringing him their cars, that the inevitable bloodwork would show us both well and that somebody with good sense would become our president.
"I suspect we got a chance of going 50-50 on that," he said.
I scored it yes on the potato salad, yes on the juicy burgers, yes on people bringing him their cars, no on the bloodwork finding no concern, and no on somebody with good sense becoming president.
"I'll take it," he said.
John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at email@example.com. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.