Sunday, September 19, 2021

A True Character

Thirty-five years ago, Jeanne bought a car,
A tiny, metallic-turd brown hatchback,
Brand new, that she christened, “Brownie.” Her first.

Jeanne loved that car, loved it beyond reason.
She petted its flanks and crooned songs to it.
She cooed what a good little car it was.

Whenever it got a bit too dirty
She took it to a car wash, announcing,
Poor Brownie doesn’t like being dirty.

Jeanne herself was small and rather charming,
Youthful, intelligent, a Ph.D.
Candidate with a crew of close-knit friends.

She had curly brown hair, Roosevelt teeth,
A trim figure and a wild girlish laugh.
She was heading toward professoring.

She was known to have peculiar crushes
On the most unlikely celebrities—
Jimmy Stewart and Elvis Costello.

She once convinced her crew to go with her
To an Elvis Costello performance.
After the last encore, she climbed on stage

And snatched the plastic cup he had sipped from
Between songs. I’ve got Elvis Costello’s
Spit in here! she triumphantly proclaimed.

Other than that, she seemed perfectly sane.
Behavioral Econ shows that people
Who name their cars reluctantly sell them.

The question never came up for Brownie.
One year, driving to Louisiana,
Brownie overheated and seized. The friend

Who’d been traveling with Jeanne reported
That Jeanne tearfully told the mechanic
How well she’d taken care of Poor Brownie,

But turned out she’d never taken Brownie
To get an oil change. So there’s your premise,
A true character. Tell us a story.

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