Generally, Drinks before Dinner is true to its name: it recounts conversations that take place at the end of the day. But when Barbara and I are on the road, these confabs are what keep us going. After driving for nine or ten hours, we are out of words and ready for sleep. That is, until the lively couple next door start throwing each other against the wall, or the quaint heating/cooling system resumes operation. If anyone knows, please tell us how so many of these units have survived since the beginning of the twentieth century.


--Did we pass it yet?
--No. It’s closer to the state line.
--Mustn’t miss the world’s biggest Jesus.
--Well, anyway, the world’s biggest bust of Jesus.
--It’s big all right. How tall would you say?
--Maybe twenty-five or thirty feet. At least that, if you include the beseeching arms.
--You have to include the arms, that’s the main thing. Is it blessing or beseeching?
--The Solid Rock Church. Well named, considering how much concrete had to go into it. I wonder if the good reverend’s cousin is in the aggregate business. What I like is how, one second after you pass the bust you see the sign for the World Biggest Flea Market.
--I don't think it actually says that, does it?
--Something close. If it isn’t the world’s biggest, it has to be competitive. They have sheds and truck bays and parking on both sides of the Interstate. Think of that. A site for vendors selling junk that spills out over who knows how many acres of Ohio farmland. In the middle of nowhere. On both sides of the Interstate. With Jesus’ eternal blessing.
--We should stop some time.
--Is the bust beseeching God, or blessing the Ohio landscape? To answer that, we would need to know if the flea market antedates the bust. If the flea market came first, I’d have to go with the bust performing a blessing on the vendors and customers. Well, no, not necessarily. The bust could be beseeching God to bring more suckers to the junk peddlers.
--We should stop one of these times.
--I don’t know. It’s there is all. We’ve been passing it now for—nine years? I can’t believe we’ve been doing this that long.
--You’ll have to wait for your next husband. I’m not interested.
--You lack the spirit of adventure.
--“Lost in the Flea Market.” Does that sound like a reality show, or what? See the ragged troupe of abandoned shoppers, accidentally locked up in the cavernous shed until next weekend. See them set upon by herds of crazed dairy cattle. Watch as they huddle under mounds of antique clothing and defunked minor appliances.
--That’s pretty much what “The Antiques Road Show” is. A reality show.
--True. A high-end junk show. Everyone dragging crap out of their attics, hoping it’s worth a fortune. I like it when the appraiser tells someone her Betty Boop lamp is worth three and a half dollars.
--You like the crestfallen looks.
--I confess it. I always prefer the agony of defeat.
--No, you’re right. We’d just see something and buy it.
--Like the Orbitz sale.
--Which makes no sense for people with a van full of stuff, on their way to Florida.
--I think of us as latter-day Okies. Here that? “All you need is love”—right, Chelsea?


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