There’s a gas station in Virginia Beach where we like to eat. Not even lying.
My husband lived here for about 8 months before the kids and I moved here from Michigan and he spent his solo time wisely–scouting out the best BBQ. This one is totally our favorite. I mean it is so good that the sauce isn’t even necessary.
So there we were, eating legit BBQ in a gas station on a Saturday late afternoon when an older gentleman struck up a conversation with me while hubby was picking up our Boss Hogg platters. By some divine miracle, I had purposely left my phone in the car which turned out to be one of my best decisions that day.
He started by mentioning that “this whole area used to be farmland.” That I did know, although we have only lived here about 5 years. I enjoy speaking to people I don’t know as if we are already friends, much to the annoyance of my family. As luck would have it, none of them were around so I asked him, “Have you lived here your whole life?”
“63 years,” was his nostalgic reply. He launched into stories about the trouble he got into as a child, taking a bus to Norfolk waiting for a hot day where he and his hooligan pals would hang around the back door of the “speak easy” and look at the burlesque show. “There was no air conditionin’ see? So we would wait for a hot day and go down there when we knew they would open up the back doors so we could watch. The men would chase us off, but the ladies would feel sorry for us, see, and make them give us something cold to drink.”
“How old were you?”
“Aw, I couldn’ta been more’n 9 or 10.”
By this time my husband was back with our meals. I introduced myself and my husband and asked him for his name. We shook hands. He didn’t crush mine, which I am always relieved about when I meet a burly guy.
“They call me ‘Maggie’ from my football days.”
“Did you go to school around here?”
“Princess Anne High School. Class of 1963. No one could say my last name so they just called me Maggie and it stuck all the way through the service.”
Hubby humphed politely and turned his attention to his sandwich but I was riveted.
“So you played football…do you ever keep in touch with anyone you went to school with?”
“Aw, shoot yeah. You’d be surprised. Why, I was in the middle of Viet Nam when our unit called a strike on a town filled with communists. We were watching and waiting to carry out our orders in the middle of the night when I saw a small moving light. I thought ‘What in the world?’ I told my unit to hold on a minute and I walked out there into the field, and there were four American guys wandering around outside this city we were about to strike. I said, ‘What in the world are ya’ll doin?’ One of the guys said, “We’re lost.” I said, ‘Rick? Is that you??’ It was my best friend growin up. He was in the Army, I was in the Navy and there he was in the middle of a field in Viet Nam. I told him, ‘You better come with me,’ and he said, ‘We were just about to go into that village.’ You just never know.”
When I asked if his high school is still in the same location as it was when he went there 44 years ago, he told a classic senior prank tale that deserves a post of its own.
What a treasure–meeting Mr. Maggie. My husband even softened a bit when he spoke of the Karmann Ghia with “factory air” that he bought from a lady who wanted it out of her garage for the low low price of $1,200.00.
He was scratching off a lottery ticket as he explained to us that a similar one had been priced at $300,000.00 recently. I’m not sure if his stories are true, exaggerated or the details are verifiable, but I do know one thing…
I won the lottery that day.