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Innocent became accomplice in Rio Vista root beer scheme

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Posted: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 12:00 am

Years ago, we befriended a family in Rio Vista. They were and are special people. At the time, they had four daughters and were hoping for a boy. Actually, it wasn't just a hope — after four girls, it became a fervent prayer.

Eventually, the boy did come and there was joy and gladness throughout the household ... actually, there was Joy, for sure; she was the new baby's mother. The little boy, whom we will call Stevie 'cause that's his name, was fun to have around from the very first day.

Having four sisters made him special in every way, plus he was cute and funny. He came by that naturally because mom, dad and the girls all had the blessing of a good sense of humor not to mention good looks and a pleasant demeanor.

After Stevie got old enough to have regular haircuts, one of his sisters and my older daughter came up with a win-win root beer plot. Steve's dad would give him money to go downtown to get a professional haircut, his sister would then talk him into paying her and my daughter Cindy to cut his hair and the three would go down to the A&W for a round of root beers, paying with the haircut money.

After the haircut, the girls brushed then dusted Stevie's neck with baby powder and everything so the cut-off hairs wouldn't itch so badly and he smelled just right too. As time passed, the girls got good enough at giving the kid a passable haircut so everyone was happy. Dumb, but happy. It worked this way for years.

Stevie was 30 by the time he got his first professional haircut, and and by that time had become a hopeless root beer addict.

In those days Stevie's dad and I were friends and frustrated showmen, and we were asked to write and produce a program put on for the Rio Vista Congregational Church Harvest Festival. That event was an important part of the church's annual fundraiser budget, so it had to be funny and popular 'cause we needed lots of people to attend. One time we put on a parody of the TV show "Queen for a Day."

If you remember that particular TV show, a complete wardrobe went to the lady who told the saddest tearjerker about her abysmal life.

But in our production, all of the contestants were men. There aren't many things funnier than a 6-foot, 6-inch red-headed man pretending to cry while dressed in a wedding gown wearing work boots. Unless, of course, you're talking about a 5-foot, 3-inch, 200-pound balding guy who's in a silk gown trying to slink while balancing, or trying to balance his ample avoirdupois while modeling a pointy pair of high heels.

The hard part of the whole skit was to get the guys (as wives) to tell their sad stories as they did on the actual TV show. It took longer to get the guys to quit laughing than trying to tell their sad tales of woe: divorce, drunkenness, desperation and despair elsewhere in the show.

The fact that their "husbands" were basically stumblebum boozehounds who didn't actually show up on stage made it lots of fun.

Dr. Bob Bader is a local chiropractor and storyteller. Reach him at drrobertbader@sbcglobal.net.

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