Bubba McCoy, now 70 and looking it, reared back in that friendly old faded-brown leather recliner in his trailer office at Bubba's Auto Emporium southeast of here.
Amid the creaking--the chair's, not his, I think--he said he'd been expecting me, what with the troubles of "Bart Beleemia," as he calls football coach Bret Bielema, and the president.
I told Bubba that I was trying to ease him out of my life but that readers wouldn't let me.
"I'll ease out soon enough," he said. "I got a stent put in in June. And the wife says I'm getting Oldtimer's, so that wisdom may be in short supply."
Alzheimer's, I corrected. And it's nothing to joke about, I scolded.
"Who's joking? She really thinks I've got Oldtimer's.
"The other day I thought I'd left my phone at home. So, I reached in my pocket and got out my phone and called her on it to see if she'd look around to see if my phone was there at the house. She said, 'I'm going to let you stew for a few minutes on what's happenin' here.'
"I stewed and stewed and couldn't figure out what she was talking about. I was about to get mad until she told me."
Alzheimer's. Oldtimer's. He just doesn't hear it.
But the word he has the most trouble with is Bielema, both pronouncing it and putting up with him.
"The only thing worth a hoot I ever got from Beelemia was that recipe he was talking about in the paper that time. You stuff a beef tenderloin steak with bleu cheese and marinate it in olive oil and garlic and then you flash-fry it before cooking it through in the oven. But the wife wouldn't let me cook it because she said I'd burn the house down and I didn't need red meat anyway.
"I got no steak and a stent."
Bubba recalled last Saturday night.
"Alabama scored on its first play. Then we couldn't catch the snap for the punt. And I thought to myself about all the money I've sent up there over the years for tickets and all the time I've spent stressing this old heart living and dying with every woo pig, sooie.
"And all I'm hoping on a Saturday night in my twilight years is that we won't get embarrassed on TV and that our guys get out alive."
Did he believe that the man he calls Bart Beelemia should be fired?
"I'm not sure it'll make any difference. Either we'd get another mediocre coach who'd explain that it's hard to recruit up there or we'd get one who'd succeed until he hopped on a motorcycle or dared the school to fire him.
"The whole thing is cursed."
The upshot, he said, is that a Razorback life is simply not what it used to be. His easiest drive to see a game--to Little Rock--will soon be a thing of the past. Fayetteville is five to six hours away--more like six, with Bubba's extensive pit-stop requirements these days.
"It's just not set up for me anymore," he said. "It's for younger people. But I don't know that they care.
"And it's for people in the northwest corner, but most of them have moved in over the last 10 years and don't have any idea of the tradition that I know."
This was mid-week, and I mentioned it was conceivable the Hogs could beat Auburn on Saturday.
"They'll do it without me," he said.
I wondered if the loss of a proud Razorback life made Bubba sad.
"Not as much as you'd think," he said.
"What makes me sad is sittin' here wondering if selling pickups and then repossessing them is all there is. I may as well tell you: I've started going to church with the wife. The people are nice and the preacher makes a little sense."
The stent cause that?
"What'd you think--Muslim?"
Oh, about President Trump ... Bubba propounded that Trump proves it doesn't matter who is president.
"This country runs itself, for better or worse, with the military people and the business people and the states and the cities.
"I tend to agree with you that this guy is a nut, but I think you worry way too much about the stuff he says.
"The stock market's up. People are buying pickups. ISIS has been run out of some place or another. It may be that you need to get used to Trump because I could see him getting re-elected.
"Trump is like Merle, that old Walker hound I used to have. Man, that rascal could bark and yap. But he was all bark.
"Worst hunting dog I ever had."
I asked Bubba if he intended to go deer or duck hunting this year.
"Don't think so. I must have Low-T or something. I'm all wussified."
John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, was inducted into the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame in 2014. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.
Editorial on 10/22/2017
Print Headline: A sage with a stent