Bubba McCoy said my call had caught him on spring break, and asked, "Did we have spring break back in our day?"
I said poor people didn't as far as I could recall. The only thing I remembered was a couple of days off at some point in the school year for what they called "teachers' meetings."
I knew about college kids going wild from that movie with Connie Francis. What was it? "Where the Boys Are." They drank beer and got pregnant and had what we called nervous breakdowns, maybe in Fort Lauderdale.
So, where was Bubba taking this spring break?
"They tell me it's Bentonville, but it's the damned space station for all I know.
"This ain't the Bentonville we drove up to a time or two when I was in college in Fayetteville back in the early '70s. That was just a field. I think I'm standing right now right where I was on that dark dirt road when that old girl from down around Russellville and I couldn't see a thing because the car windows were so fogged up."
Why would you drive all the way from Fayetteville to Bentonville to fog up the car windows?
"We wanted to get far away from that policeman in Fayetteville who tapped on that fogged-up window and told us to get our clothes back on and the hell out of there if we knew what was good for us."
Who was Bubba with this time around in Bentonville?
"The old lady, the daughter, her husband the dentist, and my granddaughter, who's now some kind of social worker over in Memphis. They all wanted to see this art museum that Walmart put up here."
Had Bubba seen it?
"Yeah. Yesterday. I'm not going to pretend I much cared.
"But the granddaughter wanted me to have the experience. So, I'd sit on a bench in a room and rest my ankles, and she'd go to each painting and tell me about it. And then she went to the ones on the wall behind me and told me to twirl around, and I said my twirling days were about over and to hold her horses while I got up and walked around to sit the other way.
"She said, 'Granddad, does it really hurt to get up as much as your moaning would indicate?'
"And I told her that, considering that I didn't know I was making any sounds, it was likely that whatever sounds she was hearing were authentic.
"She worries about me, you know. She loaded something on the TV where I can watch and do yoga. That doesn't look to me like something I could get up from without pulling some furniture over on me like I did with that tree at Christmas.
"And then she tries to get me to do some kind of a diet called Keto. I explained to her the only reason to still be alive at my age is to eat a ribeye. She's always talking about living in the moment. Well, I ain't got but a moment, so we better make it medium rare."
Had Bubba been keeping up with Governor Sarah and all that?
"Only to the extent that I read what you write, which, lately, could just be summarized: 'I can't stand her.' You need a new tune."
But, I said, this school bill.
"Look," Bubba said. "The schools have been getting worse ever since we left. She can't do much more harm than inertia's doing.
"I can't worry about that anymore. The old lady got me into this thing a couple of years ago to be a mentor, or something like that, to a kid about 12. Sweet kid, pre-hormone. He called me Mr. Bubba.
"But I told the old lady I couldn't do it anymore. The only way to help that kid was adopt him and put him to work washing and waxing cars over at the lot. And I wasn't up to that and his grandmamma probably wasn't gonna allow it anyway."
At least Bubba was watching the Hogs and March Madness, right?
"Yeah," he said. "But one thing I always remember about the Sweet 16 weekend is that it's when the ugliest weeds start growing before your very eyes in the old lady's flower beds.
"Louisville used to be in the Sweet 16 so much on first-of-spring Saturday afternoons that, whenever I see a Louisville game now, I start making hoeing motions."
This was Wednesday. He and the other art-seekers were headed back toward the White River the next day. He said maybe the Hogs would win Thursday night so that the missus would give him some time off Saturday afternoon from weeding.
Oh, and he said the wisteria was starting to bud, which meant it'd be coming through the bedroom window by Easter.
John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at [email protected] Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.