Dick Cheney vs. the SpaghettiOs
Decked out in a ten-gallon hat and form-fitting Wranglers, Cheney grunted a few questions to me about which mini-fridge was the best on the market.
It was the summer of 1989, and I was biding my time before leaving Billings, Montana, for the renowned academic powerhouse Marquette University in Milwaukee. I was socking away minimum wages for my collegiate experience at Best Sporting Goods, quietly whiling away my afternoons selling rifles, lawn furniture, fly rods, and Weber grills. At best, I was an average salesman, but I spent half my time on the phone arranging to find a guy of legal age to buy me and my boys cases of Schmidt's beer.
Billings isnâ€™t a celebrity hotbed, and whatever sightings there were reached mythic proportions that carried weight for years on end. One thing Billings _does_ have to offer, though, is tax-free shopping. And nobody appreciates avoiding sales tax quite like a Wyoming Republican.
The savings were so good that even an old hunter like Dick Cheney, recently installed as secretary of defense, dropped in to purchase a few items for his daughterâ€™s dorm room. Iâ€™m assuming it was Mary, but I canâ€™t say for sure, as it was also my first brush with a woman of the lesbian persuasion. Truth be told, itâ€™s probably for the better, because at the age of 18 my only experience with women who prefer women was VHS pornography, and Iâ€™m not sure I wouldâ€™ve been able to keep my composure and complete the transaction in the timely and orderly fashion befitting a former militaryâ€¦er, a guy who digs the armed forces.
Decked out in a ten-gallon hat and form-fitting Wranglers, Cheney grunted a few questions to me about which mini-fridge was the best on the market. I, of course, was wearing the short-sleeved shirt and tie combination that would later come to be known as â€œthe Sipowicz.â€ He eventually decided on a brown one, maybe two feet tall, perhaps a Kenmoreâ€”basically, the same type in which you kept your SpaghettiOs and Diet Coke cold during your undergraduate years.
Cheney bought a few other items, and then I wheeled his purchases on a red handcart out to his car. He opened the swing door; I bent down, lifted the mini-fridge, and slid it into the area opened by the folded-down seats. He shook my hand, said â€œThanksâ€ with a nod, climbed into his truck, and headed off into the sunset.
Iâ€™ve since considered the â€œwhat if...â€ possibilities. Realistically, all I could have accomplished is accidentally â€œdroppingâ€ the mini-fridge and causing a few broken toes. But broken toes would never keep Dick Cheney down.