Steve Wilson

(NOTE: After completing this column, I was informed there will not be a talent show at this year’s Salinas Valley Fair, but I’m going with this anyhoo. —SCW)

If the title of this week’s Funny Papers Again confuses or confounds you, then think how I feel as the guy who came up with it and also not sure it makes any sense. But I’ll take a shot at explaining it and it may be that will help us — maybe.

The Fair War is my admittedly obscure reference to the talent contest usually held on Friday evening of the upcoming Salinas Valley Fair. It works if one considers a contest as a small war among individuals seeking to prevail and be awarded the accolades, and prize money, commensurate to being voted third, second or (drum roll) first place in their respective category.

It is a one-time, live performance in front of an audience, among whom are judges, on an outdoor stage usually with a cold wind blowing (OK, always with a cold wind blowing) and with the added sights, sounds, smells and general hubbub of the Fair all around. That is a challenge for any performer, and performers love a challenge; add money and it just increases the artistic fervor a bit — or two bits.

Now the reason I mention this is because many of the competitors in most talent contests are singers and many of these warblers choose songs that are widely known, at least widely known to their age group.

So, I figure if the words to a song can be known, then there is no reason why the words of my stand-up routine shouldn’t also be known; so here is my entry to the upcoming talent show:

“I thought it was about time I got off my bicycle and into a four-wheel vehicle, so I went to a used car lot; or at least so I thought. But when I got to the business, I was informed that I was not on a used car lot but rather it was actually a Pre-Owned Automobile Outdoor Showroom, showroom. Could have fooled me. I looked down and saw asphalt, looked up and saw blue sky, even had a sun in it.

“I was informed of this fact by a nervous little fellow who greeted me as soon as I stepped onto the lot, excuse me, into the showroom. I was looking at a nice little car and the guy informed me it had been ‘previously owned’ by an elderly couple; of course. I was still lulling over how something could be ‘pre-owned’ but not ‘used’ when this bird interrupts my thoughts with, ‘Perhaps you would care to avail yourself of an examination excursion…’ Examination excursion. Yeah, a test drive, right? OK, sure, let’s go on an excursion.

“Everything was fine for a couple residential and business streets; I’m checking all the electrical stuff to see if they work and the last checked was the window control. All four were down and one at a time (sounds of each window, clockwise from passenger); all four went up, but a minute later I smelled an ever-increasing odor in the car, a real stink.

“I thought, ‘Aha, that’s it, that’s why the low price, something or someone died in this thing,’ and when I turned and mentioned this, the guy — I’m not kidding — wanted this sale so bad, he turned to me and said, ‘That’s not the automobile, sir, that’s me. It’ll be fine when I get out, just crack the windows a bit until then.’ You laugh, but ironically that was the only truthful thing he told me all day. Nonetheless, I bought the car.

“Everything went well for a week, 10 days, two weeks but after about three weeks I noticed that things under the hood started going out: the alternator wouldn’t alter, the carburetor wouldn’t carb, the pistons wouldn’t (pantomime words and tapping of ‘dead’ mic, look to side puzzled, tap and get sound, continue) the pistons wouldn’t fire … (to audience member) ‘What did you think was coming? This is a family venue. Shame on you, madam/sir.’

“Now I don’t know what that little sales dude thought when he saw the ‘pre-owned automobile’ come back onto his ‘outdoor showroom’ on a tow truck, but when he came running out to stop it I jumped out and said, ‘This thing is a piece of junk; you sold me this car.’ He interrupted me with hand raised and replied, ‘I did not sell you a car, sir, you purchased an automobile’; the conversation we had over that little piece of logic I won’t go into, but I’m pretty sure at one point I screamed; not words, just a scream.

“The next thing out of my mouth I knew was another set-up for this smarmy little twerp, but I said it anyway: ‘Look, you have a shop and mechanics, don’t you?’ ‘We have automotive maintenance bays and professional automobile technicians, sir.’ That did it. I yelled and told him to get his professional automobile technockers to look at the vehicle pronto; I spat the word ‘vehicle’ at the smarmy little dictionary knowing he couldn’t dispute that word use.

“You know the rest of the story, right? It was going to cost me three times the amount that I originally paid for the car. And with that little bit of information, I walked off the guy’s lot — showroom — and down the street, never looking back. A week went by and nothing, two weeks, nothing, but about three weeks later I looked up and coming down the street — right? — was the same car; college-aged kid behind the wheel with a big smile on her face. But when it passed close by I could hear under the hood that already one of the pistons wasn’t p… Is my time up? You’ve been a great audience. G’night.”

And there you have it in toto. Now, if my amateur delivery is any good and worth some money, I’ll visit the Long Branch. Take care. Peace.

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King City and Greenfield columnist Steve Wilson may be reached at [email protected].


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