Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ride Along With Me

Riddle: If your sock drawer has 6 black socks, 4 brown socks, 8 white socks, and 2 tan socks, how many socks would you have to pull out in the dark in order to be sure that you have a matching pair?

There is a joke that in heaven all the cooks are French, all the lovers are Italian, all the police are British, all the mechanics are German, and the whole thing is organized by the Swiss; whereas in hell all the cooks are British, all the lovers are Swiss, all the police are German, all the mechanics are French, and the whole thing is organized by the Italians.  Having insulted all my European ancestors (somehow leaving out the Irish), let us move on. 

This past Saturday, the second Saturday in August, was the annual Minnesota Antique Car Run.  For many years we’ve gone to watch these venerable autos come into Buffalo (yes, there’s a Buffalo in Minnesota, too) for lunch.  They start in New London and end in New Brighten on a run that goes just over a hundred miles.  These old cars – I think all of them have begun their second century  -  are beautiful to look at, and exciting to watch riddle-trip, snug-gupple, sssssss (the Stanley Steamer), f’cluck down the road.  Most have one or two cylinders, boast of six or eight horse-power, and have shining brass trim.  They tend to be tall and broad (well one French entry was about the size of a small bathtub, too cute!), and roll on narrow tires with wooden spokes.  One celebrity who drives every year is Judge Alan Page, whose gorgeous 1906 Buick is the exact same shade of milk chocolate brown as he is.  In these later years, the Buffalo High School parking lot has the pioneers on one end and classic cars on the other.  This year there was a replica of a 1937 Dusenberg, built entirely by hand in 1973.  A magnificent arrest-me red specimen, with a very big and modern engine in it, it’s one of those cars that, if you have to ask how much it cost, you couldn’t afford it.

Monday afternoon a friend who stitches came over and we spent several hours at my dining room table working on projects.  I’d forgotten how companionable it is to sit and stitch with someone.   The small talk, the friendly silences, the helpful hints on a tricky part. We’re going to get together at least twice a month to work on stitchery – I’ve got a special counted canvas project – a chair seat – I’d like to get done one of these days.

I’m going on a ride-along.  This is a little-known public relations offering – you have to call and ask, they don’t advertise it – that every police department has.  You sign a release, climb into the squad car and whatever it gets called to, you go along.  When I was writing about a police investigator, I used to go often with the Minneapolis PD.  I learned not just procedures but language, culture and attitude – very helpful!  But though my sleuth is now an amateur, I decided I needed a look at an evening with a small-town department, and so am going out with Hopkins PD from seven to ten tomorrow evening.

Answer:  Five socks.  Even if you pull a different color each of the first four times, the fifth time, you’ll get one that matches one of the others.


Linda O. Johnston said...

Though I'm not nearly as much of a car aficionado as a lot of the men in my family, Monica, I do like to see antique cars. Some appear at the Bob's Big Boy near us in Toluca Lake every Friday, and there are museums around L.A., too, that have a good supply. Enjoy your ride-along and be sure to tell us about it!

Anonymous said...

Looks interesting. Maybe you could set a future mystery at an antique car show.

Betty Hechtman said...

I'm not really a car person, but I do love seeing the old cars at the museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. I am always amazed at how big they are.

Monica Ferris said...

Dear Anonymous, I did set a mystery at an antique car run. The fifth in my current series, A Murderous Yarn, was set at a preliminary run and then the actual run. The Stanley Steamer engaged in a car chase - and won!

Monica Ferris said...

You're right, Betty. Those old touring cars had a back seat so big you could set up a card table for a game of poker back there.