old man Ernst

Trent and I are driving home from Burlington after I appear on TV. My feet are pressed up against the car window and I’m staring lazily outside as country fields zip by mixed with clothes lines and cows mooing in their pastures. We see a sign that says “Honey for sale.” Turn down the gravel road which ribbons into nowhere, follow it until reaching a brick house which boasts the same sign in its front yard.

We like to buy locally. Trent eats honey every morning for breakfast. Hence we climb out of the car, and Trent goes to the door while I stretch my legs. Soon I hear a booming voice: “Ahh hello, you want honey? Come in, come in!”

And Trent disappears with the brushstroke of a moment and I follow, curious to see the face that accompanies this thickly accented voice.

“Vell hello!” booms the round faced old man in suspenders upon seeing me.

He looks at Trenton. “You marry her? She your wife? Wow.”

His wrinkles deepen. “Come in come in!”

Takes us down cement stairs into his basement where he not only sells honey but wine sweetened by honey.

Soon he’s pouring us glasses of wine and spilling his story through broken English and we drink and listen with round eyes, not sure if we’re more surprised to learn he fought with the Germans or that we’re sitting in a basement drinking honey wine with an 84-year-old Czech immigrant.

Ernst is his name. Ernst believes women were made to have babies and he’s appalled to find out I’m wasting my “fine figure” by not having children. “We will, we’re trying,” Trent and I assure the poor man who’s nearly in despair.

He goes on to tell us he took a second woman later on in his life when the other one lost her looks. “Agh yes then you have two wives, you know? One for cooking meals and one for looking pretty,” he says chuckling at our horrified expressions. “And you can make more babies with her!”

He calls young men lazy and stupid and thinks girls should marry men much older than them. “How old are you?” he asks Trent, who stumbles over his words while saying he’s a month older than I.

Ernst shakes his round head. His eyes sparkle. Then he pours us more wine and spills more stories until we insist we have to leave and then he takes my face in his hands and says, “This, you don’t need this,” pointing to the piercing in my chin. “You too beautiful for this. This is sign of inferiority complex. No one else will tell you this, but you’re my adopted daughter. I tell you.”

I thank him, assure him we’ll be back and as we’re backing out of his driveway with our 20 pounds of honey he says “Come back soon! I love visitors!”

For the next two days Trent and I can’t stop laughing over Ernst and his honey wine stories. We’re definitely going back. After all, we’re apparently his adopted children.

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4 Comments

  1. ammeepearl said,

    May 12, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    wow! that’s so crazy — and funny =) And very “reminds me of my grandfather” ish, almost, except the chauvinistic remarks, lol!

  2. ammeepearl said,

    May 12, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    I should have added too — how the times — they have a changed!

  3. Teneale said,

    May 15, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    Hahaha that is too funny. I love the randomness that life brings. I love his blunt honesty and he is too old to be insulted. I guess that’s the great thing about being old. You can say whatever you want and it no longer matters!

  4. Ernest / Pa Dow said,

    May 16, 2008 at 2:25 am

    I think it’s neat he ALMOST shares my name! Thanks for sharing this entertaining profile of a ‘character’. May we all become such!


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