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Where Art Thou

He looks like me, and he acts like me. He even collects stuff like me. But he’s older by at least 20 years. So, I wonder out loud that if I am around by then, will I BE like him? His name is Art, and I first met him at a small car show in

He looks like me, and he acts like me. He even collects stuff like me. But he’s older by at least 20 years. So, I wonder out loud that if I am around by then, will I BE like him?

His name is Art, and I first met him at a small car show in Hickory Park, just outside Owego, NY. I bought a few magazines from him at the “buck a book” rate. Later on, I got other interesting things from him at shows near Corning and Tioga, NY. He told me at one point he lives in that area.

Lately, however, he’s been shopping and not selling. Allentown, Carlisle, Duncansville. Wire rim glasses, slim build, gray hair, slightly stooped over and taking slow, deliberate steps as his life depends on it.

Like me.

I watch him closely before I go to converse with him. Pretty picky and focused in his buying selection process also. His hands run over the automotive parts and periodicals like a blind person utilizing brail. Like I do.

At one show, “old man Art” told me he never bothered to get married or have children. So I thought to myself, he must have holed himself up in a cave as I did. Leery of outsiders, but happy to indulge in all his books and the passion pit, aka the garage. A carbon copy of my master game plan.

But as of late, I haven’t seen Art, and wonder what has happened to my older and wiser “twin.” You tend to think about people who closely resemble you not only in appearance but also, in habit and activity. Did he get sick and now can’t attend shows? Did he get tired of the hobby and say goodbye to it all? Did he (gasp) find a woman who lassoed him into horseback riding and going to rodeos? I might never know because I never got a business card or phone number. I regret that. He was just a small vendor who cleaned out his personal stash once in a while and gave me nice deals.

Let me clarify something. “Where art thou?” doesn’t actually mean, “where are you?” but rather “why are you?”

With that distinction in mind, old man Art takes on more relevance than just a senior citizen blowing time at a flea mart by himself. Yes, always by himself. That isn’t like me, as I take others with me when they happen to fit. It also helps to have other sets of eyes help me look, and other arms and legs to assist in carrying loads to the car!

Art must savor going solo!

If we stand next to each other, Art could resemble a long-lost brother. The pointy nose and beady eyes and small ears and same weight. It just recently dawned on me that six or seven shows have passed by, and not one glimpse of Art! It bothers me.

Why? Because I know sooner or later I will be heading down the same path and people won’t be seeing me at the watering holes (car shows and other events). It’s important to make your presence known in certain circles — and I just don’t mean in the workplace! That’s a given.

So, Art, “why are you?” And, are you a “lost art?”

What kept you single and free as a bird? What made you get interested in cars? When was the first time you sold your goods? And that slow stride — foot or leg problems? Were you unlucky like me and had a stroke at some point?

Is it too late? Will Art ever resurface again? Many times I would be just meandering through tables of stuff, just picking up this or that, then look up and suddenly there he was! Like a Twilight Zone episode! It was uncanny that Art wore a hat and long sleeve shirt and pants as I do to the shows to prevent sun damage.

Thousands and thousands of people cross our paths during a lifetime. But how many people can you look at and say to yourself, “Oh my gosh, that person could be me!” That made me want to talk to Art about more things in life; he may be a crystal ball into my future, without seeking and paying a fortuneteller to do it!

No doubt about it, he would. He always did when I bought from him at shows. Free advice and input. Just wish I obtained more info when I had the chance.

At the summer show near Owego several years ago, it began to rain, and I helped Art put much of his merchandise back into his trunk to prevent damage to the paper goods. “Don’t worry,” he said to me, “the sun will be back out sooner or later.”

“It doesn’t look very promising,” I replied. “They really blew the forecast.” Looking to the sky, his cap dripping wet with moisture, he surmised things nicely, “I’m not ready to pack it in just yet, let’s give it more time,” he said. “When the weather goes bad the remaining deals usually are good.”

Not only do we look the same, but it’s obvious we also think the same.

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