A seagull floated on the breeze blowing up from the Puget Sound. The morning sun reflected off the water. Small bungalows mixed with craftsman style homes cramped together vying for breathing room mixed in with the modern glass and metal condos. The dark green Exploder sat on the narrow West Seattle street.
Richard and I walked toward the car after breakfast at Christo’s. Driving down the street, I noticed a house whose front door boasted a brass kick plate.
After a few minutes I said, “You know, some day when we own a house, I think it would be nice to have a brass kick plate on the front door.”
“What’s a brass kick plate?”
“You’ve seen them, it’s the shiny gold metal plate on the base of some front doors.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen one.”
“Then slow down and when I spot one you can take a look.”
We drove five blocks. Not one house boasted a kick plate of any kind. Richard turned down a different street and drove back six blocks.
“Okay, Fannie, you are making this up aren’t you, there’s no such thing as a kick plate.”
“Richard, I’m not making this up. There really are kick plates. Turn here and try this block. I swear I saw one as we were leaving the restaurant.”
The Exploder cruised down seven more block. Small houses with postage stamp yards flitted passed. Richard turned down another street. Fifteen minutes elapse and not one home produced a kick plate.
“Fannie, now I know you are making this up,” said Richard laughing.
“Richard, honestly, I am not making this up.”
“Well then this neighborhood can’t afford brass kick plates, cause we been driving around for over half an hour and I haven’t seen one.”
“How about this, would you please drive back to the restaurant and follow the route we drove to leave? I’m positive I saw a brass kick plate somewhere near there,” I said with my most winning smile.
“You really think that’s going to work?” asked Richard raising one eyebrow.
“I know it’s going to eat at you if you don’t.”
“Fine,” said Richard turning the Exploder back down toward Alki.
Three blocks passed Christo’s, I spotted the house. “Richard stop, it’s right there. The house with the brass kick plate,” I said pointing. “Now do you believe me?”
“Oh, I’ve seen those before.”
As Richard drove back to the apartment his head swiveled back and forth.
“Richard, what’s the matter with you?”
“You know, I was enjoying our morning so much until you mentioned the brass kick plates. Now I can’t stop looking for them,” he said grimacing.
Three weeks later the Admiral Cinemas advertised a discount movie we wanted to see. As we drove toward the cinema I said, “Look Richard, there’s a house with a brass kick plate.”
His head unhinged from his neck.
“Why do you have to do that?” he asked rolling his eyes. “Life was going along great, now I’m going to obsess about the stupid kick plates.”
Shaking with laughter, I couldn’t respond.
Several years later, we purchased Aunt Verla and Uncle Carl’s house. A brass kick plate never adorned our front door because I couldn’t go more than two months without mentioning it.
“Fannie, what happened to your car?” asked Richard greeting me in the garage one evening. “It’s brown. . .and bristled.”
“Well about that, when I went to Seattle today I parked Allegro in a lot where landscaping was being done,” I said looking at my car. “The landscapers were blowing in beauty bark and their hose ruptured. They gave me a gift certificate for the car wash, but the car wash closed before I got there, so I’ll take it in next week when I am up there again.”
“Fannie you can’t wait that long. It will ruin your paint,” said Richard surveying the damage. “How about this, tomorrow morning we drive it to the self-service car wash. It won’t take very long with the two of us.”
The next morning a utility truck and the fire department blocked our street. A tree fell onto the power lines.
“Sorry folks, you’re going to have to wait a couple hours before you can leave,” said the fireman directing us to turn around. “By the way, what happened to your car?”
“We had it landscaped yesterday,” said Richard smiling.
The fireman grinned. “Nice. Explains the fresh bark smell.”
Around 10 a.m. our road re-opened. We drove onto the main drag and stopped at the longest traffic light in town.
Looking in the rear view mirror, I noticed a clown and his wife in a Cadillac behind us. JP Patches sat at the steering wheel.
Seeing our favorite childhood television icon in the flesh sent chills down my spin and the horns up through my skull.
In the same vain as I mention brass kick plates, I said, “Richard, JP Patches is behind us.” Then I burst into uncontrolled laughter.
“You’re not going to get me this time. There is no way JP Patches is in the car behind us, and I am not even going to look.”
“Richard, I’m telling you the truth. JP is in the car behind us, you have to look or you’ll regret it for the rest of your life,” I said still laughing.
“You have lost all credibility with me, I’m not looking.”
“Oh for heaven’s sake, I’m not pulling a brass kick plate, he really is in the car behind us.”
Richard commandeered the rear view mirror. “Oh my gosh, that’s JP Patches. I thought you were just pulling another brass kick plate thing. It’s really JP.”
The light turned green. JP followed us halfway to the car wash.
“Fannie, do you know you laugh like Esmeralda?”
“I do not,” I said.
“Yes, you do. Just ask anybody who watched the show and I guarantee they will tell you the same thing. It’s one of the things I love about you.”
We drove in silence for a few minutes.
“Do you want to drive up to Solstice park tomorrow and visit JP and Gertrude’s statue?” I asked.
“Can we wear our Patches Pal t-shirts?”
“You know, no one will believe us we saw JP,” said Richard.
“Does it matter?”
“No, not really.”
“Then let’s just call it a near brush with fame,” I said laughing like Esmeralda.
For more information on JP Patches: www.jppatches.com