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Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Our daughter Glory has wanted a driver’s license for a long time. Even after she got her learner’s permit, we put off teaching her for some time because including her on our insurance was too expensive, and our wary insurance company even had us sign a paper saying she wouldn’t drive our vehicles. Finally, weeks before having to renew our insurance, I paid about fifty dollars extra to include Glory until renewal. And so she finally began practicing driving. The few weeks sped by, though, and when Glory took her driving test, she failed. The examiner said that she did well, but just needed more actual driving experience.

And so time passed. Glory is eighteen. She graduates from high school this week. She told us that she dreams of getting her driver’s license before she graduates. And since we think more of our daughter than frustrating legalities, lately Glory has been practicing her driving nevertheless. Today I picked her up from school at eleven o’clock and we went for a second try at her driver’s test.

Branson, Missouri, is a tourist town--a sort of family-oriented Las Vegas. (Although the only gambling here is trying to learn how to drive without insurance and not get into trouble.) It’s population is hardly over six thousand, but between five and ten million people visit the town each year. It’s very difficult to find a place where only townspeople gather, but the Branson License Bureau is one. Every time we’re in there we see people we know.

Glory was very nervous as we sat there on the folding chairs worrying about her second try for a driver’s license. It wasn’t long before an examiner came out of the next room and said, “Glory?” Glory stood up and faced her with a smile, and the lady looked puzzled. She said, “Noooo,” and looked past Glory and said, “I called Glory.” Another woman had stood up whose name, surprisingly, is also Glory. The only other Glory I know in the world is Glory McAllister in Washington State, the inspiration for our daughter’s name. And here, today, at the Branson License Bureau, sitting a few chairs apart, were two women named Glory, waiting to take their driver’s test. This Filipino Glory was as surprised as our daughter, and the two of them talked for a moment in front of the bewildered examiner. Our daughter sat back down, saying, “That’s the first time that’s ever happened.”

After the other Glory left with the examiner, the woman sitting on our daughter’s right spoke up and said, in a British accent, “So both of you are Glorys?” This woman was Louise Harrison, the older sister of George Harrison of the Beatles! Glory had recognized her when she came in and sat down, and had excitedly whispered to me who she was. Louise Harrison lives in Branson now, as does the band she brought with her--the Liverpool Legends--whose show in Branson will convince you that the actual Beatles live here and in their prime! The four Beatles lookalikes are often seen driving around town in VW Bugs made up to look like the Yellow Submarine.

Also sitting to Glory’s right was Jana, a receptionist on my former mail route who is an avid reader of this Butter Rum Cartoon blog. So it was fun to talk with her. Jana’s daughter was also there for her driving test.

Then came the basketball player. Bruno Neves walked past us, peering at the world from his near seven foot height, still wearing his basketball uniform. Glory and I were awestruck watching this moving tower go into the next room, where he stood before an examiner’s table. It was an average height table, but I pointed out to Glory that the tabletop came to just above Bruno’s knees. As he bent way down to sign a form, Glory whispered, “Every table is like a coffee table to him.”

After Bruno left, I noticed a very fat man across the room, and muttered to Glory, “Wouldn’t it be funny to see Bruno standing beside that guy?”

Finally our Glory was called and left with the examiner to take the driving test. I whispered a prayer. I had mentioned to her before she left, though, that all these unusual happenings must be a good sign. Another woman and her daughter came in and sat between Louise Harrison and me. Her daughter was also trying a second time for her driver’s license. After the frightened girl left with an examiner, her mother struck up a conversation with Louise. When she found that Louise had come from England, she asked, “So what brought you here?”

And Louise said, “I have a band,” pointing to “Liverpool Legends” written on the front of her shirt. They went on to talk, and I had the joy of listening in. After Louise was called away, I asked the woman, “Do you know who that was?” She didn’t, and I told her. She was blown away, and “in shock,” having visited so casually with George Harrison’s sister.

I stood up and walked over to the large front windows, hoping to see Glory’s attempt at parallel parking on the other side of the large parking lot. Instead I saw Lynn Melendez walking up to the License Bureau. Lynn is the wife of Tony Melendez, who was born without arms, yet with his beautiful singing and marvelous guitar-playing with his feet brought tears to the eyes of countless people around the world when he was kissed in appreciation by Pope John Paul II in Los Angeles, and when the Pope encouraged him to continue to give hope to all people. Tony and Lynn and their family are good friends of ours now.

I sat back down again next to the woman waiting for her daughter, and asked, “Did you hear about the dyslexic Satanist?” She said no, and I said, “He sold his soul to Santa.” She cracked up and told me she sells time shares and that she’ll have to remember that one. Then I asked her, “Do you know why gorillas have big nostrils?” She said no, so I said, “Because they have big fingers.” She enjoyed that, too.

Eventually Glory came back from her test, and walked in looking sad and depressed. My heart fell. Halfway across the room, though, she couldn’t fake it anymore, and broke into an excited smile. To pass, you need at least a 70% score. Glory got 88%. She graduates this week with a driver’s license! And it turns out that the other two daughters there passed their tests, too.

Glory and I celebrated by going, at her suggestion, to Vasken’s Deli, just down the street from the License Bureau. I had never eaten there before, and found it to be my favorite eating place in Branson! There I had the best reuben sandwich, the best potato salad, and the best baklava I’ve ever had. And along with it I had Armenian coffee for the first time (I LOVE ARMENIAN COFFEE!), served in a demi-tasse with the Imrik set next to it with a refill. The lady at the counter who took our order said, “We go to the same church.” As Glory and I sat down, Glory pointed out two people across the room, and said, “They go to our church, too.” And when the owner of Vasken’s came over and served me the Armenian coffee, saying in his accent, “This will put hair on your chest,” he added, “The whole church is here.”

I pointed out to Glory that she was sitting next to a Liverpool Legends poster, featuring a photo of the four Beatles impersonators with Louise Harrison, and I said, “That’s a coincidence.”

Then Glory pointed at another poster beside us and said, “There’s Dean Z, who’s Elvis at the Legends Theatre. He’s the one who’s married to my acquaintance and favorite Fifties-style pinup model, Lana Zeligman, or Miss Lana VaLone. And right after she said that, who should walk into Vasken’s but Dean and Lana Zeligman!

This was a day full of surprises and coincidences and unusual events and successes--perhaps an ordinary day in Branson except for the most wonderful thing of all: Glory got her driver’s license!

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1 comment:

  1. Congrats Glory!!!! What an exciting day! You guys sure make my life seem boring!!
    -Aunt Linda