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A Sardine on Vacation, Episode 13
Frank Weathers

To the archived articlesAfter I posted bail, Frank Weathers phoned wanting to thank me for mentioning him again.

"When do you think I'll be in a Sardine article again?"

As we spoke, I decided to surpass his wildest dreams. Why not an entire column about Frank?

"What are you going to say?"

I didn't know. He certainly is one of the best claims adjusters in this area of the country. The $1200 roof job he milked the insurance company for $5000. Legitimate milk.

"I'm a decent golfer."

Unfortunately, I had vowed never to mention golf and fishing in these columns. And after a few minutes, Frank voiced trepidation.

"Maybe you should skip me and send a letter to your Pun Pal."

I'd known him for fifteen years. He had divorced his first wife after seventeen years and married her maid-of-honor.

"I was separated from my wife when I started going with Jeanne."

That's not what I remembered of events twelve years ago. I could also have talked about the Custard stand he bought two years ago that melted away in six months. Jeanne was against that idea from the start.

"Location is everything in business," he responded. "I couldn't compete against the ice cream vendors on the Boardwalk."

Frank regretted more that Jeanne was right. That's everything in marriage: who's right! Nor was that his sole disastrous business investment.

"You're not going to tell your readers I didn't finish high school?"

That was an interesting angle. Another case of a successful person not completing a formal education. Frank was smart in a sophisticated way but through experience, starting with a stint in the Air Force at age nineteen. Moreover, he had raised two separate families. . . .

"Don't tell them about that putt I missed on the 18th green the other day. A two-footer. Cost me the press on the back nine."

Frank had traveled to Europe a dozen times, primarily to ski and drink at Oktoberfest. He has had his nose buried in the property losses of people and held his own against insurance company lawyers for twenty-five years. He has done more, lived more richly, than had most college graduates, including this old fish.

At the risk of rubbing numerous sore spots on the social body. . . .

"Please, don't, I beg you," said Father Grindgrad. "Wasn't your arrest by the health police enough?"

Vote. Be healthy. Get a high school diploma. All dubious notions.

"Stick with Frank's life," said the Father, who usually knew what was best. "He told me he holed a shot from the sand trap on the eighth hole to win the front nine."

Despite his successes, Frank believes that he isn't educated enough (a small victory for the education propagandists). The inner conflict he has over wearing a hairpiece--pride at appearing vain vs. the loss of pride at becoming bald--he entertains a similar ambivalence to this diploma-less state: his pride being a self-made man vs. never feeling smart enough.

The insecurity manifests itself curiously in convivial get-togethers with friends at dinner, a bar, or a party. Among friends, nobody has much to say and conversational mechanics sustain the several hours. Storytellers trot out memories from past get-togethers and the vague common memory of their goods times descends over the group. Joketellers then commence with a half-hour of laughter and groans. Lastly, as the laughter dies, the trivia experts surface and maintain the common intercourse for the remainder of the night.

Frank, like everyone else, enjoys these bouts of movie and television memory. Even history and geography questions are accessible to him, unintimidated by Presidents, capitals, or inland seas. Indeed, the trivia games are mostly about one-upmanship. Frank likes to think he's caught people with questions like "who served as Vice-President for two different Presidents" or "which President weighed the least." His ultimate stumper, though, is "the only word in the English language that has three consecutive double letters." But he hates to be one-upped!

This particularly sorrowful event usually occurs with a fact Frank suspects you have learned in the last twenty-four hours or is knowledge too obscure for a normal person to know. When stumped, he angrily lashes out at the person claiming the question isn't real trivia or how it isn't a fair question because it hasn't been learned from one's experience. I think not knowing the answer stimulates anxieties over his not knowing enough. Worse, he fears how much he really needs to learn and that his experience in life just isn't enough.

"I'm almost certain," he said at the end of the conversation on the phone, "that there was a spike mark in front of the cup that caused my ball to lip it."

The Sardine's essays, articles, and stories have appeared around the Internet in the last few years at 3 A.M., Facets, Eclectica magazine, Fiction Funhouse, The Fiction Warehouse, 5_trope, and several film journals. Who and what he is probably will be revealed at various points through the articles appearing at this site. If you want to reach him, his address is