Back when I lived in Seattle, I hung out with a tinkery, Gyro Gearloose guy named Aaron. We had some common interests, including paganism and gaming. He had a strong creative streak and breath that had been known to slay raccoons at thirty paces. One has to take the rough with the smooth, as we say back home.
Alert: this story has me being astonishingly juvenile.
Sometimes Aaron’s tinkering didn’t go too well. His girlfriend lived up in Lynnwood, not far north of me in Shoreline. One day he phoned me to let me know that his efforts to accelerate the defrosting of his lady’s freezer had led to a malfunction. His notion to employ a flathead screwdriver seemed to have been the cause. He now needed to purchase her a new refrigerator, as she was rather a testy type. Budgetary concerns dictated that he select a used appliance, and getting to the heart of the matter, I owned a truck. (This was in about 1995. The truck, drolly nicknamed ‘the White Lightning,’ was five years old. I’m still driving it.)
Sure, Aaron, I’ll go help you haul your used refrigerator. I drove up and picked him up in the Lightning. There was a place in Bellevue, somewhere out toward Redmond, that he felt would have what he needed. Off we headed, his directions mostly effective, and we pulled up at a little strip mall outside a business whose sign proclaimed it: CRAPO APPLIANCE SERVICE.
It did not occur to me at the time that this might be someone’s real name. I honestly thought that this was a shining episode of truth in advertising, like Rent-A-Dent. “You want a crappy appliance? We’ve got lots of truly crappo stuff! Best prices in town!” I wondered why I had not seen commercials for this place, with loud guys boasting that they’d beat anyone’s price.
I also fell apart laughing. Came completely unglued. Embarrassed hell out of Aaron, who was there to pick out a used refrigerator. I couldn’t stop. Tears flowed. I followed him around, doubled over and gasping for breath. I was still a hot mess as I helped him wrangle the device into my pickup, a miracle that I didn’t just drop my side and fall to the ground laughing. I was a complete spectacle. I complimented the store clerk (and possibly owner) on the forthright honesty of the name, at least in between gales of laughter. Thinking that no one would ever believe this without proof, I snagged a business card, which I carried in my wallet for years and still possess. On the card, there was an accent aigu (á) over the A in CRAPO (which is not the correct phonetic mark, by the way…it should be a horizontal line, like an en dash). The clerk grumbled at me, “It’s CRAY-po.” I must not have been the first sight of this kind that he’d seen, though I might have been the most shameless.
I didn’t find it easy to drive the truck back to Lynnwood, because I kept having giggle fits, guffaw seizures and high-pitched cackling events. I suppose Aaron was somewhat amused by how this struck me. In any case, since it was my truck, he didn’t ask me to shut up. It wouldn’t have worked anyway.
If karma exists, it may have caught up with me. Evidently ‘Crapo’ is a common and prominent LDS family name here in Idaho, like ‘Allred.’ In fact, one our distinguished solons by that name recently made the news. For getting a DWI at Christmas in D.C. Yeah. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), stay classy and true to your beliefs. Keep telling us all how to live.
It’s a good thing that all happened before Youtube, or someone might have memorialized my transformation into a werehyena, and they could probably make trouble for me out here.