By Laurie R.
My mother and I were returning to Portland, Maine not Oregon!, after visiting Uncle Roger in Somerville, MA, when the most unusual and special thing happened.
We had been singing along to Mermaid Avenue driving up Rt. One for the scenery. Just before we left Biddeford, my mother noticed a small convenience store about a hundred feet from the road. A sign over the door announce their going-out-of-business sale and the liquidation of all their Beanie Babies and Pokeman playing cards. We were stunned. What great fortune that we should find such a prize here in the rather populous region of southern Maine and only one other car in the parking lot.We pulled into the lot and ran into the building. That one other car was a snazzy red Spider like the one in the Graduate. There was no time to tally, however. So, we agreed to gaze at the car later. The store walls were covered with every Beanie Baby ever made: even Allie.
"Look Mom, it's Allie." I shouted, "He was first made in March of 1995!"
"1994," said a man with an English accent who then darted around the corner and continued to rummage through a box of Pokeman collectibles.
My mother shrugged her shoulders and asked me to help her find B.B. Bear. He has rainbow fur, my mother reminded me. Like I needed to be reminded. We searched high and low. It seemed like we'd never find it when lo and behold, our bandit Beanie Bear guru reappeared from behind the Pokeman display carrying a handful of playing cards and our little rainbow colored friend.
"Oh my," my mother said. "There's are bear."
"Mom!" I gasped, "There's Billy Bragg!"
"Do you suppose he'd give me that Beanie Baby?"
I said no, and asked her to leave him alone just as the clerk looked at us and pointed. At which point Mr. Bragg started right for us. "Hallo," he said and melted my heart. "Lookin' for this little tike are ya?" He held up B.B. Bear.
"Why, yes. Yes, I am." My mother was always cool. "Don't suppose you'd be willing to let me have it."
"Well, normally I prefer a good dickering, but you ladies have been working hard to find this, and it would be my fourth." Then he looked directly into my eyes and smirk appeared at the corner of his mouth. "I am going to guess she's one of my fans."
My mom said something that I could hear. I was so enchanted that all could see and hear was Billy Bragg. "I always know," he said confidently and smiled. "Somehow it's always to pretty ones that are my fans."
Wow, I was flying. Imagine that! Billy Bragg said I was pretty. I finally gathered myself enough to talk to him. But first, like a real goober, I had to confirm that it was really him. "You're Billy Bragg!"
"Billy Bragg, the punk folk musician from Essex, England."
"Actually I am from Liverpool, but the Beatles already claimed that burg. So, I say I am from Essex. It helps my image. Good for sales." He winked.
"Sarah wants a ride in your Spider." My mom tossed in to the conversation.
"Mom!" I snapped embarrassed by her crass.
"No problem," said Billy Bragg. "Let me square up with the clerk and will go for a spin around Biddeford Pool."
Billy Bragg and I spent the whole day cruising up and down the coast. We talked about Pokemam, our favorite soda pop (his words!), cars, Ally McBeal, and, of course, Beanie Babies. And I'll always fondly remember the last words he said. "When you're eighteen and you get those braces off, give me a call," and then he winked. And what a wink!