The day I almost married the Marlboro Man.

Do you remember The Marlboro Man? The cowboy hat, the look, oh God that look.  Back in the bad old days before Politically Correct Behaviour and the ugly C word, there were cigarette advertisements.  Shock, horror and all that. A long campaign for Marlboro Cigarettes featuring the sexiest men in the world.  Well when I was 16,  I sure thought so. Do you remember the Marlboro Man?

I just wanted to make sure that you knew what the Marlboro Man looked like because I almost married him once. Oh well, yes you are right, there were more than one.  So just roll them all together, the swagger, the  slim hips, those shoulders, those boots. That look!  The pick-up truck.  The horse. That dip down to light his cigarette. Got him in your minds eye. Whether you loved him or hated him you have to admit that guy was all sex.

Now let us time travel back to teenage Celi. I passed my drivers license on my 15th birthday, well you could in those days. In fact the traffic cop who took me for my test said ‘You’re not a bad driver, you’re  just not a very good one!’  Huh.  Well it goes without saying that I went to sit my test in my convent girl school uniform!

My Dad had bought a little white mini van for the teenagers of the house to drive. So this one sunny summer morning I had stuffed my books into a bag, grabbed a towel and my confiscated bikini top that I had confiscated back without my Mothers actual knowledge, so it wasn’t really stealing  and driven out to Ocean Beach by myself.  I would read and work on joining all my freckles together into something resembling a tan. We were not allowed to sunbathe on the beach at home because Mum said it was bad for your skin. We had no idea what she was on about!  It was hot. Dry. Perfect. The beach was delicious, I lazed about for a few hours swam, read, you know the thing.

Fast forward. I was on my way home. The windows down, radio blaring when I felt the tell-tale wiggle of an approaching flattie (flat tire).  So I pulled over, driving in bare feet as you do and climbed out.  Sure enough. The tell tale hiss. Not a problem, as kids we had been thoroughly coached by our dad on how to change a tire. In fact he used to send the girls out to rotate the tyres on his Rover just for the practice. What the boys were doing I have no idea, probably baking cupcakes or something. I proceeded to get out the spare, and the tools. I was dragging  the jack into place  (no mean feet in a long summer skirt and barefoot) when I heard a truck rattle to a stop behind my car. I looked up and guess who  I saw.

You guessed it Laurel and Hardy but ancient, Laurel and Hardy gone bad and in messy old fishing garb. Two gents were beginning a slow descent from an old rattly truck. One emerged really really Tall and one really really Fat.  Both pushing eighty or maybe ninety, well now that I think about it they could have been approaching a hundred. They were clambering down with great difficulty from their truck. Muttering and talking to themselves like these old codgers do. Thrilled to bits about having discovered a damsel in distress. All in flickery  slow  motion.  The really fat one sort of toppled tippsely over and collapsed weazing onto the spare tire. Oh, we’ll do that,  he said as he took the spannery thing out of my hand, and he proceeded to mash at the bolts, or lugs or whatever you call them. By this time Tall had reached us. He moved very, very slowly, it became painfully obvious that he was afraid that one or other of his limbs may fall off at any minute, every movement considered.

So to make a long story a trifle shorter, Tall had a bad back and could not bend over, Fat had bad knees and could not stand for long.  There was a lot of heaving and creaking, and mumbling and sighing  and huffing and puffing  and that was  just getting the pair of them situated  in front of the flat tyre. I had to physically close my mouth a dozen times. No, no we’re fine lass don’t you worry. Together, though, they seemed to have worked out a way to create one reasonably useful old man. They told me to sit on the bank, don’t stand in my light. Watch out for the traffic, did I want a wee tipple? Oh no, probably too young. We will take care of this. Well I will just wet my whistle, don’t you worry, you will be on your way in no time. They worked at the lugs or whatever you call them, Tall ended up standing on the wrench to loosen a couple while Fat held it in place.  Tall shoved the jack in and Fat jacked up the car. Together they levered the bad tire off. Then Fat swapped tire seats and they rolled the spare into place.

With enormous difficulty, no thats fine girlie we have it, they were trying to lift the spare tire on (mainly Fat as he was the low man, Tall holding it upright) when I heard a truck stop across the narrow country road. I stood up and looked across. The truck door opened and all I could see were The Marlboro mans boots, then his long long legs encased in those studio jeans.  He unfolded himself out of his cab, his body lean and strong, turned to reveal a rebellious thick blonde mane of hair that blew up  in the gentle summer breeze. He stood to his full height, adjusted his belt with two hands and smiled straight at me.

I was ablaze with light I am sure. I simply glowed at him. The soundtrack burst into violins and cellos and the birds sung the melody. I was 16 and I was in love. An unbearably handsome man was smiling at me! I mean I had beaten up and sometimes shouted actual words at my older brothers friends . One fell out of a row boat into the sea once and hit me in the face, with his head, when I was swimming.  He apologised in a spluttery way, which was kind of intimate I suppose, if you didn’t count the black eye. But you see I went to a girls convent school.  No man, no real grown up man had ever smiled straight at me before… well not like that.  Choirs of angels.  Pan in the woods. I almost fell flat on my face from lack of oxygen.  I wished I had been wearing something more flattering other than this silly little hand me down top that didn’t fit properly and my long batik wrap around that only showed my bare toes!.   And why was I so thin, I had no curves. I knew that men were meant to like curves. My Dad said that he could rent me to a deer hunter cause I was so thin. I could just sidle up to the deer and bonk it on the head with a stick. Save on bullets. That thin. A deer would not notice me. Thanks Dad. But the Marlboro Man noticed me. He smiled at me and said

‘You need any help?’  Oh , that  smoky deep voice. Oh, he wanted to help me. My knees trembled. I opened my mouth to speak, drew in a breath.  Mouth gobbing like a fish.  Then Tall popped up  from behind my tiny car, like an ancient jack-in-the-box stringing himself out to his full considerable height, dropped the tire which rolled onto Fat. Fat grunted, struggling against the tire, weazing to his feet.  Hauling himself up the side of my car And before I could even make a sound.  “Nope!” the old fella’s bellowed in unison. Their voices were suddenly strong and hale and hearty. “Nope,  no we’re right. She’ll be right mate,  Thanks.. yup, yup, mumble mumble”  and DISMISSED my Marlboro Man with a wave of their stained and gnarled old hands.  Then, galvanised, soaking up energy,  they shot back into place hauling the tire onto the pins and practically twirling the wrench!  Suddenly they were twenty years younger.  Straightening their backs and rounding their chests. Eyes glinting. Off with you young chappy!

I turned and looked at Marlboro Man and he looked back at me. He raised his eyebrows. you ok? I looked at my old men as they muttered to each other, their youth pulsing alongside their age and looking back at my Marlboro Man, standing beside his truck, shimmering in the afternoon heat, an Adonis (in jeans).  I raised my eyebrows back, with a shift of my bony shoulders and a head tilted to my old men and a nod.  Marlboro Man lifted his head in assent,  slid back into his truck and just drove away. As he drove off I realised that he had new tires in the back of his truck and a big Dunlop sign on the side.  I am not making this up! He was a tire man! He would have had tools and everything.

Fat, now sitting on the deflated tire, taking another quick swig of his medicine, muttered ‘Showed that young buck!’ This is exactly what he said, I have never forgotton it.  Tall snorted with satisfaction.  And back to work they went.  Darling, rusty old fellas.  The whole thing had quite made their day.

I sat down again in my designated spot on the bank, watching the dust settle back down onto the road and could not help a small smile at my old knights in their battered grumbling armour as they worked on my car.  Bless them.

c

56 Comments on “The day I almost married the Marlboro Man.

  1. What a great story! I love how you failed to notice that he drove a “tire truck.” I guess you were kinda distracted. These are the things from our youth that make such great fodder for the “What if” game. And, yeah, those 2 old bucks sure showed him. Ha!

    • I know, John, and every time I tell this story i think that the old fellas must have seen the tires and stuff, knew he had tools and sent him away anyway.. So funny. c

  2. I married him! My hubbie trained as a tyre fitter on leaving school and his favourite shirt is one which has a Marlboro logo on the chest pocket, it’s all worn out but he still keeps wearing it. And after that little outburst… sorry…

    Are you going to put these stories together in a book? They are wonderful. Fantastic pace and just lovely, I am eating them up as they arrive in my inbox :_

    • I want that shirt! You have my man, why not let me have the shirt!!.. You know people keep saying why don’t i write them into a book but how does one find a publisher.. i have NO IDEA!..

  3. C, what a beautiful read! You should publish short stories – with your command of the English language and photography skills, you would make a fortune! *Wonders is she can get a discounted rate for making the suggestion* 😉
    Have a happy day.
    🙂 Mandy

    • Oh i am sure we can work out something Mandy.. maybe you should become my agent and find a publisher! Until then you can have them for free!

  4. You are too funny! You know your mom was right about sunbathing! I don’t remember the commercials, I think by the 80s and 90s when I was in school they were banned. But I remember the ads!

    • yes well, my mum had a knack for being right Katherine, but who listens to their mother ..She also warned me against shaving my legs but i did not listen then either!!

  5. Best story ever! Oh it had me laughing, the thought of these two men trying to impress a young cute girl. Hilarious. I remember forming a crush on a much older (24, probably, me 14) boy and imagining in my head the feelings were reciprocated. In hindsight, he was probably thinking of his more curvy, developed girlfriend and not the stick figure with messy blonde hair in front of him! Oh well, my crushes rarely lasted past a day at 14.

    Again, great story.

  6. Great story, C! You captured it perfectly – the way a 15-year-old girl feels the first time a Beautiful Boy smiles at her, all the air rushing out of her lungs… At least you got by with a raised eyebrow and a shrug – I seem to remember searching for something sooo sophisticated to say in that situation… what came out sounded more like, “Meep”…

  7. Nice story C! I have helped quite a few damsels in distress and changed their tires or given a lift. Even ran into my Dad once and changed his tire!
    Once on the way home with my wife, running a bit late, my Mom baby sitting and wanting to get home too. Came across 5 ladies in their car and a flat. Changed their tire quick as I could to get home and let Mom go home. They kept thanking me and saying “the Lawd done sent us a man”. Mom wasn’t too happy about us being late, but understood I done good.

  8. Fantastic story and so beautifully told. I think those two old guys live in my neighbourhood now…or at least another version of them!

  9. I loved reading this. This was such a great and nostalgic story. I think for my mom, your beginning line would be changed. Instead of the Marlboro man, my mom would say “Do you remember Billy Dee Williams? The smile, the look, oh God that look..” Lol. I love this post

  10. Thanks for the lovely story, which I just enjoyed instead of going to work.
    Great pictures too!

    • Morning Tandy, those darling old men, well they had been fishing in that old truck, (I like to keep my stories short so they get read which means that working in the blog medium i have to edit out a lot of stuff) but I do remember them as being in their eighties i guess, and not in very good shape but it is the memory of a teenager as well.. and teenagers think everyone is old.!

  11. Dear Cecilia, you should make a book all these stories, they are so nicely written and I love to read your stories… There are so many publishers in there, shouldn’t be so difficult as in my own country. I published two books and I gave up… And I don’t write anymore (especially in my own language). Good Luck for this, I keep reading and watching your beautiful Blog. Thank you, Blessing and Happiness, with my love, nia

  12. Cecilia, This was a delightfull post from start to finnish. I absolutely loved it! Your cowboy sounded dreamy.

    as a side note, I bet your Da made the same speech my grampa made to me… all about how men will take an advantage of a girl who doesnt know nothin bout’ cars. Tire chang and oil change too. My Da and Gramp made a special effort to set me straight about it and made me learn.

  13. Was your Marlboro man Tom Selleck, or Don Johnson? I remember Tom Selleck got his start as a Marlboro Billboard man. Don Johnson played the cowboy opposite the biker ( Mickey Rourke) in “Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man” ..but, hey, if the boots and hat is all you need…I’m your man…a…wait I forgot, were both already married…
    Nah, I would never forget that…But,..
    I’m 100% sure you and I attended
    different schools together.
    Bless You
    paul

  14. I actually ran into one of the real Marlboro men once. I was standing in line at a Kmart in the late 1970’s, don’t remember if it was 78 or 79 in Federal Hieghts Colorado, when this tall cowboy with sandy hair about 40 something came up to stand in line behind me. He was wearing a cowboy hat and tight fitting wrangler jeans with cowboy shirt and boots. Nothing fancy but stuff a real cowboy would wear. With him was a twenty something women and I couldn’t help but over hear their conversation. He was telling her how long he had been the current Marlboro man and other things about his duties as the Marlboro man, and he was telling her the corniest things trying to make her laugh, I could tell by the way she was looking at him he could have told her anything and she would have still had that same look you described that you had. I remember walking back to my car and smiling thinking about those two.

    • WOW! Bet you did a double take. He was talking to another woman! How rude! Poor chap, must have been such a trial having women mooning over him all day! c

  15. Great story! One of the Marlboro men is a friend of mine from my old modeling days….seriously. He, along with the others is, ah..mmmm, was drool-worthy! He’s married to a school teacher and has a couple of kiddos now but is still HOT! I’ll just say his name is Ray and he lives in L.A. I can completely relate to you at that age. LOL

  16. Love this story..everything about it (the Marlboro Man and what he represented to you, Fat and Tall’s desire to show off their muscle in front of him) pulls on the heart strings!

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