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Southern men and new clothes for Easter - Ronda Rich

Years ago, before fuel conservation became popular and trendy, I was a forerunner to saving gas by combining errands. When I go into town, I spend several hours doing errands that I have been waiting to do. It saves both gas and time.

One of those combination trips always includes the beauty shop and having my car serviced simultaneously. The other day, I stopped in to Harrison's where those folks who have become good friends, take good care of both me and my car.

"Can I get a ride to the beauty shop?" I asked Roger, while several other customers milled around.

He nodded. "Sure can," he said as he punched in my order, which included replacing the windshield wipers and checking the new rear tire I was forced to buy after being sidelined on busy I-85, just south of Atlanta.

About that time, Lamar, who often chauffeurs me to wherever I need to go, sauntered through the door.

"Hey honey," he said when saw me.

"Sweetheart, can you give me a ride?" I smiled.

"Sure can."

I grinned and winked. "Guess where I need to go."

He didn't hesitate nor break his stride toward me. "Beauty shop," he replied matter-of-factly.

This brought gales of laughter from the other customers who had just heard me say that before Lamar appeared.

"Not that you look like you need to go to the beauty shop," one woman kindly offered, overlooking the slicked-back ponytail I wore.

Over the numerous times that Lamar has driven me somewhere while my car was serviced, we have become friends. Now, we don't call each other and talk between my visits to the tire store, but when we see each other, our conversation is easy and as we drive along, we chat over things like music, photos he has taken, travel and church.

"Guess who I went to see at the music park," he asked as we drove off the other day, but when I couldn't guess, he continued. "George Jones. And, boy was he good. Put on a great show."

Later, when Sandy was finished cutting and fussing over my hair, I called for Lamar to pick me up. The moment I climbed up into his old pickup truck, he picked up a bag that was sitting on the seat.

"See my new shoes?" he asked, displaying a pair of black, wing-tipped, laced loafers. "I got 'em for Easter."

I was a bit surprised. Pleasantly so. Lamar, whom I see only when dressed in his dark blue mechanic clothes, his hands soiled from grease and dirt, was out buying new shoes for Easter. Hmm. That's impressive.

"Lamar! You bought new shoes for Easter?"

"Sure did. Always do. Got 'em at the thrift store but look -- they're practically brand new. A good shine and they'll be good as new." He smiled happily. "Only paid six dollars for 'em."

"Will you have a new suit, too?" I asked.

"Hm-huh. Already got me one."

"Lamar, I'm very proud of you." I meant it. I smiled. "You're a good Southern, church-going man."

"Yeah, honey, I am," he replied and winked.

Equally amazing to me, besides the fact that Lamar was going to have new shoes and suit for Easter, was the fact that he had bought them over three weeks before Easter. He is a well prepared man. I thought of the men in my family and how they will all have new suits, shirts, ties and possibly shoes for Easter Sunday. All those outfits will be planned and purchased by the women in our family.

But Lamar, who does not have a wife, took care of the chore himself. Very impressive.

"Oh my gosh," I said, snapping my fingers. "I have a new suit but I forgot that I don't have shoes."

Inspired by Lamar's example, I promptly went home and ordered a pair. Thank goodness, I already had my Easter hat.

Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of "What Southern Women Know About Faith." Visit www.rondarich.com to sign up for her weekly newsletter.