I was telling Linda a story from my youth about a Coca-Cola vending machine. She had no idea the machine I was describing, so I had to go online and find a picture of it. Here is the picture:
...and here is the story.
The year the St. Louis Gateway Arch was completed, my parents and I took a vacation to Missouri. I had fake relatives there. I had fake relatives everywhere. I was raised to call the friends of my parents "aunt" or "uncle" depending on their gender. And those old enough, I was instructed to call "gramma" or "grampa." I could fill a cemetery with all the fake relatives I had. That's if I were so inclined to dig them all up and rebury them in one place.
So in 1965, I found myself being introduced to another aunt and uncle who lived on the outskirts of St. Louis. They owned a bottle factory. They specialized in making brown glass bottles, the kind you find beer and certain whiskeys inside. (I still have a couple of the half-gallon size bottles taking up room somewhere in my basement.) I must admit, it was fascinating to watch molten glass being turned into bottles. Then again, at that age, I was fascinated watching a swarm of ants devour a rotten apple.
Almost fifty years later, I cannot remember the names of that aunt and uncle, yet I remember their son, Ricky, who was a couple years older than I was. Ricky taught me how to masturbate, but that's another story. The story I was telling Linda was about Ricky taking me to the local gas station for a pop. The gas station was down the street from the bottle factory. My mother had given me a couple dimes to get pop for Ricky and myself. So Ricky and I walked down to the gas station. When we got there, on the side of the station was the pop machine. It looked like the one pictured above. Ricky asked me for the dimes and I gave them to him. He put them in his pocket and asked what flavor pop I wanted. I said Coke, naturally. Ricky opened the top of the vending machine, took a bottle opener from his pocket, uncorked a Coca-Cola, and handed me a straw.
I leaned into the vending box and drank my coke through the straw, never once thinking I was doing anything wrong. How was I to know Ricky never paid and intended on keeping the dimes for himself? To this day I look back and wish that sneaky bastard would have split the loot with me.