I fondly remember the first time I took a ride in Ned’s 1989 Buick LeSabre. The car offered a comfortable allotment of legroom, the seats were electronically adjustable, and the interior smelled of cashews. Waking up that morning, I never would have dreamed that I would be joining Ned on this memorable car ride. Upon arriving home from work, I checked my mail, and whilst checking my mailbox I couldn’t help but notice from the corner of my eye, Ned creeping up my block in his geriatric hot rod. We briefly exchanged pleasantries, and I just hopped in. I didn’t know where we were going, and as it turned out, I certainly didn’t know where Ned was capable of taking me.
Ned casually adjusted his rearview mirror, put on his right turn indicator, and we turned right. As soon as the speedometer hit 26 mph, Ned initiated cruise control. He had told me once that his Buick was able to achieve 40 miles to the gallon at this low cruising velocity. I took Ned’s word for it, and embraced my surroundings as they passed by me. It was Autumn.
Ned reached out with an outstretched finger and depressed the ‘on’ button which protruded from the LeSabre’s wood-grain accented stereo console. Public radio commentary spewed from the speakers. With great ease, Ned rotated the treble knob, and reduced the volume to a barely perceptible whisper. I watched Ned in awe as he manned his componentry. Ned looked over to me for a moment, possibly seeking approval. I graciously nodded, and he took my nonverbal compliment in stride.
As we prowled through various local neighborhoods, I noticed Ned’s constant adherence to the “10 and 2” rule. Outside of toggling between several preset AM radio stations, Ned’s hand positioning never wavered. Each impending turn was executed with flawless precision. I peered down upon the matching midnight blue floorboards and noticed several books on tape. Ned noticed that I had noticed his smattering of audio books on cassette, and he slightly crinkled his upper lip. I immediately understood that I had discovered one of Ned’s guilty pleasures.
I saw the wanton look in Ned’s eyes, and purely by deductive assumption, I asked if we may venture a listen to one of these books on tape. Ned earnestly replied, “of course.” To my astonishment, I learned that the first (and later subsequent) audio books were voiced by Ned himself. It was on this day that I learned that my long time LeSabre-driving neighbor was also a professional Narrator. I had previously thought he was a man of few words, but after hearing his succulent voice glide through world renown Children’s books, I knew I was in the presence of a true genius.
He made me truly believe that Dumbo could fly, he made me want Pinocchio to become a real boy. He captured all of these things without the previously necessary aid of color illustration. His casual, yet passionate delivery was of a quality I never knew could be achieved. Ned was a talent from a genre I never thought existed.
Sadly, and true to all great experiences, this one also came to an end. Ned eventually dropped me off at my place of residence, and coasted away to his two bedroom apartment in which I now knew reeked of adroit brilliance. That was the last time I saw Ned. He apparently made his millions on audio adaptations of Little Golden Books, and left this 2 LeSabre town behind, but not before leaving me with an invaluable experience in culture and an indelible lesson in life.