Church key

"And you've never seen a more tackily lovable rural garage than the one Randel Wright has designed," wrote Dallas Morning News critic Lawson Taitte. He was reviewing "Stanton's Garage" by Contemporary Theatre of Dallas, which runs through July ninth.

I've been in that "tackily lovable rural garage" on way too many roadtrips and family vacations run aground, amoco, and amok. Wright's set is so perfect I wanted to wash my hands just looking at the duct tape-patched vinyl couch. I knew hundreds of stranded fat guys in shorts have sweated on that vinyl, and more than one kid has barfed his orange soda. I could even taste the burnt coffee in the styrofoam cup. If I'd been sitting closer to the stage, I bet I could have seen the desicated fly wings and daddy longlegs on the window sill, as Wright has captured every other detail.

In a satisfying moment of Act I, the vending machine is the shooting victim of an imbalanced and immobilized Mobil Travel Guide reader. We know deep down that the Baby Ruth and Butterfinger bars are both stale and melty, but this one is for every person who ever lost a quarter while marooned at Zeke's Brake and Muffler.

Back when station attendants "filled-er-up" and gave us free placemats, thermal cups, and steak knives, I used to love the smell of gasoline. Now when I accidently spill a drop at the self-serve island, it's unappealing. Does leaded smell better than unleaded?

When characters in Joan Ackermann's play need to visit the gas station restroom, they carry a huge, grimy key to unlock the outside door. My mom would have been cringing. She taught us very early the skill of covering the seat with layered toilet paper! Thank heaven the play is set in Missouri. If it had been in rural Utah, the restroom would be missing its door entirely. Thank heaven, too, that someone invented Purell!

At 160 minutes the play runs long, even though the slow pace reinforces the everyman connection to the car repair delay frustration. Similar scenes could be merged so that the audience isn't worrying when the next clean restroom will be available on this journey.

CTD performs in a former Baptist church built in 1925. The space is funky, the bar (tended by CTD Managing Director and former Dallas Morning News theatre critic Tom Sime) is fun, but the sightlines are aggravating in the balcony. My neck will be stiff tomorrow from trying to see the pine air fresheners and gumball machine.

Seems like just yesterday a teen driver rear-ended our 1954 pea green Chevy on Highway 6 through Holdrege, Nebraska. The rear bumper punched into the car's trunk, so the Chevy looked just like a giant beer can opener had left its mark. The vampire said, "I vant to drink your Bud!"

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