Walking up the downtown sidewalk I spotted a familiar old Studebaker pickup truck. Sure enough, behind the wheel sat my old buddy, Eb Griper, poring over a road map.
"If you're lost," I shouted, "I can tell you the fastest route out of town."
Eb looked up over his glasses and frowned. "If everyone here was as big a smart aleck as you," he snarled, "I wouldn't have come into town in the first place."
I walked up to the driver's side of the truck. "Planning a trip, Eb?"
"Yep. Gonna take Hilda on a vacation and I'm doing some advance planning."
"That's nice," I said sincerely. "Hilda deserves a vacation. Where are you going?"
"Wow, you are taking a vacation! Are you flying into Oslo?"
"Of course not," Eb said, "we're going to Norway, Iowa over by Cedar Rapids. Hilda's cousin lives there. We plan to spend a couple of nights with her and her husband. He's an old windbag, but you can't be fussy when room and board are free."
"So you're going to spend a few days with relatives in Norway, Iowa? That's not what I'd call a real vacation. Are you doing anything else on your trip?"
"Sure," Eb snipped, "we're also going to New York."
"Now, you're talking vacation. I've been to the Big Apple; it's an exciting place. You have to see the Statue of Liberty, Eb."
Eb glared at me. "No, stupid; we're going to New York, Iowa."
"New York, Iowa? You're kidding!"
"Nope. New York, Iowa -- it's down between Corydon and Chariton. My brother lives near there. We're going to spend a couple of nights with him and his wife."
"Do you get along with them?"
"Aw, my brother's okay but his wife is an old hag. But..."
"But," I interrupted, "you can't be fussy when room and board are free."
Eb looked at me incredulously. "Well, at least you're a quick learner."
"So that's your vacation -- Norway and New York, Iowa?"
"Of course not, knucklehead. We're also going to Bethlehem."
I paused a couple of seconds and then said, "Okay, I'm not falling for this one. You're going to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania -- not the one in Israel, right?"
"Wrong again, Dumbo! We're going to Bethlehem, Iowa -- about three miles east of New York, Iowa."
"Come on, Eb, you're pulling my leg."
"I wouldn't touch you're ugly leg," Eb snarled, "but we are going to Bethlehem and spend some time with Hilda's niece and her husband."
"So which one is a pain?"
"They both are, but..."
"But," I interrupted again, "you can't be fussy when room and board are free."
"Yep," Eb said with a grin.
"You know, Eb, I love my family but spending a week visiting relatives wouldn't be my idea of a relaxing vacation. Aren't you going to do anything else?"
Eb's lack of patience was showing. "Well, if you must know everything, nosy, yes. We're going to stop at the Amanas on the way to Norway. Hilda loves the old fashioned bakery there."
"Ah, we've been there. It's a great place. You'll probably stock up on lots of those great baked goodies, huh?"
Eb's eyes grew large. "Are you kidding?" he squeaked. "We just go into the place and sniff the aroma. Don't you know the best things in life are free?"
"Well, Eb, I used to believe that but you've given me reason to reconsider. Listen, I have a vacation tip for you. There's a drug store out in Wall, South Dakota, that gives away free water to tourists. You ought to go there sometime."
Eb coaxed the Studebaker's engine to life. "Nope, don't think so," he said.
"Why not?" I queried.
As he backed out of the parking spot he smirked and shouted, "Don't have no relatives in South Dakota."