The Ride Home

 

My ears were ringing in the frosty quiet at the bottom of the hill. Faintly I could hear the drums and screaming lead guitar a quarter mile away and the realization that I was WAY drunker now than I was when I was still drinking.

I was as far from home as I could be while still being in the city limits and at 1:45 AM, it was no longer a balmy 20 degrees that it was when I was dropped off at the bar in a T-shirt. Said T-shirt was soaked with sweat from booze induced dancing with anyone who would dance.

All my dance-mates that night were townies and strangers because my wife didn’t want to go out this particular night. I wasn’t really listening but I think she had some silly concern about nursing an infant while keeping our toddler from streaking through the winter neighborhood naked. Whatever, women always have an excuse to miss out on a good hangover.

I gotta pee so I’m picking my way stupidly into the ditch and hoping that some of the pee will actually make it into the snow and not all down the front of my pants. Don’t judge me! All of a sudden car light are coming down the hill from the bar and it stops next to where I’m standing in the ditch. “You wanna ride?”

“I uh.. well..I don’t..”

“Get in dumbass.” A pleasantly impatient woman with stringy dishwater blonde hair was motioning me over. “Get in and hurry up!” I climbed into the back seat with 4 other people in what I’m guessing was a early 70’s Subaru.

It was all I could do to not puke as we whipped down the back roads and alleys dropping off drunks. I’m the last one in the back and I laid across the seat and clung to consciousness, burping excessively, and swallowing the slippage.

“Hey Dumbass! You’re the last one. Where do you wanna go?” I had no idea where I was so I said “Right here is fine.” “Are you sure? I can drop you off at you house.” She sounded concerned. “No, here is fine.” She stopped and I climbed out and thanked her and she buzzed away.

Luckily it was near the Catholic Church just a few blocks from my house so I wobbled over the curb and onto the sidewalk when the frozen lawn of someone’s home slammed my shoulder and the side of my head. I laid there for awhile retching and moving slightly aside to keep out of the yuck.

After a bit the chill kind of sharpened me and I started to get up when a section of my shirt that was in my puke tore as I lifted off the frozen puddle. “Fuck! I could freeze to death doing this shit.” A few days later I read about a couple of drunk derelicts were found frozen, huddled together next to a shed.

I takes a village to raise an idiot and I’d like to holler a quick thank you to the villagers who have watched out for me over the years.

Thank you Blonde Lady for THE RIDE HOME

Tinkle (Late Night Conversation)

“The piano flushed playfully, skipped, Tinkle. Laura’s hands clapped and she squealed. “YEAH!” The piano man (a high schooler) smiled at Laura’s mom and his buddy running the recorder gave the OK. This recording became popular enough to end up in 100’s of 1000’s of music lesson books internationally.

What happened was that a high school kid got a notion to record some of his musical doodling so that he could train himself to write music that he hears onto sheet music. (Musicians do stuff like this) So he’s playing little snippets of musical fun he had learned messing around along with a few lessons.

The kid’s mom was visiting with a neighbor lady and the neighbor lady’s little girl Laura was enjoying the novelty. “Um, um, can you, can you put in a tinkle sound?” “Like this?” He tinkled the piano lightly. “Yes. Like that.” Laura drew back shyly. The kid chuckled. “OK Laura. Here it comes.” He played a dramatic buildup, then, the cat attacked his foot, the piano skipped, the cat bounded away and the piano man’s fingers tinkled.

The moms came in with some chit-chat and the story was forgotten.

It took a few months to transcribe the ditties and during that time the project took on a midlife of its own to the point that this particular song became a favorite for music lesson publishers to put in their music instruction books.

So here we are, America becoming Greater by the nano-second, and 10’s of thousands of hopeful piano students have given up. Well, partly due to trying to learn songs and trying to learn difficult timings like the one in the song with the Tinkle where there is an off beat skip and then a tinkle. You know, where the cat attacked his foot. Every time they play it someone criticizes it or they mess up the Skip-tinkle that makes the song so unique and it ruins the whole song.

It is so horrible getting ready for a recital or Grandma wants to hear a song and Mom says, “Hey sweetheart, why don’t you play the Tinkle song.””

“You know, That’s why I quit guitar. It was some shit like that.” “Yeah man, That’s why I quit the drums. It’s like, I just wanted to play but I couldn’t get it just right.”

“Yeah, well, anyway, the reason I was thinking about this is because you were talking about being so worried about, you know, being good enough and all. I mean, maybe you are good enough. Maybe you are enough. What if someone filmed you in your normal life or recorded you in your normal talking and put it out there. And people would check it out and be like, “This is really cool and stuff” and then people would run around thinking that they’re not good enough because they aren’t just like you not knowing that you were just screwing around.”

“So that guy was just screwing around?” “Yup”. ‘Man, I bet people do stuff like that all the time in life.” “Yup, I think so.”

“So this guy is no greater than anyone else, its just that the cat made him miss a beat and someone transcribed his mistake and now anyone that can’t make his mistake as transcribed is some kind of loser.”

“Yeah.”

“Oh….. So my whole life I’m trying to be as cool as someone else and I’m just as likely just trying to imitate their fuck-ups.”

“Yeah, probably.”

“You guys are drunk.”

It actually made sense though.”

“Think so?”

“Yeah.”

A Great Week for Media OR……. There Oughta be a Law

I think that professional informationist ought to have a special license that holds them to a higher standard. Much like the CDL for professional drivers hold them to a MUCH higher standard.
We are all free to drive but if we want to go pro, Taxi, Bus, Trucker, Chauffeur, and etc. we get a CDL and now have to operate well… Like a pro.
Freedom of press is great but if you operate as a paid professional you ought to be able to be held accountable.
Right now the Professional Press is about as accountable as a 4 year old lying about sneaking a cookie.

I dunno, maybe not. The way things are going, News Folks might start governing themselves again.

Stan

Pat looked stricken. “But why? Why aren’t you coming?” Answering was easy and it made me sound like an ass.

Stan was long and lean like the old-time cowboy in Tom T Hall’s song Faster Horses. He was an all around tradesman that lived like he was in his mid twentys.

Pat was a waitress in a small cafe and bar. Young (but not that young) and flirty. They met when he walked in after work one day for dinner and she commented, “Nice pockets!” He smiled and soon they were joined at the hip.

They decided that marriage was a good idea. Neither had married and both bought tickets for and had lived the carnival house of meth. Both were fun, cynical, accepting. They both knew bullshit at face value.

I met Stan ’cause he bought the house across the alley from me. I worked a lot and Stan spent his day off doing mechanical things behind the garage where I drove in and out of my shop.

Stan and I visited lightly with Pat occasionally dropping in. She was always nice to me and usually a bitch to Stan. Even the most mundane circumstance dripped with sexuality between the two. Social dialogue between most folks was foreplay between them.

We did favors for each other the way neighbors do and became pretty good friends. He was my only friend at the time ‘cept for Old Man Pete because work was my reason for living and I was Stan’s only ‘quiet’ friend based on the partying.

One day he said “Man, I’m tired. I’m gonna go to the doc to see if they have some better pills to keep me going.” That sounded like a good idea. He worked six 14 hour days a week laying concrete in the building of those huge farm warehouses. He had to drink 12 – 18 cans of Pepsi a day and was starting to drag. He needed better pills.

We would probably still be talking shit today if he hadn’t gone. They drew blood and sent it to the lab. Now they had all they needed to kill him. He had some kind of leukemia so he was convinced to let them ‘fight it’.

They pumped that poor son of a bitch so full of toxic shit that he went from a normal guy to the living dead in 3 days. “So tragic.” they would say. Or, “this all happens so fast.”

I went to see him. He wasn’t right. He still talked about building but no longer made any sense. I asked the 10-year-old that was in charge of the nurses in his wing when they were gonna detox him and send him home. “Oh, he’s not going home” she reassured me. “He’s going to die here in a few days.” Her eyes widened at her own words. “Does he know it?” I asked. “I told his family but they don’t listen and keep fighting among themselves while they’re here.” she answered.

I went back the next couple days and watched him succumb to their ‘care’. The room was dimly lit and Stan was telling me that the walls weren’t plumb when suddenly he asked me to hand me his hammer. What?! “Wadda you saying Stan?” “Hand me my fucking hammer will ya.” I figured I’d play along. I looked around the room for his hammer then asked “where is it?” “If it was up your ass you’d know where it was.” I spun around and the toothless son of a bitch was laughing. “Ain’t no hammer in a hospital room Ass Hole.” He got me. “Fuck you Stan.” We sat for a while and I wanted him to live.

It took those motherfuckers 6 weeks to kill Stan.

They ran him through the oven right away and set the memorial for a week or two out. I drove by the place. Turns out I wasn’t Stan’s only friend. As I pulled into my alley driveway his wife came out and asked if I was coming to the memorial. I looked at her for a few seconds. She really is a pretty gal. She’s got that ‘worldly’ way about her that’s attractive. “Naw, I’m not going.”

“Why? You’re his best friend!”

“I’m sorry Pat. I love him but I’m not coming.”

“Why Goddammit?!”

“Well, he isn’t coming to my funeral, I’m not going to his.”

She looked at me, a bit disgusted, her eyes doing that fast back and forth between each of my eyes for a second or two, “You and Stan are both ASSHOLES!” She walked off.

I started to smile. Yeah, that’s….. that’s about the best….. Thank you Pat.

Death is a pain-in-the-ass.

Farewell Stan.

A Beautiful Wife

I met a man with a beautiful wife. He was a young Mexican half-breed with a good job and a nice car.

We visited for a few hours and went to watch the firemen deal with a smoking hassle down the street. Kitchen fire.

The booze was flowing but I wasn’t drinking. Had shit to do later.

He talked of family. “You sure found a pretty one, your wife. She’s a doll” I told him. “Yeah, I hear that a lot but you’re not married to her”.

There is that I suppose. I was married once.

Sometimes I wonder if the reason it’s so easy to see the beauty in another man’s wife is because I don’t know her well enough. She hasn’t turned on me, stabbed me in the back, stolen from me my ability to trust. Sucked my soul.

Some months later I saw him at a funeral and he was less then friendly. I don’t think it was in mourning a death. Death doesn’t hurt like that.

Women cause that kind of pain.

He’s married to her.

Omaha Girl

We met just 2 weeks before.

I was a traveler

in your cafe.

You danced, offering your wares.

Offering your wares

for tips.

Now I’m back,

you smiled.

You gave your number

to me and a pal.

We both called, me first

then him.

Ebony skin, smooth and shiny.

Full, knowing lips.

My life changed and your phone rang.

It was my pal.

I left your room and saw him

heading your way.

He never knew.

He couldn’t shut up for days

about how I should have called you.

You are a wonder

my Omaha Girl.

Screaming all the Way

My Aunt instantly corrected me. “You weren’t screaming. You were quiet as a mouse and that’s what was so scary.” “No Auntie, I was screaming the whole way.” “No sir, you weren’t. You laid in the back of the car, white. You were WHITE…….Like you were already dead!

I must have been in my mid thirties when my aunt and I were visiting at my grandparent’s home. We were flipping through family memories when she mentioned a farm accident that became part of family lore.

I was recently out of 3 cornered britches (as diapers were called in our neck of the woods) and all available hands were cleaning the tractor building. I was too young to be of any help so I pretty much just had to stay out of the way and out of trouble.

The thing about tractor sheds is that there is a lot of interesting things in a shed and this particular day I was messing with the tread on the rear wheels that were leaning against a wall that had been removed from one of the tractors. See, to me the treads were huge and I figured that I could climb the tread if no one was looking.

Dad hollered at me to get away from the wheels so I did…. for awhile. Pretty soon he hollered again to GET AWAY. So I did……. for awhile. Well, charm ain’t always what we want it to be and in this case, third time was the charm.

Every story that moves along eventually has to have a plot point, you know, where everything is boring and then something happens that changes the course of the rest of the story. We’re getting close to that very plot point for this story.

As I’m writing this the memory is rich and real. Dust, smell of grease, rubber, it’s all living in my body waiting for a memory to resurrect them.

Well, I was doing fine, almost on top of the tire. Just a little more. Whoa, uh-oh, the tire started moving and I was sliding off, hoping dad wouldn’t see me……..

There was a WHUMMP and there was dust and a panoramic, black-and-white snap-shot of Dad and my aunt looking my way. This was bad! Daddy is gonna spank me. They came a-running and somehow lifted that tractor tire off me.

You know that feeling when you get punched really hard in the stomach? Or when you are shoveling snow and the shovel hits a crack while you are pushing it and it pokes you REALLY HARD in the gut so that all you can do is gasp and maybe cry if you’re a sissy or maybe puke? Kind of like that except that it hurt.

Being able to breath…….. God, I hope when you die… I hope it ain’t cause you got your breath knocked out. Some of it isn’t clear. I think my system might have shut off my mind for a while to focus on learning to breath. Can’t breath… it sucks!

Since I hadn’t gathered my thoughts, (they were scattered all over the warehouse floor) nor did I have any idea of dignity, I just laid around and screamed.

While I maintained a decent level of noise, everything else was just a bunch of busy. People running for phones and a bunch of serious big-people talk. I was too young to know what a hospital was but I do remember knowing I was gonna find out.

I’m not sure if we took the ’63 Rambler or if Auntie set me in back of her car, I just remember turning out of our lane onto the highway and she kept looking over the seat at me and saying stuff that I couldn’t hear over my screaming.

This was all before Smokey and the Bandit taught us all to drive and I really didn’t understand the concept of speeding but my older brother told me that Auntie was HAULING ASS!

The phone call had the Cheyenne hospital ready but when we Auntie hauled me in, there was a problem. They understood that it was my Dad that was smashed so they were ready to pronounce him DOA (dead on arrival) and move him down to the refrigerated drawer to keep him fresh untill the funeral. Evidently adults don’t usually survive that level of boot-stomping. Dad said it took a half hour to set up for me.

Auntie came and visited me every day for a week. She brought finger puppets and such. She asked the nurse “Is he OK? Why is he lying so still? Can he move around?” Turns out that when I first got there one of the nurses had told me to lie still. Being a little kid in that condition I took it to heart. The nurse assured her that I was fine and it is OK if I moved around. “You can move around sweetie, it’s OK.” She said I could move so I did. Later Auntie told me that the nurse was sorry that she said I could move!

Come to think of it, Auntie was pretty nice to me then. We haven’t been real close in the past 15 years or so. Maybe I’ll call her.

It took a week to make sure I wasn’t pooping blood and somehow little kid bones bend like grass before a wind so no bones got broke. The tires didn’t have the liquid ballast in them or I would have splattered. Good luck I guess.

Out of all the perhaps hundreds of times this memory was recalled or brought to me by family conversations I ALWAYS remembered screaming all the way. Now Auntie was telling me, “That’s what was so scary. You didn’t make a sound all the way to Cheyenne”. Now that put a different spin on the whole thing. How the hell could that be? Was all that noise just in my head?

Of course, the years don’t stop putting distance between us and the past so more thoughts arrive.

Sometimes now I wonder when petty misunderstandings happen and people don’t understand why no one hears them….. Maybe the screaming is just in their head. (Don’t say that to your wife. It’ll piss her off!)

A mentor of mine used to talk about people ‘acting out’ instead of communicating. I thought of ‘acting out’ as a euphemism for being childish. Now I wonder if he was saying that people have a feeling and they ‘act out’ the feeling instead of communicating and they assume everyone else is hearing the message. (Couldn’t you see by my expression that something is wrong?)

Anyway, I’m starting to wander off.

See you next time.