Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Just Trying to Get Home

I have a particular affinity for self-sufficiency. I get it from my maternal Grandfather who carried an emergency birthing kit in the trunk of his car at all times, along with a years’ supply of Hot Tamales (which, incidentally don’t weather well).  By the time he died; the birthing kit was accompanied by an emergency tracheotomy tray, a few suture kits, two stethoscopes and a box of latex gloves. Unfortunately for him - he never got to save anybody. Fortunately, for his estate - he never had the opportunity. I have no idea what kind of lawsuit results from a botched amateur tracheotomy attempt, but I bet it's awesome.

Someone asked me once why I insisted on driving a pickup truck (4WD) when it’s inefficient and not terribly conducive to carrying passengers. I had no ready answer for (obviously) her. It never occurred to me that I’d drive anything else. I was caught completely off guard, but I retaliated by never calling her again. One of us won that standoff. I think it was me.

Either way, I still have my truck.

What it boils down to is this: for you to drive your 325i BMW from point A to Point B – somebody has to think ahead and lay down a nice flat path for you or else your're like a Roomba hitting the couch at the first sign of a curb. You can’t even get across your average parking lot without plenty of routine maintenance and freshly painted arrows. 

You, in short, are helpless.  That’s why I need 4WD; not so I can drive all over the sidewalks; so I don’t need to be like you

Is it worth 14 mpg and expensive tires? Oh yes. 

Another key component of my whole mantra is a sense of direction. Drug me, put me in a big sack and take me somewhere, open the sack, dump me out on the ground and leave.  When I woke up I’d have a pretty good spider sense about where in the world I might be, and more importantly: how to get to a Krystal. I rely heavily on my sense of direction and I take great pleasure in looking down upon anyone with a wonky internal compass because it means this: you’re helpless and I’m not

All this is why I find it incredibly disturbing that I cannot seem to find my way home from our new Deer Camp (near Macon). I can get down there the same way every time, but coming back something terrible and off-putting happens. I can’t explain it. I even have paper maps of the world which I consult prior to a trip.

Last week I headed home and ended up in Stockbridge. The week before - I didn’t realize I was off target until I got into downtown Monticello - and the month before that I came home from Gray, Ga by way of Covington.  Back in March I headed to Forsyth and found myself pulling in my Grandmother’s driveway in  Macon an hour later. No clue how I got there.  I was awake the whole time. I made turns. Listened to the radio. Had a good think. I didn’t hallucinate, go on a quest, kill a unicorn or even swing in and play Keno at the Walthall Exxon. I thought I was on track the entire time and I just plain wasn’t. It was horrible.

I finally understood how it feels to be my Aunt Jan. Click, the car door shuts. Click the door opens again and you're where you wanted to be with no idea how you got there.

Most of those little side trips cost me an hour or so, but I came out ahead when I found myself at Gma's because I hit Sunday Lunch square on the nose. That might have been my internal food clock taking over.

Columbus made it from Spain to the Bahamas by looking at the stars. Most people can't find Wal-Mart without activating an elaborate worldwide network of satellites, so, naturally I find GPS offensive. The situation has become so grave that I have stooped so low as to allow the nefarious GPS device to take gentle sips of my soul through my telephone.  It sends me somewhere else first, 9 times out of 10, before it will get me back to The Duderanch.

The situation is upsetting, at least partly because of the sheer volume of questions I have to answer after taking a particularly scenic detour. 

Last week Tyler called and said "Where are you?" 

Round Oak. 

Oh, ok. I thought you were in Tifton. 


Did you go to Tifton?


Well. Alright. I'll start dinner then. You headed home? 


Two hours later she called back. I had just found myself hazily wandering around Conyers.

Hey. Where are you? She said.

And do you know what I did?

I lied.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Field Sobriety

From what I know of the facts and figures: I can’t officially recommend drinking and driving as pathway to success in life.  In fact, the statistics seem rather grim.

That having been said, a few of my wilder friends claim to do their best dirt-road driving somewhat "under the influence" and, to hear some of my elder male family members tell it: drinking and driving around was just “what you did” as a teenager on a rural Georgia Friday night. Back then it apparently wasn't “as illegal" or, at least that's what I've been told. 

Perhaps that activity’s popularity is what ultimately led to some of the stiffer driving laws we enjoy today. I can’t disagree with the rationale, but suppose it’s roughly 1969 and you’re young, dumb, rural and in possession of a big block Chevy encased in 6,000 lbs of American steel and Dupont racing stripes: a case of PBR and a trip around the County might be just the activity for you.  Again, I’m not advocating we relive the golden years of your youth: I’m just pointing out – it could have happened.

At roughly this time in history my Uncle was pulled over by the local Sheriff well after midnight when the car he was riding in was seen to have been traveling “somewhat erratically” through an intersection. My Uncle was in the backseat; his buddy was driving and his other buddy (“Daryl”) was riding shotgun.

The Sheriff (who knew my family) leaned in the passenger-side window, exchanged the usual pleasantries, asked after my Grandfather and the health of the family, then abruptly said, “you boy’s been drinking?”

"No. Nossir. Not a bit sir." They responded, angelically.

“That right, son?” Said the round-shouldered, slightly paunchy sheriff through his handlebar moustache, singling out Daryl who, from experience, he knew to be the weaker vessel of the trio and who also, by now, had a thick dew of perspiration adorning his whispy, trembling moustache. 

“I bet you been drinking, ain'tcha boy? I know you're not the kind of man who'd lie to the law.”

“Yessir. Err. That is - nossir we ain’t. I mean we ain't the type to lie.” wafted back to him on the Pabst-scented breeze.

"What about the drinking part. That bit seems more relevant to this here discussion, don't you reckon?" he replied.

"Oh nossir. Nossir ain't no drinking going on here. My Daddy'd kill me."

“That so?" mused the Sherrif, inclining his head in Daryl's direction and leaning further into the black interior of the 1968 GTO (yellow). Well if you boys ain’t been drinking then, son, I’m going to need you to blow right here into my ear.” He said, placing his left ear in easy striking distance of the horrified teenager.

Daryl, stunned at the turn of events, sweating feverishly and doubtless having urinated a tiny bit, furrowed his brow, leaned in to the lawman’s shoulder, and, gently as a lover, pursed his lips and sent the faintest breeze wafting into the peacekeeper's hairy ear-hole.

All hell broke loose.

"SON, WAS THAT YOU BLOWING IN MY EAR??" The Sherriff screamed, standing bolt-upright and slamming his fist down on the roof of the car. 


It was the most brilliant field sobriety test ever administered and the best part is – it didn’t happen to me.