Sunday, June 08, 2008

Alert Neighbors Know My Ratios.

How's that for a newspaper headline?

As the youngest kid in a family of "Car People," I learned to drive earlier than most and was countin' they days 'til my sixteenth birthday a couple years in advance. I mastered the manual transmission before I mastered Pre-Algebra. I remember drivin' a red VW around in the yard with one of my friends from elementary school, it must've been around fourth grade or so, 'cause we went to different schools in fifth grade and kinda lost touch.

My birthday is in November, I got my license the Monday after I turned sixteen -- tenth grade. Between getting a license and getting a diploma, I showed up at school in ten different cars. I loved the little black truck I got for my birthday, but I also loved just about any chance to park it and hop into somethin' else for a little while.

The black '91 Ranger. The orangey-red '78 Fiat (which occasionally led to walkin' with Fiat keys and a Bass Trombone, because the trunk wasn't big enough to close with the Trombone Case inside). The red Geo convertible (doin' sixty in that felt about like doin' 120 in anything else). The black Bronco II (AC-DC's "Jailbreak" always reminds me of that one). The Bandit Trans-Am (same one My Mom took me to my first day of kindergarten in). Mom's '75 GMC. Dad's red '92 F-150 (the one I crashed my first Christmas Break in college). The black & grey 80's F-150 with the high-output 351 in it. The red '87 Suzuki Samurai (which was simply too short to sling out sideways in the gravel like the Ranger would). And last but not least, the white '91 Escort 2-door that taught me the difference between Rear and Front wheel drive. Heh. Even though it's a four-cylinder and a five-speed just like the Ranger, there is no way to make it sling sideways under power, no matter how hard ya pop the clutch. Heh heh.

Time to cars, that works out to a ratio of roughly two-point-five to ten.

Ain't much changed over the years; I dearly love the SHO that I got for graduation, but I still get a real kick outta parkin' it for a bit to drive somethin' else. Mom says it keeps the miles off the "good cars," that's why her "good car" is in the garage while she's drivin' her $400 truck. When I met Clayton, I was drivin' my grandma's bright-blue '96 Ford Contour. Well, the night we met, I was drivin' a diesel Ford pickup with a race trailer hung on it, but when I parked that, I hopped back in the little car, anyway.

Clay's neighbor has a little boy who's about four years old or so (I say "or so" 'cause I know I'm bad at guessing ages) -- he knows what's goin' on outside his window, I'm guessin' he's the best of the best when it comes to Alert Neighbors. Friday morning, I took the SHO to the Ford dealership for that Cruise Control Recall -- when I got to Clay's house that night, the little man pointed out the window and said "Clay got his other car back!!" I love that car so much, even a preschooler knows it!

That may not seem like much, but in the light of my "time to cars ratio," he's good! Clay and I have been together for almost three years -- it'll be three in July. In those not-quite-three years, I've showed up here with a lot of cars!

My Green SHO. Grandma's blue Contour. Mom's burgundy $400 '96 Ranger. Dad's white '03 F-150 "7700." The white '92 F-250 Diesel that I used to pull the race trailer with. The Ambulance. The blue '93 Taurus Wagon from Cra!gsL!st. The green '95 Windstar with the odd-colored front end parts (and "No Bells = No Fair" on the windows). Dad's white '91 Bronco that I borrowed while it was icy (that was the night The Black Keys played in Tulsa). The burgundy Taurus that I washed in the driveway 'cause it was naaaasty inside. The red '03 Mustang that I was driving the night we went to see The Gourds. And the Mark 8, which I got right after the Mustang sold in November and drove 'til I got the SHO out Thursday evening.

Just under three years. Twelve cars. Two-point-eight to twelve. Heh.

The Mark 8 has been consistently "the other car in Clay's driveway" for a solid six months after a string of others; but a four-year-old still remembers the Green SHO.

That kid will be a "car guy" in no time at all!!

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

How'bout a little somethin' disjointed?

After an exchange of several amusing e-mails, last night I was told I should write a book. She's the second person to tell me that in the last year or so, and she doesn't know the first person who told me the same thing. There have been a few occasions where I've bought (or borrowed, thankfully) books that made me think "Gee, if these people can write and get it published, why can't I? I've had an idea or two, but they seem to be more-of-less short-story-sized. Sometimes it seems like a marble rollin' around in a barrel.


I just had a call from a guy another yard who told me he thinks the government is poisoning us. He's always liked to chat a bit whenever he calls, and usually I end up listening to fun little bits about the biz or cars or whatever for a few minutes until one or the other of us has to answer another phone. Today's topic was allergies and how they've been worse over the last few years, which is probably due to toxins that have been "tested" by means of crop-duster style planes or trucks with fans.


I'm not going to link to it because I try to stay away from politics here, but the Editorial Cartoon in today's Tulsa World was thumbs-up. Heh.


Still not quite politics, I got my "Stimulus Check" (finally), and I've decided to be a rebel and put it in my savings account.


Still trying to stay away from politics, I finally got the new James McMurtry album, "Just Us Kids" (off iTunes because I'm to the point that buying music in stores pisses me off about as much as commercial radio). It's very interesting, and just as I suspected, I love the storytelling aspect with or without the political views. "Ruby and Carlos" was playin' when I came back from lunch and I can't help but think radio is leaving a lot of good music unplayed, and without much good reason. I left a copy of the CD in the delivery truck because hey, have I mentioned how hard commercial radio sucks? It certainly does, and if I hear that damn "Don't Even Know My Last Name" song one more time, somebody's gonna get hurt.


I've been thinkin' about thicker bangs a lot lately, but then there's the heat & humidity -- so I guess I'll just keep thinkin' and see if I still want to lean over the sink and hack at it when cooler weather gets here. Between gas prices and summer weather, I'd say it's almost time to get out the 30-MPG ragtop, which I'm proud to say only took two tries to start up after a long cold winter in the garage. For right now, I'm thinkin' thin-n-short will be the best way to avoid lookin' like Fonzie every time I park the car.


I've also been thinkin' about a few of the friends I used to have... More or less that I feel bad for tryin' to squirm away from that one particular somebody who only calls when they want somethin' I might have. What ever happened to just hangin' out or just talkin' once in a while? I try my best to not be that friend who only calls when they want something -- the last time I called was because I had an extra concert ticket and wanted to not go alone. I really don't mind trying to help fix things or helping move furniture or helping with a car something like that for people I care about; I have friends I'd do anything for because I love those times when we get to just hang out and talk or watch a movie or whatever, and I know that if I needed somebody, they'd be there for me. I miss those nights when we'd just sit on the tailgate and talk about anything and everything, I feel bad for not answering my phone, but come on, if it's the middle of a three-day weekend and you're just callin' my cell for parts, leave me alone 'til I'm back at work and call the shop. I miss my buddy, but if there's no time for me anymore, then there's no time for me to be anybody's after-hours free parts consultant.


Speakin' of missin'... I sure wish we could find a good Chinese buffet. I still miss "The China Cafe" that they ripped out down there on South Lewis.


On a lighter note, we finally sold a car today. It's the one I put on Cra!gsL!st several months ago, but we sold it through walk-in traffic, so go figure.


Clay just e-mailed me a link to a site sellin' Hearse parts, they have pictures of an Urn Holder to put in the back of a hearse. Maybe it's the gas thing, maybe it's 'cause I've only been to one funeral that involved ashes, but that kinda "got me," as my grandma would say. I carried ashes out of the funeral home and slid into the shotgun seat of a Suburban with 'em in my lap. I covered the box up with a flannel shirt when I dashed into Git-N-Go for a pop and a candy bar and when we got to the house, I just took 'em in -- flannel shirt and all, and that's how they stayed. They're still wrapped up in that green and tan flannel shirt right now. We'll make it to Kalispell one of these days...


The electricity keeps goin' nuts 'cause the wind is blowin' like nobody's business. I'm runnin' the MacBook on battery right now 'cause it's a little unnerving to look over there and see the tiny green light on the power cord go off. The PC to my right keeps trying to start itself back up every time but all of the others are just clicking every time; after the third try, I gave up on tryin' to get 'em all back on since the power will just go again in a couple minutes anyway.


I think I hear a big ol' piece of roof flappin' in the breeze, might oughta go take a look at that...

More later.



Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Here's To You, Dr. Frederic Baur!

Wipe those salty hands on your jeans and hold your can high for Dr. Frederic Baur, the inventor of "Pringles."

Dr. Baur apparently died a while back -- sorry I'm late with this, but there was a fascinating piece on NPR this morning which reported that Dr. Baur had requested that his cremated remains be buried in a Pringles Can.

Is it sick that I wonder what flavor the can was from? Was it a brand-new can from the factory so as to avoid crumbs of flavory residue, or did the family get to pass around a fun snack in order to empty out the container for the occasion?

I'm guessing he may have chosen an original red can, but I could be wrong... I sure like the green ones, the Ranch and the Sour Cream & Onion. Honestly, I rarely buy 'em 'cause I know I'll almost never manage to put the lid back on. Much like the big bag of Cheetos, if I start in on 'em, my inner fat kid is probably gonna finish 'em off.

God bless ya, Dr. Frederic Baur, and today at lunch, I'll toast your memory with a can of Loaded Baked Potato Pringles!

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Ever wonder what happened to...

About four years ago, I was just almost asleep in front of the TV when a familiar face appeared and jolted me completely awake. It's not that the mugshot surprised me, it was the "arson" part that was a shocker -- I knew Dave's oldest kid wasn't exactly Mister-Straight-And-Narrow, but I'd figured him for more of a drug crime kinda dude. I've followed the case, when I remember to check on it, through OSCN. The older one is still someone I wouldn't mind runnin' into somewhere -- mainly because there wasn't any bullshit between us. I can't say we were ever close, but not a day goes by that I don't think about him huggin' me, and I can still hear his voice, "My Dad really loved you." It's one of the things I carry with me just about all the time, right beside my experience with his little brother -- here's my sign, I thought we were close. That's a whole 'nuther rant though.

Y'all know about OSCN, right? 'Tis a great place to check up on people, people from your past, people you work with, people you're thinkin' about goin' out with... Now, back to my story.

Saturday afternoon while waiting for the TV news to get to the part about Town West and whether or not that was an actual tornado that tore that stuff up, I caught a glimpse of a totally unfamiliar mugshot with a name that took me back.

Back, back, way back to around middle school, to the little church where I grew up, and to one of the many Youth Pastors who seemed to never stay with our group for too long. I know it's sad to admit this, but hearing the name made me laugh out loud for all the times I'd kept my amusement to myself long enough to get home and tell My Mom about it later. There were some fun times under the direction (or mis-direction) of that particular YP and his wife... I remember washing cars with dish detergent and baby wipes and paper towels as a "fund raiser" for a trip to the Frontier City theme park. I remember the stunned response of both the Youth Pastor and his wife when the ol' church van blew a tire just as we got close to Oklahoma City.

Maybe that's part of why kids worry me to death -- I worry being remembered for the wrong stuff. There are several things I remember hearing my brothers say that have stayed with me -- kids never forget. If you blurt out something that makes you sound like a dumbass, a kid will never forget. I remember one Saturday when the YP was taking all of the boys to do some kind of boy thing and his wife was taking all of us girls (I think there were three of us then) "shopping at the mall." Mrs. YP, though not blonde, was the vocal embodiment of several classic blonde jokes, and I'll never forget her disappointment when she found out the Church's insurance wouldn't cover her -- "I thought that would be really cool, I've never driven a van before!"

We ended up taking two cars, I think, hers and her mom's, to Tulsa Promenade for our little shopping trip. Essentially, it worked out to the three of us Youth Group Girls wrangling the two kids, a baby and a toddler, while Mrs. YP and her mom did a little shopping, 'cause hey, free babysitting. I don't think any of the three of us saw it that way then because we were all just struggling over who got to hold the baby and who had to deal with the terrible-twosiness of the other boy. I'm pretty sure sixth or seventh grade is before anybody (even me) makes the decision that "kids are not for me."

I hadn't really put much thought into wondering where they went after they left that little church. We really went through the YP's there for a while -- one got married and moved to Locust Grove, one ended up somewhere in Tulsa, one went to a bigger church in Claremore... Even after discovering my Sunday School Teacher from College on Flickr (he's at a big church in Owasso now and ain't changed a bit), I never really thought too much about that particular YP until I saw the baby on the news.

That adorable baby that everybody wanted to hold ended up a burglary suspect.

That guy who robbed those people? Yeah, I held him when he was teeny-tiny, like not walkin' or talkin' yet.

I am so "not a kid anymore."

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