Friday, October 13, 2006

Heading Into the Cold and Loving It

A Wolfman's "Bring It On" Howl
Ridin' on a Greyhound--wish it were a dog, but unfortunately it's the bus. God. I remember the first time I ever road a bus. I was 4 years old--er, I see doubt in your eyes; remember, I claim I can recall back to when I was 2 years old, to the exact moment I started remembering, and I was playing in a sandpile in the backyard of a two-storey house sitting high up off a street called Broadway that ran west down a hill past a park and coming out on the square of the city of Enid, Oklahoma, the capital of the Cherokee Strip in North Central Oklahoma that was Indian Territory at one time until the white homesteaders called Sooners raced like raw-meat-craving starving chimpanzees going after their smaller and tastier cousins to stake a stolen claim to all of those waving-for-hundreds-of-miles of native American grasslands underwhich were tons of barrels of good ole black gold-- but my dad wasn't an oil man, he worked in a Sherwin-Williams paint store and I clearly remember going with my dad to work and watching him turn ordinary white enamel paint into the many colors of Joseph's coat, and I got that from my dad, too, because that's what he used to say to the mostly ladies who were wanting him to match samples of colors they brought in from their homes and my dad would look at them with a twinkling in his dark brown eyes and say, "My dear, I can bring the colors right off Joseph's coat and put 'em right there in that can of ordinary colorless white paint"--oh how my handsome dad could charm the ladies--and I was fascinated by the little machine that sat in the middle that paint store floor like a stool without its stool and was painted red on the bottom and green on the top and my dad would put the can of paint after he'd mixed in the colors to give the correct match to the correct color that showed enamelly real on the color chart that hung on the wall behind this machine--and after my dad would put the can of paint--sealed of course--on that stool-looking machine, he took his foot and stepped on a switch on the stool's side and that machine came alive, no jive, and it took on human qualities to a kid like me--I mean that funny-looking stoolie-looking machine started hucklebucking, shaking that can of paint with sometimes frantic hula moves and than at other times hot-switching-ass boogie-ing like the 50s babes in the tight sweaters doing the twist--and wearing those wonderful toreador pants--but I'm drivin' off the usual.

So when I was four, my mother told me one night that she, her sister, my grandmother, and I were going to get on a big bus and go way over east, all the way over to the Atlantic Ocean--oh Jesus, that was off the end of the earth to me, a four year old already being impressed by the many daydreamed visions of my own personal grandeur. We were going to Washington, District of Corruption--yep, it was still the District of Corruption even back in those long-gone days--we were taking my mother's sister, even as a 4 year old I knew my aunt was one hot cookie, first back to her job in D.C. with the Navy Department, and from D.C. we were going up to Philadelphia to see my 18-year-0ld brother who was in the U.S. Navy and stationed at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital where he was training to be a Medic.

And I clearly recall the night my dad drove us all in the big Oldsmobile that was my family car from the time I was born until I started to junior high--that's how long cars had to last in those days--an average of 10 year believe it or not--down to the Continental Trailways Bus Depot--and he let us out at the depot with all our bags and went and parked the car while the ladies and I went into the crowded depot, which was also a coffee shop. The joint was packed; a lot of soldiers were standing around with their duffield bags--going off to who the hell knew where, most of them definitely not coming back--at least not coming back alive. It was smacked-dab in the middle of WWII, the second war to end all wars. Then my dad came in and he and my grandmother got in a big fight, nothin' new there, and then the sisters joined in defending there mother, nothin' new there, and then suddenly they were going at each other tooth and nail, my dad dropping a slight curseword, Heavens to Betsy was his trademark, and I heard him saying "Heavens to Betsy, Miz C [my grandmother], what in a dog-sniffing difference does it make--he doesn't give a crap about...." and that's when the ladies started countering my dad so squeaky loudly their whining drowned out the rest of his statement. It got everybody's attention, I know that, which I didn't mind; I liked attention in those days--who better than your own family to get you attention. "Oh, that poor cute little boy!"

Then the huge monster of a bus pulled into the depot. Huge. It filled the driveway with its bulk and it filled the air with the growling belching of its gigantic motor.

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