Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Dark Side

Sandy asks, “…tell us about your DARK SIDE.”

I suppose that whatever dark side of myself that I choose to reveal to you, dear readers, is going to be mild in comparison to the dank, stinking secrets I intend to carry to my grave. With that in mind, here goes.

We used to drive around town in a pick up truck, late at night, drinking beer and picking up the real estate signs in people’s yards. We would do this until we had the bed filled with them and then we would go to the rich neighborhood and put an entire street up for sale.

I sometimes take things out of other people’s shopping baskets at the grocery store and sometimes I put things in them when they’re not looking.

I put toads in a guy’s car every day for an entire summer, once.

I once grew tired of hearing about a co-worker’s fantastic garden so I placed a want ad in the paper for produce pickers. He came in that Monday with an even more fantastic tale of having been overrun with migrant workers all weekend.

When my son was three, I told him the homeless man sitting under the bridge was a troll.

We used to put custom bumper stickers on people’s cars. All you need is a roll of 2 inch masking tape and a Sharpie pen. “Honk if you’re gay too” is a favorite.

I stole a watermelon out of someone’s garden before.

When we were kids we would call the pay phone at the mall and pretend we thought it was our mom that answered and say, “I’m sick, come get me.” in a most weak and convincing manner. Then we’d give whoever answered a phone number and name from the phone book to call because we’d just “used my last dime to make this call.”

Monday, June 27, 2005

Lost As An Easter Egg

The first time I ever got fired from a job, I felt carefree enough to just enjoy it for about six months. I did a lot of different things to make money and keep myself afloat including building sets for the local opera theater, and digging quartz crystals in the Ouachita Mountains to sell.

Which led to an interesting proposition.

One of my old buddies had been going with a friend to hunt an old Confederate camp in south Arkansas with metal detectors. They had found a place down there that yielded up a very rare bullet that went for around $90 apiece at that time, nearly twenty years ago.

Of course this spot was completely secret and each sworn never to reveal to another. But somehow they came to the agreement to let me in if I would show them where I was getting the quartz crystals.

So I take them down into the Ouachitas and we dig crystals all day and I come home with my hands completely swelled and blistered from poison ivy roots. I felt that I had upheld my end of the bargain.

So, a few weeks later we all pile into Joe’s truck and take off about six a.m. for L.A. (lower Arkansas), getting there about 8:30 or so. It’s cloudy and sort of misty, but veteran treasure hunters know that this makes for better sensitivity in locating objects, and easier digging to retrieve them. So off we go into the forest.

More like a long series of swamps and bogs with intermittent thickets of briars and thorny locust trees. So, where are the bullets?

“Oh,” they tell me, “we decided to check out a new place.”

And about thirty minutes into the trek of finding nothing, it starts to rain. Earnestly.

Joe says, “We better head back to the truck,” and whips out his compass. I hadn’t noticed before then that he didn’t bother to check the compass when we left the truck. This turned out to be a crucial bit of information. “It’s this way,” he said.

We thrashed through unfamiliar underbrush and waded a few low spots before realizing that we weren’t really getting any closer to seeing the truck. And there being no sun to judge by, there was no way of knowing if we were going the right way or not. We slogged on.

Some of the swamps are starting to get chest high, and being that wet in a November downpour gets to be mighty uncomfortable, even if you’re wearing G.I. boots and field jackets. It was even more disheartening to find that all of my cigarettes were wet.

On and on and on we trudge. A check of my watch shows that it’s been four hours since we left the truck. Over rises, through sloughs, and scratched by briars of every description, we trekked on and on. Finally, about four o’clock, we come to a narrow, muddy jeep trail. So, which way do we go?

First instinct says go right, but after about a quarter of a mile I saw a sign nailed to a tree. Soggy Bottoms Hunting Club, No Trespassing. “Look fellas,” I said, “the sign is facing this way so that must be out.” Agreed. And, we start hiking down the jeep track.

An hour and an half later we arrive at a gravel road. This is an improvement, but which way? We walked about half a mile and came to a rise from which we could see to the horizon and no end in sight to this road. So, we went the other way.

We walked for about thirty minutes in a driving rain, the hoods on our field jackets pulled tight around our faces, our metal detectors draining rivulets from the speaker holes, when we came to the dead end of said gravel road. That was disheartening to say the least. And a cigarette would have been a great relief but they had all been left disgustedly in a soggy mass at the terminus of the jeep track.

So, off we go on the trail to infinity trying to while away the time talking about how stupid Joe was to not check his fucking compass until it was time to go back and how fucked up it would be to have to spend the night, wet and cold in the woods.

Sometime really close to sundown we started hearing the sounds of a highway in the distance. We quickened our pace and finally came to a beautiful two lane black top with brightly painted amber stripes. Not giving a shit, we flagged down the first vehicle to come along, which in Arkansas is 99% sure to be a pick up truck.

“Say, how do you get to Mount Elba from here?” we asked. “Mount Elba!” he replied, “Hell boys, you’re twenty miles from Mount Elba. Jump in and I’ll give you a ride.”

Welcome words to be sure and one of us had to ride in the back of the truck in the wind. I figured dumbass Joe would volunteer, but when he didn’t, I was just so grateful that I climbed in back and relished the fact that I wasn’t walking in the rain any more.

He whipped a giant u-turn in the middle of the highway and we barreled off to where the truck was parked. It was a silent ride, in the dark, wet and miserable with the heater blasting, back to Little Rock. As far as I know, I have never spoken to Joe again and don’t reckon I ever will. Curt and I have remained friends and I only partially blame him.

But hell, I didn’t even get a t-shirt. I spent ten hours in the rain and all I got was this crummy story…

Friday, June 24, 2005

Is Jack Johnson a Chick Thing?

Last week I took a twenty something client to lunch and he was poking through the cd's in my car.

"Damn, dude!" he exclaimed, "whose car is this?"

I guess I'm trying to say that my taste in music is diverse and not so dated that one would think they were riding in an old man's automobile.

So, when my daughter gave me a copy of Jack Johnson's Brushfire Fairytales and told me that it was just the best cd ever, I couldn't wait to pop it into my car player and listen to it.

Well, I've listened to it three times now and I just don't get it. I mean, the music isn't offensive or anything, but I fail to comprehend the swoon. Is it a chick thing? Am I not supposed to get it? Just wondering.

On another note, Sandy: you may shame me into posting, but you are welcome to sing in my house any time you want...

Saturday, June 11, 2005

A Gift

Oh Sandy, I got you a present...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Mississippi Bass Boat

Bitterman posted photos recently of a very nice Chris Craft. A boat that most of us could only fantasize about having. The real deal.

But, what he didn't tell you, is that boat is next door.

I snuck across the Mississippi River a couple of weeks ago and hid in the bushes down by the Tenn-Tom and snapped this pic of the Bitterman with his real boat - a genuine Mississippi Bass Boat.

I was glad to see he wore his best hat for the picture...