Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Scrambled Thoughts on a Ramblin Ride

I’m heading for Reading.

The Outsider Folk Art Gallery there is including my carvings in an upcoming exhibit and I am driving out to deliver my work.

I love road trips and today is a perfect day for one: the sun is shining and the temp is in the sixties. I’ve loaded my old Volvo wagon which I had to do by climbing over the front seat because the tail gate is broken.

I’m taking Route 78 west to Allentown and 222 east to Reading. It’s a 90 mile trip each way. I’m rolling. Got the Eagles cranked up and away we go:

“I’m runnin down the road tryen to loosen my load, got seven women on my mind.”

Seven? I don’t think I know seven women, and if I did I forgot six of them. And if I did know them, I sure as hell wouldn’t have them all on my mind at the same time. I’d mix up a name and be down to six in no time.

Oh, hell. There’s a cop. I poop my pants every time I see the fuzz because my speedometer is broken. Normally, I track my speed with the GPS but I left it on the dining room table on my way out the door.

Whew, guess I’m okay. Glad to be off 78 and driving through rural Pennsylvania. Things are a lot greener here than they are back at home. I guess I’m in farm country because I just passed the Barn Dance Boutique. And there’s a store called Cash for Guns. Wait a minute. Let me think about that. I walk into your store with a gun and you give me cash? Isn’t that a stick-up? Heh, heh.

What’s this? Kutztown University. Looks like a big layout. I guess I heard of it, but it didn’t appear on my kid’s radar when they were college shopping. Their name must really hold them back. You know the kids who go there have to call it Klutztown University.

Ha, ha. There’s a sign for a town called Virginville. I’ll bet nobody lives there anymore. Heh, heh. Well, you know what they say out here in Pennsylvania Dutch country: if you’ve come to Virginville, you’re practically in Blue Balls.

These are real town names. I read that back in the 1920’s or 30’s the National Geographic Service cleaned up most of the racy place names in the US. There were a lot of them because most places were named by lonely, horny trappers. They got rid of Tickle Pussy Creek and most of the Big Tit Mountains. They missed the Grand Tetons because it was French.

Ah, here comes Hendrix singing “All Along the Watch Tower.” I usually bellow along to this one, but can’t because my windows are open on account of the air conditioner being busted. My mechanic says this car is tired. Funny, my doctor says the same thing about me. I guess that’s why the Swedish Nightmare and I have bonded.

Damn, it’s starting to pour rain and I left my umbrella on the table next to my GPS. Seven women my ass, I can’t even remember my stuff.

Oh, no. The road split and, according to the sign, I am heading toward Lancaster, the heart of Amish country, and not Reading. Damn, I’ll bet I get stuck behind a horse and wagon. Sure enough. MOVE IT, YOU SCRAPPEL EATING SCHMUCK!!


I am heading for Ohio and starting to get really rattled. I need my Third Man.

I watched a show last night on NatGeo about how many people who survive harrowing escapes attest to being aided my a mysterious stranger who suddenly appears and leads them to safety. It’s called the Third Man Phenomenon. The religious say it is proof of guardian angels, but scientists think it is some kind of neurological defense mechanism.
What they didn’t get into though is whether you should listen to this guy. They only interviewed those who survived. Perhaps the ninety percent who didn’t got lead over a cliff by this dude. Good point, huh?

And nobody was surprised by the fact that no one claimed to be saved by a Third Woman. Maybe none of them made it out because she kept stopping to ask directions.

Look. There’s sign for downtown Reading, the rain has stopped and the sun is out. Maybe my Third Man did weigh in. I’d buy him lunch, but I only have eight bucks.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Farewell, My Ass

My ass went away and I haven’t a clue.
Turned around one day and-oops!-no wazoo.

My butt and I were firmly attached.
He followed me around and loved to be scratched.

At times when my mood took a downward route,
He brightened my day with a playful toot.

For heavens sake, I miss the old bum.
Where do you suppose I’ll put my thumb?

My ass got canned, and I’m feeling crummy.
How come that memo didn’t get to my tummy?

If told to put it up my ass,
I will sadly say I have to pass.

In his day he held my wallet on high
Now it droops down below my thigh.

Today, as I wander the shops and malls,
It swings right and left like an old elephant’s balls.

Not much to look at, so I’ve been told.
To me he was worth his weight in gold

Phooey on those who say he was lead
And the principle place to look for my head!

I went to the doctor and this he did say,
When men get old their butts go away.

He puffed himself up and said with a sigh,
“You’ll have to kiss your ass good-bye.”

As I left the office I was quite perplexed.
I said to my dear Willie, I hope you’re not next.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Trip to New York City....Almost

Though we only live 50 miles from New York City, sometimes it is a daunting struggle just to get there.

I know this after 35 years of commuting there every day. I know it sometimes takes a steely determination to keep on going in the direction of the office or home. I’ve been roasted, toasted, blacked out, smoked out, flooded out, crowded out and wrecked; and still I got to work everyday.

I have literally stepped over bodies to keep moving toward my job.

I had plans and counter-plans to deal with every possible contingency. I had car routes, alternate train routes, bus and ferry schedules. I knew every back street that led to every tunnel and bridge. I have ridden between cars exposed to the elements in a blizzard. I have perservered through derailments and accidents and kept moving. I have slogged through snow covered farm fields. I have hitch-hiked.

I was, I am proud to say, a fierce and savvy commuter. Once I turned to a badly shaken companion as train personnel led us past the mangled remains of a woman who ended her life by jumping in front of our train, and said: “We can’t help her. We have to keep moving and connect with that train over there before the coroner arrives and shuts everything down.” Yes, I had been ambushed by the coroner on other occasions. We made the train and I was proud that I had navigated a suicide with only a ten minute delay. Usually, a suicide is two hours at least.

Yesterday, I blinked.

It was a roasting hot day with the temperature hovering near ninety. I was planning to take 2:50 bus out of Clinton, NJ, to attend a six o’clock cocktail party in the city hosted by a group of friends and former associates in the association management field. I have not seen some of these people since I stopped working three years ago. I was really looking forward to it.

As I was sitting in the air-conditioned ticket office along with five other people, an attendant announced that the enroute bus only had four available seats remaining and we might want to get on line outside. Instantly, my old juices kicked in and I bolted for the door nearly bowling over a grey haired woman with a peace decal on her pocket book. I was the first one out. So far, so good.

Once outside, I discovered there were already four people ahead of me. Great, I thought, all I have to do is elbow past one person, unless they decide to move that old guy with the walker back there ahead of me.

The bus pulled in and savage jockeying began. I held my own in fifth place but was not able to improve my position. This was the first sign that I might have lost my edge.

I decided to play it out anyway. When the driver collected my ticket he said there was one seat left all the way in the back. Ha! I’m in! As I made my way rearward, I saw that what looked like a family of migrants had set up house-keeping all along the back seat. There was a man, a woman, a dozen or so snotty-nose brats, and one empty seat all the way in the corner.

Imagine my chagrin when I discovered that the so-called empty seat was occupied by yet another snotty-nosed brat in a carrier.

Screwed. Now my choice was either to ride for an hour and a half on the NJ Turnpike standing with my crotch in the faces of the migrants and my ass against the bathroom door, or leave the bus.

I left. I got my ticket refunded and hopped into my car to execute Plan B: drive to Hoboken and take the Path to the city. I still had plenty of time.

The car was roasting after having sat in the sun for 45 minutes. Then I remembered the air conditioning didn’t work in the old Volvo. I decided to push on anyway. As I rolled down the highway with the windows wide open and the roar of trucks and traffic drowning out the radio, I felt a pool of perspiration building up along the top of my abdomen and sensed the onset of the dreaded Belly Sweat. If I showed up like this I would either look like I was a few drinks ahead of everyone, or I’ve slobbered on myself.

Suddenly, I had an inspiration and would adopt Plan C: hop off Route 78 at the next exit, head for Kathie’s office, stick her with the non-air conditioned car, and take her comfy Subaru into the city. She was a trooper about it, and I was back in business rolling down the highway.

Soon it became apparent that this air conditioning wasn’t working either and the Subaru was even hotter than the Volvo. Now the belly sweat was hooking up with the armpit sweat and all was headed south to create the even more dreaded Soggy Bottom. This was not going to work. By the time I got to the city I would look and smell like I had swum the Hudson.

I glanced at my watch and saw that I had plenty of time to get back to Clinton and execute Plan D: catch the next bus at 4:30. For some reason, this bus takes two hours to get into New York, but this would still get me to my party for the last hour.

I arrived at Clinton with a half hour to spare and headed for the air conditioned waiting room. It was locked. My choices now were to sit in the overheated car or stand in the sun for a half hour.

Suddenly, sitting on the front porch in my shorts with a beer sounded like the best option. Good old Plan E!