Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Key is forgiveness and finding out what really happened



He walks through the house of his past, hoping he'll find the right door, hoping he'll find the key.” 
__ Steven Herrick


Generally, I am a peaceful man. But on at least three occasions, Scott Weinmaster has gotten my back up. It involved a key in each case. 
I could of beat the guy senseless, if I could have beaten him senseless. However, that would have required me to wait for him to fall asleep, and then strapping him down like the Lilliputian army did in Gulliver's Travels. A task that I was up for. But I assume it takes all the fun out of beating somebody senseless when they are strapped down.
The first case involved the key to my 1974 green Vega. I can't remember what kind of cockamamy story he told me originally to convince me to hand over the key. Chances are it had something to do with a girl. Many stories that started with Scott, and ended in trouble had that common theme.  
The only thing I know is, that he said he only need to borrow it for about a half hour, and he would be right back. 
Wasn't that about three and half hours ago? Steam is coming out of my ears. And when he finally shows, it looks like the right front tire is flat. I go to change it — and what the heck, the spare is flat too. "I don't know," he says. "You ought to buy some new tires, man."
It took me about 30 years to forgive him, but that was only after I learned what really happened about a year later. 
Ordinarily, I am an intelligent man. You would think I would never fall for "let me borrow the key to your car, I will be back in about 30 minutes," again. That did not prove to be the case.
Once again, I loan the key. But hey, this was a big party at the Rico Court House. I personally was having a great time and my defenses were apparently compromised.
Once again, long after the prescribed half hour has come and gone, I am searching for my car and my "so-called friend" when I see red lights down the street, behind what looks like a green 1974 Vega. 
"It is lights," I confirm. "And it looks like the the car is halfway hanging over a retainer wall in that little, old lady's yard."
Turns out, it was lights on the Rico Town Police car. The green Vega was hanging over the retaining wall. And we spent the next few hours explaining to Officer Sheperic how we planned to remove the car, repair the damaged wall, and manage to get home to Dolores, without getting into any additional trouble.
It took me about 30 years to forgive him, but that was only after I learned what really happened, about six months later.
Commonly, I am easily-educated man. That is why, when Weinmaster says one day, "Lets go over to Durango," I say "Okay, but you are driving."  We hopped in Granny's Ford Fiesta and made our way over high trail to the big city. Me, thinking all the way over, "I am in safe territory, because I am not driving, and my car is not even here to worry about."
Fort Lewis College happened to be having "freshman orientation" that evening, and somehow, we ended up in the presence of a particularly beautiful young woman with long wavy hair and stunning blue eyes. 
As was his custom, Weinmaster was once-again very adept in striking up a conversation with such creatures, and I, once again, was the odd man out. Which wouldn't have been so bad  if that particular night hadn't been about 40 degrees, having no coat, and you guessed it, the absence of a key to get into Granny's Ford Fiesta.
He told told me later, "I couldn't give you the key. You would have left me there." Probably correct.
It took me about 30 years to forgive him, but that was only after I learned what really happened, about three weeks later.
Weinmaster can really get my back up at times. The key is, I feel like I probably should have beat him senseless several times. But it would take him 30 years to forgive me — and then only, when he found out what really happened.




Saturday, December 21, 2013

Not really worth anything to anyone but me


It was about Christmas time, two years ago I think, when he pressed the big round steel coin in my hand at the nursing home as I was leaving.
The coin was bigger than a dollar, with a Big Horn Sheep on it. But Dad knew I always liked coins and this one appealed to me, for its heft and size, its weight, and art. I think it appealed to him for similar reasons.
Not really worth anything to anyone but me.
I had a hard time figuring out what had happened to him. He had always been solid as a rock, and still was in most, important ways. Except he really did not know what was going on.
It was like the the record-player was skipping. He talked about the way "they" had changed the maps on him. Moved all the streets around. I think he felt the county was responsible, or the state. Maybe even the army.
My dad was in the army, in the '50s, and knew that they required respect, but you have to keep an eye on them.
He would tell you he was making good money at "Cornbinder" in Detroit when when the army needed diesel mechanics for International Harvester powered tanks. He thought it was just cheaper for the army to draft him and pay him corporal wages, instead of contracting IH, in the buzzing '50s.
Oh well, they could have sent him to Korea,  but instead, tank school in Japan.
His two older brothers had been at war with Japan in WWII, he was teased, but he went over there to educate them. How to fix tanks.
He was a monkey under a hood... Popeye arms and a sense of how the gear turned, where the cog fit, sound of the click... part of the machine.
I never understood that sense. I liked cars, respected them, sometimes even knew how they worked. Never felt them, like he did. He could just drive any of my beat-up old rigs for a few days and the vehicle would run better for a time.
I think it was different in later years. The sensors, computers, putting it on the monitor to read the chip, he tried to keep pace, but by the time he retired, he had enough, I think.  And after that, it was even more confusing.
He still kept pretty busy after retirement, helped on wrecker calls for years.
My friends in the Dolores all marveled at his dedication to walking Amos, my brothers part Great Dane that he reverse-inherited and the damn dog dragged him around the river city.
When the dog was gone, he still liked to walk. Dogs are good for that. I like to walk, especially with my dogs. Up early, no need for an alarm, get going, we are burning daylight.
My dad always, always, always understood that he was to take care of us, and my mom.
Part of the job was, he knew, to get us to the point where we could take care of ourselves.
He did that, I think. And take care of Mom.
The challenges can creep up on you in a lifetime.
Cars and engines change from a thing you sense and smell, and feel, and know by their click. To something you need a $200,000 monitor to figure out.
That monkey muscle gets tired, and your joints twist,  and your cogs slip, and your gears don't mesh.
Reality becomes someone else's.
When you are used to taking care of things, it is really hard when you can't. But you try with all your heart, and soul, and memory, of what once was.
In the end, it is almost impossible... painful ... frustrating...
But the coin he gave me has heft, and weight, and size, and art.
It is not really worth anything to anyone but me.