Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Whatchamacallit

I found this relic in my shopping bag full of photos. This was back when I had some hair.

Some hair is right!

I'm the guy in the middle, looking entirely way too much like a girl. My brother is on my right, your left. In the yellow tank with the squinty eyes...

To my left and your right is Kevin. The blonde with the zero on his shirt. He is now a nuclear chemist. He was a smart bastard then, and he's a smart bastard now. Well, at least in some circles.

When we were eighteen, he was found in the parking lot of the store I once worked at with a puzzled and angry look on his face. I asked him why he was there, and what the problem was? He said he locked his keys in his car. He owned a beautifully restored 65 Ford Mustang, in the original orange. His father was a fireman in San Francisco and had restored the car as a loving project and then given it to his only son, who was too smart to appreciate it. Kevin loved algorythms and chemistry equations that I could never understand. Kevin was a genuine genius, you see. Like an Einstein only not as white of head...

I told Kevin to go into the store and ask for Larry.

"Tell Larry to give you a coat hanger and bring it back."

I would investigate how I was going to break in while he did this.

Kevin left.

I was on the passenger side looking in. The keys were in the ignition. Just sitting there. Like a cake in a case you can't afford...

I went to the driver's side. When I put my hands to my eyes to shield the glare and leaned over, I realized I had a problem. You see, there was no glass to lean against. Kevin, our genius, our great white hope... had left the window all the way down. I almost fell in trying to look in.

I got in and moved the car around to where Kevin couldn't see it. I sat there and rolled with laughter as I watched him navigate the parking lot, that same angry-puzzled look on his face that I found him with, only this time, I think he thought he forgot where he parked the car...

Posted by Picasa In front of Kevin is G. I've written about G. I've know G since I can remember. All the way back to the early stages of thought...

G is the guy on the far right in front. Who looks a bit... like a monkey. I mean, I always saw the resemblance and told him so.

Just out of high school, G shaved a guy's private parts and eyebrows and head. He thought it was funny. He thought it was hysterical. He thought the guy deserved it, because every party he attended, ended with the guy-- I'll call him Malcolm X-- passed out from drinking. Malcolm X did not know know the meaning of limits and moderation. His license plate read NE14151. Which, if you read licencees and are a drinker, would be easy for you. Any one for 151? 151 would be a type of Bacardi. Heavy metal madness, as far as alcohol is concerned. Stay away from it.

G went too far. I mean, we had played a few tricks on Malcolm X because of his propensities. Once, we helped him onto a bus to San Francisco. We all got on, telling the bus driver our pal just had a few too many... and then we taped a coin to his forehead and got off at the next stop. The coin was a dime--the price of a phone call, collect-- and MalcolmX was going to need this because we had taken his wallet and then gotten off the bus at the next stop. San Fancisco was fifty miles further down 101.

But G had pulled his trousers down and shaved him. He had shaved his head. His eyebrows. Chunks of his privates.

G had a new girlfriend at the time, and she was absolutely furious with him. How can anyone be so callous?

She came to me.

What I gathered from her cheeping, was that G needed to learn the limits to practical joking. He was taking things too far. He needed teaching. He needed learning. He needed to be the victim of a good one.

I came up with a plan.

G was a practical joker, but he was also one of those people who would do an Abe Lincoln on ya. He would accidentally not pay for a candy bar, then walk six miles back to the store to make reparations. He would do the right thing, if he was told he was in the wrong. He had a sharp and well defined conscience. He was an easy mark...

G was having "relations" with his girlfriend, who I'll call Olive. Olive and I hatched a plan that would involve several months. Five to be exact. The entire summer after high school, and two months into junior college. Olive was dead set on making this plan work. I was totally and woefully... all for it.

Olive told G she had missed her period. Four weeks later she told G she thought she was pregnant. Two weeks after that, she told G that she was indeed pregnant and that she was very upset with him for allowing this to happen. She told him it was his fault. He should have been careful. He needed to do "the right thing".

G was an absolute mess. He came to me for one on one conversations in his truck up on a road overlooking the city lights. You know, the place you go to solve world problems and suffer through girlie troubles? He was going to marry Olive. He had to. It was the right thing to do.

Olive avoided G for monhs. She called him on the phone but didn't want to see him. She played the confused and dazed young pregnant girl quite well, I must say. G was losing weight. I never saw his skin look so bad. His parents were worried about him, but he had been asked by Olive not to say anything about her condition, and so G honored that.

Almost five months into the ordeal, with G looking like a suicidal potentiality, Olive and I had decided that enough was enough. It was time to tell G. To resolve the joke. To end it.

Here is what we did. We called him from the emergency room of a Hospital that was not far from my house. We told him the pregnancy had complications. He needed to come right away. We told him where I was parked, near the ER and we told him to hurry.

It normally takes twenty minutes to get from G's place to the hospital. It took about eleven.

G showed up screeching and turning. He pulled up next to me like a man on a mission to save the world. His eyes were bigger than I had ever seen them. His face was a sweaty mess. Olive was sitting in the passenger seat next to me. She had a stuffed monkey-- a kids toy-- wrapped in a blanket all swaddled and cozy. G ran to the window and I rolled it down. He looked inside, like a man looking into a room on fire...

"What's goin' on. How's Olive? What happened?"

Olive held up the swag.

"You're too late. I had it already."

Olive unwrapped the toy monkey with the big ears...

"And he looks just like you..."


The kid on the go-cart is Troy. Troy is a year older than I and I never really knew him well. He was my brother's age and friend. His mother had cancer and was dying while I knew him. He was a quiet and introspective kid at the time because of it, and I felt his sadness every time I was around him. His mother was a young mother, and I remember her photos as being stunningly beautiful. She died and he moved away. Just like life...

The go-cart was built by Steve and I. It had brakes and a push bar. The brakes activated a cable which pulled a board foreward and put pressure on the rear wheels. We glued rubber onto the board to give it more friction and the brakes worked quite well.

The front end was the second one we built. The first one was damaged when my brother decided to take on Yerba Buena Hill. This was the steepest and longest hill around. A hill so big, you had to be Lance Armstrong to ride your bike up it without zigzagging or getting off and walking.

My brother was running Yerba Buena hill and we had gathered to watch. He was screaming down like a warrior and a bug flew in his eye. He took one hand off of the steering rope to grab at his eye. Big mistake.

This caused the two-handed steering rope to be short handed.

The go-cart pulled sharply left, and Steve exploded the front end crashing into the curb that he struck at Yerba Buena speed...

Such is the logic of kids. He broke it, so he was not allowed to help fix it.

The go-cart got its name because I got a weird bubble gum sticker out of a pack of stick-gum at the local baseball park where I played. It was a picture of a monster called "Whatchamacallit", and I stuck it on our new repair. The name, like the sticker, stuck...

4 comments:

Stucco said...

And the number 5? An homage to the "Mach 5" perhaps? Well told story.

lil Johnny said...

I think I'm going to try to build one.I'll let you know how it comes out.

La Chou said...

Love the stories. You and Olive were really really mean...but hilarious.

Stucco said...

I was gonna tell you about a similarly patchwork (and mighty lethal) sled my friends and I crafted out of lumber and downhill skis, but that picture of la chou has "distracted" me. I need some private time- excuse me.