Day 62 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

I got in the driver’s side and he, of course, rode in the passenger’s side. Though seatbelts were now mandatory in all vehicles, Boomer refused to wear one. I waited, like my driver’s instruction manual said I should, for him to buckle up but he didn’t.

Saturday, May 16, 2020 – Live to Blog from the Deck with Argumentative Socks

#alonetogether

Okay, new HVAC system installed. The house is quiet again. Everything is working just fine. I awakened to a beautiful day, went to the deck, and then it happened.


The Sock Rebellion – Part 2

As you know, Bert Left and Ernie Right are retired each night to our deck. They are gently hung up on the back of my Amish Made Poly Adirondack chair to dry and air out. I’m surprised at how many readers inquire about Bert and Ernie’s well being. In fact, they are doing very well given they are being worn daily and are still unwashed for 62 days. I’m rather surprised. In fact they may be holding up better than me and I am washed daily.

The downside of this great unwashed experiment is that Bert and Ernie have become increasingly belligerent and irascible. A couple of weeks ago they wanted to get away from the house. I had to put my foot down and tell them no. Today I ran into more trouble with them when I went out to the deck to retrieve them to start the day with me.

  • Bert: Hey bonehead. What are you doing?
  • Me: Me? I’m doing the same thing I have done every day for 61 days. I’m coming out to get you, put you on, and go work.
  • Ernie: Yeah? Well, we ain’t budgin’.
  • Bert: Yeah, that’s right. We ain’t goin’ nowhere.
  • Me: Wait a minute…two weeks ago you two were trying to bully me into taking you out of the house for a movie or dinner, or something like that.
  • Bert: So what, bonehead? We can do whatever we like. And now, we ain’t budgin’.
  • Ernie: Yeah. We ain’t budgin’. Nope.
  • Me: Look guys, what’s going on here? You’ve never had a problem being moved from the deck until now.
  • Ernie: Well, bonehead, that’s cause it hasn’t been warm and sunny until now. Did you know the sun was out yesterday and it got to be about 90 degrees?
  • Bert: Yeah, man, that felt so good! And today it’s going to be in the 80’s!
  • Ernie: Look, I’ve already started to get a tan.
  • Me: Socks don’t tan.
  • Ernie: Who says, bonehead? That’s a tan line if I ever saw one.
  • Me: No, it’s not. It’s a dirt line. It’s right at the point where the top of my shoe comes up on you.
  • Ernie: I’m not going to argue with you, bonehead. I know it’s a tan line and I know you’re stupid.
  • Me: Look, Ernie…and Bert…I’m getting tired of your complaining and your calling me names.
  • Bert: Really bonehead? Isn’t that your name? (Ernie laughs outloud.)
  • Me: Bert, you know it isn’t. Come on, guys, be more civil, will you? We’ve got too much incivility in our world right now.
  • Ernie: Whoaa! Fancy word, bonehead! “Incivility,” I like that!
  • Me: Apparently you do. In fact, I’ve never known socks to be so incivil.
  • Bert: Well, thank you very much, bonehead! We appreciate that!
  • Me: I need you two to come off the chair now and get to work.
  • Bert: Why? Are we going somewhere today?
  • Me: No, of course not. We still have to shelter-in-place.
  • Ernie: So then what’s the hurry? You ain’t goin’ nowhere. And we ain’t done soakin’ up the rays, man.
  • Bert: Yeah, we’re still chillin’. Hey, Ernie, what did I do with my sunglasses?
  • Ernie: They’re already on your face, dummy!
  • Bert: Oh, yeah, how’d I miss that? Okay, ready to sing?
  • Ernie: Count us in, Bert!
  • Bert: One, two…one, two, three, four…
  • Bert & Ernie:I wear my sunglasses at night, So I can…

Some days it just isn’t worth the fight. So I closed the door to the deck, went to my closet, and got out a pair of sandals. It’s supposed to rain tonight. I think they can just stay on the deck! Ha!


Driver’s Ed with Boomer

Earlier this week I introduced you to my brother-in-law, Boomer. In that earlier story you learned that he was a biker, a street fighter, and a father figure to me. In addition to his bike, he loved fast cars. He had a 1968 Plymouth Road Runner that he would drag race (if you are only familiar with RuPaul’s Drag Race, you may wish to look this one up). Boomer’s car was no longer “stock.” It had been upgraded to make it go even faster and look even better.

This 1968 Plymouth Road Runner looked very much like the one Boomer had and which he let me drive…once..but what a ride!

The Plymouth Road Runner was named after the famous Warner Brother’s cartoon character and its horn would make the character’s “Beep-beep” sound rather than the usual blaring car horn sound. I always liked that feature!

Shortly after I got my learner’s permit, Boomer let me drive his Road Runner. At that time in Iowa you got your learner’s permit at age 14. I got in the driver’s side and he, of course, rode in the passenger’s side. Though seatbelts were now mandatory in all vehicles by that time, Boomer refused to wear one. I waited for him to buckle up, like my driver’s instruction manual said I should, but he didn’t. When I asked why he wouldn’t buckle up he replied, rather loudly with at least one swear word, “Why should I do that? I pay taxes! If I’m in a wreck, the ambulance drivers need to come find me. I’m not going to make their jobs easy by strapping myself in!” Boomer was a fount of such irrefutable logic.

By the time I drove the mile to the edge of town I was so nervous I was already sweating through my tee shirt and sticking to the vinyl seat. As we pulled up to the stop sign near the Shell station, Boomer said, “Let’s go West on 78 and see what you can do.” So I turned right onto the highway. State Highway 78 is a two-lane highway that goes over rolling hills with only a few curves. (Yes, much of Iowa is actually rolling hills, not flat prairie like Nebraska.)

Having successfully made the turn and started down the highway, I was careful to observe the speed limit. After a minute at about 60 miles per hour, Boomer, apparently bored with the slow pace, swore again and said, “I said let’s see what you can do. Open it up!” So I began to press the acclerator down.

The speedometer (which registered all the way up to 155 miles per hour) slowly climbed…70…75..80…90…I was really beginning to sweat now. I glanced over at Boomer. He nodded and said, “Keep goin’.”

95…100…110…I glanced over again as my heart pounded. He said, “Yeah, that’s right. Go on!”

115…120…125…and on the next hill I felt the car begin to come off the ground as we topped it. I couldn’t take it anymore. Plus I was scared of what Boomer would do if my frightened bladder gave way on his car seat.

I let up on the gas and when I did I heard a string of expletives come out of Boomer’s mouth and then this assessment, “Oh my god, I could crawl faster than that!”


SCTV’s Take on Perry Como

Perry Como was a crooner whose career spanned seven decades. He was known for his beautiful, smooth baritone voice. If you have never heard of him or heard his voice, it worth listening to his rendition of “And I Love You So.” Once it starts to play, you may remember it. His longevity inspired SCTV to create this interesting “tribute” to him. It is one of my favorite sketch’s from the SCTV archives. Eugene Levy, most recently of Schitt’s Creek fame, plays Como in this sketch.


The Adventures of Chickenman

In Episode 31 the Police Commissioner breaks the news to Midland City of Chickenman’s accident with the Chicken Dissolver.


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep avoiding arguments with incivil, irascible socks…and the people in them.

Tom

Day 39 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

The only place more terrifying to be than Mr. Parrish’s seat was anywhere in the back seat. From there we were absolutely at the mercy of our classmate and in the hands of who we hoped was a loving God.

Thursday, April 23, 2020 – Live to Blog from God Knows Where

#alonetogether

I saw my car key on my key ring this morning and barely recognized it. I haven’t driven in a long time now…but I’m mostly sure I still know how. If I do, I credit my Driver’s Ed teacher for having taught me well. Thank you, Mr. Parrish!


Driving with Mr. Parrish

Mr. Parrish was my Driver’s Ed teacher and, for a while, my golf coach in high school. I don’t know that he actually knew much about golf as I never saw him hit a golf ball. He did try to be be easy to find on the golf course though during our matches and tournaments. He wore bright red slacks and a bright red sweather vest so it would be easy to see him on the golf course. Unfortunately, for a good portion of my life, I’ve had difficulty seeing dark red colors. So he just seemed to blend into the dark green background until I he was about 50 feet away.

You know, I think our Driver’s Ed car was about this same stunning color.

I do remember him as a good Driver’s Ed teacher and an awfully courageous one at that. Fundamentally Driver’s Ed teachers have to be brave and calm under pressure. I suspect they also have to have a death wish. Can you imagine careening down the highway with three 15 year-olds in the backseat eagerly awaiting their turn to drive with another behind the steering wheel on the verge of panic and regretting she/he was going first? To make matters worse, we were all packed into the 1969 landboat known as the Plymouth Fury (see photo).

The Plymouth Fury, like many cars of the 1960’s, was a huge gas hog, was obviously designed to appeal to our grandparents, and was difficult to drive. When you sat behind the wheel it seemed like the car was as wide as a football field and just as long. When you turned the wheel it seemed to spin forever before the car finally began to go in the direction you wanted. Braking…wow…I remember it felt like you had to stand on the brakes to make them work.

The dealership had rigged up another brake on the front passenger side so if Mr. Parrish saw trouble coming, he could hit the brake for the youngster in the driver’s seat. Too bad they didn’t give him a steering wheel as well. We all needed it a few times.

The only place more terrifying to be than Mr. Parrish’s seat was anywhere in the back seat. There we were absolutely at the mercy of our classmate and in the hands of who we hoped was a loving God. We had all the characters in our class:

  • The brazen student who looked for every opportunity to go as fast as possible.
  • The timid driver who didn’t want to drive the minimum speed on the highways, including the interstate (which, by the way, is 40 mph).
  • The forgetful driver who never used a turn signal (yes, there are many, many decendents of that person on our roads today).
  • The literal driver who tended to actually stop on top of the stop sign.
  • And, my favorite, for a really good scare, the frightened one whose eyes would automatically close when the car reached 70 miles per hour (the legal daytime speed on two-lane highways in Iowa at that time).

Growing up in the 1960’s in Iowa we had a particularly dangerous highway we had to learn to drive on. Doing so successfully was the ultimate test for us. Locally it was called a “gutter” or “curbed” highway. These were U.S. highways built, or rebuilt, in the 1930’s as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), part of the country’s recovery program from the Great Depression. Many of the WPA highways in Iowa were narrow and had curbs. When it rained heavily, the whole highway became a gutter as it drained the water from the land around it. They were so narrow it was often necessary to run the passenger tires up to the top of the curb to avoid hitting an oncoming vehicle, especially wide trucks. Near where I lived it was U.S. Highway 218 which ran from Keokuk, Iowa to Owatonna, Minnesota, a distance of nearly 350 miles.

As part of our Driver’s Ed training we had to learn to drive on U.S. 218, typically the section just below Iowa City, Iowa. The skill we had to learn was to first drive the car at the daytime speed limit (70 mph). Then inch it up on the right side of the road until the passenger side tires were either riding at the top of the curb or had dropped off to the other side (in many places there was a drop off because of erosion). Finally, we had to return the car safely back to the highway. “Safely” meant without flipping it or bringing it back so quickly that we’d veer into an oncoming car. The day I had to do this, I remember sweating so much I stuck to the vinyl seat of the Fury from my knees to my shoulders.

Mr. Parrish forever has my admiration for daring to teach this skill to that range of characters in my Driver’s Ed class. It is a lesson I have never forgotten and that I have used more times than you can imagine. (How do you do it, by the way? Foot off the gas, let the car slow down on its own to no more than 40 mph, and, then, the tricky part. With a small, quick move, “snap” wheel to the left to bring the car back onto the road.)


Chickenman – Episode 8

Chickenman (aka Benton Harbor) is called into action to deal with The Strangler. Not even a broken pencil can stop him from his duty!


Your weekly dose of Some Good News


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and stay off the top of the curb!

Tom