Thursday, December 23, 2004

Fuzzy Memories and Drug-Induced Flashbacks - Part III

It's October 1986, around noon on a Friday, and I'm home visiting from college. My friend Sean and I are on our way to the Dairy Queen for lunch.

I'm driving my stepdad's pickup truck, since my car (a truly badass 1977 black Trans Am straight out of "Smokey and the Bandit") is back in Lubbock. I've been running errands all morning, including doing a load of laundry at the Kwik Wash. My shirts, folded and still warm from the dryer, are sitting in a paper bag on the seat between me and Sean.

(So far, it all sounds very Beverly Hillbillies, doesn't it? Between growing up in Garland and driving that Trans Am, I'm lucky I didn't wind up marrying my sister. But I digress...)

In the year since we both left high school, Sean and I have put a lot of effort into redefining ourselves. I'm trying to pass myself off as an obnoxious frat boy, and he's totally immersed himself in that horrible 80s rave scene. We're both being pretentious as hell, each trying to dazzle the other with how COOL we've become.

I'm asking Sean about the old gang, and he's bringing me up to date. Just as he starts telling me about our friend Steve Bruce, a cop pulls up behind us. No lights, no siren, nothing. Just a police car, following along behind us. But in high school, I used to get pulled over so often that it became something of a joke. So I sigh and mutter, "Oh, great. I wonder what he wants."

Sean, always good in a crisis, keeps turning around and looking at the cop. "He's still there," he informs me helpfully.

"Well, stop looking at him," I say. "Otherwise, he's going to think we've got a body in the back of the truck."

We continue another mile or so, and the policeman stays on our tail. So finally, at the next stop sign, I take a left onto a side street. The cop just continues on straight. Feeling like I've dodged some kind of bullet, I breathe a sigh of relief.

We wind through the residential streets and make our way back to the main road. And we reach the four-way stop just as that same policeman pulls up to it!

The cop turns left, glaring at me as he drives past. It's creepy, but I don't really think anything about it. I turn left, and we continue on our way to the Dairy Queen.

About ten minutes later, the policeman is behind us again, lights flashing. I pull over, and he walks up to speak to me through the window. He's a fat guy with a walrus mustache and enormous sweat stains under his pits. Garland's Finest.

"Can I see your license and insurance please?" he asks. I fish them out of my wallet and hand them to him.

"What seems to be the problem, officer?" I ask.

"This your truck?" he asks me.

"No, it's my dad's. Why? What's wrong?"

He shrugs. "We've had a bunch of burglaries in this area, and the suspects match your description. And your friend there kept looking back at me like he was nervous, and then you turned off the road like you were trying to get away from me."

"We weren't trying to get away," I lie. "We were just on our way to lunch and we were going to check with a friend of ours and see if he wanted to go."

"What's this friend's name?" the policeman asks.

For some reason, Sean and I are totally in synch on this one. "Steve," we both say in unison.

"Steve what?"

"Steve Bruce," Sean and I both say in unison.

"Where does Steve Bruce live?"

"I don't know," I tell the officer, and jerk a thumb towards Sean. "He was giving me directions."

"I don't know the address," Sean says. "I just know which house is his."

The cop nods, then heads back to his car to check on our story. He spends about ten minutes on the radio before he finally walks back up to us. "Can you boys account for your whereabouts last weekend?"

In a voice of strained civility, I say, "Officer, I go to school at Texas Tech in Lubbock. This is the first time I've been home this semester. I haven't burglarlized anybody."

"You have any proof of that?"

So I fish out my student ID and show it to him. He turns it over and notices a tiny line of fine print that says, Possession of this Identification Card does not guarantee enrollment. "What does that mean?" he asks me.

I sigh. "You can call the university, if you want. They'll confirm I'm enrolled there."

He shrugs. "You boys ever been arrested?"

"No sir," I tell him.

"Once for shoplifting," Sean says, and the cop's eyes glimmer with new hope.

He points to the sack of laundry. "What's in the bag? You boys been shopping?"

"It's my laundry, officer."

"Can I see it?"

I pull the shirt off the top, which just happens to be a Red Raiders t-shirt. "See, Texas Tech University. It's my shirt. I go to college there."

The policeman suddenly jams his head through the open window and sniffs the air inside the cab of the truck. "You boys smoke?"

"No sir."

"Have you been smoking marijuana?"

I sigh again, no longer hiding my frustration. "No sir."

"Can I see inside your ashtray?"

I open it up, and its filled with cigarette butts. I take one out and hold it up so he can see the brand name stamped on the filter. "Raleigh Light 100s, officer," I say, perhaps a tad snarkily. "My dad smokes them. This is his truck. He's letting me use it because my car is in Lubbock, where I go to school. This is my first trip home since classes started two months ago."

The policeman glares at us for a few seconds, then finally says, "Well, I'm still not convinced. And if we have any more burglaries, I'm going to turn you boys in as suspects and we'll have to bring you in."

"I'll probably be in Lubbock when that happens, officer. Would you like my address there?"

"No," he says as ominously as he can. "We'll find you." And with that, the Chubby Blue Line climbs back into his patrol car and speeds away.

Silent Night, Holy Shit, It's COLD!!!

Yeah, I know. It happens every year. But I've got shorter memory than most of Bush's supporters when it comes to weather, because every winter the temperature here in Texas drops from 110 to 2 overnight and I whine about it. Incessantly.

"By the flaming nipples of our Lord and Savior!" I'll exclaim through chattering teeth, my body spasming in a desperate attempt to break a sweat. "It's colder than a metal rod up a snowman's ass!"

"Yes, Chris," my patient friends will usually respond, their mouths full of Schlitz Malt Liquor and Red Hots. "Every year, it gets cold. We call it 'winter.' Remember, it got cold last year? And the year before that? And..."

"Not this cold!" I'll insist, stubbornly. "I think the Earth has spun off its axis or something!"

Why the hell do men have nipples, anyway?

Jingle Bell Bedrock

So I was watching the "Flintstones Christmas Special" the other day. Truth be told, I was actually just flipping through the channels, waiting for Spongebob to come on, and I caught a glimpse of Wilma.

When I was much younger, I had a crush on Wilma Flintstone. What can I say? Red-headed, barefoot chicks in pearls and mini-skirts really mash my buttons. Especially when they're washing dishes by spraying them with water from an elephant's nose. I'm not sure what you'd call this particular fetish. Maybe I'm a Neanderphile...

Anyway, just out of habit, any time I see Wilma on TV, I have to watch for a few minutes, just in case it's that lost Flintstones episode where she and Betty finally kiss. I've never actually seen that episode, but if there is a just and loving god, then I know it must exist.

Sadly, this wasn't it. Instead, it was the Christmas show where Santa got sick and Fred had to take his place, or something like that. To tell you the truth, I sort of quit paying attention once it became obvious that there would be no hot Wilma/Betty action.

But I'm bringing it up because there is something I've always wondered about, ever since I first saw this episode decades ago.

Why the fuck are the Flintstones celebrating Christmas? Don't they live like 10,000 BC?