Thursday, October 20, 2005

Good Time Charlies

There was a time, call it a time between times, where the forces in my life had reached a neutral balance. Dad was still friends with the Ricks gang--George, Troy and Raimey. Clay was in his prime. My step-mother Polly was in a good mood as long as her pacifier, a cool can of Budweiser, was either in hand or sweating a white ring into the coffee table. Her nephew Fess and his honkytonk crowd of friends provided comic relief in the style of the old western--from friendly jesting to barroom brawls.

There was never a dull moment.

The gang grew like cotton candy floss to a swirling stem as we moved across the country from job to job. Dad and George were leaders, the bread-winners to whom contracts were given like handshakes. We swarmed like army ants over new construction sites and left new buildings in our wake.

We typically split the rent four to ten ways, and so had money to spare. Life was about two things: work and play. We ran from dusk till dawn, and then partied until the AM. Sometimes we had to be rolled up and thrown into the cab of the truck, but we always started the workday on time.

You may have recognized our type. Dirty baseball hats, mud-streaked faces and arms, ragged jeans, crimson necks and t-shirt tans. People stared at us at fancy restaurants until we caught them looking, and bad guys at taverns mumbled in the corner to their friends until we were gone.

The kind of people I am describing would cause me fits today--and while I was making the best of those days, biding my time until I could escape to a path of my own choosing, I have to admit to a few guilty pleasures. There was a code of conduct even amongst our scofflaw bunch. We could pick on each other, but nobody from the outside could do the same. If you stumbled into a bees nest, your buddies had your back. The humor was crude yet oddly liberating. There was nothing politically correct about those days. Skin color was irrelevant--as long as it was thick.

George was the devil of the bunch. A gang of Native Americans stared us down as we took our places at the stools and tables at a backwoods tavern. These people were known for their brutality to stray white people that came unwittingly alone into this wolves den. I had heard a few stories involving knives and pistols, and so had George.

We paid them no heed as we sloshed down the first round. The biggest of their bunch was giving us the evil eye, so George walked up to him and put his arm around his neck.

"Do I know you from somewhere buddy?" He asked him.

"Uh, no."

"You sure about that?"

"Yeah, I'm sure."

"Well you keep starin' at me. I was startin' to think we was old buddies or somethin'." George jerked him around and walked him around like his own personal Charley McCarthy. He brought him to the bar.

"Bartender," George said, "I'd like to buy my old buddy a beer. In fact, I'd like to buy one for all my new buddies too."

Soon we were playing pool and dice with our would-be aggressors, and having a good time. We left the bar and piled into the truck. Our new native friends were looking out the large plate glass window at us, and a few were at the door. George didn't get in with us, and pulled at his zipper and started taking a leak. Dad fired up the truck and pulled away, leaving George exposed to his audience within.

George got stage fright and sputtered to a halt; but through an extreme act of will--and a few false starts--managed to finish the job before pulling his shorts up over his snow-white cheeks. He gave the double bird as a farewell to the caterwauling crowd within the bar, jumped in back of the fish-tailing truck that sprayed gravel and dirt into the parking lot behind it.

20 comments:

Miranda said...

Your writing just keeps getting better. Felt like I knew the people described this time, and I especially liked your description of Polly.

:) Staying tuned.

Eve said...

Scott I loved this - wonderful and very descriptive. I haven't read a lot of your stuff, but this is my favorite so far. My father was a carpenter and I could see that t-shirt tan of his.

amberdusk said...

I love your discriptions.... Every time I come to your blog I am reminded I need to start writting again. Keep em comin'!

Scott said...

Miranda - Thanks, I appreciate that. The Polly description was my favorite too!

Eve - Thanks. I feel a part of me will always be in this world gone by.

Amber - Then stop stalling young lady!

trinamick said...

Sounds like my cousins and their crowd. Fearless, foolish, and always fun!

Mrs.T said...

people are strange, when you're a stranger..

I guess you and your pals were never strangers? LOL The last bit made me crack up.. loved it...

Chloe said...

Great story! Everyone came to life before me.

jenbeauty said...

It is amazing to me that you were able to come out the better for all those wild days. Somewhere in your mind you had a path and it lead to you where you are now.

I really enjoy these tales. Nobody I know would be as honest and open about this type of past. And you never know Scott, some kid may stumble across some of these and find a kinship to help him/her find their path.

Scott said...

Trina - I really miss the kinship that comes of being in a trench with my friends. We were living life together.

Mrs. T - And faces look ugly, when you're alone.

Chloe - Gracious!

Jen - That is so wierd. I just clicked on your link when your message arrived.

I never thought of it that way, but it would be amazing if that happened. I would love to be an inspiration to anyone trapped in someone else's world .

Jada's Gigi said...

Fun stuff..I can see you all now. I grew up in just such an environment and no one would ever guess by looking at me now. LOL
I'm downright civilized!
I like your stories...sounds like you've lived several lives....:)

Toni Anderson said...

Nice writing.

Trevor Record said...

"There was a code of conduct even amongst our scofflaw bunch. We could pick on each other, but nobody from the outside could do the same. If you stumbled into a bees nest, your buddies had your back. The humor was crude yet oddly liberating. There was nothing politically correct about those days. Skin color was irrelevant--as long as it was thick."

This is something that really reonates with me. This is my friends.

Scott said...

Gigi - It's nice to know the lifestyle connects with other people. I felt like such a barbarian in those days.

Toni - I appreciate that. Thanks for stopping by.

Trevor - I envy your position then. Today my friends are mostly tame and PC, but are probably all sandbagging.

Sadie Lou said...

*laughing*
This was a fun read. I could really visualize the characters. I think we all know people who scare us and thrill us at the same time. That scene at the bar was tense.

Sadie Lou said...

Oh yeah, I "tagged" you for someting. See my latest post for details.

mr. schprock said...

Oh, man, that was so funny! Honestly, you've got to do something with these stories of yours. That barroom scene felt straight from a movie.

"Skin color was irrelevant--as long as it was thick."

Nice line.

magnetbabe said...

This post made me think there should be Waylon Jennings playing somewhere in the background...

That story reminds me of my dad's past before he became "civilized" as well. All his crazy friends with the farmers tans drinking beer were my "uncles" and boy do I have some memories about them! They had fun times, but I think he feels lucky that he's no longer working paycheck to paycheck and stumbling into work with a hangover.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

Excellent.

I especially liked the line about skin colour not mattering, as long as it is thick.

Interesting.

Ben O. said...

Scott - great scene. I really got into this one.

Ben O.

Scott said...

Sadie - Thanks. I'll get to the tag asap. I had to get out my current post while the subject was still fresh. I appreciate the comments!

Mr. Schprock - Thanks for the encouragement. I'll keep plugging away, and you never know.

MagnetBabe - You can't keep up the frantic pace of that lifestyle. It's a burn-out-and-fade-away way to go. Fun for a while though.

Toast - Thanks for the comments, good to see you back online.

Ben - Thanks man.