Florida RoadkillMarch 24, 2009 at 1:40 AM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
We–Detroit and I–went down to Floridia to retrieve her mom and move her in with us. Tis a long story, and so it behooved me to cut it into chapters. For chapter titles, I decided to go with one of the classics: Tim Dorsey. Dorsey writes about all things Florida, through the eyes of an endearing psychopathic serial killer named Serge. The books are hilarious, and I highly recommend them. The titles I am using as chapter headers, but these are not in book order, and you should read them in order, if you can figure it out. Go to Tim Dorsey dot com. Do it now.
I don’t fly very well (See "How I Spent My Summer Vacation," in June of 08.) The idea was to fly down to Floridia and then drive back in her mom’s truck, pulling a rented trailer. That part I wasn’t going to have a problem with. But flying?
My friend Bunny gave me a Xanax before we left. One milligram, I believe. For all of you pill junkies, it was a blue one. Sound familiar? The night before, I cut it in half because we had two legs to our flight. We were going to fly straight to Orlando. Via Dallas. Well, the pill worked great. I took each half right before boarding each plane. I even managed to look out the window and enjoy the sites. I made it through okay. I mean, the whole time in my head I felt like screaming and running around tearing my shirt off and biting people and pissing all over myself…But the pill made me say, "Fuck it. I’ll do it later."
We arrive in sunny Florida in Orlando around noon, and Kim’s Uncle Larry drives us back. He took the truck that we are going to be driving to Missouri. Back in town, before we get to the park ("Reflections on Silver Lake," or some focus-grouped marketing bullshit like that) we stopped at an Amoco station (I know it says BP, but they’ll always be Amoco to me) that has the U-Haul rental trailers behind it.
All of this had been prearranged, like a funeral. Larry had taken care of the hitch, and Bonnie had called and reserved a trailer. Of course, they got it wrong the first time and reserved a truck for us, which they had straightened out a few days ago. But they got us hooked up, checked everything out, and after half an hour, hooked us up to a different trailer, because the right turn signal wasn’t working. I offered to just not make any right turns, but these people were perfectionists. We were on our way.
The plan was to begin loading on Friday, so Thursday we actually unhooked the trailer and parked it in the driveway, and parked the truck in the neighbor’s empty spot. Only one spot per trailer, and these people get pissy when you park in the street–which I can understand; old people need all the room they can get on these streets that usually have pedestrian, bike, car, scooter, golf cart and car traffic, not to mention the occasional errant alligator (which I have yet to see, dammit!).
The Stingray Shuffle
Friday morning, Detroit and I went in search of boxes. No luck there, because everyone recycles, so they were either all compacted–or picked up right before we got there. I did pick up one piece of cardboard that turned out to be perfect to wrap up the curio cabinet in. We loaded the curio in the back of the truck first, then hooked the trailer up and began loading. Bonnie was leaving a surprising amount of crap behind, I think for a couple of reasons. First, the sale said, "Furnished," and second, old people are a funny lot who just expect things to be a certain way. When I get old, I look forward to being intractable.
We loaded up her shit, and we were running out of things to put it in. We needed boxes. Larry and I went into town with his car and bought some totes, and then we stopped by the liquor store–whaddaya know, they had boxes! We grabbed what was usable and left.
We got a late start, but still, by about 4pm we were about done. Just her outside statuary and a few fragile items inside, and a few houseplants. It turned out to be a good thing that we were leaving alot behind because we were running out of room. I grabbed a towel and some clean clothes and went to the clubhouse/bathhouse to take a shower. The one in the trailer was just–honestly, there was no way I was going to use it. It was just an awkward piece of machinery. The bathhouse was nice, though, because no one was there and I could run around naked. It had been a few days and I was behind on my nudity.
I was showered and I had changed somewhat, but I was still and asshole. But since we were leaving tomorrow in the AM, this was the last night to go out, the whole family. Except Sheri wasn’t going because she was sick. Helen (I think that’s her name) was going instead, because she doesn’t like Sherri and wasn’t going to go if Sherri went. And then me and Detroit and Bonnie, and Larry and Sharon, who is Bonnie’s sister. We went to the Blue Crab, a nice local spot.
You can’t go to a place with "Crab" in the name and not get crab. That’s like going to a strip joint and facing away from the stage. They had a deal where you could add crab legs to any steak, and I did. And–they had draft beer. I could have kissed the waitress. Plus, she was nice, and kind of cute. Flirting with me, obviously. Draft beer in a frosted glass, no less. I had three.
I enjoyed the steak and everything, but I was having trouble with the crab legs. The idea of crab legs is more appealing than the reality, like dating a super-model. They give you the tool, you know. But I needed more. The waitress came by asked how I was doing. I was preoccupied as I was examining the crab legs from an engineering perspective. I said, "Can I get…a screwdriver, a bunji cord, and a C-clamp?"
After a detour at the liquor store, we went back to Larry and Sharon’s trailer. I believe that I got really, really drunk. Luckily, I only had to walk about two doors down–no more driving. Detroit was sloshed. Bonnie doesn’t drink. Larry had a few beers, and Sharon is a big drinker. We had fun, just sitting and drinking and bullshitting. When Detroit and I finally got to bed, the room was spinning a bit. I wonder if that was a selling point for the buyers of the trailer? It must have an auto-shut off, because when we got up in the morning, it had stopped.
In the morning, Sharon made coffee for everyone before we said our goodbyes. She accused me of lying about not having a hangover. "Look, I’m sore from moving yesterday, and tired from being up late. But hangover? Nah. I don’t do hangovers."
Not much to say about the drive. We drove, we stopped, we ate, we drove, we stopped. I didn’t feel like I was making any progress–sort of swimming against the current. The final proof was our stop–I had hoped to make it north of Atlanta, but we stopped just south of it, not quite making it halfway the first day.
Sometime during the day my son called–or was that Sunday?–and we chatted while I drove. He never did ask where I was. But he got a promotion, and he has my dad’s El Camino, and he has been doing some work to it and can’t wait for me to see it. He said sometimes he feels like Grandpa is there watching.
I bet he is.
Hammerhead Ranch Motel
In some town south of Atlanta we stopped and looked for a hotel. The Ramada Inn we checked first–no room at the Inn. The lady at the desk recommended The La Quinta or the Red Roof. We didn’t see the Red Roof, so we went to the La Quinta. Yes, they have no bananas. She pointed to the Red Roof Inn right across the parking lot. It had no sign because it was brand-spanking new. And they had room.
So far–and continuing with the experience at the Red Roof–everyone we met in Georgia has just been as sweet as pie. The lady at the desk was a sweetheart. We got a room for the three of us to share. (Me, Kim, and Bonnie, not me, Kim and the girl at the desk. Eventually I will work that angle…)
The place is crowded, and there is not much parking. Oh, and you can’t drive all the way around the building, a fact I found out about too late, after I was already headed that way with a trailer. I had to back up all the way, then turn in reverse, and then go back down the other side. I got out and looked this time. How can I make this work? With Detroit spotting for me, I managed to get the truck and trailer turned around so it would be facing out (very important) and not blocked by other cars that would park there (even more important). It took about half an hour.
Later, after I went out for a smoke, I helped a black lady and her two young kids. She was pulling a trailer with her car. I guided her and helped her get out–by that time the hotel was full. I told her Ramada was full also, but there were places on the other side of the highway.
The hotel room was nice, and very new–they had opened last week. Flat screen TV, hardwood floors, and a weird modern shower fixture that looked cool but the reality didn’t live up to the expectations. The bed was more comfortable than I expected. For some reason, even though we were in a hotel room, Detroit didn’t feel like fooling around. I mean, geez–her mom is probably asleep. Whatever.
The Big Bamboo
About 1230 AM, my phone rang. My sister. "Yeah?" Seems there is a problem at her house. And it is *her* house now. The sewer has backed up, and there is water in the laundry room. Also in both of the bathrooms on the floor. "I don’t know if you can do anything about it tonight–"
"I’m in Georgia." I guess I didn’t tell her before I left
Yeah, you are going to have to figure something out on your own. I said I would be back late Sunday, and she wanted me to call her when I got in. Yeah, that’s going to happen. I’m going to bed.
I haven’t heard from her yet.
For the drive Sunday, we made better time. Almost immediately once we were north of Atlanta, it seemed like, we were in mountains. Going up, up, up through the rest of Georgia and a portion of Tennessee. Then we hit the top, I guess, and it was down, down, down. In the flatter land through Tennessee or Kentucky (I have no idea where I was) it looked like rain clouds overhead. But we were going in opposite directions, so we passed under them and had clear skies the rest of the way.
Further on through Kentucky and into Illinois, there were downed trees, broken trees all over. At first we thought it was tornado damage–but it had to be wider, unless a tornado is going to follow an interstate for 150 miles. It looks like it cut a wide swath. We had a traffic backup for about 5 miles on the interstate because of construction on an overpass. I was going to get of at the next exit and go around and impress Detroit of my knowledge of the area–after all, I had grown up in Southern Illinois, just not exactly around here…
But the next exit was the one with the construction, and by that time, it was clear to go through it. Maybe some other time. We made it home, more or less on schedule, about 715 pm. The entire trip was about 1075 miles.
Ah, home. It’ll never be the same, of course. But then again, it never is. I recall the time when Detroit and I first got together in our little apartment. Thems was the "salad days," and they is over. First come one son to live with us, and that was good. Then the other son and there’s nothing I can do about that. Now the mother. Is it still my house? I’m not going to get melodramatic or anything ("I feel like a stranger in my own home!") I just want to make sure that I don’t get forgotten in all this. After all, I’m hardly there.
Really the only thing that bothers me about it–okay, here are the things that bother me:
1. The goddamn older son. Brandon. I’m being taken advantage of by him, and I don’t like it. I’m smarter than that.
2. The money situation. I don’t want to work as much as I do, but I have to, to get by. Since I have to, I don’t get to spend much time at home.
3. Everyone else gets to spend time at my house but me. I might as well be an over the road trucker, home for 9 hours every ten days.
These are related. I have to work while the slug stays home and doesn’t contribute. I have to leave while he stays in my house. My money goes towards feeding him and supporting him, and he feels entitled to it. So I have to work more. The more I think about it, the more pissedder I get.
I don’t want to ask Bonnie for help, but I know she will. Or I hope so. We never spoke of any kind of agreement or anything. If she helps with the groceries and so forth, then maybe I can pay all the bills. And I don’t mind having her there at all. It makes Detroit happy (for now). Of course, privacy is now a thing of the past. We certainly do have a houseful, and Miranda is coming to spend the summer with us.
I may actually get more privacy at work.