Sunday, November 19, 2006

Back to Mayberry

Well, it's Thanksgiving week. For me, that means it's time for a trip to my hometown to see the home folks. Today, it has provided me with some selfish time to reflect. I think most all of us that grow up and move away feel some sort of conflict when they go home. For a while, it created a sense of dread for me. But I've pretty much gotten over that.

You see, on my way out of town I was "outed." In a small town, that never makes for the best of goodbyes. In fact, some people simply skipped the "goodbye" part altogether. But the experience did have a silver lining. It has shown me who has been a true friend and who probably never was. These days when I go home, I just act like nothing ever happened, which works about 99.9% of the time.

Still, memories of my time there are mostly good ones. Even when something bad happens, you can't forget all of the good. Especially the good people that, in some way, had an affect on you. And there are plenty of memories that are neither good nor bad. But sometimes they provide little clues as to why things turned out the way they did.

When I go home, I'm always faced with the question of whether or not to go to church on Sunday morning with my mother. It would make her happy. But it's definitely not a place that I feel 100% comfy at these days. For instance, if I did walk through those doors, I'd have to worry about whether or not the steeple would fall down and kills someone. Thankfully, my mother doesn't mention it to me. So I don't feel an absolute need to go with her.

Her church is the same church where in the mid 80's, Brother Arnett was giving us a sermon on the sins of sex. It was the usual garden variety sermon that reminds us of how awful sex outside of marriage is. And yes, it included a couple of gratuitious mentions of homosexuality. That was one of his favorite targets, of course.

But I'll never forget that on this particular day, Brother Arnett's target was Tina Turner. I had just used up my allowance money by going down to Kmart and buying "Private Dancer." So I guess that's what made my ears perk up and pay attention. He railed against Tina's own "immoral acts" and her hit song's supposed encouragment of sex outside of marriage.

He bellowed and hollered. His face turned blood red. He wiped himself as he worked up a good lather. And as if to exclamate each individual word, he slammed his fist down on the pulpit repeatedly screaming, "It's got everything to do with it, Mrs. Turner!"

When we got home, my mother confiscated my new "Private Dancer" cassette. I suppose that it ended up in the same place that my Fleetwood Mac tapes had already ended up when my mother heard that Stevie Nicks was a witch - in the garbage can. Today, when I tease my mother about doing this, she claims that she doesn't remember anything of the sort. My mom and Tipper Gore would get along just fine.

Speaking of music, I notice that some bloggers like to tell you what song is currently in their head, like here and here. I like that you guys do that because it sometimes reminds me of songs I haven't heard in forever. In fact, I'd do it myself except that I would feel like a copycat.

People say that I have a very good memory. I don't know if that's true or not. I suspect it depends on the subject. But music is a way that I can remember things. Most any song that's ever made an impression on me as it came out, I can tell you what year it's from. Just because I associate a lot of memories with music.

For some reason the other day, I thought about the songs I was listening to when I had my two car accidents. An odd thought, huh? Especially when you're driving down the road. Karma, don't fail me now!

Anyway, my first wreck was when I was 17. It was Halloween eve in 1989. The girl I was seeing at the time, Kim, and I were driving back from a neighoring town where we were shopping. I had just bought Young MC's "Bust a Move." How appropriate!

As we were jamming down Hwy 84, I busted a move of my own. A dog run outs in front of the car on the 4 lane highway. I swerved to my left and hit the island on the driver's side. The car goes up on 2 wheels before spinning and out and coming to a rest with us facing the wrong direction.

Fortunately, no one else was on the road. I moved my car to the side and got out to survey the damage. But I already had that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I had not one, but two flat tires, both on the drivers side from the impact of hitting the island. But the best was yet to come!

Backing away from the car, I noticed something odd about my car. But I couldn't quite put my finger on the problem. I judged the car safe enough to drive to a pay phone to call the folks. Remember having to make a call like this?

Kim, who was previously shaking, was now given to fits of giggles. Since it wasn't her car and she wasn't driving, she was already able to see this as one of those incidents where we'll laugh about this later. I hadn't reached that point yet. It would take a few weeks for that.

Waiting for my dad to come, I inspected the underside of the car and found the inspriration for that knawing feeling I had. The impact with the island had done more than bust out two tires. It had also bent the frame of the car, which was not an easy fix. It was safe to assume that there would be consequences and reprecussions to come. And of course, that came true.

My second wreck was the same year. I skipped school that morning because my class was taking the ASVAB test. I had already taken it and scored about high as could be scored on it. So why take it again? Well, that was my explanation to my parents anyway.

As I was toodling casually down a residential street listening to the radio, I was thinking about what fast food joint to hit for lunch before going to school. Suddenly, I heard this loud screech and saw this car turn directly into my lane and hit me head on.

It seems that a certain legal secretary was late for work that morning. And since there wasn't much traffic on this side street, she made a rolling stop (to be kind) at the stop sign and lost control of her car as she turned.

It's true. You don't have to be going very fast to damage a car or someone. My head hit the steering wheel, cracking the wheel. My hand slipped upward from the wheel and hit the windshield so hard that I cracked it and put some tiny glass slivers in my fingers and knuckles. And my car was totalled. So was her's.

Instead of a song being on the radio, I heard something else as I slumped to my right. The local radio station's self ad jingle rang out, "W-J-A-Deeeeeeeee."

I didn't lose consciousness but I was leaning over stunned with my head level to the radio. To add insult to injury, my cigarette lighter pops out and hits me in my face. I don't know how this happened as I hadn't depressed the lighter to begin with.

But my musical memories aren't limited to car wrecks. Whenever I hear Nine Inch Nails' "Head Like a Hole," I am forced to remember being a junior in high school and thinking I had hit the big time when I was invited to hang out at a frat house in Valdosta.

I don't remember a lot from that paticular weekend. But I do remember the music blaring. And I was holding my beer, probably my 3rd or so (not much of a drinker) by this time, and pretending to smoke (wasn't a smoker) as I sat on the railing of a 2nd story balcony trying to act as if I belonged (I didn't). Some overgrown offensive lineman that could've swallowed me whole for a snack walked over to tell me and told me that I was "cool" and high five'd me. Sounds great, right? Wrong.

He accidentally high five'd me with such force (not that it would've taken a lot) that I flipped over backwards and landed on my back in the yard below. As Trent Reznor was telling me, "you're going to get what you deserve," I heard the door slamming as people ran out of the house and over my supine body to see if I was okay. Fotunately, it only knocked the breath out of me. Really cool, huh? Yeah right..........

At any rate, it's not all bad going home. So I'm not going to dread it when I head out on Wed. I'm just going to remember that all that happened there was just real life - the good, the bad, and the ugly.


Jon said...

Have a safe trip Button, and stay away from all balconies... ;)

Happy Thanksgiving.

Steve said...

Its your call, but i wouldnt go to the church. I'd say those folks have gotten things pretty messed up, and the best thing we can do as thinkers is not to go there, but blood is thicker than water. My own beloved sister goes to a church that was pretty dang good to us when my Mom died- in fact they were above and beyond.

You are who you are and the church you went to should never have done any of that to you.

I can almost hear the dumb ass preacher saying that stuff by the way....good writing.

ET said...

Great entry - even if it did get Tina started singing "Private Dancer" in my head and won't stop.
When I had a near-fatal wreck Bob Dylan was on the radio singing "Blood on the Track".

Button Gwinnett said...

Thanks Jon, you have a good one too. And yes, I've spent the last 17 or so years being wary of the dangers of balconies. Also waterfalls, but that's another story!

Steve, if I ever went, it would only be because my mother asked me to and she hasn't yet. And I don't think I'd have a problem at my old home church. Trust me, they're the type that wouldn't say anything directly to your face. They would wait until you're gone.

Whew Eddie, be careful there. Thanks goodness neither of us wrecked to something like, "I'm a Barbie Girl!"

Steve said...

My wreck soundtrack was "Fall on Me" by REM in Nov of 1986.

Button Gwinnett said...

Respectable, Steve. Respectable........