The Unauthorized Biography of Rosco P. Coltrane

When it's my moment in the sun, I won't forget that I am blessed, but every hero walks alone, thinking of more things to confess

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Location: Owensboro, Kentucky, United States


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

It Kept Going and Going and Going

I got all the way home tonight. I parked my jeep in the driveway. I turned the key off so I could unlock the armrest and pull out my garage door opened. I opened the door. Put my key back in the ignition.

Nothing. No pulse. Flatlines.

My first inclination was the alternator. I haven't had any problems with my jeep since the winter when one day my battery was dead. I charged it back up, but it hadn't given me any problems since. My immediate reaction was the alternator was bad and I was going to have to pull the thing out and put a new one in and it was going to take a long time.

I called my dad. I told him the situation. He told me to sit back for a second and think about the problem. He asked me when was the last time I changed out the battery. I told him I hadn't ever changed the battery.

What year is that jeep, he asked.

97, I said.

Well, he said very poetically, your battery probably took a big healthy dump.

I started to think about it and he was right. Everything pointed to the battery if I thought about it logically.

He finished the conversation by telling me that if I got 7 years out of a battery, I ought to take it out and give it a big kiss. So I did.

Thanks dad, I always appreciate the help when I can get. I just wish I could be more help to you sometimes...

Boy, You Got a Prayer In Memphis...

Yesterday was long day. I drove to Memphis and back.

I was looking forward to it, even though I knew the drive would be rough. Maybe I could stop at Graceland for lunch.

I recently read that my favorite writer, Wendell Berry, had an uncle that owned a small shack in the woods. Berry "often went up there as a kid to get away from everything, when he was feeling melancholic and rebellious"

Well, I feel much the same way about Memphis. I have been to Graceland almost a dozen times. I used to go up there whenever I was feeling homesick or down. Somehow, walking through the jungle room always made me feel better. I used to walk around to the side of the house where Elvis is buried. I would just stand there and think. Somehow, knowing the Elvis, one of the world's biggest stars, lived the last days of his life feeling lonely and betrayed, it made me feel as though I had something in common with him. It made me feel as though I wasn't the only person who didn't understand things. I wasn't the only person that didn't have it all together. By the time I passed back through the gates of Graceland, I always felt better.

Also, Memphis is a good and somewhat dangerous place for you if you are feeling rebellious. Which I did my fair share of rebelling there as well, what I was rebelling against, I know longer remember. But I am sure it was a good reason way back then.

But yesterday, Memphis didn't lift my spirits like it used to.

I just walked around and felt bad. I thought about a lot of things. I thought about Elvis. I thought about work. I thought about the poverty in Memphis. I thought about the violence. I thought about all the ghosts that seem to walk around Memphis bogging everyone down, including me, palpable as the humidity in the air.
I walked around outside the gates of Graceland. The line way pretty long so I decided not to go up for another tour. I had an interesting conversation with a German couple, who I couldn't understand and I am pretty sure they couldn't understand me.

At lunch I noticed a piece in the newspaper that said Marc Cohn, the songwriter of "Walking in Memphis," had been shot in the head. So I said a little prayer for him while walking in Memphis. Hopefully he will be okay.

I got back in the car and drove back. The ghosts of Memphis stayed with me most of the trip back. When I finally lost them somewhere past Little Rock, the tiredness of the day found me.

(P.S.) When I got home, there were a bunch of people at my house, I apologize to everyone there because I know I was grumpy and not much fun to be around.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

The Ghosts of Summers Past

I talked to my dad tonight and he was driving back from the Allstate 400 at The Brickyard in Indy. We talked for a while, and I bragged on the Bar-B-Q sauce that I made for the church cookout. After I got done talking with him, I thought of a time more than a decade ago when we were traveling up to Chicago and had a brief detour in the middle of Nowhere, Indiana.

My dad and I rode his motorcycle up to Chicago to go to a bike show (a quick sidenote on motorcycle shows, explaining the birds and the bees to a adolescent is vastly easier after said adolescent has attended his fair share of motorcycle shows) and see a Cubs game. He had just recently bought this motorcycle and had yet to put any saddlebags on the bike. He did have a pair of throwover saddlebags that were velcroed together.

My dad packed them up really well and threw the over the back seat, my seat on the bike.

We were going up the highway and were cruising at a pretty good clip. Pretty good clip being around 80 m.p.h.

Well, we were cruising when I felt my right calf get really hot. I looked down and saw a little bit of smoke coming from the right saddlebag. I poked my dad on the shoulder. He looked over at me and I pointed my finger down towards the saddlebag. By now, the smoke was rolling out.

Dad slowed the bike down and stopped on a overpass. We both hopped off the bike really quick.

Dad ripped the bag of the bike and threw it down an embankment. Doing this, hot plastic splattered on his hand. He still has scars from the plastic. (If he was telling you this part of the story he would show you the scar. Then he would talk about how I asked him if it hurt and he told me "Well Hell yes it hurts.")

By this time, I am really shook. I am scared. I am still pretty young at this time. I am almost in tears.

Dad looks over at me and said, "Son, that was bad. But it could have been a lot worse."

I nod my head and said, "Yeah, it could have."

He puts his hand on my shoulder and said, "It could have been all of my clothes that burnt up."

My dad had pack all of his clothes in the left saddlebag and all of my clothes in the right bag. Evidently, he didn't have enough room in his bag for his stick of a very lethal smelling and highly flammable Brut deodorant. So he put it on the bottom of my bag. When the bag sagged and hit the exhaust pipe, it ignited. Causing a chain reaction that went from a wonderfully funny and scarring Father-Son talk, to him buying me a pink shirt, a pair of shorts, and a pair of underwear at a Chicagoland K-Mart, and me meeting a very drunk Harry Carey after the Cubbies game.

Sorry about that hand dad, but it's good for some laughs now...