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


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Exhaust Fumes

Looking back now, through adult eyes that do not eschew dimensions, I know my father’s garage wasn’t that big. Maybe 30 feet long, maybe 8 feet wide. I don’t really know because my father’s garage is gone. It was torn down in the name of progress, so that a highway could be widened. It is funny how as one grows older, the past always seems to become smaller. The woods where I used to play and build tree forts was a lot smaller than I remembered the last time I walked down the old grass rutted roads. I guess the things that are no longer there physically can only get smaller in my memory.

But as my memory shrinks my father’s garage, it only illuminates the legend that was my father’s garage.

It was a place where men that rode motorcycles and men with names like Bear and Rat would come to visit my father. If they needed an old Harley chain or maybe a carburetor, my dad might have one somewhere in his collection of parts that he could spare. If they just wanted to bullshit, have a couple of Budweisers in a can, well he could spare those too.

The door had stickers on the windowpanes collected from bike rallies and like conventions. The stickers seemed to be strategically placed so pairs of young eyes couldn’t see very well inside. A pad lock on the right side of the doorjamb kept the garage locked, the door lock either didn’t work or was not trusted. I suspect it was probably the latter.

Inside, the first thing that you would notice when you walked in was a large poster of a naked woman’s ass sitting on a motorcycle seat. As you looked farther up the poster, the naked ass turned into the top of a peach. I remember, as a child, being somewhat confused about that poster. And now, almost 15 years after that old garage was torn down, I wonder whatever happened to that poster. I don’t think it survived the big move into the city, which surprises me. My dad got lots of compliments on that poster from guys like Bear and Rat, and probably just about any other man that came into my father’s garage whose wife was not within earshot, and probably a few that were. There were other posters, no doubt all with some sort of nudity, near nudity, or well endowment. But I can’t really remember any other poster besides that one.

Beneath the posters on the wall, there was my father’s workbench. Painters had their easels, my father had his workbench. It was always covered with open manuals, grease stained catalogs, dirty paper towels, wrenches, WD-40, engine heads, more dirty paper towels, Ziploc bags full of small screws, a sprocket, a piston or two, and no telling what else. It was underneath a pair of florescent lights that always blinked on a few seconds after plugging them in. It was there that you could find my dad a lot, sitting on a stool with his glasses off inspecting a part in the light a few inches away from his discriminating eyes. Always there trying to figure out a problem that had arose, threatening to stick this part or that part up the engineer’s ass that happened to design said part. (I actually think that is the reason why I never wanted to be an sort of engineer. I doubt I have gone two weeks in my entire life without hearing my father wanting to jam some wrongly designed part up an engineer’s ass. I guess it made the entire engineering profession a lot less enticing.)

Underneath the workbench there was a small creeper, some oil pans and a large metal box my dad would pour mineral spirits in when cleaning parts or tools. To the right of the workbench usually sat a motorcycle that wasn’t being fixed or cleaned. The walls on both sides had to shelves that ran almost the length of the garage. They were filled with greasy old parts and boxes of assorted bolts and nuts.

In the middle of the small garage was my dad’s old stroker. It had a flame paint job on the gas tank and the gear shift was red metal and was inscribed "FUJIMO." I always asked my dad what FUJIMO meant, but he would never tell me. It wasn’t until I was older that he finally told me that it meant F*#@ You Jack I’m Moving On.

My dad always had his old stroker in the middle of the garage, the kickstand engaged on a small wooden black. It was difficult to walk through the garage because wherever you were, you were a few feet away from his bike. It was especially tricky to walk by the motorcycle right next to the heater. I was not just warned about knocking over the motorcycle, I was frightened into believing that a punishment worse than hell itself awaited anyone that knocked over his motorcycle. Someone once asked me what I would have done if I had ever knocked one of my father’s motorcycles down. My reply was one word. Run. They laughed, but I didn’t. Run. I guess I would have had to join a traveling circus, maybe become a professional hobo. Luckily for me, I never had to learn what would have happened.

There was also a small room that was connected to my father’s garage that housed two things: a refrigerator full of Budweiser beer and hundreds of old motorcycle magazines. The refrigerator was old and the door hand had been broken off as long as I could remember. There was usually some bar-b-q sauce in the door that my dad had cooked up, but the rest of the space was for Budweiser. I remember that one time one of my teachers came over to a bar-b-q that we had, and he brought some Bud Light over. When my dad put it in the fridge, it never again came out. I don’t know for sure if that old refrigerator was bulldozed along with the rest of the garage. But I do know that if it was, those six lonely cans of Bud Light were bulldozed with it.

There was a small bench in the room that had all my father’s motorcycle magazines on it. As a curious young boy, I would sneak into the garage and look through those magazines. While most of my friends would sneak peeks at their father’s Playboys, I would sneak peeks at my father’s Easyriders. Fantasies of naked women in exotic locations filled my friends’ brains, while fantasies of naked women on Sportsters and Panheads filled mine. I look back and think how different my puberty was than most. At school they always told us that those thoughts and feelings were normal, but I never did think anyone had those same thoughts of loose women on fast motorcycles that I did.

It was an exotic place, my father’s garage. It was filled with exotic images and the excesses of life. Speed and manliness seemed to be as thick as the exhaust fumes and the bullshit being bandied around. My father now has a much bigger and much better garage. Now he has a motorcycle business with showcases, pneumatic motorcycle lifts, and air tools. I know he wouldn’t trade his current garage for his old garage. It is the same way with houses. As you grow older, you need more space. But I can guarantee you this, he can remember the magic that used to be in that old garage.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


you have a pretty good memory, but it was just a pear that looked like a butt.
i do have lots of good memorys of my garage, glad i have alot nicer place know.
do you remember asking your mom after going to someones house that didn't have an upstairs where they kept there motorcycle parts?


7:44 PM  

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