Driving Away

The six guys sitting in the back of the truck at the Tigermart smiled when I pulled up and said something obnoxious. Having to do with my tits, I’m guessing from the hand gestures. I smiled at them anyway, because I was on my way to the interstate.

Ah, the interstate. Really, once you give a girl a car, how can you keep her home?

Being Thursday, it was pretty much me and the men of the I-24/I-57 corridor. There were the relieved looking firemen resting on the guardrails, one with his hands at his sides and his head tilted back, eyes shut, into the sun. And the two men who were exchanging insurance information, one on the phone, with his hand absentmindedly stroking the back of his own neck.

There were the old men in McDonalds, drinking their coffee and watching CNN. They looked up when I walked in, didn’t recognize me, and looked back to the television.

At the gas station, I pulled up behind a young kid in a big red pickup truck. He was tall and lanky, with his green John Deere shirt tucked tightly into his Carhartt pants. His ball cap sat far back on his head, like he’d lifted it up to scratch an itch, and not bothered to set it back in place. His boots were shit-encrusted.

I had some boots like that, stained in pig’s blood and worn, that I shuffled to work in every day for a summer, that I stole from Shug’s cousin–another farm boy.

Inside the gas station there were two boys, one tall with long brown hair and the other small and blond. The tall one was complaining about missing homecoming. The short one was mad that the tall one got the cute girl and he got stuck waiting on me. “Hey,” I thought, “Six Mexican guys were thrilled to see me this morning, so I don’t know what your problem is, dickwad.” But I smiled at him, anyway.

Because I was going back on the interstate, and away from him.

Being able to leave–what a blessing. And the interstate, like an emergency exit from all those crappy places people live and die in lonely*. I was tempted to keep going, just to see how far I could get**.

The whole way up was so beautiful and there’s something about seeing the corn, a dry gold in the fields, giving way beneath the hungry combines, that makes me happy.

I couldn’t come back here to stay. And as much fun as I had running away from my life back home***, I’ll have even more fun fleeing away from here on Sunday****.

It’s really the only way I can come back, if I know I don’t have to stay.
——

*”Places people live and die in, lonely.” That’s such a nice phrase I’m almost sure it’s not original to me. I must have read it someplace, maybe in a poem.

**But, you know, gas is $3 a gallon, which means that, under normal circumstances, I can get about eleven miles away and then have to turn around and come home.

***I had a bunch of the Butcher’s CDs to listen to, and I made my way through some of the Led Zeppelin box set, some great old Dylan, my favorite Liz Phair CD, the Resevoir Dogs soundtrack, and I tried to listen to Steve Miller–who I find I like better in theory than in practice.

At one point, I realized I was singing along with what surely must be Sarcastro’s theme song:

It’s nice to be liked
But it’s better by far to get paid
I know that most of the friends that I have don’t really see it that way
But if you could give ’em each one wish
How much do you wanna bet
They’d wish success for themselves and their friends and
That would include lots of money

**** Y’all, the littlest nephew is so cute, but he’s almost four and the lack of stability and regular discipline is obvious. And I’m sporting a nifty new burn from where I was fishing a potato out of the back bottom of the oven and he came up behind me and hit my arm.

“Are you mad at me?” he asked after I yelled “argh!”

If you aren’t paying complete attention to him, he’s worried that you’re mad at him.

It breaks my heart.

It’s true that kids need fathers, mothers, parents, grandparents; but most of all, they need some loving rules. Without that, it’s like he’s been raised by wolves. Shit, now they’re hauling me away to eat…

[9:15–edited to add: Whoever was betting I wouldn’t make it five hours before I was ready to come home, you win. God damn. There is togetherness, and then there is togetherness, and this is of the too-much variety. Slowly, the adult is being sucked out of me and I’m being reduced to a sulking mess who’s ready to bristle at any real or perceived affront. Our parents have told us to go to bed three times already. Yes, it’s 9:15. I’m about ready to stab myself in the eye with a pen. The Butcher appears to be in some kind of coma and his awesome moustache is sadly gone.]

Last Minute Stuff

Okay, America, behave yourself.

Middle Tennessee, be sure to check out the Southern Festival of Books. I’d be there if I could and it’s good fun.

Midwesterners, I’m coming at you. I’ll be the cute girl in the Tiny Cat Pants t-shirt, well, unless the Super Genius is wearing hers today, then you have a fifty-fifty shot of it being me. I’ll be driving I-57 and, if the Super Genius is headed to Bloomington this early, she’ll be on I-55. Let that be your guide.

Professor, the big dog treats are on top of the fridge. The little dog treats are on the kitchen table. I put some in a bag if you want to take them with you when you go out. Yes, the dog chews the sheets. No, I don’t know why. If you don’t catch her, she’ll leave a slobbery wet spot right where you want to sleep. Very gross.

Sorry I didn’t vacuum, but the vacuum smells very bad, like something burning from straight out of Hell. The dishes in the dishwasher are clean, or should be by the time you get here. Just stack your dirty stuff in the sink.

I left you that chicken shit from the other night in the fridge. Remember, when you go to nuke it that my microwave is a refuge from the flood of 93 and sometimes won’t actually work. Just slam the door harder.

There’s no beer, but there’s tequila in the freezer. I threw out the lime, though. At least, I’m assuming that used to be a lime.

The Redheaded kid is also supposed to check in on the dog. He drives a red car, so don’t be alarmed if you see one in front of the house.

You can take him as a lover, if you want. He’s legal now. Just be gentle with him; he’s got a heart condition.

Put food in the bowls when they’re empty. The cats can be in or out depending on their preference. They both bite for fun, so watch your hands. The dog will growl at things. Don’t be alarmed.

I think that’s everything. You know how to get me if you need me.

Thanks so much.

Elias, yes, I do love to tell everyone what to do. Don’t even start with me.

A Spooky Story for My Conservative "Fans"

All right, America, I know it seems like just two weeks ago, I abandoned you for the majestic beauty of Colorado. And now, even before Rex L. Camino gets back, I’m leaving you again. But I’ll be back before you know it.

Still, it has come to my attention that there are a few of you conservative bloggers quietly reading Tiny Cat Pants and I hate to leave you without anything to ponder late at night, as you’re lying awake wondering if I’m just one lone crazed lunatic or if I’m just saying what a vast ocean of liberals think but can’t articulate.

So, Nathan Moore, Bob Krumm, Glen Dean, etc., put on your pajamas, settle in here next to me, and let me tell you a scary story in honor of Halloween.

Once, there was a conservative blogger–Nabob Dean, let’s call him–who lived in a nice house in a good suburb, let’s say Brentwood, with his wife. One evening, when his wife was at a PTA meeting and he had the house to himself, he sat down to blog about something important, let’s say “reserving judgment on judicial nominees.”

Just as he was getting to the meat of his argument, weighing whether we ought to trust the President’s decision-making skills or whether we ought to throw our hands up in despair, something on the TV caught his attention–a liberal blogger had been sighted in Brentwood.

Well, of course this unsettled Nabob and he got up, checked the windows and locked the doors.

Then, he got back to work on his polemic.

All of a sudden, his IM screen popped up.

Hello, Oppressor of the Working Class.

Who is this? He typed.

There are poor people in the world, nay, in this very state, who hate you.

This is not funny. He typed.

We both know your opposition to the estate tax is based solely on greed.

It’s a death tax, you idiot, he typed, furiously. Taxes have already been paid on that money.

You haven’t paid taxes on that money. I could argue that tax has been paid on every piece of currency in my purse, and not pay any taxes. But I don’t. I accept my responsibility to chip in for the greater good.

First, your argument doesn’t make any sense. Do you think this shit, excuse my foul language, out before you type it? Second, “greater good”? What kind of hippie liberal bull…

And then Nabob knew. He knew precisely what kind of hippie liberal bullshit this was. This was the hippie liberal bullshit of a liberal blogger.

Ma’am, he typed. Good day.

I’m not going away.

I said ‘Good day,’ he typed and he exited out of his IM program.

Just then, another instant messenging window opened, another program. He would have to remember to talk to Nabob Jr. about cluttering up the computer with this crap.

Women are not just vessels for your seed.

“Enough,” he yelled into the empty office. He reached over and unplugged the broadband connection.

A Word document opened and he watched “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people” appear before his eyes, as if typed by ghostly fingers.

“That is it,” he said and he called Comcast.

He explained the situation and they assured him they could have someone out to look at his broadband connection in two days, between 8 and noon. After he yelled and threatened to call his lawyer, the woman offered to see if she could tell what was going on.

She would call him right back.

He looked up at his screen. It now said “Gay marriage is not going to kill you.”

He stared at the screen for a long time, not quite knowing what to do. Just then, the phone rang. He about jumped out of his skin, but he answered it.

“Sir,” the voice said, “This is Debbie from Comcast. You need to get out of the house right now.”

“What?”

“Right now, don’t turn off your computer. Just get out of the house.”

“Okay, I’m leaving. What’s going on?”

“Sir, I ran a trace on the activity on your computer and…”

“And?”

“Sir, the liberal blogging is coming from your upstairs!”