THROTTLE
by GORDY GRUNDY
JUNE 2009
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PRAIRIE SCHOONER
   
   

[Editor’s Note: The following chapter is an excerpt from Gordy Grundy’s upcoming new memoir ‘Luck Is My Bitch.’]

Chapter Three: Prairie Schooner


My father and I have shared a loving and distant relationship, much like that of an old college chum or a fond acquaintance. This dynamic was established on a road trip when I was very young, around five or six, and has not changed since.
Fathers and sons are never an easy plotline. Pop and I never shared intimacies, secrets or life lessons. I never bothered to tell him when I first got laid. It is a soldier’s relationship of duty and responsibility. He had my back. He covered me well. And now in his senior years, I hope I have his. ---Or, at least, I’ll get my sister to do it.
Though, with a bit of guilt, I admit the favor has been to my advantage over the years. I was a hellion a lot longer than he’s been old.
He saved my ass many times. When I couldn’t get out of a jam on my own, I would have to confess the crime and state the problem. Never a hand or a word was raised. Every time, he would look down, whisper, “Oh, Jeez” and then ponder the dilemma. His engineering mind was focused on a solution, not a reaction. It sure made life easier. It is with great fondness that I recall his quiet, “Oh, Jeez” He always said it with an amazing combination of comfort, disappointment, fear, anger, shock, awe and I suspect a lil’ humor. I think that reaction was a part of his history, for his mother was wilder than I.

It was late winter or early spring. The chill of the morning over the high desert would make way for a warm, comfortable noon. The day was exceptionally bright. A white sun, reflecting off white sand, blocked all blue from the sky.
It was a car trip, three hours deep into the Anza-Borrego desert and three back. My Dad had taken me with him on the half-day jaunt to obtain a signature for a client. It was our first adventure alone and it was unfamiliar and awkward. Always with a maternal referee, our relationship had never been defined.

I don’t remember much about the ride out, except for the purpleness of early morning and the ranch house buried deep in a tiny wind block of old mesquite. The signature of an ancient farmer in a dirty cowboy hat took seconds to scrawl.
Ten minutes later, we were moving fast, closer to home and lunch. Occasionally, a town would build on the horizon and speed past. Some had life, but most were monuments to nature’s victory over civilization. In the wide expanse of desert, my father and I embraced the awkwardness of silence.
I did then, as I do today at any cocktail party. I kill awkward despair with a monologue, a random, free-flowing, explosion of interests and ideas, looking to engage. You keep putting out until you find a commonality.
Across the bleached asphalt highway, I spoke of my greatest passions and interests. The Force. Bonnie and Clyde. Thompson machine guns. Light sabers. Strange milk bottles set against fiery winds and the allure of Annie. Alone with my father for the first time, I told him of everything that caught my fancy and enflamed my imagination.
Star Wars was mind-blowing and unending. Cybill Shepherd was infinite and otherworldly. A Ford Model A was sexy. And the artwork of Ed Ruscha opened my mind to new vistas of delight and possibility. I spoke of everything Han Solo. It was an explosion of sheer energy and zeal.
I was exhausted and talked out. It must have been an hour, in front of the greatest audience a boy could ever have.

…The teats on rubber tires grind a hollow hum, a colorful white noise. Part of the windshield is polarized, tinting the sky to an artificial and hyper-saturated blue. None of my bait caught a fish. If it had been two decades later, I would politely sidle out with the excuse of refreshing a drink.
The uncomfortable silence was a desert. There was no connection. After many miles, I was working a slew of theories. I concluded that I had failed an audition. Or maybe he just didn’t love Faye Dunaway as much as I did. Or maybe I had scared him off. Maybe he didn’t like me. Or maybe we are alike, for I have a hard time talking to little kids; they are not that interesting.

After passing battalions of Joshua Trees, my father finally spoke. Maybe he was speaking to kill the awkward silence or possibly it came from his heart. With eyes on the road, he began to explain the contractual transfer of real estate, highlighting California law procedure and partnership rights, in great detail.
The roar of the highway and the warming of the day had a far greater persuasion. His words soon fell upon each other and I was drowning in uncharted waters. My father was boring the hell out of me. It was clear we had nothing in common.

Long before we hit our city limits, my father and I had gotten to know each other. We would be pardnas in the cowboy way. We would cover each other’s back and chat in line at the chuck wagon. We’d ride in the same posse but we wouldn’t hang. And that is how it has successfully remained.
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GORDY GRUNDY is a Los Angeles based artist. He is the creator of the 3-4LUCK, a new handheld happening that generates a profoundly human experience. His visual and literary work can be found at www.GordyGrundy.com.

   
   
 
   
       
   
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