Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Nekkid Time

There’s an old Garth Brookes song that poses the question of what to do with a cowboy when he don’t saddle up and ride away.
If you are unlucky, broke or just plain out of your mind, you get engaged. But before you do that, you have to meet his family. In this particular instance, his family—his grandmother in particular—was his ace in the hole.
It turns out his mother and father died the same year my father died, when we were both four-years-old. I took this as a sign. He took this as a way into my pants. Either way, it worked out for a while.
Miss Jessie was a tart, tough little blue-haired Baptist lady who smelled like Avon’s version of gardenias and the Old Testament, and from the moment I met her, I was smitten.
After our first big fight, Fluf went to his grandmother so that she might intercede on his behalf. Instead of jumping to his side, she said, “Well, boy. Ya shit in your nest and fell back in it. Now you got a mess to clean up.”
We survived that fight, along with many others, due largely to a little old lady with a loving heart and balls as big as icebergs.
So, when she asked us to go fetch some things from her little rent house out in West Bumfuck, who was I to refuse? Besides, this would be Fluf’s and my first roadtrip together, and I’d never been that far west.
Turns out I hadn’t missed much
West Texas is approximately one billion miles away from Austin, and because the trip takes six hours, we decided we’d spend the night there and head back the following afternoon.
Living in Austin tends to spoil you, and you forget that not all places on God’s green earth are green. Rotan, Texas is brown. The grass is brown, the dirt is brown, even the sky is brown because it’s filled with dirt.
Saying so does not hurt a West Texan’s feelings, because they know it is unattractive, flat and dry, and in fact, they take great pride in the sheer endurance it requires to live there. But I don’t believe in endurance for endurance sake, and I’d have to be sittin’ on an oilfield to ever want to live there.
I’m not alone in this musing. Miss Jessie used to say if she owned hell and half of West Texas, she’d live in hell and rent out Texas. And if she did, there’d be three hundred rednecks waiting in line for a lease.
In truth, there is a terrible, desperate beauty about West Texas, like the Chisos Mountains that rip red and orange through the wide, blue sky.
But Rotan, Texas has no mountains, and the entire town has one tree. It may not be the armpit of the world, but I’d put it in the top ten.
About two hours into the trip, the air-conditioner in Fluf’s truck broke (things always broke in Fluf’s truck—in fact the whole thing was held together with duct tape and a prayer), so we spent the next four hours languishing in a heat than the hammered hinges of hell. It also smelled like ass.
In its hay day, Rotan was an oil town, and the stench of long-dried up oil rigs blankets the town like a noxious fog.
Then there’s the dirt. You would not believe the amount of dust and red dirt that can fly into an open pickup window and deposit itself in areas of your body that, until that moment, you were blissfully unaware of.
Getting hotter and tired-er and dirtier by the mile, I informed Fluf that I had enough dirt on my body to re-pot a geranium and I would not be fit for company until I had a shower and brushed at least some of the dirt out of my teeth.
Assured that no one was in Miss Jessie’s rent house, and that I could in fact take a shower so long and hot it’d dry out the town. Calmed by this assurance (and the second or third beer he handed me), I settle back and contemplated brown skyline.
Now if there’s anything a redneck loves more than his truck, it’s a naked woman in said truck.
He popped the top on my third (or sixth) beer, and announced, “It’s nekkid time!”
There’s a big difference between being naked and being nekkid. Naked means you don’t have any clothes on. Nekkid means you don’t have any clothes on and you’re up to somethin’.
Rednecks are often big time sweet talkers, particularly if there may be an opportunity to see some boobies. I’m convinced it’s an evolutionary skill, because based on their housing arrangements (sacking out on a friend’s sofa) and their financial planning (buying lottery tickets), no redneck would ever get laid.
And in the interest of getting laid, Fluf commenced to cajoling me to get nekkid.
I was pleasantly buzzed enough to acqueiesse to this small, slight perversion. It was dark, there was no one in the god-forsaken place for miles—what harm would it do?
It is one of God’s pure truths that if you tempt fate, you’re gonna get it triple fold. The moment the panties came off, flashing red lights appeared from nowhere and we were being pulled over.
I made a mad scramble for the floorboard when Fluf said, “Don’t worry. It’s just Curtis. He can’t see.”
“What do you mean he can’t see?”
“He’s blind.”
“Right. You have a blind cop driving around town pulling people over?”
“He’s not really a cop. They let him use the light and pay for his gas, and he runs around handing out speeding tickets.”
“So if he’s blind, how did he know we were speeding?”
“He can tell by the engine sound.”
“But how does he drive?”
“He knows the road.”
I clutched my shirt while Curtis the blind traffic cop was at the driver’s side window, ripping a ticket off his handy little pad.
He was a small guy, balding and a slight pooch lopping over his belt buckle. And he had on the thickest glasses I’d ever seen.
“Fluf? Is that you?” Curtis said, squinting through his coke bottle lenses.
“Hey, Curtis, how you doin’?”
“Oh I could complain but it wouldn’t do no good.”
“Nice car. Who’d you sue?”
Curtis offered a wide, half-toothed grin. “Some fool up from Fort Worth.”
Fluf nodded, like suing someone and buying a car with the proceeds was the most natural thing in the world.
And, after about five minutes of this witty banter, asking after Curtis’s mom-n-them, the blind traffic cop bade us goodbye and admonished us to slow down.
He said nothing about my near nakedness.
I wasn’t sure if I should be grateful or offended.
“He really can’t see,” I said.
“Yep. Blinder than two-foot up a bulls ass.”
And then he tugged my shirt away from me and grinned. “Welcome to West Texas. Now, get nekkid.”

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