Editor’s Note: All writers have that file or bin where they tuck rough-cut stories that are in their infancy, possible seeds for something that might prove worthy in the long run, and then life intervenes and they never return to those seeds. In a moment of possibly insanity, I’ve decided to pluck out a few of the occupants in my “maybe someday” pile and unleash them on the world, unedited and with no extra flair. The following unpolished bit was intended to be the first installment concerning a wedding in a town that is frozen in time. Enjoy…
Quick bits from a road trip to Guthrie, OK.
The Dream Police.
Well, the plan was to disembark from the house at 7:30a. This was initially a fine and dandy idea, with visions of us arriving in Guthrie well before noon. Sadly, the evening before our departure, evil obstacles arose that threatened to derail our itinerary and possibly throw all of society into total anarchy.
Firstly, my partner’s sister, Nina, was flying in from Odessa to spend the night with Terry and I, so we could drive to their nephew’s wedding together. Well, she was trying to fly. Apparently things were amiss at the Midland airport, and departure times kept getting rudely shoved to less socially-desirable times. This probably had something to do with the fact that they haven’t had any rain in years in that area, and the plane wheels were too dried-out to actually turn.
Secondly, this shocking shift in the scheduled times to fling people through the air in a tube forced an adjustment in another critical milestone for the trip: the sacred Chatting at the Kitchen Table. Both of our families insist on this ritual exchange of information when one family member arrives at another family member’s house, even if you have seen or spoken to that person just a few days ago.
All must gather around the ceremonial table, an array of snacks must be displayed in an accessible manner (with none of these snacks being the least bit healthy or you have to start over), and then everyone proceeds to gossip about and make fun of any relative who is not currently present at the table. This review is not officially over until all absent relatives have been criticized and/or had their lives planned out for them.
So that took a bit, because both our families are well-stocked with bad apples and sour grapes, and before we knew it we were looking at one o’clock in the morning. Whoops. Hurried goodbyes were hurled about and folks tumbled into beds. Two quickly succumbed to slumber. One did not.
I lay there for a solid hour without the tiniest hint that unconsciousness was the least bit imminent. Nothing. I hadn’t dared take any type of sleep aid and risk being the one person in the morning who couldn’t be roused in a timely manner and therefore the object of scorn for the reminder of the day. I didn’t want to be a topic at the next Kitchen Chat that I did not attend, wherein people spoke bitterly of The Day When Brian Made Everybody Late for Everything.
Finally, I moved into that surreal, touch-and-go light-sleep business where you drift just enough to start a dream, but then the mind film snaps and your eyes pop open. The cycle continues, with your brain becoming increasingly confused about the scheduled showings at the Dream Cinema, and it just starts making crap up. Totally random crap.
The images blurred a bit, but herein is my nocturnal adventure.
The lady on the plane kept insisting that I drink the cranberry juice. I had no desire for the cranberry juice, and I tried to make this clear with increasing vehemence. Dissatisfied, she turned into a disco ball, spinning for a while as a crowd of people got sweaty on the dance floor, laughing and having a good time even though it was very clear to me that the bathroom was on fire and someone should really do something about that.
Brief interlude while I restored an old townhouse in New Orleans.
We had some mess about waffles and the damaging political repercussions of choosing the wrong syrup, along with a discussion on sexting led by my grandmother, wearing an odd wig and making a gelatin dessert that involved layers of lemon and cherry. (Everyone greatly enjoyed this treat, until that one person died.) Cows were involved in some way. They always are.
Then I think a man was hitting on me, but I wasn’t entirely certain, because he was speaking in French and I’m rusty with that language and I could only grasp about every third word. He kept referring to a spreadsheet, so he may have just been working on my taxes or organizing my DVDs. It turns out that his true motivation didn’t really matter, since giant termites suddenly began chewing on the house. As we all now, anything eating your house is not a good thing, especially if they have been super-sized or have more than two legs.
My eyes popped open again, for what proved to be the final time. Interestingly enough, the noise of the snacking termites continued. Then I realized that I was hearing Scotch the cat at his bowl, munching. Normally, he will only take a few bites, then run clean himself for two hours. This time, he was insisting on a full-out buffet, and determined to squeeze every crunch out of every kibble.
I glanced at the clock. 5am. The alarm clock was going off in an hour. I hadn’t really slept at all, just snippets here and there, and with the Scotch-inator determined to recreate the Battle of Midway via sound effects, my permanent waking state was a done deal.
I sighed. We had a full day of driving and pre-wedding activities and a rehearsal dinner and at some point, of course, we had to insert celebratory binge-drinking.
I was so screwed.
Originally published in “Bonnywood Manor” on 05/04/16, although the draft file of this story is dated 06/17/11 and, if memory serves, I wrote said draft whilst in a narcoleptic haze in the back seat of the car bound for Guthrie. (Yes, I’m one of those annoying people who bangs away on a keyboard when I should be doing something else.) Slight changes made for this post, even though the original opening note proclaims that I did not make any changes. (Never trust anybody from Oklahoma.) I’m including this bit in the Scotch Retrospective as it’s yet another origin story in how he became the neurotic mess that he is today. Just like his daddy…
Oh, and for those of you who are growing a bit weary of the Scotch stories, I do plan to end this Retrospective shortly. (Then again, I’m from Oklahoma, and there’s a trust issue with such folks…)
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