I just wanted to write again and thank MCC webmaster Greg Capes for paying me a visit in my hometown of Jasper, Alabama this past week. It was quite an honor knowing that he took the long way home to LA from his parent's place in Illinois just to have me throw up in his Mustang.
The historic meeting took place in the parking lot of Wal-Mart, the biggest and most recognizable landmark in Jasper. I pulled my Passport into the space behind his Mustang… you can't miss the car: a dark green Mustang Bullitt Edition with California "SSBULIT" plates. I got out and we met face-to-face for the first time after countless emails and long distance phone calls. California Cool meets Alabama Red.
We agreed that he would follow me to my house in the wilds of Walker County. I made sure to warn him about my driveway-- a rutted, rain-washed dirt trail that would most assuredly bottom out his Mustang. Just then, the rain began to fall again after holding off for a record three minutes. I got to my car first and started the engine. At first, I thought that Greg's car had exploded… a monstrous exhaust blatt escaped from his tailpipes and disrupted the electro- magnetic field in a twenty foot diameter, causing my car to stall and my radio to go dead. I got re-started and headed towards the exit with Greg in tow.
Just as we got out onto the main highway in Jasper, (the one that actually has lines painted on it) Mother Nature stuck it to us Alabama style. The sky exploded in a torrent with nearly continuous thunder and lightning. Yes sir, someone was making sure that our visitor from California got the full treatment. Hot as hell in the morning, violent storms in the afternoon. Rain never cools things off here… just makes it hotter. Actually, now that I think about it, "hotter than hell" is not an apt description. The truth is that "hell" as we know it is not actually a sub-terrainian wasteland. Building it underground was rather cost-prohibitive, so they opted for a Butler building with a tin roof somewhere in south Alabama. Anyway, the rain came down hard enough that I'm sure Greg was navigating solely by my taillights.
When we got to my house, it occurred to me that I had forgotten one small detail along with the warning about my driveway… the dogs. Our dogs, Sirius and Lila have maybe four working brain cells between them. Sirius has tried, on numerous occasions, to eat the FedEx man, and Lila, although not smart enough to know how to bite anyone, is capable of deafening an intruder with her ear-splitting yap. Lila is by far the bigger of the two dogs-- a long and lanky hound dog, that looks as though she would be more at home in the back of a pickup truck. Sirius is all black, and all you can see when he comes at you is teeth. Both the dogs charged Greg's car at mach 4, barking ferociously. By this time, Greg was already out of the car and running towards the house to escape the pounding rain, which incensed the two brainless canines even further. I got to the dogs just before Sirius made a lunge for Greg's femoral artery and grabbed their collars. Dipshit One and Dipshit Two realized then that Greg probably meant no harm and decided it was time to sniff his crotch. By the time I tore them away, we were both drenched and Greg felt thoroughly violated.
The rest of the visit went very well, as Greg met my family and all of the cats. For a single guy with no kids and no pets, he did very well. I expected him to be overwhelmed by all the noise, activity and cat hair, but he adjusted nicely. My household is one of those where everyone wants to talk at once, and nobody hears what the other one says, something that I have still not adjusted to after all these years. Greg seemed to be able to field questions from all directions, and listen to everyone at once. The only thing that seemed to worry him was the spectacular thunder and lightning show, which rarely happens in LA.
Before we ate, he was given the grand tour of my son's room. Isaac is eight and is a rapidly blossoming car nut and an aspiring artist. He promptly shoved his collection of car drawings (all 22,000 of them) into Greg's hands and asked him to look at them. Greg was properly impressed, for my son is quite good at car design for someone his age. He was even more impressed by the décor of his room: Ford. Pictures of Fords everywhere, even a huge Mustang poster that has pictures of eight different Mustangs. Greg gave him a short history of each one. He then saw the Playstation and asked him if he had Gran Turismo, which was his favorite game. I think I saw something very close to hero worship in Isaac's eyes at that moment.
My daughter Virgina is eleven and very direct. She walked right up and asked how old he was, and when he told her she said: "Jeez, that's even older than my dad." She didn't bother to give him a tour of her room, except to point out the window and say: "You can see my dad's Trans Am from here. It's broken and he can't fix it. He says he's going to teach me how to drive on it when I'm fifteen, but I don't think he'll have running by then."
We spent most of our time at the computer, looking over the re-construction of my web site, "The Car Guy of Benchfield". (Which, by the way, debuts on it's new server October 1st!) At one point, Booger the Cat hopped up in his lap… an honor that she has bestowed on only one other visitor in her six years on this Earth. She settled down, curled up, and went to sleep. We sat in front of the computer until after eleven, talking the whole time.
To my horror, Greg suddenly stood up and announced that he was going to take me for a ride in his Mustang. Okay, I thought. Souped-up Mustang, wet country roads, Greg Capes behind the wheel, not a good combination. But, wanting to be the gracious host, I consented.
Before I go any further, let me explain something. I don't do well in any vehicle that I'm not in control of. I once whoopsied my cookies in an elevator. I barf on merry-go-rounds, escalators and even golf carts. I even get sick when my wife has the controller to our adjustable bed. I can drive my own car like a maniac, but put someone else behind the wheel and I'm a goner. Telling myself that this time would be different, I followed him out the door, grabbing a few plastic Wal-Mart bags on the way out.
I'm not going to give you a play-by-play of what followed, just a few exerts from our white-knuckle ride.
Greg: Hey Steve! That was a reverse 180! Wasn't that cool?
Greg: Don't get any of that on the seats.
Greg: How many cops are back there now?
Greg: I don't remember you even eating that much.
Greg: Hey, where'd all this grass come from? And who put that cow there?
Greg: Don't forget to take that Wal-Mart bag with you when you get out.
Greg: Have you ever tried going down this street at 140?
Greg: Why don't you just loop the handles of that Wal-Mart bag over your ears and keep your head between your knees?
When we got back to the house, I fell out of the car and began French-kissing my driveway. I heard the door thunk close behind me, then heard him back out crazily and lay a patch of rubber down the street, trying to get the hell away as fast as he could. I noticed that I had forgotten my Wal-Mart bag… good thing I tied it shut. Hope he found it before the next morning.
Needless to say, I don't think Greg will be inviting me for any more rides any time soon. Hell, I don't think he'll even come within three states of me again… I've probably traumatized him for life.
Anyway, regardless of how it ended, thanks for coming to visit, Greg. I truly enjoyed your company and I'm an even bigger fan of MCC than I was before.
I just hope that used pasta salad odor didn't linger in the upholstery too long.