It’s good to be back. Refreshed, buffed out, tanned and flush with cash…..well, at least in my fantasies.
We certainly had a Summer for the records, didn’t we? And they say Global Warming is all in our imagination.
Summer was just plain brutal. Much of the Nation was consistently gripped in the unforgiving clutches of temperatures that burst the record-setting mercury at levels unseen for more than 100 years.
While Valet Boy broiled in the sweltering summer doldrums feeling pitiful, pathetic and useless, VB’s Erstwhile Lovers: Toured abroad, won big cash on TV game shows, performed off-Broadway, wrote books, swam with dolphins, appeared in top rated network TV programs, helped the homeless and/or donated a kidney or two to worthy causes.
Is it even remotely possible that VB might vicariously piggy-back, leech-like onto those life-enriching soul-expanding experiences to elevate his own deflated sense of purpose? (You betcha!) Would VB therefore gain a modicum of satisfaction and self-respect at having one time or another enjoyed close personal connections with these iconic Daughters of Eve? (Is that Life By Proxy?) Interestingly enough, these women’s lives have somehow greatly improved – even bettering mankind – after having (sometimes savagely) excised VB from their rolls. Could there be a “How To” book in the offing?
These integral elements of society’s web, now catapulted to fame and legendary status in Valet Boy’s poor addled memories, have doubtless long since forgotten this half crazed humbled Irishman. But, perhaps a few may fondly recall the fleeting tender moments of our romantic entanglements….
“Really, I’m sure you must be mistaken….What did you say your name was again?”
“No, I was never there….I’ve been a missionary in Ghana since birth.”
“Perhaps, you’re confusing me with someone who had less than no standards at all.”
“Oooops…Sorry. I’ve been on death row in a Texas prison for the last 40 years!”
“I can assure you, I’ve never been THAT intoxicated in my life!”
Well, it is difficult to expect that long-cold-in-the-ground thoughts of Valet Boy would be readily accessible by anything other than the expansive memory chip of a Cray 2000 Super Computer.
Still, it does give one pause.
That being said…
Now that summer’s cloying stifling swelter is a distant if not repugnant memory, Valet Boy finds himself in the sweet embrace of familial adoration, as administered by his dear dysfunctional pack, and feels much less Useless & Pathetic…(VB may still be U&P… He just doesn’t feel it! Ah…the blessings of dementia.)
Summer also seemed to last a helluva lot longer this year.
Even as Fall approached, the Dog Days were loath to relinquish their grip upon us. But all was not sweat laced musky disaster by any means. I was fortunate enough to get a little film work and have some friends from my old Hollywood Daze drop in on swinging Winston-Salem, NC – that hot bed of cutting edge lifestyle excitement.
First to pop in was a dear friend from my college theatre days. Marci Donley is an accomplished Calligrapher and author – among other things. You know how when you Google someone, it’s always silly to see the boxed link pop up “Find Books By So & So” ? Well, the neat thing about Marci is you actually CAN find Books by Her.
You can find her books on Amazon, as well as sites dedicated to the art of Calligraphy, and in book stores too!
One of the things I remember about Marci from our old school days, just prior to the Crimean War, was her bubbling personality, her smile and generally blissful nature. I’ve known Marci and her husband David for almost 40 years. Damn! It’s hard to believe that anyone would still be talking to me after that length of time! They both possess this seemingly never-ending well of positivity upon which they readily and effortlessly draw. That kind of constant in this ever-changing world is a heroic feat.
Marci had come to North Carolina to take a Calligraphy class with a world-renowned instructor who just happened to be based in our fair region. Lucky for us. Us being me and ol’ chum Dan Cox who’s also an actor, also lives in Winston-Salem, and has known Marci for at least 30 years himself – when they were both part of a wild improv comedy group on the Sunset Strip… But, all of that 80’s Hollywood History is for another blog post.
So, Marci comes to town. I retrieve her from the airport and we head over to Sixth & Vine (a favorite watering hole) for some Catching Up con Vino. Within mere moments the memories and laughs engulfed us and it was as if there’d been no separation of time and distance at all. I can honestly say my face hurt from smiling so much.
With a couple of days before she had to head up to her Mountain Calligraphy Retreat at some place called Camp Cheerio, Marci got the nickel tour of the city and surrounding area: Old Salem, Reynolda Gardens, The Arts District, Pilot Mountain State Park and of course a couple of my favorite watering holes.
Marci stayed in the country with Aunt Bea and me – Aunt Bea graciously consented to play the Perfect Hostess and I graciously consented to donate my bedroom – and Marci got to decompress by chilling on the front porch watching for deer to wander through the yard. We enjoyed a couple of easy days and then it was time to drive Marci to her retreat near the hills of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The Sunday drive was attractive and Marci got to enjoy some of the scenic back roads of North Carolina. We did miss a short-cut turn off and got a little confused when the road we were on seemed to evaporate in a small town where the concept of highway signs was as foreign as Crepes Suzette. Finally, after a few minutes of misdirection, we were back on track heading northward toward the shimmering hills.
We diligently watched the map and spied for the listed landmarks as we approached the general area of the main turn off to the Camp…or what we thought to be the turn off…into some kind of high end Country Club subdivision and promptly discovered I had a flat tire.
How in the heck did that happen? I mean sure I was noticing a slight sluggishness in the car’s responsiveness, but that was all. No big pop, no reckless swerving…My tired died with a whimper not a bang. But, it was only 1500 degrees Farenheit, so changing the tire on a private road in this upscale community with absolutely no place to stop and do the job would be fun…Loads of fun.
The tire had apparently been flat for some time without our knowing – falling into the Silent But Deadly category – and I was none too pleased. In point of fact, the tire was not only flat, its interior walls were shredded. Oh, poop. So, we empty the trunk, pull out the mini-spare, wrestle with the filthy flat, slap on the junior spare and cram the flat into the trunk and put Marci’s luggage in the backseat.
Ah, finally we’re ready to go…except… the mini-spare is flat as well. Double Poop! @%$!&%?@#*!!
Ever so slowly, I make a delicate U Turn in the middle of this very narrow residential street and back we go in the direction from whence we had come -creeping along at less than 5 MPH, the poor flat mini-spare flop flop flopping on the roadway. At this rate we’d be lucky to get Marci to her destination before her next birthday!
I knew I had seen a gas station just before we made that turn off the main drag….Flop. Flop. Flop. Dear Lord, look at the time! Flop. Flop. Flop.
Seven years later, we pull into the petite gas station, which was less gas station than it was a cute touristy country store with big front porch, fried chicken, pickle barrel…yeah yeah yeah WHERE’S THE DAMN AIR COMPRESSOR!!!!
By now the poor mini-spare was off the rim and looked really crinkled and sad. Out comes the jack…again….and up goes the car….again….we re-set the rubber on the rim (say a quick prayer) and start filling the tire with 60 lbs per square of salvation. I was dirty, sweaty, angry and tired – so Marci got us a couple of cold drinks, a cookie and a brownie… I had a Grape NeHi… Wheeeeee!
Off we go…again…in search of this place called Camp Cheerio.
In retrospect, it might’ve made good sense to ask the person behind the counter at the country gas place where the heck this Cheerio dump was… (Marci, why didn’t you think of that? I’m a guy, I have an excuse…Men are genetically predisposed against asking for help or directions.) At any rate, nobody asked therefore we were once again left to our own deviceless devices.
We retraced our previously ill-fated route (just as Google Maps has suggested) and drove all the way through the upscale Country Club sub-division until we reached a giant locked gate blocking any further progress.
Hmmmm. No sign of the road we were supposed to turn on. We whipped around (so far the stressed mini-spare performed like champ) and drove back thinking we had missed that particular turn off…. “Marci, let’s try calling the Camp contact number and see if we made a wrong turn or something.” Ring. Ring. Ring…..Nada.
No, we don’t see it. Let’s re-consult the map Marci had gotten from the Camp Cheerio folks. Fingers following the lines on paper, it seemed to us that we should be right in front of whatever we were looking for. Back again…all the way to the locked gate. “WHAT THE FRAK!”
Now I’m really getting pissed….Oh, I forgot to mention that I was under a deadline as well. I had to go all the way back down the mountain, drive an additional 45 miles to Greensboro for a rehearsal and be there by 6 PM. It was 3:30 now and I was easily more than 2 hours away from where I would need to be and still this damned illusive Camp Cheerio was no-frikkin-where in sight! “Where the Hell is this damn place? Marci, try calling them again and find out if we’re even in the right neighborhood.” Again…no answer on the Camp’s phone.
After another 15 minutes of driving back and forth through this quaint Country Club environment I was ready to kill. Okay. Let’s stop right here and go back to the main road like we’re going to that gas station and turn left instead of right and see what happens. Marci was amenable to that. She was almost as frustrated as I was…Yet there was that damned Donley positivity blissfully chilling in the passenger seat. Grrrrrrrr.
We reach the main road, turn left, drive 200 feet and there’s this huge sign with a big fat arrow pointing: “This Way to Camp Cheerio!”
I turned to Marci and said “@#%$!^&$#@&%$&*@*!!!”
NEXT TIME ON VALET BOY: The adventure continues with “Fish and Visitors DO NOT Smell in 3 Days!”
Thanks for Reading!