Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I'll be back tomorrow but in the meantime....

here's a short humorous story my husband wrote (ofcoarse I think its brilliant :))


It was 1991. I, the oldest child in my family of 6 or 7 – depending on how you count – had just reached my eighteenth year of age. It was a good year. I was too old for childish things like high school, which had intruded upon my often solitary and deeply introspective life, and too young for adult things like a job, which, I was certain, would have had the same negative consequences as high school. My parents’ divorce had occurred a year before, as had our mad dash from Denton, Texas to Kearns, Utah. It was but one of many desperate relocations during my childhood involving state lines, unpaid creditors and, above all, a chance to “start over,” as my father would say. It was also the year my mother had relinquished custody of my two younger brothers and two younger sisters to my father. To boot, Terminator 2 had just come to the dollar theater at Valley Fair Mall, which meant that I just might be able to afford to see it in a week or two.
On this particular Sunday, early in the Fall, everyone was restless; the boredom hung low and thick in the air. Minds went in circles. My father spoke in a deep rumble, “Let’s take a drive to see nature and go in the canyons.” The house exploded in happy cries with an occasional holler. The mood rapidly shifted, as it so often does in the minds of those not well.
We all shuffled out of the house, intent on having fun, or if not having it ourselves, at the very least seeing something that could be fun. We were a group of full-hearted adventurers, would-be professionals and wasted potentials. And still so unaware in our youth that we were being led by a madman, a lunatic in civilian clothes painting traumas and neurosis onto the canvas of the minds of those he legally guarded.
After a not-so-short trip through the center of a city of fast food joints, ice cream parlors and shopping malls, of which, owing to our perpetually indigent circumstances, we would not be partakers on that day nor any day soon. When there was nothing left to question or complain about, my brother, Ben, of 10 years of age, announced firmly, “I wish I was with Mama,” adding unwanted tension to the already terse atmosphere in the car. Indeed, lots of our trips came to play out this way.
The station wagon, by its very name, suggests shame. This wagon was particularly crummy. Two hundred and fifty thousand miles and still churning and turning away; a paragon of mechanical endurance. Tan and chrome with the imitation wood side panel peeling away like dead, dried skin. The Oldsmobile forced itself across the bridge and up into the mouth of the canyon, passing a sign at the entrance which read: “ENTRANCE $5.”
“Holy crap!” Sarah, my 16-year-old sister, exclaimed. “Did y’all see that we have to pay to drive up here?”
The air was moist, not quite sultry; it was cooler than that. It smelled sweetly of leaves rotting on the ground. Towering cliffs dwarfed the old station wagon, as it clunked up the steep grade. Nature’s stoic beauty sat all around us yet we couldn’t seem to quit groveling amid the mire of our lives.
“WE ARE NOT PAYING TO DRIVE UP A MOUNTAIN CANYON!” Boomed my father, his voice serious, yet the car roared with laughter. Moments later, “A DEER!!” Henry, my other younger brother, cooed. He was always the most observant.
“No,” my father said. “That’s a baby moose!”
For a moment everyone smiled. It was too much for the old man. “I bet they [the thieves in the park ranger service] hide behind the bushes and release that same moose over and again so people will feel like they got something for their money,” he commented.
Upon reaching the small shack where one was to pay for the privilege of meandering up a mountain, my father sped up the car. His mouth was a line and his eyes intent and everyone got quiet. We knew he was going to run right through that striped horizontal abomination that tried to separate us from freely enjoying things unscathed and natural. Finally, though, the impulse subsided, and the madman conceded to stop and pay the five dollars. Nothing could save them from the inevitable embarrassment to come.
“You people should be ashamed of yourselves; charging for this!” he sneered out the window at a blank expression and slight shoulder shrug. It was over.
We went up into the thin air, away from our house and thus got to be bored somewhere else. We looked around, tried to see things, made bad jokes and laughed too hard at them. After awhile, we decided that we could probably be just as entertained at home, and at least home had a toilet that flushed and everything – at least for the moment.
Sliding down through the foothills, with the sun already melted in the salt and dissolving quickly, we were all strange and quiet. We stared out our respective windows, but weren’t really looking at anything. I’m not sure what anyone was thinking about, but it felt as if we were all thinking about the day and its humdrum events, and how those events, as small and dull as they seemed, were important and not small because we lived them. It felt like we were thinking about things we didn’t understand and things we thought we did. It felt like the old dying stallion of a station wagon, as full as it was, had enough room for just one more.
Every trip one takes, however small, leaves the trip-taker with a fresh thread of an impression of himself. “By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.” It was a scriptural declaration each one of us was familiar with, and one that gave us hope, however vaguely. Sometimes we’d take whole days and file them under “forget” or entire experiences and assign them as “nothing” – and pretend to be rid of them, to be unaffected by their triviality. But sometimes, on a rainy day, while staring out the window and letting our thoughts float through our minds like feathers on a lake, I remember the feelings: the boredom, the anxiety, the embarrassment, the resolution, the hundreds of shades of emotions that toppled through all of us in the family every day. I remember the feelings thoroughly. And if I listen, I can hear it sometimes. I can hear the echoes of sound and time, in its bitter amusement, laughing, laughing, laughing, like a madman laughs – right before he expires.


  1. Wow, your husband is an incredible writer. I loved this story. I want to be a writer like hime someday :)

  2. Great story, but where's Tylaine? I miss you, girl.