My Fresh Hell
Life in Scribbletown.



(As promised - but this one counts for Monday)

In a couple of months, I will turn 40. While I'd been sort of not looking forward to this milestone (millstone?), it wasn't really something that had overly depressed me. After all, I've accomplished many of the things I've wanted to by this point in my life.

But, now? It's so depressing, I can't even begin to tell you. Time is slipping away. Death looms. I feel like I'm racing down a dark hallway that keeps getting longer and longer – the prize farther and farther away. Whatever the prize is. I'm still not sure. The clock's ticking much louder than before. I wish I could simply turn back my internal clock ten years and get back the energy (not to mention certain body parts) of my 30 year old self but keep everything else the way it is now. Where is THAT Wayback Machine, I ask you? Eh, Mr. Peabody? Maybe it's that I want an extra 10 years with my kids. An extra bonus round where I finally get that novel finished and published and…I'm not middle-aged.

These thoughts – mainly kept in the confines of my shower stall – have caused me to look backwards and memories of forgotten times are creeping in. Like memories of Ricky.

I'm not sure why I suddenly thought about Ricky after all these years. I mean, I didn't really know him. He was just the older brother of my neighborhood friends (Jim & Janet – remember my penis stories? Go back through the archives to Amiable Jim – Aug 2004. This one mentions the first duplex – they lived in two different ones, across the street from each other. Yeah, I'm confused, too.). In fact, I think Ricky was only a half-brother or something. He was about ten years older than us.

He was not "all there" – what we called mildly retarded in the seventies. Back when you could call people that and not be reported to the PC police. But, I didn’t know that was what was wrong with him. I knew something about Ricky was off, but not exactly WHAT. I figured he was just another fairly unintelligent redneck. We have a lot of that around here.

I can tell you that Ricky, in a second-hand way, introduced me to aspects of the world I'd hitherto not known existed (is that proper English sentence construction? If not, my apologies.).

Ricky was a redneck but a peculiar breed of redneck. A true product of his time. He had a blonde shaggy mullet, a tall gangly body with long monkey arms and legs and protruding ears. Looking back, I don’t think there was ever a moment he wasn't stoned. Not a single one.

Now, as I mentioned Jim and Janet lived in a duplex (this, though, is the second one). It always smelled of wet dog, cooked cabbage and second-hand smoke. The rooms were small, dark and dingy. They lived downstairs and their grandmother lived above them. I suppose it was a pretty good arrangement since their mother worked nights (doing god knows what; I never found out), their grandmother was around when they got home from school. At least, that was the idea. I never saw much of her. I think she was one of those, "Get the hell out of the house and play until dinner" types. Children should only be seen at mealtimes and right before bed. Otherwise, they're somebody else's problem. Someone else meaning the neighborhood at large. We roamed in packs, like dogs, back then. It's just what kids did back in the day.

Ricky lived, at various times, in one of the apartments. At one point, he had the front room, kind of an entryway, in the bottom apartment. There was a bed and a dresser. A wall-to-wall brown shag carpet, naturally. And, more importantly, a record player.

On the days Jim and Janet were allowed to play in the house, we'd sit and ogle the record player, waiting for Ricky to leave so we could use it. Eventually, he'd get his mullet combed, fill his pockets with hard packs of Marlboros, light a cigarette from the pack-in-use, and lumber out the door saying, with a shit-eating grin, "Y'all don't touch my shit, now!" He'd get in his car – something similar to a rusty Camaro-like muscle car on its last legs – rev the engine and peel off down the street. To do what and go where……..we knew not. Ricky was a mystery. Not that we thought too hard about him.

So, once gone, we pulled out The Album .

We placed it lovingly (well, as lovingly as eight years olds can) on the turn table, lifted the arm, placed the needle down on the vinyl and began to listen! Oh! The hilarity! Up His Nose! How funny! And, for the longest time, I had no idea that these jokes were about drugs! I kind of knew about pot but that was about it. Mainly, Cheech and Chong were just silly. Silly, we got. Coke jokes, not so much.

Next up: Leo Sayers. I mean, "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" was, as the kids say now, da bomb. What wasn't to love? The guy looked like a dweeb in his whitey 'fro but the songs kicked ass. At least to eight year olds. That Ricky, he had the record collection for the ages for sure.

And, of course, he was a wrestling aficionado, if one can use a term like "aficionado" to describe Ricky. Ricky loved nothing more than to watch monster movies (he gets bonus points for that) and wrestlers. He introduced me to people like Ric Flair and Freddie Blassie, whether I cared or not. He had us all running around singing,

"Pencil neck geek. Grit eatin' freak,
Scum suckin', pea head with a lousy physique.
He's a one man, no gut, loosing streak.
Nothin' but a pencil neck geek."

Aw, man! Yeah.

Eventually, Jim and Janet's mother remarried some fat bellied ignorant redneck in the construction business who made enough money to move them to a sad little marginal subdivision full of people who kept multiple dogs in pens and had at least three pickup trucks in each driveway (always good to keep a spare on hand). Ricky vaporized for good. He did not follow them to the split-level which was probably a good thing since he would have been in his 20's by then.

I don't think I'd want to run into Ricky today at any of the thousands of local 7-11s where he probably goes to get a 40 oz of some amber liquid and his Marlboros. I'd probably cringe to see his scrawny ass drive off in a Ford Whatever yelling at his fat bruised wife and, I would guess, four dirty children crammed in the back seat without a safety seat in sight, much less a working seat belt. I'd see him in his dingy Levi's and grey wife-beater t-shirt on and it would just depress me. And, lord knows, I don't need that!


4:41 p.m. ::
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