Buzz Paths

Common Sense For Common People

Killer Threads Part Deux

March 25th, 2011 by Rich Szabo

A Continuation of “Killer Threads”

Was the little dump truck that our tire exploding hero drove the same vehicle that was carrying the piano in the dump bed while the janitor from the elementary school played songs on it all the way across town at about 35-40 mph? I recall a discussion about this years ago and it must have lingered in the dusty hallways of my mind.

Your time line is correct with regard to me working at Lavalle’s Amoco during your grandmas bout with Exxon’s red carb, high cholesterol gas dye. That reminds me…I have to get a good specimen from my cat’s litter box to bring to the vet for testing tomorrow. My cat and your grandmas car have similar symptoms. Exxon no longer uses the catch phrase “Put a tiger in you tank” and that is probably the reason why.( I have a hep-cat!)

That bout was also shortly before you and I transported Jack back from college laying on an army stretcher piled on his belongings in the back of my truck. Everything was piled high in my Suburban and he only had a few inches of space and would smash into the roof on the bigger road bumps. Dropping most of his stuff out a multi-story window was a real time saver,regardless of the fact that you “cracked one off” in the elevator and nobody wanted to use it until it aired out. Otis Elevators can really take a punch!

I cannot give anyone results of today’s interview because the employers had a shindig going on in the “big room” and had no time for me, so I filled out forms and was told I would be contacted tomorrow. I saw what was going on and understood. Over the last few seasons I have trained myself to not get my hopes up when job hunting no matter what anyone says. As I drove the 24 miles (one way) to the interview on a road that shook me loose from anything I ever held sacred….I reminded myself of all the people that took my applications and then blew smoke up my ass, wasting my time the past few seasons. I can now fart hourly smoke signal messages,weather reports and union soldier locations to all the Indian tribes as far as the great plains. I knew I had to look the part since this was an upscale joint along with catering hall for blushing brides, restaurant with bar and downstairs lounge for divorcees, cougars, big liars, giggles and grab-ass. My standard bartender outfit was the uniform of the day,consisting of black pants, bleach white oxford shirt,name tag engraved with “Bartender Bob” and black waffle stomper laced boots. It was windy and 40 degrees today so a short length black leather pilots jacket and smooth black lambskin gloves gave a mission-critical look. I will have to repeat this process when I am (hopefully) called back. When I was young I never thought I would see a great depression, abandon my true profession and beg for a job mixing flammable liquids with fruit juice.

Wow, I don’t recall the piano playing dump truck at all. I do remember the trip home in the cargo hold – grateful for the ride and the bruises were just a part of deal. To this day, I get a laugh telling about the time I sat in the Great Hall at Penn Station waiting on my chariot. I was just about nodding off when a commotion went through the room “look at THAT!” as Santa and Rudolph twinkled along the outer windows. “What on earth IS that?” ‘Scuse me! That’s my ride! We may have been broke, but you can’t buy style and class.

I’ve been meaning to respond more on what we have lost in the economy and culture. Part of it, on the Dean Martin, scotch and bombshell side, is that now we glorify youth and pretend we never have to grow up. A 45 year old man in a Party Dude t-shirt and Ed Hardy jeans is not rockin’. He’s creepy, he’s pathetic, and probably not allowed within 1500 feet of an elementary school. Adults drink cocktails, appreciate a good Cuban cigar and want music played by someone not overdosing on mescaline. Every generation rebels against their elders, it’s a part of growing up. Our problem is that in the ’70s the punks won, and we’re still paying the price.The world is much better with adults in charge.

The dump truck was the very same vehicle, but the driver at the time of the mobile honky-tonk recital was none other than Charles Gutknecht — yup, my stepfather. He actually did have a sense of humor, just not with me or my sister. The playing of the “Maple Leaf Rag” and other ragtime classics on that gigantic old upright was performed by Harry Hoeke. And the witness to this spectacle was my mother, who happened to be bicycling along Hillside Avenue when this sideshow went sailing past her.

Wow, I give Charlie credit, never knew he had that kind of humor. Pity he hid it so well.

Reminds me of that group about ten years back that mounted a grand piano on skis and ran it down the slopes at a resort in the Alps, with a pianist in black tails playing. The spokesman said “He played (whatever piece) by Rachmaninoff, which we think is appropriately tragic, and quite competently played under the circumstances.” You hope they had plenty of people waiting at the bottom to stop the damn thing before it went through the town.

Your grandmother’s problems with Exxon regular also reminded me of many Saturdays when we planned to do something. We both cut the grass at home first thing in the morning, then met at your grandmother’s and knocked out her yardwork so we could do our own thing. Amazingly enough, we didn’t think we were abused or exploited, it was what everybody did. I see plenty of kids around here, but rarely do you see one cutting the grass. Why is that? Are chores toxic now?

To be continued…

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