Saturday, May 29, 2010

Looking For a Rain Cloud

Every weekend that we can, Daddy and I like to get out and ride around. On this day, I decided to take his truck. We drove down to his house and then hit the highway. I stopped at a state park and took some pictures. He told me he wanted to not go home until he had seen a rain cloud. (He kept a written record of the weather for over 50 years so watching the sky is one of his favorite pastimes.) The sky was almost clear so we might be gone a while. After we reached the interstate and I got the truck up to speed, I heard something hitting against the cab of the truck. It was loud enough that Daddy heard it, too. I pulled onto the shoulder to see what in the bed might be blowing around in the wind. There was a mop handle lying sideways so I figured it was rattling around. I took it out and put it inside the cab of the truck. I pulled back onto the interstate.

It wasn't long before the same knocking sound started again. Daddy told me to pull over and see if it was the box (milk crate) hitting against the cab. I didn’t want to stop on the shoulder again because I hadn’t felt safe the previous time so I told him I would wait until we got to our exit. After we got off the interstate, we stopped and got lunch. I took the milk crate (which contained an empty Sprite can and a butter bowl) and his cane out of the bed of the truck and put them in the cab. We headed down the highway once again.

A few minutes later, the noise was back. I found a side road and pulled over. I took the only thing left – a case of Sprite – out of the bed and put it in the cab. Even though it is an extended cab, by now it is getting crowded inside the truck. I had to move the umbrella, afghan, atlas, camera bag, pocketbook, travel box (that’s a story in itself), emergency kit, water bottle, mop handle, milk crate, and quad cane in order to make room for the Sprite.

We hadn’t gone more than a mile down the road before the knocking started again. Now that we’ve eliminated everything from the bed of the truck, the noise must be coming either from under it or on the roof. I had looked underneath the truck earlier and didn’t see anything conspicuous. I listened carefully at the banging and realized it was indeed coming from the roof. “I know what it is!” I announced. Several days earlier, when I washed the truck, I had noticed the gasket around the windshield was loose. I told Daddy I bet the gasket had come off and was whacking the top of the truck. The thought occurred to me that we must look mighty silly going down the highway with that gasket flapping in the wind. I knew I couldn’t stand that noise the rest of the day. The gasket had to go. I would cut it off.

A few years ago, Daddy would have reached in his pocket and handed me a Case knife. Nowadays he doesn’t carry a knife or nail clippers or anything at all in his pockets. Although on a couple of occasions when I have been getting ready to do laundry, his guitar pick has fallen out of his pants pocket. I needed to find a knife soon because that noise was really getting on my nerves. A road sign told me there was a town about two miles ahead. Perhaps there would be a store there where I could buy a cheap knife. I took the exit toward town and saw a Wal*Mart sign. Perfect! I parked and started to get out. Daddy said I had better make sure it was the gasket that was the problem. I looked at the windshield and, sure enough, half the gasket was draped over the cab. I’m only 5’3” so in order to reach it, I had to stand inside the door and stretch across the windshield. The truck is not made in such a way that I can lean against the doorway and balance myself so I had to hold onto something with one hand. There was no way I could cut the gasket with a knife if I only had one hand free. What could I cut it with?

I wrestled my pocketbook from its cane/crate/camera bag prison and headed into Wal*Mart. I went to the housewares section and selected a pair of kitchen shears that stated they were “Heavy duty for a variety of uses.” I paid for the scissors and walked out the door.

In the foyer, a voice yelled, “You wanna buy sum’n’ from th’ boy scouts?” I looked around and saw a young boy lying on the bench and holding up a piece of paper. “No,” I told him. What I really wanted to say was, “Get off your sorry butt, act like you’ve got some sense, put a little effort into it, and I might consider buying something from you,” but I didn’t have time for a lesson in manners. I had to cut a gasket.

I got back to the truck and took the scissors from the bag. I looked at the clamshell packaging which I now realized I couldn’t open because . . . I didn’t have a knife! I burst out laughing at the insane irony of the situation. When Daddy found out why I was laughing, he suggested that I try bending the plastic back and forth until it broke. I know that works for wire but I didn’t think it would work on hard plastic but I gave it a try. Nothing. I tried to tear it. I’ve opened jars that big strong men can’t budge so anything is possible. Still nothing. Think . . . think . . .

I looked up to see the couple that had been in line behind me walking through the parking lot. Their car was parked right next to us. As I got out of the truck, I hoped they remembered seeing me in the store. I walked over to them as they loaded their purchases into the trunk and said, “Excuse me.” I looked at the man and asked, “I hate to bother you but do you have a pocket knife?”

“Sure,” he answered. The lady also responded, “I’ve got mine, too.” As I handed the hermetically sealed kitchen shears to him, he smiled and said, “Every good hillbilly carries a pocket knife.”

I thanked him as he handed the open package back to me. I took out the scissors, climbed onto the side of the truck, and with one snip, the gasket was off. I put the gasket and scissors in the milk crate inside the cab. As we got back out on the highway, I realized I wasn’t too eager to find a rain cloud now that only half the windshield was sealed. We went to another state park and then drove around a while before I decided it was time to head home.

At 6:28 PM, we topped the mountain about 60 miles from the house and saw a rain cloud. We went through a few sprinkles but no heavy rain. The next time I’m at Wal*Mart, I’m going to buy a pocket knife and put it in my purse. This hillbilly will never again be without a pocket knife.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lessons I Learned as a Child

Never hide from your dad and not answer when he hollers for you.

Honey bees leave their stingers in you. Wasps don't.

Kool-Aid and sugar tastes good without mixing with water.

A doll's hair won't grow back.

Don't stick your finger in a locking mechanism to see how it works.

Rabbit tobacco is better left for the rabbits.

If you tie the end of a string to a June bug's leg and hold onto the other end, it will fly in circles.

Don't sit in the back seat next to your cousin that gets car sick.

If your hands are really cold, don't try to warm them with hot water.

Your mother really can wipe that smile off your face.