“we finally figured out that we had truly missed the boat.”

Well, I thought it was a fun game. Spoilsports.

Anyways. Since the rest of you folded, the one person that did submit an entry does not have to show his hand. I was looking forward to doing all sort of stats, like what reference was most identified, which was missed the most, listing the various percentages of correct vs. incorrect answers as well as the most interesting guesses. I was also planning on listing all of the correct references, but now you have to live in wonderment…besides I basically spelled it all out in yesterday’s geek manifesto post. Thhpppffftt.

So now I have to write something about the winner’s request. I have been pondering it for days…yes days… Johnny on the spot that one. Kind of a tough request in some ways too; a straight forward subject no doubt but difficult in the sense of relating it to personal experience well enough to write something. But a deal is a deal, so here goes…pardon the loose interpretation.

As far as I can recall no-one has ever stuffed a cream pie in my face. It may have happened, but in the wrong circumstance it might be the sort of thing I am wont to block from memory. Of course I have an equally difficult time imaging why a pie in the face would be a negative experience. All in good fun right? I mean they did a whole mess of that at the end of Blazing Saddles…as flat out bizarre as that ending scene was. But of course all of that is really beside the point. The pie in the face shtick was an element of the occasion; the occasion being parting ways…the grand send-off.  And incidentally the subject of our current discourse.

I have left many times. They may not all have been the right move, but there you have it. The first big one was when I decided to abandon my current existence the summer prior to my senior year of high school. I was living in the suburbs south of Chicago and I guess I was discontent… So in my infinite wisdom I chose to up and move to far Northern Maine -I’m talking chuck a potato over the border into Canadia far north- to live with my estranged father and his family. The send off from Chi-town was a small affair. My self, my mom, my best friend, and his mom who was kind of like a very close aunt to me. We went to a “medieval” themed dinner theater. Think renaissance faire… buxom wenches serving halves of chicken and no utensils. There was a troubadour of sorts that ambled about playing a guitar…alas no lute. As I recall he was fairly good and was a veritable juke box when taking requests. Other than his outfit it did not really fit the scene though. That said there was an actual theater aspect whence said troubadour and said wenches mounted a modest stage and engaged in lewd singing and bawdy frivolity. Somehow it had been arranged that I was to be coerced up on stage to be serenaded by one of said buxom maidens (they are only wenches when serving…sheesh I am treading on some thin ice here.) Anyways. Overweight, bespectacled, geek virgin-boy…I was thoroughly embarrassed and shall we say “thrilled” at the same time. And off to Maine I went. It was an awkward time that had a whole host of ramifications some of which became threads in later parts of this story…if I can brave to share that part yet.

I spent my senior year attending Caribou High. Did not think that part through too well. Caribou is a smallish town and the majority of the students grew up there together. Soooo, graduation was a pretty big thing to them. Understandably so, but I was an outsider with mere months to break in, which I did not do very well. I was flat out ignored during the graduation ceremony, by students and faculty alike. My name was not even on the list. I just sat there watching as everyone else graduated. I expect I got a diploma somehow. I fled a week later. I did make a few friends, one in particular that I have actually kept in touch with over the years. That said there was no send off from northern Maine.

I moved to California, where I had really wanted to go as an alternative to Chicago. My brother and sister were there and I thought it was a great place, having visited a couple of times. Sun, sand, surfing…well you get the picture. I think that I will skip a bit here, or at least summarize. I lived a few different places, mostly with -or near- the siblings. I had a few different jobs, but the one that stuck was at a little beer bar in San Luis Obispo called Spike’s Place. Learned how to cook there, and how to drink. Well maybe not how…but again that is a different story. I left there twice. The first was more akin to a leave of absence–and here I will admit that I am not quite ready to divulge the purpose of my leaving…as I alluded to above- suffice to say, for the business at hand, there was not really a send off. Which brings us to the Spring of 1993, not that I have been elucidating the details of the timeline prior but anyways. This time I was leaving again, not likely to return. The head cook and my mentor of sorts –he was called Bud, I will not go into why at the moment- gave me the name Nomad, because of my wandering nature. There was a bit of a send off and a great card with all sorts of funny and poignant inscriptions. I still have it. Those were good times. Also miserable, angst-ridden, tear streaked times…but in retrospect that is much of what made it good I suppose. I went back there years later and nothing was the same. You can never truly go back right?

I was just the other day reading the journal I kept during those times, which is probably why I am writing about it now. I will quote it for you here. I had just bought a truck and outfitted it with a cab-over camper which I was living out of transient style; parking in a different place every night and going to work during the day. I was planning some sort of grand On the Road–esque adventure. After all, the previous summer I had undertaken my very own Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance tour. Anyways, I was planning a trip according to the journal “This time though with no direction or particular purpose.” I was nineteen. The journal goes on; “However, in the course of outfitting myself for said adventure [my sister] got a call from a place called Denali.” And so long story, slightly less long, I suddenly had both direction and purpose. North to Alaska. We made it to Denali after a certain number of ordeals; driving a 1972 Chevy C-20 with a 1980s era cab-over camper. Of course my sister’s idea to take her Mazda was a far better idea, but idealistic me would have none of it. Damn fool.

Anyways, I expect that there was some sort of send off from close friends and family; I vaguely recall a party at my brother’s place. As stated we made it to Denali, worked the summer and headed our separate ways. The truck stayed there. I sold the camper. It was during that summer that I met a guy that would have a significant influence on me. You see I may have left my job, my friends, and most of my family, but not my angst. He taught me to lighten up a bit…and taught me to make fun of myself. He was a baker. He taught me about sourdough and how to barter with cookies. He taught me about hackey-sack and music. He had worked in the same position the year before and at the end of the season his co-workers, I gather, gave him the ol’ pie in the face. We lost touch for many, many years, but thankfully just recently reconnected. He is still a great and positive influence in my life… going on twenty years later.

And with that he claims the prize. I expect it may not be quite what he had in mind and I am sorry that   there were no vampires.



2 thoughts on ““we finally figured out that we had truly missed the boat.”

  1. I’ll admit, I disqualified myself before the contest even started.

    You have quite the story to tell. Flying by the seat of your pants, much?

    • Yeah, life was pretty fast and loose there for awhile. Makes for great reminiscing though and I tell you I am glad that I kept at least a few journals over the years.

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