Wednesday, January 30, 2008

truth is stranger than fiction -- a trio of tales -- part II

throughout my mothers vacation, her friend patricia and i grew closer and closer. we discovered a shared sense of humor; frequently leaving bizarre phone messages for each other, in character of our now favorite rednecks.

we would try to figure out where the hell they came from. which backwoods enclave gave rise to such abomination? there were plenty from which to choose. places that when you drove through there were signs stating 'now entering home rule country' to which i always wanted to deface and change the wording to 'rube rule country'. pat and i would name a community and then write it off as being too sophisticated for our motley crew.

weeks passed. the fall semester began and i began a rigorous schedule of working 30 hours a week as a produce buyer for a local natural food store as well as carrying 16 units of anthropology, spanish, and california studies. in between i was exercising like a maniac, lifting weights, and caring for a standard poodle who demanded loads of attention. i loved it but when an old high school friend called and suggested we travel to our old hometown for drinks i was skeptical in spite of my desperate need for a break.

and now, a few words about my actual hometown. i generally lie and say it's Chico, at least some folks know where that is. the actual town in which i lived was Orland about 20 miles to the west of chico. to be even more precise, i lived in the county of Glenn -- a no man's land where tv reception was weather dependent for 2 dysfunctional channels and if the electricity went out, you'd best find some other way to cook and stay warm because three days was a normal period of power outage. i am not unfamiliar to reading or playing cards by kerosene lanterns nor cooking in a cast iron dutch oven in a fireplace. to call this country rural is white washing the truth.


the grade school i attended was an old two room schoolhouse that when it burst at the seams, three grades were transferred to a stable. when i graduated from the eighth grade, i was bussed into town proper where my class size increased twelve fold from ten to a hundred and twenty. town was an agonizingly long bumpy trip from our ranch and we did not make the trip more than twice a week. i'm sure that some of our neighbors were more frivolous with their trips, but my dad was a registered accountant, a known tight wad, the era was the 70s, rife with energy crisis and our mode of transport was a 1955 international flatbed.

Photobucketas kids, we looked forward to 'going to town' dad would usually by us a road pop and licorice for the ride home. as i reached my teens though, the cab of the truck became awfully cramped. my brother alan and i were tall gawky farm kids and our baby brother needed to sit on someone's lap for the duration of the trip. the deal was whoever got the gear shift between their legs did not have to hold the baby. brother alan would deliberately act like a dork in his best hyperactive ADD fashion, delighting baby matt and mortifying me. my father was oblivious to all except the rare passage of another vehicle which almost always involved not just a friendly wave but often a stop and chat about the weather thus prolonging my agony.

also, as i aged, town began to lose some of it's charm. it was no longer the mecca of road pops, but a glaring example of poor city and county management. the community was a bastion of lunatics, under educated aggies, an appalling lack of law enforcement, and the rare brilliant businessman. there was no industry and that is just how the locals wanted it, not realizing that their children would soon abandon them in the hopes of finding jobs. for reasons i'll never understand, there was a curious amount of bars and churches on almost every street corner in the one stop light town.

bars and churches... lots of them. i had been in most of the churches as a result of various social commitments but had never stepped foot in an orland bar. there were so many to choose from -- Shady Oaks, the Town Club, the Richelieu, each of them a dive bar in their own right. and although i have a passion for dive bars, i had no desire for orland what so ever since i escaped it's grasp at the age of 19.

but, friend molly was inviting me out for a night of drinking on her dime. the only catch was that we were going to orland, specifically to the richelieu to hear her brother in laws band. i did not think i could possibly 'dress down' enough to walk into the joint yet i was oddly looking forward to the adventure.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, GAHHHH, people are now going to question my sanity for still living here! Not that they weren't already questioning my sanity . . . okay, never mind.

    I miss the Intertrashional.