April 20 (4/20 dude!), 2007
outside Tuscon, AZ
Blinky’s the man. The Goat Boat, the new-old ’73 Delta-88 Royale, gets 20 miles per gallon, betches. Way better mileage than the Shart Car.
Knock wood, the Boat is holding up so far. Although take it from us: When an old vehicle’s been sitting out in someone’s front yard in the West Texas desert for at least a year, you’ll want to flush the radiator really well, and replace the thermostat and cap, before trying to high-tail it anywhere.
We’ll spare you the details — something about hoses blowing up and splattering light green antifreeze on the windshield like an alien exploded under the hood. Big-ups to Martin, Paul, Joe, Tim, and the Auto Zone people for all their help. The world is ultimately a good place with kind people (is our attitude today anyway).
However, some folks are unnecessarily mean and controlling. Maybe she’d had a bad day and needed a stranger to yell at — we’ve all been there — but when we took one of our frequent roadside stops to prevent the new ride from overheating, as we haven’t gotten to know each other yet and so far it seems a little touchy in that department… on one of our stops, we took four water vessels and went into a hotel lobby on the road out of Tuscon.
Seeing nobody behind the desk, and a sink right there in front where they serve continental breakfast, we waited at the counter a couple moments, and then walked over and began to fill the bottles.
Long story short, the counter lady emerged from a back room and immediately decided she did not want a non-paying vagrant to get free water for a dog and possibly overheating vehicle. When we calmly but sarcastically offered to give her a dollar, she (loudly, pierrcingly, hostilely) demanded two. We marched out to the car, gathered $2 worth of nickels and dimes, and marched back in to smack them on the counter. We were tempted to throw them, a la Johnny Depp’s Hunter S. Thompson in the Chateau Marmont with the little-person waiter … but that’s not our style.
“Here, and thanks again for the water,” we said quietly. “Sure you’re a kind and generous person most days…”
“THANK YOU,” she screamed. One customer checking in watched the scenario, mildly panicked.
Lady, don’t mess with us when we’ve just been driving hundreds of miles with no phone in the windstormy Arizona desert in a giant old unfamiliar car with thermostat issues, constantly eyeing the idiot light that says “HOT,” which lives right next to the brake light which is stuck in the ON position, making us squirrely as hell.
We didn’t raise our voice or lose our cool. We win.
That’s when it hit us, though:
The majority of people who fit this profile, who do the things we do, are on drugs. She probably thought we were tweaked out. What does that say about us?
OUr parents are right: In order to gain respect in foreign places, it’s important to dress well. Better than we do, anyway. However, we don’t care, ultimately. It’s funny when people are unsettled by the unfamiliar, ourselves included.
Self-portraits on this journey would’ve been a pathetic slideshow. Here, us squatting by a pay phone rummaging for a calling card in the purse with two plastic bags full of OJ, advil, ATF, and hot peanuts. Here, washing up in a Love’s truck stop ladies’ room. Here, sleeping in a tank-sized car in the parking lot of the Days Inn in Lordsburg, NM because the nice lady on graveyard shift in the lobby said we could because she knew by looking at us just how tired and broke we were. Here, bumming water without asking and arguing with a hotel clerk, dressed in baseball socks, Filipino housewife slippers, filthy antifreeze-covered yoga pants, dog-hair-covered WWJBJD? t-shirt, and a windblown kidnapping-victim-looking ponytail.
Here, dining on Fritos and plastic cheese dip and oatmeal creme pies in a dusty “vintage” backroads gravel auto-shop parking lot while donkeys bray in the background and a Spanish-speaking mechanic peers under the new-old car’s hood with his half-drunk, chain-smoking interpreter who recently almost sliced his hand clean off while skinning one of his dinner goats.
We saw the Saguaro National Forest for a minute, and the THING! in Bowie, Arizona, and the outside of the tourist-trap Old Tuscon Studios where they filmed Little House on the Prairie, among other picture shows.
We thought we were headed to the Hotel Congress for some Internet time when we took the “old Tuscon” exit, but we ended up at an older Tuscon than that. Roadside attractions are great; $16 entrance fees are not.
We love the Congress and wanted to say what’s up to the B.I.C.A.S. kids — holding down bike culture in Arizona; look them up — and to visit the place in the tunnel where our friend Dr. Fuckoffski went unexpectedly to heaven on his motorbike not long ago. But we’ve got to get to Phoenix before rush hour.
We’re going to visit Jesse Wack. (uttered in the same tone as “party on the beach tonight”)
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