For some reason which I truly can’t remember, Dad would scoop my sister and I up and decide to take us for a ride in the white Chrysler on most afternoons after the races were over. In those days, going for a, ‘ride’, meant a lot of different things.
It could mean, going to Bob’s house so Dad could talk to Bob about the next racing days and which horses they would ride. It could mean going to Mugs’ house to talk to Willy about the track and card games, or the best for me, going to the Dairy Creme on 19th and Osborn for a malted milkshake. Dad always ordered vanilla and would tell the Creamologist behind the square opening of the window, “I want it real thin, like water.”
I never understood nor did I ever ask why he wanted it like water but now I presume it was because of the straw effect. If it was too thick, there was a possibility he’d suck out his false teeth from his mouth. He wasn’t big on embarrassment.
I always ordered one of two things. Either a banana split or a banana malt, the latter had a real banana in it too. I guess the industry hadn’t figured out how to make fake banana flavoring yet. Even today, a banana anything in ice cream is one of my favorites, riding a close second to a Thrifty’s butter pecan in a cup.
I stared out of the window as the last Indian Lilac, we called them Chinaberry trees, in our front yard guarded by a wooden rail fence passed by the window saying goodbye. The huge beast of a machine lumbered backward over the hump of the gutter curb, out of the dirt driveway and onto the pavement.
A billow of dust engulfed us as Dad slowly muscled the car into drive. The smooth sound of the hemi under the hood took over as Dad, my Sister and I lurched out of the cloudiness and moved down the street.
I would always sit directly behind Dad and cower down below the view of the giant rear-view mirror. That way I could fiddle with the power window switch and try to make a song out of the noise of the window as it went up and down.
I had placed a lucky nickel, I took from Mom’s dresser a year ago, in the bottom of the padded handle. I checked to see if my treasure was still there. The Indian head was still up and it was time to turn it again so the buffalo on the other side could get some air.
Dad shook out an unfiltered Camel and grabbed it with his lips from the pack. He securely placed the pack back into his white shirt’s pocket and leaned forward as he punched in the cigarette lighter and held it in with his thumb. He like many others must have thought it would make it get hotter faster or he just didn’t have the patience to wait for it to pop out.
Dad pulled the glowing coil from the dash and sucked in a huge drag of the cancer stick as we rounded the first corner. I was tingled by the direction he had taken as it was the only way to the Creme. All others were left and north and he had taken the yellow brick road.
Bananas, glistening with cream and lathered with pineapple syrup, danced gleefully on the headliner as my anticipation of a cold treat began.
My stomach made an unnatural sound of a fart moving toward its end but farting in Dad’s car was not allowed by anyone except his Highness. Even then, it better be a silencer suppressed again by the fear of embarrassment from the foulness of the smell. I was good at clearing out a classroom but Dad was an expert in the craft and since we were in the car, I pinched.
We hadn’t gone more than a few blocks when Dad let off the pedal and coasted up to the curb. “Hey, Ed,” he said.
Ed was Gary’s Dad and was out raking leaves in his yard as Dad pulled up. “Dad, can I say hi to Gary?” I asked and Dad nodded his head.
“He’s in the kitchen cleaning up.”
I told Ed thank you and slammed the huge car door shut. My sister was sitting quietly in the front seat twiddling with a curl in her hair. I pulled open the side door to Gary’s kitchen and saw Gary doing dishes in the sink. I don’t remember exactly what I would have said but I’m sure it was about nothing much. Dad honked the horn after a few minutes and I left Gary and said I’d see him later. I also left him the fart that was bothering me in the car.
Dad gave Ed the two finger wave as we left. Little did I know then that Dad’s wave would become famous to most and known in the future as a ‘Peace’ sign. Dad’s wave was famous on the track and he would tell me over and over, as we passed by people in the barn area of any track, “Always wave at everyone.”
We hit the corner of 19th and Campbell and turned south toward the deliciousness and came up to Indian School in only seconds. The single traffic light was red and I could see Dad eyeing something to his left across the street. The car moved slowly ahead with the green and Dad stuck his arm out signaling we were about to turn left.
I was shocked, as the ice cream was still a half a mile ahead of us and it didn’t appear this ride was going that far. Dad pulled into the cocktail lounge called, Pete and Aggies, Double-R, and threw the transmission into park. “I’ll only be a second. Richard’s inside,” he motioned his eyes toward a pickup parked nearby to my sister, “and I need to tell him something.”
Dad disappeared into the dark doorway as the huge wooden door slowly closed. He had left the keys in the ignition so my sister immediately turned them to accessory and dialed in her favorite, KRIZ AM, today a rock and roll legend and hall of famer radio station long forgotten by most, but I liked KRUX 1360, and since I was in the back seat, she got her way.
I just figured I’d get her out of the car soon as my stomach growled and threatened again. If it was like Gary’s present, she would know exactly what it was as Gary’s was anything but silent.
The ‘second’, Dad had said it would take, turned into a multiude of minutes and my sister’s choice on the radio was beginning to irritate me. I decided to take her out.
With that in mind a slid down and back against the car door, tightened up my belly and pushed slightly trying to keep it as silent as possible. Nothing. I pushed again and this time it felt different. Nothing like how it felt at Gary’s. I waited for the fullness to subside and tried to terrorize her once more.
I pushed a little harder this time and felt more than fullness as the fullness before felt thicker than before when I pushed just a little. I pinched back and sat up in the seat. I pinched again and the rippling feeling went away slightly. “Sis?” I hailed. She ignored me as she bounced her head with the music. “Hello?” I said with more direction.
She leaned forward and turned down the music, “What?” she said in disgust.
“I gotta poop.”
“What?” she asked again like she didn’t know what poop was about but I knew girls pooped too as I had gone in after her and was tattooed permanently by the ferociousness of the stink needles she could produce.
“I gotta poop.”
“Okay, I’ll go tell Dad.” She opened her door and goofly skipped up to the bar’s opening. She acted as she was struggling to pry open the large door and disappeared inside. Seconds later she appeared and jumped in the car. “Dad said he’d be right out.”
Dad must have been speaking another language when he said, ‘right out’, as it seemed that two sunrises and one sunset had already gone by. She had turned up the knob again and was again twirling her hair. The agony of my stomach pain had been doubled by the slight appearance of something in my butt that wanted out. I had taken to sitting on the edge of my hand and kept it securely between my tweaked cheeks.
I ramped up my communication to my snotty sibling and tried to be a bit more demanding in nature. “Hey?” I again asked for her attention.
She leaned forward and huffed as she lowered the volume. “What! Dad said he’d be right out.”
“I’m gonna poop.” I had hoped the change-up from, ‘gotta’ to ‘gonna’, would strike fear in her. Apparently it did as she lept from the car and ran inside.
Too late. The emergence had begun. The sweet little boy, as I most certainly was, could no longer keep his little finger in his little dike. I stood up in the car in the back seat and lower my levis and underwear and neatly laid out my larger than normal concern on the leather upholstery.
As I pulled up my pants the guargantuan behemoth had rolled down into the crease of the seat and took my place so I sat down behind where my sister was seated and waited. Odd how as a child, your own smell doesn’t smell bad at all. Kind of smells good actually.
I knew then, my banana dreams were not to come true today and I wondered who would have to remove my leftovers. My stomach returned to normal.
My sister came rushing out with Dad close behind. I just stared out the window away from Dad who was opening his door almost at the same time as my sister. She immediately lurched backward and crashed into the side of the pickup next to us. Dad said, “Holy, , ,” I’m not sure if he said ‘crap’ but I would bet it across the board that he did.
He opened the back door where our new occupant was seated and said loudly, “What’s that?”
My smarter than normal sister replied as she held her forearm in front of her face defensively, “That’s poop.”
Dad looked up at her and tilted his head like a dog who was wondering what he had just heard. I just sat quietly listening to them discuss what the removal process and plan was going to be. I sniffed the air and everything seemed fine to me.
Dad went back inside and came back with a program from today’s races and scooped up my co-pilot and tossed him on the dirt at the side of the building. She was waving the door back and forth to suck in as much fresh air in the car before she got in.
Dad sat down and looked at me in the rear view mirror. I acted like I didn’t see him. My stomach made a noise like it was saying, ‘thank you’, to me. Dad turned toward me in reaction to my stomach talking.
“I told you he had to poop,” she pointed out. Dad said nothing and started the car. He knew it was his fault completely. We pulled out onto 19th Avenue in the direction of home and away of any hopes of whipping cream and cold goodness.
By the time we made it to Gary’s street the aroma had changed to car exhaust and city smells. Gary was outside in the yard helping his Dad finishing raking the leaves as we passed. Dad tooted the horn to Ed. Gary turned his butt to me and acted like he was returning the crop dusting I had left him earlier.
I laughed at him through the open window and gave them my Dad’s famous two-finger wave. I leaned back comfortably behind my sister, took in a deep breath through my nose and smiled with promise.
I knew that when tomorrow comes, Dad just might want to go on another ride.
“The best part of life starts at the head of the stretch.”