Saturday, July 23, 2005

Howdy... From Texas!

So here I sit in a motel room in Lubbock TX, after a long and harrowing two or three days. I count the day before we left as harrowing because getting the Grandmother pulled together was something of an undertaking. Details simply undo her, and she gets all "flippety-flappety" (a state of mind and of behavior somewhere between hysteria and dementia, best characterized by flapping your hands helplessly while screaming about some inessential detail or another... a word of my own invention, feel free to use it yourself).

Then, after getting to sleep a little after midnight, I had to get up at the ass-crack of pre-dawn (4:30 a.m.) in order to drive all the way to my uncle's house in Alameda just to save ten or fifteen bucks on a cab-ride. On the way, my cell-phone crapped out for no apparent reason, so I had to find a pay-phone in Alameda (no mean feat, let me tell you), and call the cab-driver from there.

The aiport was pretty much a breeze... I have learned that the perfect travel accessory is a white-haired old lady in a wheelchair. We were whisked through security in a trice, and though we were quite thoroughly checked (I got felt, patted down... and we had to take off our shoes), we were pretty much treated like VIPs. We also got on the plane first, though we got off last, and the ground crews went out of their ways to make our passage pleasant. All Hail Southwest Airlines (hi, Will)!

When we changed planes in Albuquerque (I like to pronounce it wrong, alternating between "al-bu-queer-quee" and "al-bu-cue-er-cue") I stumbled out of the tunnel into an utter ocean of late-teen Boy Scouts... and was reminded of Dorothy Shaw in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: "The Olympic Team? For me? Well, wasn't that thoughtful of someone?" But they were getting on the plane and I was getting off; and as we all know, there's no such thing as a gay Boy Scout (I'll give you a moment to quit giggling).

The flight was uneventful, except for Southwest's peculiar habit of stopping at three or four places along the way. I particularly enjoyed our flight steward for the Oakland/LA leg of the trip, a weensy little blond boy named Marek (pronounced "Merrick") who had to most amazingly gorgeous skin... as well as a darling smile and a cute little butt. Most amusingly, neither he nor any of the other flight attendants during the whole trip could remember where all the stops were, and kept having to look them up when they made announcements (from Oakland to LA to Albuquerque to St Louis to Baltimore to Hartford, but we changed at Albuquerque to a plane that had started in Phoenix and continued on to Lubbock, Austin, and Houston... I mean, I knew the route before I got on the plane).

Arriving in Lubbock, everything continued to run smooth as glass... except that I forgot the rule about putting perfume or cologne in the luggage that you check. When my suitcase came out onto the carousel, I smelled it before I saw it, the fresh and lovely scent of Voluspa #4 filling the room. Two thirds of the bottle had leaked out into my toiletry bag, a terrible waste of relatively expensive scent, the alcohol melting some of the labels off my other toiletries, and mixing with the cuticle oil that also expanded hugely and spilled out all over the place (which I'd never heard of happening before), rendering my toiletries a sticky fragrant mess. Fortunately, it didn't soak through the bag or into the next compartment, so though my clothes smell especially nice, it's only as much smell as if I were wearing scent myself, and they aren't stained or anything.

And then we stepped outside... into a roaring dryer. They said it was eighty-three degrees when we landed, but either they were lying or there's something about being closer to the sun here... it felt like at least a hundred. Every time I have to go outside, my whole body and mind freak out. But what are you going to do? You can't control the weather, and you can't get anywhere avoiding it completely, so you just suck it up and take it. And, of course, complain loudly.

The rental car is a big-assed Chevy Impala, gray, comfortable to sit in but all of the buttons and levers are in entirely different places than I'm used to... the gear-shift is on the steering column and the parking brake is on the floor, whereas in Miss Jane both of those are on the hump between the seats.

Driving around in Lubbock is something of a trial... every time I get a little bit confused, Grandmother believes we are lost and starts carping. And at one point I really did get lost, taking a wrong turn and ending up way out in the countryside, and though I found our way back again in only twenty minutes, I doubt seriously I'll ever hear the end of it. It's an untidy town, though, with a loop going all the way around it and a highway shooting through the middle of it; but these are just the elevated freeways... there are a number of highways, which all seem to have the same three letters arranged differently, and sometimes they have regular names as well as numbers but not always, and there are one-way avenues on either side of the loop. And then these roads just peter off, or turn into something else, without explanation. And, and, the whole place is totally flat, so I can't see landmarks from any distance. I'm accustomed to living in a place where the hills are on one side and the water is on the other, with all sorts of tall objects in between, and that makes life a lot easier than I thought.

So, let's see... here we are at the Holiday Inn Park Plaza in Lubbock Texas (the birthplace of Buddy Holly) for Grandmother's high school reunion. Bula High opened in 1925 and closed in 1974, and the largest graduating class in its history was 28 people, so they don't do single-class reunions like larger schools do... they just all get together every five years. Grandmother was in the class of '37. Out of thirteen people, eight are known to be dead and two have slipped out of knowledge and are as good as dead, leaving Grandmother, Lena Johnson (née Snitker) and Ashel "Dink" Richardson to represent their year. Which is pretty good odds, if you think about it, considering that there was a World War to get through and much lower life-expectancy rates back then.

The reunion was so boring that I had to actually take a break and nap for half an hour. I mean, out of 250 people, I knew nobody, and Grandmother only knew a handful, her two classmates and maybe five other people she knew from Way Back When. I had to stick with her in case she needed anything, but there was absolutely nothing for me to do, not even anything worth looking at.

Which brings me to my chief complaint about this place: there are no cute boys here. I don't only mean from the reunion, where the youngest graduate would be ten years older than me... but I mean everywhere in this town! I've been running around this motel and various shops and restaurants, and I've seen maybe five good-looking young men. Perhaps if school was in session and the place was crawling with Texas Tech and Lubbock Christian College students, there might be something... but as it is, it's ugly and old as far as the eye can see. Mostly old, too, I think fewer than ten percent of the people I've seen around town were under sixty or over ten. That's just wrong!

Well, tomorrow we go out to Hereford, where we will be visiting with Grandmother's older sister Alice and her husband Charles. I expect to be able to drop Grandmother off with Alice & Charles and not stick around for very much longer than it takes to say how-d-ye-do, whereafter I shall find some stray WiFi and get online. I'm told that even McDonald's has WiFi, and no town is so podunk as to not have an internet cafe somewhere in its vicinity.

Before I go, I'll tell you about how the world of electronics has turned against me. I already reported how my cell-phone crapped out for no reason at all, even though it was fully charged? And then once I found a pay-phone in Alameda, I discovered that its earpiece was covered with some kind of food substance that looked rather like a Little Debbie fruit pie. And then when I cleaned it off, I discovered that the phone didn't even work in the first place. So I had to get back in the car and find another phone.

Then when I got here, I realized that nobody has free dial-up access anymore, and my laptop simply didn't have WiFi. So today, after the reunion but before dinner, I went over to the Best Buy I found when I was lost last night and bought a USB wireless adapter. But it didn't work, every time I plugged it into the laptop, it would crash the whole system. So after dinner, I called up Best Buy, "Home of the Geek Squad," and asked what I should do... they said I should get a different doohickey, a more reputable brand perhaps, that would be able to adapt to more different systems. So I dashed over there before they closed and picked out a Linksys adapter that is a lot nicer and only cost five dollars more... and now here I am using the motel's free WiFi and telling you all about it!

So that's what's going on with me today. I'd better get into bed now, it's almost midnight, and we have to drive tomorrow... first to Enochs and Bula, where Grandmother lived as a teenager, then on to Hereford. It's a few hundred miles of flat, hot, and way-too-sunny, and I'll need to be rested.

Toodly-yoo-hoo! Or rather, Happy Trails!

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