Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Monster Truck And The Rubber Duck Collide

And The Universe Was Born
O Happy Zion: Your Reward Awaits You In Jesusland™

What, you have a problem with this cosmology? It's as valid a Creation Myth as any other. I'm not fond of Monster Trucks (no matter how much I liked the series, House), true, but The Great Duck is our savior; He also floats, and is appealing as a chew toy:  I like my saviors to be multi-purpose.
Obey the Great Duck in all His forms. 

But yes, What Is All This? Why Are We, and What's It All For? Ah, the age-old questions -- life in all its multitudinous forms.  We won't be finding any answers today, but there is still fun social commentary for YOU, which is almost as good. Possibly.

( Click For Huge and Readable Version; It's Easy And Fun! )

MEHR, MIT EIN GESICHTE:  Speaking of Cosmology and Ducks and Fun, here's a true story: I once had a friend, who is now (just by the luck of the draw) famous and wealthy, someone who has in fact added to human culture in a not-so-small way, and who once told me a tale about his hitchhiking days. It relates to the Big Questions Of Life, but only just barely.

He was seventeen, and one Fall day, splitting from his home on the Great Lakes (which also involved a brush with John Wayne Gacy, but that's for another time), began thumbing it up north into Canada. He hooked up with two men, a classic Mutt-and-Jeff team, driving up into The Maritimes ostensibly to make and sell chocolate fudge. Jeff was tall and spindly in his forties or early fifties with a shock of black hair greying at the temples; Mutt was short, with a close-cropped buzz-cut (known from my Army days as a 'high and tight') who smoked cigarillos and looked a little like Popeye. 

My friend had a well-developed radar for Crazies, and after a time riding along read these two as fairly routine types (at least they weren't serial killers).  They had a station wagon pulling a U-Haul style trailer filled with fudge-making apparatus and a sales stand. It also became fairly clear that their business, while necessary, wasn't the prime focus of their travels.

It didn't take long for my friend to determine that Mutt and Jeff had Little Black Books, and their trips were like unto the routes of sailors, reaching ports of call where they knew the names and telephone numbers of every love-starved and rapacious widow, divorcee, and spinster librarian under thirty from Vancouver to Newfoundland. 

Apparently, they drove across Canada during the year, making fudge, making some money, seeing women they knew (and being introduced to a few new ones), then taking another route back west before starting all over again.

My friend passed himself off as nineteen, out of high school and just bumming around. Mutt and Jeff nominally appeared to accept my friend's story, and offered him the chance to tag along and join their team. Their normal routine was to drive into a town, file whatever paperwork, sell fudge by day and live well by night. My friend, at seventeen, was flabbergasted at the frank availability of the, uh, ladies Mutt and Jeff knew -- who also had friends very happy to, uh, get to know a young man. This all went on until needs financial and physical were satisfied; then, they pushed on to the next wind-swept Canadian town.

Canada: Renowned Worldwide For Its Beaver, 
And You Knew This Joke Was Coming

Somewhere in there, Mutt and Jeff also picked up The Kid. Not the Kenosha Kid -- this one was nineteen, tall, painfully blonde to the point of being a near-Albino. He was also Mormon, who had been out on his Year Of Witnessing (or whatever it's called). Young Mormons performing this rite of passage do so in the company of other Young Mormons, or with an Elder whose job is to keep a watchful eye on them.  

The Kid had a crisis of faith on the road. He wasn't sure if he was Mormon, or what, any longer, and had simply walked to the nearest highway and put out his thumb: If you don't know which way you're going, it don't matter which road you take. To the other Mormon(s) he was traveling with, The Kid had just up and disappeared.

I refer to him as The Kid because, even two years older than my friend, The Kid was clueless. And hitchhiking alone across Nowhere Canada, with dwindling finances, ashamed and frightened at the idea of returning to his family in Utah in his confused state.  

My friend's take was that Mutt and Jeff sized him up as Not Crazy, just Trying To Sort Things Out, and felt sorry for him. While he wasn't a danger to others, he was a Kid alone on the High Way, and Mutt and Jeff decided to take him into the Empire Of Fudgelandia for a while until he could decide his next move, and offer him an opportunity to make a little cash in the process. Plus, he got to meet girls in a way that he wouldn't have been able to do in the shadow of the Big Temple in Salt Lake City. The Kid, as the trip progressed, seemed to like that part of it.

He was given, however, to questioning the religious beliefs with which he had been raised -- volubly and frequently. He argued for them, against them; back and forth, a mirror of his own inner conflict, thinking out loud. Mutt and Jeff were fairly tolerant of these outbursts, which were greatly toned down if The Kid had ready access to Girls.

The drive up into The Maritimes continued. It began to get colder. Mutt and Jeff, my friend and The Kid drove in the station wagon-and trailer into a town that had a medium-sized mall with two floors of shops on all four sides of a large, open area, and topped by a skylight. The mall was heated during the winter months, and the open area was a perfect location for the fudge stand.

One day around noon, Mutt, The Kid and my friend were manning the fudge stand inside the mall. The sun had been trying hard to break through clouds most of the day; sales were slow, and The Kid had been banging on about religion in a general way since the morning. Mutt, dressed all in white when making and selling fudge -- white pants, apron, white T-shirt and a small white fry-cook's cap -- was leaning against the fudge machine, his face screwed up like Popeye's as he looked up every now and again at the skylight, listening as The Kid explained some aspect of Mormonism to my friend.

Even though Mutt's attitude toward The Kid's diatribes was kindly, he usually declined to join in.  Finally, The Kid turned to Mutt and asked, "So, what religion are you? I mean, what were you raised as?"

Mutt slowly took his omnipresent cigarillo out of his mouth. "I'm a Hueyist," he said simply, and looked up towards the grey sky above the mall. 

"What -- you mean, that big duck in the cartoons?" The Kid was nonplussed for a moment, then laughed at Mutt -- no; he guffawed. " 'Baby Huey' ??"

Mutt paused, as if in thought, still looking up, then quickly looked at The Kid with an utterly rock-solid, serious expression and said, quietly, "Don't make fun of Huey."

At that moment, the mall was flooded with light, pouring through its glass roof; the interior of the little arcade blazed as if someone were testing a nuclear warhead in the sky above. The Kid looked up, eyes wide, mouth slack-open in Awe and Fear, utterly speechless. It was clear he was at least considering that it might not be wise to mock the Power and Glory that was Huey in future.

As The Kid stood gobsmacked, rooted in place and staring up at the heavens, my friend looked over at Mutt. A tiny smile was creasing his face, just for an instant, before he replaced the cigarillo in his mouth and turned back to the fudge machine. He had been looking up, watching the clouds through the skylight, and timed his response to The Kid just as the clouds parted and the sun, at zenith above the mall, suddenly broke through.

1 comment:

  1. 1)The Kid's moment of illumination, having taken place in the Maritimes, was not all that far from where the protagonist of James Tate's poem left his couch

    2)as described in this account, Mutt and Jeff seem to have been kind and generous souls, travelers committed to the Search for Truth and the Search for Love

    (or at least guys who had figured out how to have a bit of fun while staying out of trouble)


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