Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rerun #2


At the LBOH this year, Delmer reminded me of an all time classic story. It’s probably one of the best one’s in my arsenal and I can’t believe I haven’t told it more often. I also decided not to try to hurry this story after drinking Crown at my neighbor’s house. I’m going to take my time this week and try to increase the entertainment value ever so slightly.

This story is about a typical night at the Center of the Universe, Malta. Now, some of my dear readers aren’t quite familiar with my entire background, but most of these stories involve the same guys. “The Guys” are my life long best friends. We’ve been hanging out and getting into trouble since we were 4 or 5 years old. We still call each other and stay in very close contact. The LBOH, Lonely Bachelors and Oppressed Husbands weekend, was founded on the sole premise to get us all together at least once a year. We’ve been in each other’s weddings and helped bury each other’s parents. In between and on both ends of all that, we’ve had a whole helluva lot of fun. The best part is that we’re all only 44 so that’s barely half way to death. If any of these guys have a draw back, its that some of them went to EMC or as it was known back in the day, Eastern Montana College and Country Club. No grizzlies though.

Anyway, I’ll try to take you back in time to one of our adventures. Let me just say this, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

This story is rated R for strong language and sexual content. More for the language and the sexual thing isn’t of the graphic nature so you can almost let your kids read it. Except for the drinking and driving part.


I graduated from MHS in 1981 and stayed in Malta a couple of years before winding up in Bozeman. In the spring of 1982, I bought my first car. It was a 1971 or 1972 Datsun B210. A little tiny thing that had been owned previously by Evey (eh-VEE) Perry, who happened to teach bookkeeping and typing and all those type of classes at MHS. Delmer and I were in her business machines class together when we were seniors, Ralph dropped it because Evey taught you to run an adding machine with the opposite hand you wrote with. Ralph is very dominantly left-handed and his right hand basically has no use other than holding a softball glove and a watch, so he went to study hall. BTW, Delmer is left-handed as is Adrian and James Stanley the Third. That’s a lot of lefties.

I paid Bill Pray $800.00 for the car. Now what’s the first thing you do when you buy an $800.00 car? You put a $500.00 stereo system in it. A Pioneer cassette player with music seek that switches sides without taking the tape out? It must be magic. I’d better buy one before the price goes up. Throw in a pair of TX6 speakers and now we were ready to cruise.

The stereo system was a bitch to install. My knowledge of electricity is quite limited. The switch goes up, the lights come on, it goes down, they go off. Don’t take a bath with your toaster. That about sums it up. I had successfully removed the old radio, but was having trouble installing the new one.

I don’t know why Bruce Knudsen was in town that night but I do remember him basically pushing every one aside and installing the super cassette player in about twenty minutes.

I’m not quite sure but I think the first tape was George Thourougood “Move it on over”. It was freaking awesome. Let’s get a twelve pack and go cruise the drag. NO! There is no time to put the cover back on the steering wheel column! Lets hit main baby. A little George, then some Billy Squire. A cold Rainier between my legs. Summer was going to be great.

I put the steering column back on a couple of days later. I kept shocking my self every time I started the car. Fucking Knudsen.

The B200 wasn’t a hatchback but had a little trunk. It’s a small car, kind of squatty looking. It was this hideous lime green color. But it was mine.

I don’t remember who it was but I think it was Ralph who started calling my car Toad. It wasn’t just that the car had a name, it was it’s own entity.

“Hey Gibbs, why don’t you and Toad get some beer and come over”

“We saw you and Toad at Goliks last night”
“Who were you and Toad cruising with the other night?”

Whenever Toad and I went anywhere I always picked up the tab. On the other hand, Toad was doing all the work so it was a good trade.

With the pioneer stereo and speakers that you could set on the roof, we were invited to almost every kegger at the rifle range that summer. When you put Aldo Nova “Fantasy” in that cassette player, the choppers on the intro sounded like you were in The Nam. It was just plain old loud.

Toad topped out at about 65 mph. Not a lot of speed but I wasn’t walking anywhere.

One warm summers evening, we were east of Malta on The Deuce. I can’t remember if we had been to Saco or were at a party at Nelson Reservoir but we were heading west back into town around 10 PM.

I was driving, Ralph “GhouliesGolik and Delmer “The Heenster” Henry were in the back seat and Danny “Skeets” Leader was riding shotgun. I honestly can’t remember if Danny was there or if it was Shoey. Chances are it was Danny. Afterall, it was a weekend night and we were having fun. That doesn’t mean we don’t like Shoe, it’s just that his idea of having fun and ours are a little different that’s all. The difference is that, well, we like to have fun.

Sidebar: Jimmy and I went to Billings for Ralph’s 38th birthday. That’s the weekend Ralph and I got our tattoos. Shoey came and played golf with us and then that night we were going to an arena football game at the Metra. Shoey went home and did laundry. That’s what I’m talking about.

Anyway, we were heading west when we came up behind a car that was going kind of slow. It was Red Peterson in his Charger. He had Mark LaFond and Dale Kaasa with him. Those guys always traveled pretty thick together.

I decided to pass him.

Red was only going about 55. In his Charger. My rear bumper was just about even with his front one when he hit the gas and wouldn’t let me by. They were all laughing. Assholes.

He slowed down to about 45, I tried to make a run he stepped on it again and wouldn’t let me around.

Delmer “Chipper, slow down and pull over like we’re stopping.”

Me “Why?”

“Just do it. And turn off your lights”

It was a very bright night out. The Hi-Line is why Montana is called “Big Sky Country” because the sky goes on forever.

I slowed down and started to pull over. I hit the lights.

“Don’t stop. Just keep following with your lights off”.

We went into stealth mode.

Like I said, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

As I slowly caught up to Red and the boys, Delm informed me of phase two of his plan.

“Pass him now”

I like where this is going.

I think it was Dan who then became the voice of reason. “Better go around him on the right side in case we meet a car.”

I don’t care who you are, that’s just good thinking.

For those of you who have never been on Highway 2 between Malta and Saco, it’s a really nice stretch of highway, very wide. I mean, I didn’t even think twice about going to the right.

Toad was sounding like a blender on puree, we had the stereo turned down low and we slowly went to the right. It was the battle of muscle cars. Dodge Charger with American skill and know-how versus the Japanese Machine.

My Suzuki 500 four wheeler has more acceleration than Toad and will go about as fast. On the other hand, Beth J would never have been able to ask me into the back seat of my four-wheeler. Aaaaaaaaaaah, Beth. You little smoke show. I had no idea of the lure of a lime green import. A six-pack of beer, Tuma Road, The Motels singing “Only the Lonely” softly on the Pioneer, knowing the names of enough constellations. Sigh. She wanted to make her boyfriend mad and I was willing to do anything to help her. I miss the ‘80’s.

So, we’re door to door and these guys don’t have a clue where we are. We look over at their car, they’re bullshitting away laughing and talking. Well sir, it was about to get even funnier.

I try to stay as far to the right as possible. Toad is buzzing like a saw. It’s bumper to bumper and they haven’t picked us up yet. I’m about 10 feet in front of Red, then 15.

Lights, camera, action. BRAAAAAAAAKE CHECK!!!!!!!!
I turned on my lights and moved to the left. Red’s Charger faded from view through the smoke of him standing on the brakes.

It didn’t last long.

When he passed us a few moments later, he must have been doing a 100. It didn’t matter anymore. One of the greatest maneuvers in party history had just occurred and we were the ones who did it. We were so busy laughing our asses of still that we could have cared less. I think we even stopped so that we could get out and high five. Good times.

I’m not a tough guy. The last person I hit in anger was my brother Bill at least 20 years ago. The time before that was Bill as well. Most of the time if I hit someone it was Bill.

Ralph was in a couple of scrapes. He beat up Chuck Spoonheim in 8th grade. Got a bloody nose from Kip Young when we were juniors. He hit Danny in the neck in P.E. which is Dan’s only fight to my knowledge.

Sidebar: We’re playing floor hockey in P.E. and Danny’s team is scoring at will against Ralph’s team. Danny is way taller than Ralph. Hell, I can eat soup off of Ralph’s head. So Danny is taunting Ralph and Ralph takes a big ol haymaker at Danny and hits him in the side of the neck. To this day if Ralph and Skeets are arguing about baseball or basketball or anything else Danny will say “what you gonna do about it? Hit me in the neck?” Everyone laughs. Except Ralph.

So none of us are tough guys. Except maybe Delmer. Delmer was a boxer. State champion, national Golden Glove semi-finalist a couple of times. I think he beat up some Canadian when we were in high school which is kind of like beating up your sister. Hell, Ralph backed down this guy from Canada by just pretending he knew karate. Canadians. God bless em. But Delmer knew how to throw a punch and no one really wanted to see if he was tough or not. A good reputation like that isn’t a bad thing.

We get back to Malta and are cruising the drag. Basking in glow of our foolishness. Not for one moment did we think it was a stupid thing to do. Somehow, we ended up being right behind Red and the boys driving down Main (which is really named Central Avenue but who gives a shit at this point) when Red hits the brakes and jumps out of his car. I hit the brakes and jump out. Danny bails out, then Ralph and then Delmer.

Red stops in his tracks.

“I didn’t know you were in there Henry. Gibbs, don’t do that again.”

He jumped back in his car and left. Another fight won without throwing a punch.

Well that’s it. Toad went on a couple of more adventures and I traded it the next year on a 1983 GMC S-15. They had a promotion where if you bought a new truck, the now-defunct Eastern Airlines would fly you anywhere in the western hemisphere. I took my two tickets and friend Ralph and headed to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. We were 20 years young, in prime drinking shape, on our first jet ride and in a foreign land (sort of). Now that’s a story I’ve told often and it never gets tired of being funny. Next time dear readers. Next time. Sorry in advance Ralph.

No comments: