I ‘m dedicating this blog to Monica Schroeder: you are a survivor (see dedication notes at the end).
The Truth Isn’t Always Pretty and Neither is a Scared Little Kid
It’s all true. Very early Saturday mornings in the early 1970’s I was the first to wake up at our house. Quietly, with sun not even up, I would make my way to our Packard-Bell TV-Stereo console TV in the den. It was an imposing all fruitwood encased TV with a huge stacked piece on the top housing the turn table, stereo and 8-track player. Looking back, it was an OBNOXIOUS combination piece of technology and furniture. It was cartoon time and Scooby Doo, the American classic, always promised excitement.
(The TV console behind us in the den at our childhood home).
I must be an emotional wreck. If you’ve read any of my prior blogs (Mean People Suck…and So Does Cancer), then you know I’m the kind of guy who cries when things get sentimental on the Waltons or when I watch incredibly corny Christmas movies on Hallmark. A note of personal growth: I’m getting over the Hallmark emotional roller coaster. Seriously, I sat through “A Crown for Christmas” and “Christmas at the Palace.” How upset can you get about an incognito prince who sweeps some American chick away breaking royal tradition and lays a big one on her in the Throne Room? I think it’s the Meagan Markle effect. To my single friends, I’m pretty sure Meagan is an outlier. Yeah, probably not going to happen again; Prince George is a wee tike.
And about those story line sequences…nobody in real life exists like Hallmark Christmas movie characters. If you could take Aunt Bea out of Mayberry combine her with Martha Stewart and give her Cindy Crawford’s looks, then you’ve got your girl. The dudes are always ruggedly handsome, they’re in gym body condition with incredibly thick hair over styled to make it look not so coiffed. They’ve all been hurt by either corporate greed or some oppressive long gone love relationship and still not able to find what they’re looking for. I think the reason people get so sucked into these things is the build up of sexual tension on the tube. In real life people would put it out there, be definitive with their intents, and….let’s be honest, they’d get a room! Even though I’m addicted to these movies like a sick crack addiction, I’m excited to have a 9-10 month break from these stupid, stupid story lines. Guess that means Candace Cameron Buree on some studio lot filming for our 2019 Christmas viewing stress….I mean pleasure.
Sorry for the two paragraph long rabbit trail. Back to Saturdays and Scooby in the 70’s. But just for the record I’m seriously thinking about hosting a Hallmark Movie Drinking Game Party this coming December. Yep, Uber & Lyft will be slammed that night!
(This is Avery my sister’s dog…I think he’s Scooby).
This scene repeated many times. Invariably, Shaggy, Fred, Thelma, Daphne and Scooby jumped the that awesome Mystery Machine to chase down “The Creeper,” “The Miner Forty-Niner (yeah Niner Nation Family—not about our UNCC heritage);” or the “Phantom Shadow.” It freaked me out. Our house was still dark, my little sister was still asleep, and I always got completely wigged out at age 4 over this goofy Hanna Barbera ghost chasing crew. I was convinced if I got up and left the room some creep…or my little sister…would be there with a bedsheet, chains, and an agenda to scare the bejesus out of me. I look back at these cartoons now and laugh heartily at myself, but the memories warm my heart.
(This is my son’s friends van…busted gas gauge and all)
They warmed my heart, that is, until the first Saturday of this month when at 11:45pm my youngest son called. The Scooby set materialized. His buddy’s “Mystery Machine” was broken down on the side of the road and they needed help. When your panicked teenager calls from the roadside while he is depending on a restored classic VW bus for a ride, his friends’ phones are dead, and he’s only got 5% left, you’d better be efficient and learn to communicate his way.
Being the awesome mechanic I am I grabbed a 3 gallon can of gas, a glove….a single glove (like I’m the Michael Jackson of roadside assistance), and my Leatherman multi-purpose tool. Yep, I was out to save the day. The irony is they called me at all. I have the mechanical skill of a roach…an idiot roach to be clear. If it’s more complex than changing a light bulb or tightening a screw I have to call in relief. Nonetheless, Thaedra and I took off into the night.
Upon arrival on Brackenberry Road in South Charlotte we approached our son and his two teenage friends. They’d played their first paid gig with their extremely evolvingly (sort of made that word up) talented and creative band, 7-Minutes in a Microwave. My son’s share of the admission ticket sales was a whopping $6. The problem was that none of the boys remembered to either charge their phones or fill the tank with gas. In their defense, the gas gauge was broken.
Now I’m Just Old & Scared
As I stood there checking out this bus I thought it was the coolest thing ever. It was a 100% completely restored (except for the gas gauge) 1967 Volkswagen Van. Painted white with blue trim and gleaming chrome accents, the van is saaaaweeeeet! It occurred to me that a 1967 VW is really old…51 years old. Then it occurred to me that I am personally a 1968 model…damn I’m old too!
If you know Brackenberry Road, then you know it is a simply beautiful through street lines with estate size very large lots. Many of the original homes are being torn down and imposing mansions are under construction. Imagine it: massively huge, empty homes in the dark of night with a lite breeze rustling the last leaves clinging to branches making just enough noise to be eery. These circumstances took me back to a Scooby Doo scene…except this time I was there complete with a Mystery Machine that would not crank. Ruh Roh Raggy!
As it turns out the van was simply out of gas. The boys filled it up, almost flooded it trying to get to to turnover, and finally drove off into the night. I stood there and watched them head out realizing that this was a life turning point.
The Back and Forth of It
The experience offered me pause to think about how cool life is. (Side note: I also wondered how much weed had been smoked inside that bus throughout it’s 51 year history…but I digress). We all encounter times that take us back to remember the past. We all think forward about the future. In this case…as a parent…it was affirming to know that my 18 year old still needs his dad. It won’t be long before he’s off to college and Thaedra and I will be empty nesters. So so so many of my friends talk about it like it’s a great thing. Honestly, I’m going to be distraught when he’s gone. He’s my sidekick and little partner in crime. I guess I’ll have to pop some Wellbutrin, tune into the latest Hallmark Christmas movie or old an Scooby-Doo episode and count my blessings.
A Note of Dedication
Even though this blog has nothing to do with Breast Cancer, I’m dedicating it to my friend and my son’s former and extraordinary Cub Scout & Boy Scout Leader, Monica Schroeder. MoSchro, Viola Davis’ character from The Help said it best: “You is kind, you is smart, you is important. You is….are also a confident, defiant, no-nonsense survivor. The …(So) Does Cancer) blog about Kevin and Jennifer last year could just as easily have been about you and Skip. With chemo recently behind you and the hope of complete healing and restoration I believe 2019 will be your year!
For anyone interested on how cancer impacted people I know, go to:
My childhood friend, Dr. Chris Dula (mentioned in the blog) passed away a few weeks ago. Prayers to his wife and family.
Monica, Jennifer, and friends Bertha, Pam & Karen and many other ladies in my life inspire all who know them. Here’s to the ladies; here’s to finding a cure.