Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Pedal to the metal

John Deere, my ass. When I was a kid about two acres of our land had been cleared years before. Neglect allowed it to be taken over by the ants, underbrush, pine saplings and the sewer trolls I was certain lived within. Money was tight and my old man wasn’t about to waste a nickel on a fancy ass tractor, hell no. Besides, it would just get bogged down and die in that freaking wilderness.

Across town, all 7 miles of it, someone had a 1969 Suburban for sale, $300 and no engine. Dad had the Midas touch, though. He towed it home, red rags tied to the bumper with big white letters on the back windows that read “IN TOW.” I watched him pull that behemoth around into the back yard where it lived while he dropped a V8 into it.

The Suburban had been black in its hay day, but had since worn down to the primer. On the inside it had one single seat, the driver’s seat. All of the others had been ripped out, literally. That bitch had big gaping holes in the floorboard where rust and abuse gave way to an open view of the ground. After fucking with it for about a week, my old man came in the house and yelled, “You kids wanna go for a ride?”

Well, hell yeah! He jimmied the back door open and let us jump in. We were short enough to stand upright in the back, which was the coolest shit I’d ever imagined. He got in and cranked her up, smoke pouring in through the open holes in the floor and mushrooming around us. He pushed an 8-track into the player and The Battle of New Orleans rattled from the cheap speakers he’d wired to the door panels. In 1814 we took a little trip…

“Hang on, back there!”

I swear that motherfucker hit the gas and never looked back. But not toward the street, he went right into the backyard. It was the most awesome shit I’d ever seen. He drove blindly into the brush at what I swore was the speed of sound. Eight foot saplings vanished in one jarring bounce. Weeds five feet tall disappeared beneath the Suburban, never to be seen again. Smoke and dirt commingled into a magical cloud of poisonous fairy dust all around and I was exhilarated beyond my wildest imaginations. And probably high from the fumes.

We fired our cannon til the barrel melted down.
So we grabbed an alligator and we fought another round.
We filled his head with cannon balls and powdered his behind
and when we touched the powder off, the gator lost his mind.

I couldn’t see fucking shit out the front window, just weeds and trees and the occasional jarring explosion of dirt as my dad slammed into massive fire ant beds as tall as the grill, those biting bastards scattered to all hell. Shit shot up through the holes in the floorboard, slapping my legs, as we bounced from one end of that fucking jungle to another. My sister cried, but I cared not. We were 4-wheeling it freestyle, baby! Every time he got to the end of his row, he’d whip that fucker around, slamming us up against the glass, and then he’d floor it again. Yeehaw!

It took less than 15 minutes to clear the entire two acres at the rate of speed he was going. When we were done he pulled up to the back of the house, killed the engine, and for the first time looked back at us. “Yall all right back there?”

My sister was still whimpering, for whatever reason fearing for her life. I on the other hand, had just experienced a life altering event. For the rest of my life, I would aspire to drive like my old man.

We climbed out the Suburban and took a gander at it. She was covered in ants, dirt, weeds and pine sap. Her engine was ticking and hissing and finally heaved and sputtered and jerked and twitched and then went still.

She never moved again. The weeds eventually grew up, into and around her. She’d become an icon, and later a VIN when my dad needed to put us on his auto insurance under a dirt cheap vehicle. Yep, white trash I ain’t, but hillbilly I don’t deny.

Hup 2, 3, 4. Sound off 3, 4.... Hup 2, 3, 4.
Sound off 3, 4.... Hup 2, 3, 4