Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Leave it to Cleaver

Jerry Matthers was the Beaver. Mr. Matthers was my High School principal. Yes, they were related. Mr. Matthers was the Beaver's real father.

The Beaver had the ideal family, and it couldn't be farther than what I experienced when I was growing up. I rarely talk about Lisa, who struggles with issues both medical and emotional as the subject is just too painful to broach. But there is the occasional funny story that she inspired or provoked, and just such a rememberance came out when I was reading Mrs. G at Derfwad Manor's post last week about her highway hijinks as a teenager. Kind of hit close to home even if I was not an initiator of the sequence of events.

Lisa was not the favored child in the family. For right or for wrong, she got less than Adele or I did in material goods. Where we were accepted into the colleges of or parent's choice and were rewarded with new or semi-new cars with which to commute, Lisa's ability to get into any college - given her track record of nonperformance in high school - was in doubt and she ended up with a very old and decrepit Dodge Dart. She decked it out appropriately... with a rubber bat on an elastic string hanging from the rear view mirror. That bat would bounce up and down, flapping it's wings at every pothole.

Trouble and Lisa went together. Sometimes Lisa provoked the trouble. Sometimes trouble just found her and she was an innocent victim. But no matter what, you always knew that something interesting was going to happen where she was involved.

I received a number of well-past-midnight calls from her, needing rescue from this venue or that. She never wanted to call my parents for help and frankly, I understood her reticence, so I might grumble to myself (or sometimes even fall into a fit of foul language), but I always came when called.

One night, I received a call at maybe 1 AM. Lisa had been visiting a friend in Lancaster (the Antelope Valley, CA) and her car had died. She had had trouble with it earlier in the day, and at that time had put two new (or maybe retreaded... I just can't remember) tires on the thing. She was parked on the side of the road, in the middle of the night, in a very deserted portion of Highway 14, in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Come save her.

Well, Lancaster and the surrounding areas did not have a good reputation. It was where criminals went to live when they got out of jail. It's where radical and neo-nazi groups held their dune buggy practices. It's where people disappeared and their body never found with only their car left on the side of the road as a testiment that they were passing through. I did not underestimate the danger to her. I speedily got dressed and was just about to leave and pick her up, then it occured to me. She was a woman alone in the middle of the desert. Defenseless. If I went, we would be two women together but alone in the middle of the desert. Defenseless. It was not a good idea. But how to protect us?

I looked around my apartment. (This was pre-condo days.) I did not and still do not believe in firearms (for me) and did not have any kind of weapondry in my home. But, as luck would have it, I had just bought a Wok Set from Cost Plus.< I loved that set, but it came with a cleaver that was so dull that it wouldn't even cut through mushrooms. On the other hand, it was big and shiny and would make just the right roadside impression. I fished it out of it's drawer, carried it to my car (I believe I was already past my Gremlin and into my Datsun B210(yes, Datsun... they hadn't renamed themselves Nissan yet), and slid it under the front seat. And set off for parts unknown.

Fortunately, I had no trouble finding Lisa. This was a time before cell phones and she had found her way to a service station from which she had called me. (I don't remember how she got there.) We drove off together and found her car on the side of the road. And I hurridly gave her instructions.

"Lisa," I said. "We both know that your car is crap. I'm guessing that it's completely dead and will never be revived again. We need to get everything out of it."

Lisa agreed.

"Here's the plan. You will quickly open up the car and trunk. Then you will take this cleaver " (I gave her the cleaver) "and if anybody drives by, you are to wave it in the air and look completely crazy. Got it?"

Well, looking crazy was not much of a stretch for Lisa. The plan went off without a hitch. I transfered all of her worldly posessions (including the rubber bat) into my vehicle. Any time a car drove by us, Lisa stood on the side of the road and waved the Cleaver around. Some cars slowed down at the sight of us but not a one stopped.

I was right. Lisa's transmission had failed. Dad was really angry with her, but I quickly pointed out to him that this was not something which she could control and that if he thought about it, he knew that the car was about dead when he bought it. He calmed down although I do believe that he still held her responsible. (His and Lisa's relationship was not great.) Lisa ended up with a newer car... I think the Toyota although I could be wrong about that too... she's been through so many cars.

I don't know how the Dodge was removed from the roadside, or if it was just left there to rot until the state took action. But I never saw it again.

And Lisa? She and trouble went together. That was not the last call after midnight that I received.

4 comments:

Robin said...

While this story has its humerous side, I feel kinda sorry for Lisa, and all who are the un-favored child in a family. Yin yang experience for me reading this... well written, funny image of Lisa waving the cleaver, like leaving the Dart to chance, sad about Lisa and her companion, trouble.

What about beading? Will you show us some pictures of your work?

hot tamale said...

Thanks for the ab work out again...(dabbing tears from eyes) I can picture Lisa waving that cleaver LOL and no I would not have stopped either....LOL
love you girl
Becky

hot tamale said...

p.s. I also had a Datsun B210 for my 2nd car. how funny, mine was turquoise and broke down alot as well.

Ang said...

omg..i'm laughing..I'm sure it wasn't funny at the time, and maybe nerve wracking..but Gawd you take those childhood tales and managed to bring out the best humor in them...

Love ya girl...

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