Even Kerouac Could Publish A Book

When I was 14 I was what some would consider a victim, though I beg to differ, in an incestuous yet consensual affair with my cousin who is 9 years older than me. If anyone was a victim, it was most certainly him because, while he was apparently drunk on the perfume of my blossoming young womanhood and found my shy smile and weird essays to be beguiling, I was a sweet cup of Pennyroyal Tea, even then.

My cousin lived on the east coast but would make frequent trips to La Luz to visit our aunt and uncle. Coincidentally I would go to La Luz to visit him. We got along famously in those days. He treated me like an adult, let me smoke his Camel Lights, took me on weird adventures and turned me on to cool authors like Jack Kerouac. When we were apart he would write long, spontaneous letters on paper bags and the backs of receipts, sometimes he would just send pages from his journal. I thought he was really cool. Let’s talk about Jack Kerouac.

Jack Kerouac was a literary iconoclast, the voice of the beat generation. His unedited, drug addled, rambling nonsense inspired generations of young free thinkers to travel the country by rail car composing handwritten novels on rolls of commercial grade paper toweling. Let’s face it; Kerouac is crooked and writes like a lunatic but when I was 14 now, let me tell ya, I thought he was really onto something. This explains a lot.

My cousin attended Oberlin College. Yes, the world renowned, ivy league, outrageously expensive, Oberlin College and his trip was funded entirely by the mommy and daddy scholarship. I, by comparison, learned most of what I needed to know in community college and I paid for that shit myself while working full time.

This little fling went on for a year or so and I became very adept at exploiting every type of family trust that there is. Of course everyone could see we were buddies but no one suspected anything unholy was occurring because we were related after all. Eventually though, like so many well intentioned, yet perverse, endeavors this too came to an end. My cousin decided to spend 6 months studying in London so off he goes. He still keeps in touch but not as much and obviously we’re not seeing each other. Upon returning from his 6 month fuck around hiatus, no sorry, studying – he was studying, he meets an Indian woman named Amrita. She was pure evil incarnate but as he seems to be turned on by that he went ahead and knocked her up and then they got married. Now granted, I had a boyfriend too but, making no attempt to hide my hypocrisy, I didn’t much see the humor in that.

So you might assume that the recently wed to the devil, new father, and recent graduate from Oberlin College would have some motivation to take care of his family and get something fancy, like a job. Just a job – any job…pumping gas is a job. You would assume wrong. Nope, he is not any kind of provider, or man of the house, by any stretch of the imagination. To the contrary I think he would sleep in his car most nights during the summer. It doesn’t take Amrita long to start loathing him but they carry on in mutual contempt for like 6 years until one day when I was 19 and living in Boulder City, my cousin, in an inconceivable act of fucktardation tells her about us, like everything about us, and seals his fate in my eyes forever. Amrita calls my aunt and fills her in. My aunt, who was living with my mother at the time, in turn calls me and says that if I don’t tell my mom then she will. I am shocked. This shit had been over nearly 5 years and now he throws me under the bus and leaves me there to manage the fall out between my mother and her sister whose son would be the cousin in question and all the while he is sleeping in his god damned 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco in motherfucking Bonanza, AR where he just can’t be bothered to answer his phone that his parents still pay for. I had to fly back home to straighten this shit out and that included sending my mom to a psychic medium to convince her that I was not molested in the traditional sense of the word. Not much of an option for my mom, really. She could either let her mommy hormones override reason and think of me as a victimized little girl OR she could sack up and admit that she may have hatched a demon spawn who was the mastermind behind the aforementioned “situation.” In any case, hell hath no fury like a betrayed Scorpio, and I spent the next ten years repaying him in spades for that indiscretion.

Jack Kerouac wasn’t much of a family man either. Child rearin’ wasn’t his thing and his resume had some unaccounted for time on it. He was a free spirit; traveling constantly, never putting down stakes, always doing exactly what he wanted to do, exactly when he wanted to do it. If there was something Kerouac had a handle on, it was discretionary time and he took full advantage of his days with no regard whatsoever for what the future may hold as a consequence of his cavalier lifestyle, or so it would seem. As it turned out Kerouac didn’t need to figure out how to deal with middle age because the booze got the best of him resulting in his demise at the age of 47. Somehow though, in the midst of all this free-wheelin’ jazz lifestyle he managed to publish a shit load of books that did, in fact, provide him with income and transform him into an American legend. Someway, somehow, ole’ Jack found the discipline to write books and get them published even while being incessantly intoxicated.

My cousin didn’t have a job when I was 14; he was divorced, still unemployed, and sleeping in his car when I was 19, and now I’m pretty sure he lives in a 5th wheel trailer that has been colonized by feral cats and is parked on some generous friend’s land in Bonanza. Employment comes in the way of handyman type jobs that pop up about once every three months. His parents still pay his phone bill just so he will have a phone and I bet they’d like a refund of their investment in his ivy league education. I think he does a little organic farming if you know what I mean, and you know what? It is the do-nothing drug.

I’m not gonna judge him. If he wants to piss his life away living like a middle class bum, then be it far from me to say otherwise. What I will say, however, is that he might coulda clued his parents in to his intentions before they invested a healthy six figures in his schooling and I think he should stop imposing his lifestyle on the heartstrings of people whom he knows won’t let him starve. I’ve got no explanation for the spectacular failure to launch that was my first lover but all I’m sayin’ is; even Kerouac could publish a book.

Motel 6

I’m a regular at Motel 6. My dad likes to go there, too.

I’ve spent years scrutinizing my dad, looking for any sign that we are the same species of creature. To date, there is little evidence except our shared affinity for seedy motels. When I go to Motel 6 I park in the back because I don’t want my husband – or anyone else for that matter – to catch me fucking the guy who, coincidentally, is my mentor in all things considered socially taboo and just plain wicked… While I’m there I coerce the girls at the front desk into admitting that they steal towels and get told stuff like “you know when check out is…” When my dad goes to Motel 6 he makes a thermos of instant coffee with hot water from the sink. No, we’re not hardly the same kind of creature.

My dad’s not a bad person but he’s got damaged goods. He fancies himself to be a highway man, traveling the country as a character in a Tom Waits song, eating in truck stops and making small talk with guys named Big Joe. The problem is that Big Joe has no idea what they’re talking about because my dad speaks in riddles. If my dad asks you a question/statement and you don’t know what the fuck he’s talking about, the answer is most likely one of the following things: Ford Motor Company, Michigan State University, or if the riddle contained the reference “smokey bear” then it’s about the police. Once, when my dad was visiting me in Boulder City, we somehow got shafted into going to some time share interview bullshit so’s that we could get free tickets to see Splash at The Riviera. During the interview I kept my sunglasses on in hopes that if I ever ran into the interviewer again she would not recognize me. The poor lady asked my dad if he had flown in to Vegas, he said “no” and so she asked “well then, how did you get here?” He tells her the turn for turn driving directions all the way from Bowling Green, OH. She gave him the praying mantis stare and I pushed my sunglasses further up my nose to better conceal my identity.

My dad’s wife’s name is Deborah. I call her “Pissed Off Deb” cause she’s always pissed off, plus she apparently has Tourette’s. She will say any ole’ rude shit that pops into her little midwestern head. Not that I entirely blame her. My dad, he’s an irritating guy. Every couple of months he decides to pack up the car and take the poor, reluctant, Pissed Off Deb on a road trip across the United States which will no doubt include stays at Motel 6, thermoses of bathroom sink water instant coffee and awkward riddle ridden dinners at truck stops. His other hobby is taking pictures of Pissed Off Deb in front of iconic national treasures and then sending them to me. I have pictures of Pissed Off Deb in front of Mount Rushmore, Niagara Falls and the Lincoln Memorial.

On another memorable occasion I was visiting my dad at my grandpa’s place in El Rito. I’m not sure where Pissed Off Deb was but I think she begged off and stayed at home for this hurrah. My grandpa’s accountant had alerted my dad to the fact that my grandpa was losing his grip on reality and that if he didn’t take immediate action, the state was gonna step in and seize the assets we were all counting on inheriting. My dad jumps on a plane and calls me up to inform me that my that my plans for the weekend have been replaced with mission Save The Family Fortune. I drop my plans for drinking jager and writing pointless shit and drive my ass to El Rito. When I get there my dad is talking a blue streak and I am left speechless and staring just trying to solve the riddles fast enough to keep up. One minute he’s talking about a lazy union janitor at Ford Motor Company and the next he’s saying “when mom died, everyone was consoling pops, but she was my mom too”. That made me sad but my empathy is trumped by the need to suppress my gag reflex because while he’s regaling me with this hours long monologue he is also slurping Psyllium fiber mixed with not enough water from a coffee cup and it has congealed into a wildly disgusting gelatinous slop that is dripping from his mouth back into the cup every time he takes a swig. The next day I was in my room, having just got out of the shower and sitting on the floor in front of my suitcase. I was naked and looking for clothes when my dad just walks right in, doesn’t knock or anything. We were both mortified, and in keeping with family tradition this instance was never to be spoken of again. Later that day I drove my dad to Wal-Mart to buy silk flowers to put on on my grandmother’s grave. At the cemetery transpires the weirdest shit, ever. Ever.

We’re at the cemetery observing all the family grave sites. I see the headstone of my dad’s brother, Harold, and note that there are fresh flowers in the flower cup. My dad, tipped off by the flowers, starts to sarcastically speculate that Harry is conducting an affair with the living from beyond the grave. He always loathed his brother. I am feeling brave so I say “didn’t Harry die of some kind overdose?” and my dad replies “somethin’ like that.” No remorse, no emotion, no nothing, just “somethin’ like that”. Maybe now would be a good time to bring up the fact that, when he was a young man, my dad was the primary suspect in a murder investigation involving the deaths of three of his family members. A couple years later Harry was found dead in his car having overdosed on a prescription epilepsy medicine that no one knew he was taking.

We locate my grandmother’s headstone and deposit the silk flowers from Wal-Mart. While we’re doing this my dad starts to tell me that he has a pre-paid plot in this cemetery but doesn’t want to use it because he intends to be buried in Ohio next to Pissed Off Deb. For some reason this issue has grown to be a point of contention between he and my grandpa. My dad tells me that he would concede to my grandpa’s wishes and be buried in this cemetery only if my grandpa agrees to pay the shipping charges associated with transporting a corpse across state lines. Then he tells me that I should write a song, because he thinks I’m a musician, about a funny scenario that could unfold upon his death and playing upon the fact that both my grandpa and Pissed Off Deb hate to spend money. The song, he tells me, should tell the story of how, after he dies, Deb will send his body C.O.D. to El Rito and my grandpa, being just as big of a cheap skate, will refuse the charges thus sending him back to Ohio where Pissed Off Deb will also refuse the shipment and this will go on indefinitely leaving his body traveling the highways of America in a big black hearse with shiny black windows for all eternity.

I imagine one day I’ll meet up with my dad at the great Motel 6 in the sky. Reckon he’ll leave the light on for me.