Thursday, May 26, 2005

Point A to Point B

In an abanonded turnoff near my house ... tucked against the Gastineau Channel ... on the lonely road that winds through North Douglas island ... is a broken down truck. It's rusty and old and suspicious-looking and someone spray-painted the words "FREE CANDY" across the side of it.

Downtown, there's a raggity pickup with tinted windows. This thing could probably go from zero to thirty in eight minutes. It's got a handsome spread of vaguely offensive right-wing bumper-stickers (Nuke the Unborn Gay Whales!). And when it starts up, it lurches into gear with that gravelly whiskey-throat sound that you only get with a 5 litre engine. And someone spraypainted the words "SUSPICIOUS VEHICLE" across the side of it.

There's another car that is covered, bumber to bumber, with extreme sports logos and NASCAR emblems. The owner left the legally-mandated amount of visible window space uncovered. It's a 4-cyllander second-hand Hyundai. Heh. Gene Gillete took one look at it and chirstened it the Viagra Mobile.

And then there's my adorable little Ford Festiva. When I found her, she was a sad little garbanzo bean of a car. Her previous owner drove her here from TEXAS. That's right. From texas, up the west coast, through British Columbia, through the Yukon, and into mainland Alaska. She has 89,000 miles on her. No dome light. No radio. No passenger-side mirror. No latch on the hatch-back. No power stearing. No third gear, from what I could tell. But dangit if we didn't fall in love. I scrubbed her down, velcro-ed a flashlight on the dashboard, got letters for the back bumper that read "OLE!" and ... best of all ... attached a $9 garden ornament to her roof.

I wanted to get a large sombrero for the roof, but couldn't find one. So I got a stone frog prince clutching a silver sphere. He's about nine inches tall and weighs about fifteen pounds. He sits rather comfortably on his ass, with a stone crown and a glowing, mirrored sphere in his lap. And when he's at the helm on the roof of the Festiva ... well, I gotta say, I think it boosted her self-esteem. She got respect in a town of large 4X4's. Traffic would yield for us. Pedestrians would salute us as we drove by. I even caught a couple tourists getting their photo taken with the frog prince -- which speaks more to their stupidity than my auto-detailing skills, but ... We were a good match, Festiva and me.

And then the brakes failed. They were making that grinding noise you only get if the pads are completely gone. I dropped her off at the mechanic near the theatre who informed me that I was lucky to be alive. That would be just my luck, right? I come to Alaska, hike in the mountains, see everything there is to see here. And I don't get killed by a bear, or an orca, or by falling off the cliffside of Mt. Bradley. No. I would die in a Ford Festiva while trying to brake hard coming down Franklin street or something. Anyway, I'm not dead and the Festiva is waiting a special delivery before she can hit the road again. I just hope she's put back together for one last jaunt before I leave.

So in the meantime, I was allowed to drive the theatre's van. It's a giant, white pre-OPEC embargo panel van with the Perseverance Theatre logo across the side of it. It was also filled with lots of furnature and had a severely cracked windshield. It burnt through a quarter tank of gas just getting from my house to the theatre and back. And then I found out ... get this ... that I'm not even insured to drive their vehicles anymore! Ha ha! Turns out, five weeks after we set this up, their insurance company can't find my driving record, or Gene's driving record. So if I would have died in the Festiva, I wouldn't have been covered! Isn't life in the non-profits great?!

I'm telling this story to everyone out there because ... I want to make sure my reaction is rational and justified, not just some flourish of east-coast diva monster creeping out in our final days. I really want to enjoy the remainder of my time here, but ... Anne's car fell apart recently, too. Her stearing wheel was about 90degrees off center before popping off entirely. Then her alternater just cut out completely. Dan's car has a driver's seat that isn't attached to the chasis in any perceivable way -- it slides back and forth as he drives and doesn't even have a straight back, so he leans back like a compulsory gangsta drivuh. Which would be cool, if it weren't a red 1989 Subaru station-wagon.

"Wit is the shortest distance between two ideas."
-- Sam Havelock

Point A to point B aside, I'm still enjoying myself. Our SM Sarah is caught in the middle since she's moving here to be director of production (forgot official title, ecag, sorry!). So she has to toggle between representing the cast and representing the theatre -- helping smooth over problems she didn't create because she wasn't here, but problems that she is now responsible for, by title only, nonetheless.

I remember telling some of you that I was going to switch to a polyphasic sleep schedule while I was here. I think I might have succeeded, but not through any special effort of my own. It's just what you do when the sun comes up so damn early. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, though. You see some cool colors and you start to think crazy things like ... maybe I can talk to my constituent molecules and walk through that wall. But you can get the same thing from a really good batch of mushrooms. So I'm told.

Forgive my mispellings. I'm rilly tired toodaye.


K.C. said...

An endearing (if alarming) post...but please, darlin', don't get back in that car without insurance, and PLEASE come back East safe and sound. Kiss the frog for me.

East Coast Alaskan Girl, Retired said...

i miss the festiva :(

sally is great, but there's nothing like searching for the elusive third gear in the festiva with gomer the frog prince by your side.

come back, oh arctic actor, to the fine theatre of the great white north -- i promise that you will have insurance and a working, clean vehicle and housing not in north douglas... this is my vow to you.

oh, and you got it right -- director of production -- i think i'm going up on the website tomorrow -- WOOT.


yermom said...

Loved your truck stories... remember the shiny 4x4 truck we saw in the wharf parking lot when we returned from whale watching? The one with the oversized tires, gun rack and Paris Hilton's disoriented doggie leashed to the door handle?

So sorry you haven't found a way to post photos to the site... I have a wonderful pic of you, the Festiva and the frog prince!

For a brief moment, while I was being chauffered around by you last week, I felt a twinge of over-protective maternal GUILT that all I could think--as I gripped the dangling door handle and reached in vain for the place where the passenger seat belt should have been--was, "deathtrap!" But I didn't feel THAT guilty. Glad the little coffee can is off the road, hon.

We, also, are looking forward to having you home. The washer and dryer await :-)

RennyRu said...

If you die in that car, I'll kill you!


yer baby sis

Jackal said...

I enjoyed the imagery you captured with your descriptions of the various vehicles.