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80 Years Ago

Archives 2001 08-15-2001

North County Lines by Bob



I was recently on a flight to California to be interviewed for a job as a writer for a Los Angeles based magazine. No, I'm not stupid enough to want to live in Los Angeles or any city.

But the trip was all expenses paid and I've always wanted to see the mansion where Curly used to live. The real Curly, not any of those second-rate ones who played Stooges in the fifties and sixties.

The scene where Moe puts Curly's head in a vice and tightens it until Curly's head pops always cracks me up. Don't ever try that for real without parental supervision. Trust me on this one.

I wasn't allowed to watch the Stooges for six years after I tried it on my brother Eric, or Flathead as he's known now.

The trouble with my flight to LA was changing planes in Denver. I'd began reading Robert Parker's new Spencer novel when the 767 lifted through the clouds and left Nashville behind.

As the jet taxied down a runway in Denver, Hawk was saying, "Ain't right givin' me dem orders so fast, boss man. You knows I's just a backwoods boy from way down yonder in Suwannee land."

"Cut the lawn ornament act," Spencer said. "Cover my back. I'm going in."

I can't put a Spencer novel down until the end. I looked up once from the book, to make sure I was still in line as I boarded what I thought was the connecting flight.

Closing the book, after Spencer and Hawk solved the crime and killed all the bad guys, I heard the pilot say, "We will be landing in El Paso shortly. Please fasten your seat belts."

Waving my hands in the air to catch the attention of a flight attendant. I said, "Excuse me, miss. But I'm going to Los Angeles."

"Not on this plane," she said.

While pacing back and forth outside the El Paso airport, trying to figure a way to get to LA, I saw a man in tattered clothes sitting on the sidewalk.

He'd play his harmonica. Then he'd shake an empty Maxwell House can and moan, "Alms for the poor. Alms for the poor."

This guy needs help, I thought. An idea flashed in my head like an epiphany from a Muse on Mount Parnassus. I walked over and told the poor fellow my plan.

He put the harmonica to his toothless mouth and began wailing away.

Scrunching my face up, I danced around like a chicken after a worm, while singing, "Under my thumb, there's a Siamese cat of a girl. Under my thumb, she's the sweetest little pet in the world."

A blue-haired lady in the gathering crowd yelled, "It's Mick Jagger!"

"Fill me chum's can with alms," I said, "and I'll sing another, perhaps Ruby Tuesday or Satisfaction or Mother's Little Helper."

The crowd quickly turned into a mob. "Give me your autograph! someone yelled.

Another voice shouted, "Where's Keith Richards, still in rehab?"

The mob swarmed toward me. I'd created a monster.

I easily outran the elderly Jagger fans, after the rest of the horde diverted off in the direction of a baggage handler who looked like Kevin Costner.

Or maybe he was considering his continuing flops. The Postman. Message in a Bottle. Excuse me while I puke.

Here I am, I thought, in El Paso, the pass, a gateway to Mexico. I remembered a lyric from a Dylan song: "Lost in the rain in Juarez, and it's Easter time too."

No rain and Easter was a long way off. But Juarez was close, just over the border.

Being in Juarez when I was younger was like turning a monkey loose in a banana plantation. Every destructive pleasure known to mankind can be purchased on the streets of Juarez.

But I'm older now. I avoid those things when I recognize them. I did need a few things, though.

Hopping off the bus in Juarez, I heard, "Pssst, hey, gringo, over here."

A Mexican with a floppy sombrero and a mustache to match was leaning against a lopsided taco stand, made from wood and tin. "My cousin, she is pretty, much beautiful," he said. "Come, I bring you to her if you should like."

"No thank you," I said. "But I do need a few things. A leather jacket, a motorcycle helmet, motorcycle boots, and a motorcycle."

"Mi hombre," the Mexican said, "how you pay for this?"

"American cash," I replied. "Your friends hiding in the shadows might be able to take it from me. But not before I break your kneecaps."

After receiving my purchases, I roared through New Mexico, Arizona, and most of California, until reaching Curly's former mansion in Beverly Hills.

I paid a tour guide and followed a line inside.

In the living room, roped off from the public, was the vice Moe used on Curly's head.

I jumped the rope and yelled, "Anyone want their head flattened?"

I sped off to my job interview after the security guards threw me off the premises.

After we exchanged pleasantries, the editor said, "Judging by your work, you have an active imagination."

"Not really," I replied. "I just write about what happens to me during normal, everyday life. Want to hear about the time creatures from outer space kidnapped me?"

"I thought you were from outer space," he said.

"I didn't think you'd notice," I replied.


Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570
tel 931.823.6485
fax 931.823.6486

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