Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pa's Adventure Part 1

"So, wait," began Dale McClawenstein. "You were raised by harbor seals?"

"Thass right," I told him.

He looked skeptical. "But I've met your parents. You've had me over for dinner with them and everything. How could they be around if they fell through the dock like you said?"

"Well, first of all," I corrected, "that woman you've had dinner with ain't my biological mom. My dad got hisself remarried a ways back. That's why I just called her Darlene at dinner."

He shrugged. "Huh, I thought you were calling her darling. Frankly, I thought it was a bit weird that you would call your mom darling, but I figured it wasn't any of my business. But what about your dad? Is he your biological father?"

I had to give him the sad truth. "Yeah, he's my real father, as much as it pains me to say it."

"How can that be? This story isn't making any sense. Are you making this up?" He sounded a bit more accusatory than I woulda liked, so I told him so.

"You sound a bit more accusatory than I would like," I told him. "I know I been know to make up a thing or two now and then, but this is all completely true. And it'd make a lot more sense if you'd just listen instead of tryin to jump the gun on everythin here."

Now that he was properly chastised, I could go on with my story. "You see, what I didn't mention is that my pa is one competitive son of a didgeridoo. He and my ma had been walkin along the boardwalk, as I said, and they happened by a side show. Now, this bein the off season, the sideshow was havin a hard time gettin themselves good talent. They couldn't find them no bearded lady, so they had to go with a mustacioed child. If you ask my dad, he'll swear up and down that it was just a midget and then he'll start screamin 'bout how he got ripped off and then his face will turn all red and that vein in his forhead, you know the one, will start pulsing with a cha-cha beat and he'll look like his face is about to explode. I 'spose I wouldn't ask him."

"Nah, I suppose not," Dale concurred.

"Now, after seein that mustacioed child, my dad was in the mood for seein somethin really amazin. It turn out that the sideshow owner had some talent of his own. He held the world's record for eating the most sand in one sittin. Well, my pa, never bein one to shy away from attemptin to break a world's record, challenged that man to a sand eating contest.

"An hour later, my pa walked out of that tent with a belly full of sand and a heart full of defeat. That man had beaten my old man by a full bag and a half of sand. When my dad gave in, that man just sat in his chair lookin like a beached whale and laughed and hooted and hollered until he was shootin a steady stream of grit out his mouth and ears. There was nothin pa could do but just fold over like a burlap sack and slink away.

"So then came the accident. The pier gave out and my parents went tumblin into the drink. Ma wasn't no strong swimmer, but she managed on her own, though that's a different story for a different time. Pa, on the other hand, had been a swimmin champ in college. All that sand was makin for some tough doggy paddlin, though and he was sinkin like a cargo ship full of blasphemy and hubris.

"I don't know what came over him in that deep, dark ocean, but he stopped fightin and started swimmin down. He never said what he was tryin to accomplish; whether it was a stroke of genius or madness, or whether he was just tryin to hurry the inevitable. Whatever it was, he swam straight down faster than he'd ever managed to swim sideways. Between his breast stroke, ll the sand he ate, and sheer, dumb O'Neil luck, he built up so much speed that when he reached the sea bed, he kept right on goin.

"When he realized what he'd done, he tried to arrest his movement by doin the backstroke, but he was already travellin to fast to stop right away. His main concern at this time was hittin the ball of magma at the earth's core. Either that or tunnelin straight through the Earth to China. Sure, he'd picked up some Chinese during his merchant marine days, and he felt confident that he could get home, but China is just so muggy in the summer, and he was too darn full to put up with too much humidity.

"Grabbin backwards with both hands, pa managed to slow himself to somewhat reasonable speeds just before he dropped into the cave. He fell and fell. He says he didn't know how long he was fallin, coulda been weeks or months. I told him he stole that from Alice in Wonderland and he told me if I wasn't careful, he'd show me Alice on the Back of His Hand. I didn't think it was too witty, but I got the point enough to be quiet and hear out the story.

"My pa tumbled ass over elbows through the cold night under the earth, sleepin occasionally, voiding hisself of sand when he could. After some time, his eyes adjusted to the gloom and he could see land somewhere below him. A lot of people would spend time frettin about what was gonna happen when the land got closer, but not my pa. He just kicked his feet up, relaxed and decided to let come whatever would.

"That was prolly a good decision because, as the land resolved itself, he saw he was over a lake he estimates to be as big as New York. My pa ain't never bee to New York, so I don't know how he would know, but that's what he says. Though I never been able to pin him down on whether he means New York city or state. Well, when he saw he was gonna land in that lake and prolly be all right, my pa stared the greatest high dive known to history. I don't remember the whole thing, but it involved over a hundred flips, just as many twists, a coupla gainers, a nice superman in the middle, the Alamaba loop-de-loop (which can only be accomplished if your dive last more that 15 minues) and a Jim Crackin Alligator (which has only ever been done by two people; Jim Crackin and my dad, and requires three full shaving kits, a bowl of prepared mustard and a live weasel).

"When he come to the bottom of his dive, pa entered that water perfectly straight up and down. He spread his arms and legs out like a fan unfolding, turned towards the surface and broke through with enough momentum to complete a second Jim Crackin Alligator, which wore the weasel right out, I tell ya.

"Finally done with all his fancy acrobatic stuff, pa just leaned back on the surface of the lake and rubbed the viscous liquid outta his eyes."

Dale cut in, "Viscous? Did he fall in oil or something?"

"Nah," I responded, "my dad found himself floating on the surface of a lake of stew."

"You're kidding!"

"Wish I were," I drawled, "wish I were."

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