Striped Like Dad…

When you get a bit older and you have kids, you start to realize that you share a lot more with dear old Dad than you thought when you were less long in the tooth. Similarities pop up all the time but many are fleeting and difficult to substantiate. I realized today that I’ve become my Dad in yet another way and one that I never saw coming. First off, we’re a swarthy bunch, my siblings and I (except for one glaring exception… you know who you are, miss blue eyes), just like Dad was, and Grandpa, and who knows? Past grandpa were generations of Sicilians who I doubt were blue eyed, freckled pale faces. So my Dad loved golf. His standard attire for golfing all summer was golf shoes, white athletic socks that came halfway up his calf, golf shorts that came a bit more than halfway down his thigh, a short-sleeved v-neck (with buttons) golf shirt with sleeves that came almost to his elbows, a golf hat, sunglasses and a golf glove. In certain lighting and when he didn’t have his golf attire on, he might get a second take from someone because his face was dark except for the slightly lighter circles around his eyes and the pale top of his forehead… still, this could be and was overlooked mostly. The true test, which rarely occurred, was when we went somewhere that swimming was the activity and my Dad would come out with just swimming trunks on… he looked like a strange multi-colored animal with white feet, white thighs that came out from the legs of his swimming trunks, white torso complete with white shoulders and biceps, the aforementioned circles around the eyes and pale forehead and the piece de resistance… one white hand ala Micha3l Jacks0n from where he wore the golf glove. The rest of his body in between these very pale areas was a very rich dark, deeply tanned brown… so he had dark bands of tanned hide that started from his wrist to just past the elbow, from just above his knees to halfway down the calf and a dark face with accompanying V below his chin. It was hilarious to look at and he didn’t give a rat’s ass as they say. Sorry to belabor the point but I have been doing some serious cycling lately (by serious, I mean often more than fast or far) which has me out in the sun each day. I spent 1 hour 45 minutes riding yesterday and the temp was 98 according to my new cycling speedometer. So I wear bike shorts that come halfway down my thighs, a helmet, bike gloves, a short sleeved shirt and socks that don’t necessarily come halfway to my knee but they go past my ankle. I got home from riding and on my way to the shower caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and there it was… I look like my Dad. If someone had told me back in the day that someday I would resemble my Dad in this way, I would have insisted that they were delusional but there he was in the mirror, looking back… all striped. And honestly, I don’t give a rat’s ass either. Before I continue with the cycling, here’s what I’ve been working on so I can break up this post with a picture…

So Sunday (Sofia attended a bridal somethin’ or otherin’ sans me), I decided to brave the nasty intersection of Grinstead and Lexington to enter the bike trail that is supposed to go around the city. After 10 miles from my house, I was cruising on Main St. downtown by the waterfront and then continued along between the river and the railroad past the McAlpine lock on the Ohio and down toward the west end. About 14 miles into the ride, signs warned that the bike path was closed and not to enter… so I kept going. Apparently there was some flooding there earlier in the year but no big shakes. At 17 miles, the path was barricaded for real so I headed back but sometime soon I’m gonna see what’s going on there too. On Monday, I drove toward the southern end of town to meet an old friend, Scott, who is a cycling enthusiast. He took me on a beautiful bucolic ride out in a somewhat rural area where the cars were scarce. It reminded me of Western K3ntucky where I went to college. Yesterday I went on the same ride as Sunday and I was struck by the contrast of the two rides. Although both rides had an element of adventure that I was not expecting, they were like touring different aspects of the same location. One, the industrial urban part of the city with barges and trains, urban decay and rusty train trestles and the other the rural outskirts past homes with big yards and big vegetable gardens, cows and forest. I don’t want to come right out and say it but I think I may be starting to like cycling… after you get past the pain of it all there is a certain feeling of self reliance and the amazing efficiency of this human powered machine. Scott is way into the whole thing as well and let me know that my chain is dirty… so I gotta get on that. He also mentioned that he had completed his first century ride (100+ miles) which I have yet to do. Technically speaking that’s not true… although it wasn’t quite the same when I did it. It was back in Murray, KY in 1978 or 9. I had a class with a girl named Pam that I had a crush on because she was such a wise ass. As the spring semester wound down, she mentioned that she had to go back home to her family’s marina on Lake Barkley to work for the summer. She gave me her phone number and said in what I thought was a very suggestive manner… come up and see me some time. I thought, wow, that would be fun but how the hell would I get up there as I had absolutely no money, no car, no friends with cars and Murray in summer was extremely depopulated. Anyway, the dog days set in and I found this bicycle behind our apartment. It was a 10-speed, very heavy steel framed and stuck in 6th or 7th gear as the shifters were kaput. In the inimitable manner of a young man with a not-quite-fully-developed frontal lobe, I imagined a scenario where I road a mere 30 miles or so and Pam would be so happy to see me that she and her family would feed me and I would stay overnight (of course), hey maybe stay for a day or two and then head back the same 30 miles or so. So I hit the road with no extra clothes, no water, just her phone # (of course I neglected to call first but maybe that was because I couldn’t pay for the long distance call). After a grueling day climbing hills in the one gear and dodging traffic all the way, I arrived at a little park a ways down the road from the marina. I stopped because I saw a drinking fountain and as I sat under a tree in the shade, I spied a pay phone and figured it was time to call Pam and announce my arrival. Her mom answered the phone and told me that Pam was out on the lake with her cousins from out west and she could call me back at the pay phone in an hour or so. After quite some time, she did call and told me that she had to entertain her relatives and this was not a good time and that maybe I could come back later in the summer, but part of me felt like she was just blowing me off because she never thought that I’d actually show up. So now it was 4 or 5 in the afternoon, I’m exhausted, haven’t eaten and have no recourse but to drink a lot of water and head back to Murray… which I did. I remember excruciating pain (I should remind you that this was my maiden bike voyage and had not been riding at all) and almost spontaneously weeping on the bike from the various pains. I knew instinctively that if I dismounted that I would never get back on the bike so I stayed on and plodded onward. It got dark with 20 miles to go. When I arrived in Murray I got off the bike in the yard in front of our apartment and instantly fell to the ground as my legs would not support me. I laid there for hours, slept most of the next day and finally recovered the day after that. I eventually made the exact trip in a car and clocked the miles on the car’s odometer… 52 miles one way. So way back then 30 years ago I did my first and only and unintentional century ride. Back to ceramics, I’ve been distracted for the last couple days because I’ve been offered the chance to try for quite a large commission… 250 of something. Of course, as with this type of job, there are requirements and timetables that really push the limit of what one sole potter can accomplish by themselves and I’ve been stewing on how to get the job and have it actually be completed within the time constraints. More on this later I’m sure.

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11 Responses to “Striped Like Dad…”

  1. meredith@whynot Says:

    ah youth!
    My son has done the mountains of NC to the coast ride twice- loved it.
    It is so funny that you talk about the different views as I drove from town- Ashebroro- last night and was deep in thought-yes- I have a thought now and again- I just thought how funny it is that passing cows and pastures and horses instead of railroad tracts, houses, industry and shopping malls was normal for us.
    We cab drive to town and back and sometimes not even see a car……
    Then when you are in the city— so I get what you are talking about.
    About seeing your Dad in your reflection- better then seeing your old postman!

  2. meredith@whynot Says:

    no we don’t cab drive- we CAN drive

  3. Cathy Says:

    very entertaining post Jim

  4. Jeff Says:

    I rember my dad walking the beach in 1982 Florida, he had his black socks pulled up 3″ from his knees and shorts down to 2″ above the knee. He got FRIED…well at least the 5″ strips around his knees got fried. As a cyclist that memory hits me every summer, I miss my dad but I will never forget him!

  5. Dawn Says:

    You have a thermostat on your bike?? (cool!!)

    I still giggle when I hear my mom come out of my mouth. I always tell my kids “that was your grandma” and smile.

  6. ang Says:

    waiting for the next installment that one was a treat…

  7. Judy Shreve Says:

    Great story! And it’s cool you are getting so fond of biking! I hate seeing my mom in my reflection!! –and even worse when she comes out of my mouth — YIKES — how did this happen?!?

  8. ron Says:

    Good story. I have noticed myself picking up some of the same mannerisms as my dad.

  9. John Dorsey Says:

    What I really want to know is – do you end up going back later in the summer to see Pam? Time put in and all that…

    I don’t know if I could 250 of anything…

    I’ve lived my whole life trying not to be my dad…

  10. Myrtle Says:

    what an awesome young man you were!

  11. Myrtle Says:

    Could you use an Andy Warhol approach or modified one to achieve your commission job? Maybe you could partner with some other local potters.

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