Bus-ted 3: Like This!

Jeff had Race Friends. People he’d met previous years. He’d keep in touch with email or through ICQ. There are several that stand out in my memory, but the first one I met really left an impression on me.

From my slightly terrifying seat on the top deck, I heard a commotion down below. Jeff had his binoculars stuck to his eyes, and didn’t seem to notice anything. I thought I heard someone shout for Jeff, so I scooted over to the rail.

Scanning faces, I passed by a fellow with a red shirt and a raised beer bottle. He must have been very hot, because he kept raising his shirt almost over his head. Repeatedly. He was with two other men and they were both shouting something I couldn’t make out.

A head popped up near the roof-mounting ladder and caught Jeff’s attention. “Hey,” he called, “So and so is here!” (No, I don’t remember his name. I do remember he was going to come to our wedding. But, that was before 9/11 happened.)

Jeff lumbered over to my side of the deck, took in the scene and delightedly began waving. As Jeff smiled down, the fella once again began picking up his shirt hem, practically smashing his fists into his own head.

“I can’t figure out what he wants,” I informed Jeff.

Suddenly, there was a wide-eyed, frantic man standing next to me using that universal chop-to-the-neck sign that commonly conveys “Stop!” “Cut it out!” I glanced down and then up again. By then, Jeff had switch to a two-handed chop, and still the main guy carried on.

“Do you know that weirdo?” I asked. “Yeah,” he sighed, “I’ll be right back.”

It almost immediately got quieter down there. Shortly, without fully climbing up, Jeff peered at me from between the rungs. He asked me to please come down and meet his friends from Canada. To my relief, red-shirt had stopped spazzing by the time I got to the ground. His friends seemed to be missing, too.

Jeff introduced him to me and me to him, and then I was embraced in a big, sweaty, beer-soaked hug. He was very f-ing glad to meet me, he crowed. He enthusiastically shouted to Jeff (who was standing right next to him) how f-ing happy he was that he had a girlfriend. He told us he had to go catch up with his f-ing friends, because they were only f-ing stopping by on the way to their f-ing awesome seats in the stand.

I figured he was pretty drunk, and Jeff smilingly agreed he’d probably had a few and would likely fall asleep in the stands.

“Sounded like he was saying something about a shower,” I commented. “Is there a shower in this bus?” “No,” Jeff replied.

“Well, did he tell you what he wanted?” I pressed. “Yeeaaahhh,” Jeff drawled.

“Now, don’t take this the wrong way,” he started. “He didn’t know you were my girlfriend or he’d never have asked ya….”

“Well,” he said, scratching his bearded chin. “I guess I’d better tell ya how it is. It’s kind of a tradition at races…. he didn’t mean anything by it….”

“He was just yellin’ ‘Show us Yer T-ts!” he continued.

“Seriously?” I squeaked.

“Ya know,” Jeff noddingly explained as he grabbed his shirt hem and pulled it over his head, “Like this!”

Quote for the Week:

2018 08 07 Even if you speak the same language jakorte

Bonus Photos:

Jeff may have invented the selfie before there were cell phones with cameras… on the bus roof, always with binoculars, radio and headset, and a camera around his neck.

Bonus Bus Photos

Bus-ted 2: Popcorny

We shimmied and shuddered to a slow halt.

After I was sure that the brakes that didn’t seem to be slowing fast enough for my liking, actually proved to work (weakly but did the trick,) I wide-eyed eyeballed Jeff who was inexplicably grinning like a proud papa who’d found a cherry life-saver at the end of the roll.

I might have screeched a little in frustration before indelicately inquiring, “What the hell is wrong with your bus?!”

“What?” he regarded me quizzically.

“What?!” my voice rose a notch.

“Huh?” Jeff countered, completely puzzled.

I threw out my arms, explosively. “How could you NOT NOTICE I was practically POPCORN?”

Jeff guffawed, took a look at my expression, and quieted quickly. “I thought you were just having fun, being funny…” he replied cautiously.

Then, he kinda threw caution to the wind when he p-shaw-ed his right hand in my direction.

“It’ll get better,” he advised.

“What will get better?” I asked.

“The tires…” he answered, drawing his brows further together than they naturally were. “They’re just  flat… from sitting too long.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “We’re driving around on flat tires?” Then this knowledge from my father’s vault of advice that actually stuck with me jumped out of my mouth. “You’re not supposed to drive around on flat tires!”

“Nooo,” Jeff shook his head, and flapped his hands. “The tires aren’t flat. They’re just flat on the bottom… from sitting too long. They’ll round-out once they warm up, though….”

I just stared at him while my non-race-bus brain was sorting it all out. He was very much suppressing a smile I knew wanted to break loose. The height of my eyebrows must have discouraged him. To his immense credit, Jeff pulled himself together and didn’t laugh at me.

Annunciating like an elementary school teacher who just realized the entire class didn’t speak his language, he emphasized with exaggerated patience. “That’s… what… we’re doing… out here….making… the tires… go … round…”

I remained silent, so, he, continued, dramatically. Drawing circles in the air with his index finger, Jeff pointedly punctuated his next words: “Rounding. The. Tires.”

“You could have told me,” I pouted.

“I DID tell you!” Jeff defended.

“Well, that didn’t explain, anything.” I harrumphed. “I thought you meant ‘the wheels on the bus go round and round.'”

He couldn’t help it then, he reared back his head and roared with laughter. “Just wait ‘til I tell the guys…”

Jeff slapped his knee a few times, and swiveled fully back into the driver’s seat.  He punched the gas, and popped the clutch.

As we began to roll, Jeff shifted his chin in my direction, and shouted, “Hold on, Popcorn!”

Quote for the Week:

2018 07 31 anything you say in jest jakorte

Bus-ted

I didn’t fully understand the situation. I knew we’d be ‘camping’ on a bus and grilling and watching races.

I didn’t know the bus would “go-in” on a Wednesday or Thursday. I didn’t know the bus would require a pre-race day running to see if it would start and stay started.

I didn’t know a test drive was required to determine if the bus would continue to run once out on the road. To see if it would keep running while driven, and if not, to fix whatever seemed to be wrong. And lastly, as Jeff put it, “to make sure the wheels on the bus go round.”

The first two were accomplished without me, which was fine. The last one, made me laugh thinking of that old school bus song. Historically, Jeff had been a great tour guide, so I was looking forward to getting a first ride around the local back streets.

We climbed in the remarkably less stinky bus. Jeff cranked the key hard to started the engine. It coughed a little, but then chugged to life with a roar. I didn’t remember school busses ever being that loud, but, then again, a lot of the usual interior was missing. Plus, as it turned out, it was a bit of muffler, too.

I sat on the side bench, next to the door, in view of Jeff, and happily settled in. It took a while to get out of the driveway, which seemed a little more rutty to me than usual.  Seatbelt-less, I slid off my seat little when Jeff turned the corner onto Roger’s Highway. I grabbed hold of the bench, slightly embarrassed and sat myself back into the seat.

He didn’t seem to notice my floundering, but I watching him wrangle the shifting and the wheel and the spring-loaded driver’s seat.  I grew concerned. Driving that thing was taking tremendous effort and a good deal of his strength. I was remembering a skinny, hippie bus driver I had once, and didn’t recall him having that much trouble controlling the bus.

Having crested atop a slight hill, the stuttering beast picked-up speed on the flat-away. I was launched into jumping bean mode. Catapulted; repetitively airborne. Landing with ungraceful “oomph”s.

Honestly, I was flopping around, bounced off of and back into my seat with no chance of steadying. There was no point in trying to speak. Having ridden up many long rises on wooden roller coasters where it was fashionable to create warbled screams for fun, I intuitively knew I’d be incoherent.

It’d be like shouting into a fan, while riding a bike downhill on a dirt road. I would have had to catch my breath, first, anyway. The way this experience was going didn’t seem like it’d lend itself to that likelihood, anytime soon.  

About three minutes into our excursion, I finally got the chance, when Jeff necessarily downshifted at stop sign.

Quote for the Week: 

2018 07 24 the wheels on the bus jakorte

 

Stairing

It’s true.

I am often compelled to take an awkward photo – one that I’m not even sure why I’m taking. One I obsess a little over – to delete or not. So, it ends up safely staying on my phone, saved to my cloud, downloaded to my computer; lingering with no real use or draw.

Until one day, when I find myself without words. Unable to form sentences of condolences, I scroll through unreasonably hoarded memories searching for inspiration, a photo prompt, anything that will spark the conversations I have to begin.

I found it filed under spring’s May adventure. I went for another reason; saw what I wanted to see. It wasn’t as impressive as I’d imagined. Truthfully, disappointed, I moved on to try and find a more engaging reason to make the trip worthwhile. Leisurely exploring gifted me three themes: architecture, modern art and whimsy.

I took the same route down as I had going up; on foot, on stairs – noting to myself perhaps there’d be a picture in it, later. Hours later, travelled down, I turned to evaluate that thought.

I found that ‘later’ came with more impressive light and a focal exclamation point. I likely took a dozen and a few views. Hard to tell, because I whittled them down to the three I was having trouble letting go. This time, I looked a little closer. Somehow, a connection sparked between the three photos and the three recent events that needed those words I was looking for.

I still don’t have the words. I do, however, have the hope of heaven and a picture that  paints a thousand words.

2018 07 17 holding onto photos jakorte

with love for BD, JS & JK, their families and their friends.

 

 

Meet the Bus

I met The Bus on my first trip to Tecumseh. Parked next to a pole barn/garage, which later successfully served as a wedding reception venue, it wasn’t immediately visible from the road. Yet, it was certainly Jeff’s pride and joy and the perfect vehicle to gather friends and family. The bus’s main function was to provide lodging in the Michigan International Speedway infield during race weekends. Although, it did also serve as a wedding shuttle, once.

My tour initiated with an abrupt, boot-heel push- in of the rusty accordion door and a push out of a strong odorous something… a little… hmm… Dank? Rotten in Denmark? Wet dog who’d just taken a 12-hour hot beer bath? I hesitated, but Jeff barely notice the sharp tang. Not wanting to be rude, I held my breath. Then, when I had to breathe, it was with a hand over my mouth and pinching my nose until my nostrils were sealed. “Oh!” Jeff exclaimed. He wasn’t, however, moved by my predicament or by the many fragrant forgotten un-treasures.

That first, and relatively only slightly assaulting smell, turned out to be a loaf of petrified, hideously green bread hiding beneath on of the liftable storage/seat benches. Jeff amused himself by rapping his knuckles on it and scientifically wondering what he might find inside of it if he were to break it. I requested he not experiment in my presence by squealing, “Oh. My. God! Don’t you dare!”

Deeper, near the back of the bus where the trouble-makers usually sit, the real, abusive attack began when Jeff pried open the off-white lid of an insulated cooler. The reek that jumped out and slapped us turned out to be a half-dozen half-leaky or fully exploded beer cans encased in the previously well insulated blue bottom of the tub. Two six-packs of bow-lidded and likely skunked beer cans were hanging out in there, too.  Jeff just shook his head, lamented, “Well… that’s a shame.”

Adding even more moldy atmosphere were numerous sets of soggy shoes and one stray, randomly strewn clothing and a few moldy towels. “Oh. My. God!” I said, backing away as fast as possible. “Yeah,” Jeff shrugged, and followed my retreat path.

As we reached the front of the bus, Jeff suddenly smiled widely. “I’ve been wondering where that shirt went to! It’s my favorite!” He was, in my opinion, unsoundly, and deliriously happy as he grabbed at a wadded ball of crunchy fabric resting on the window ledge next to the driver’s seat.

“Um, I don’t think that can be salvaged…” I ventured.

“Nah,” he replied, still grinning. “It’ll be ok after it’s washed.”

I remember thinking, “I hope he’s not serious…” I must have not hidden my doubt well, because he laughed. “I’ve washed stuff worse than this before!” He shared, waving it at me, adding,…”at least, it’s not dried cow-pocky! That stuff’s haarrddd to get out!”

Even as a city girl unfamiliar with cow-anything, I got his drift. Somehow, I forgot to remember to not use my nose. I let go a laugh, followed by a gag. I tripped a little on the tiny, awkward half-spiral stairs that were more suited for school children sized feet. I wobbled, recovered, wobbled, got one foot on the ground, wobbled some more and saved myself from a complete side-plant by settling into a one-knee tucked under me, sitting position.

 After he stopped laughing, and wiped his eyes, Jeff looked back at the bus. “Yeah,” he scrunched up his nose, “I guess it’s gonna need some cleanin’ up before the race.”

I told him, I’d be glad to help with the cleaning, but he’d have to get rid of all the stinky stuff, first – without my help.

“Ok,” he agreed, amicably. Then, with a twinkle in his eyes, and hands on his hips, Jeff chuckled a tongue-in-cheek question. “Do you always fall like a ballerina?” I rolled my eyes. “Because,” he continued, “I’d kinda like to see that again!”

Quote for the Week:

2018 07 10 One man_s trash isn_t always another man_s treasure jakorte

 

Hard Refrigerator Wisdom

It’s hard to pray for what you don’t want.

It’s even harder when your prayer is answered.

Last week, I lost a hard to define person: part of my life, sort of relative, adoptive 3rd mom, friend.

About 6 years ago, on another platform, in another format, I published an article about alternate gift giving. The information was drawn from many sources, links provided, and sent out into cyber-space. The result of that was a slip of paper she gifted me. It has been magnetized to my wisdom board since that Christmas.

Over the years, I have noted little slips of wisdom on the refrigerator in the home she and her husband shared. A home that I was welcomed into. Reluctant to go the first time, my two-years past Jeff mantra was, “I don’t do other people’s families at holidays.” It doesn’t matter where you’re sitting, it’s extremely uncomfortable being the “extra” at any table.

Especially so, with Jeff’s family. Let me emphasize: I was always sincerely invited, always happily welcomed. My perception of me and my place in the family was skewed by insecurities. My interpretation of the situation was that my arrival at any Korte family function was an awkward beacon of sad; a glaring, strobe reminder that Jeff was no longer there.

However, at the insistence of my brother and sister-in-law, I agreed to tag along to their family gathering. It wasn’t any easier than going to Jeff’s families’ holidays.  The only difference was that I felt more like a solitary lighthouse of alone. None of them were strangers to me; I’d known them all before Jeff. They represent the before and the after Jeff, which sometimes makes the missing middle seem that much further away.

Over the last ten years of holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, sport days, funeral and no-reason days, I merged into the unit quite permanently. The slip I noticed Sunday, has likely been there for a while. 

Judging by the placement, it was positioned purposefully while she was still able to do it, herself. I took a clandestine picture, with the plan of posting in my home and have decided to share it with you. It is a perfect, logical, statement of fact, which I choose to interpret with her deep, implied beliefs – adding my own, silent, faith-filled addendum … “for now.”

Quote for the Week:

2018 06 26 there are things we dont want to happen jakorte

How to Miss a Wedding (finale)

Cash in hand, we got that settled. It wasn’t a pleasant ride there. We didn’t stop for lunch on the way home, because we were officially a breath away from broke. I spent the rest of the day rebudgeting and being annoyed. It seemed like every time we had scraped just enough to cover a month’s expenses into our savings account, it’d trickle back out again for unexpected car repair or medical expenses.

As self-righteous as I was about our money habits, my life before Jeff wasn’t always so strict. I mostly did what I wanted, saved very little and had no plan for the future. I never really thought forward much, because there wasn’t much to look forward to.

Being with Jeff changed all that. Together, the future was worth thinking about. Comparatively, I ended  up being the spend-thrift in our relationship. Don’t forget, I said, “Yes” a lot. To a lot of really silly things. We collected knick-knacks – Cow Parade figurines, NASCAR die-cast, and chickens. We collected a kitchen full of gadgets – some of which I haven’t used in years; others I’ve never used at all.

Unfortunately, shortly after our crisis, Jeff was asked to stand up in a wedding – a vow renewal actually – in Las Vegas.  My ‘No’ came out quickly. There wasn’t any money left, so there wasn’t anything to think about. But, Jeff continued to think about it. His insistence that he wanted to go should have clued me in that the event was important to him. More than important, actually.

He re-iterated, his Mom could and would be happy to lend us the money for airfare. “How are we going to pay for the other stuff?” I asked him, listing, “… Gas to and from the airport? Parking? Hotel room? Food?” Then, added, “Do you even have dress pants and a suit jacket?” Jeff pulled in his bottom lip and softly nodded his understanding.

The next day, Jeff came back excitedly with another offer to let us borrow the money not covered by the airfare. Again, I refused us that, stead-fastedly stuck on thoughts that borrowing money ruined relationships and knowing we wouldn’t be able to pay either his family or his friend back for a very long time.

There are a few solid times in my life I would like to do over. Sometimes regrets earned from behaving responsibly are far worse than those gained irresponsibly. I wish I’d said to hell with our future finances, and made memories instead.

Quote for the Week:2018 06 19 RRegrets earned from behaving responsively jakorte

 

 

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Choice: Making Good Choices

Choice: Make the Right One

Choice: What It Means To