Monday, September 1, 2008

pick-up trucks and academics

Home in VA now, where I will watch Gustav make a run towards Lafayette, one of my other favorite places. After my husband won a fellowship to take his PhD in Poetics at ULL (back when it was still USL), we left drought parched Ohio for rain drenched Louisiana in a heartbeat. Well really, in a battered Datsun that gave up the ghost shortly after we settled in. I determined that we needed a pick-up truck (we didn’t), and we chugged over to the nearest used lot where I selected a seriously under-powered Ford truck. Because I had made photo copies of Consumer Reports buying guides, I was considered to be the foremost expert car buyer in our family. It’s important to note that I don’t drive. We were encouraged by the approval of our friend, Cole Thompson, then a pre-novelist and drifting scion of an entrepreneurial Texas oil family, because he had a pretty blue Ford truck and declared our engine “nice and clean.”

The tail lights fizzled out before we got the vehicle back to our apartment. Luckily, Cole diagnosed it as a simple fuse issue--the first of many issues. My brothers, Doug and Sam, are both master auto mechanics. It never occurred to me to ask their advice, but if I had I’m sure they would have told me that Ford trucks are well built, they’re just a little cursed.

Months later Cole took us to his family’s 100+ year old vacation home on the Texas Gulf coast, where we got to watch his pretty blue truck slide down an algae slick boat ramp and into Aransas Bay, pulled there by the family fishing boat. That truck filled up to the dash and beyond. The groceries floated. Cole dived down to tie a rope to the truck, and when he came up a big jellyfish (cabbage head or moon) sat on his head like a beret. Cole took a lot of abuse that weekend, from his brothers, his fiancĂ©, and the insurance lady (“well honey, those things don’t float you know”), but Dean and I had a great time. We didn’t have to be the grown ups. There was also quite a bit of southern masculine interpersonal junk--the other guys at the boat launch, the not-very-loquacious guy who towed us home--all of which blew right by us.

Not sure where Cole is now, but the last we heard is that he moved "up north," which is, I guess, a euphemism for landing a university job?

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