Sunday, July 25, 2010

Murder Scene

Patty Peck and her husband, Irwin are members of a swell camping club called The Scampers. They are our friends, but we can't join the club because we don't have a recreational vehicle. All the members of the Scampers are resourceful people, down-to-earth types who could make-do with what they have in case of any type of catastrophic event. The Scampers don't know who Tyra Banks is, and to their credit, couldn't care less. They don't even have cable TV. They are happy to roam the countryside, stopping in small groups at campsites and telling stories and singing songs around campfires. Patty once showed me how to make a musical instrument out of a piece of wire and a gourd. More than anything, I want to be a Scamper.

The other night, while watching a late night TV commercial, a guy calling himself Tom Tart of Tom Tart's RV Sales was pronouncing his "Sizzlin' Summer Madness Sale." He was all sweaty, and while wiping his brow, he kept exclaiming, "The heat's got to me and I've lost my mind! The prices are so low that it's madness, madness, madness!" I'm not one to take advantage of people under the kind of emotional duress like Tom Tart seemed to be experiencing, but figured this may be my ticket into The Scampers (and maybe later pay Tom the full value of the vehicle when he recovers from his summer heat-related problems).

Big banners hung in the heat over Tom Tart's lot, announcing the Sizzlin' Summer Madness Sale. Tom emerged from his trailer and mustered up all the enthusiasm he could manage on a hot July afternoon. He shook our hands and proclaimed that, behind him was ten acres of happiness, in the way of freedom of the American road. My wife was not so keen on the idea but agreed to at least take a look at Tom's inventory.

As Tom began showing us through the vehicles, his pitch invariably began with "picture this," and then while sitting in the interior of a roughly 7 x 10 foot space, with a grand sweep of his hand, he'd pretend to imagine the view out the windshield. It was "picture this: the Grand Canyon, picture this: the Rocky Mountains, picture this: the tropical paradise of Florida." After looking at our fifth unit (and way too many picture this's), my wife turned to Tom and said, "Picture this: I murder my husband after spending just two weeks cooped up with him in one of these tin cans."
Tom didn't know quite what to say after that, but I thanked him for showing us around and, though I knew it was fruitless, I whispered to him that we'd be back after I talked to my wife.

On our way home, the discussion went something like this:
--Me: The Pecks spend about six months of the year in their RV.
--Her: We are not the Pecks and you are not Irwin.
--Me: What do you mean?
--Her: I love you, but I have my limits.
--Me: Well, I wouldn't mess up any of your magazines, and I'd refill your iced tea glass when it was even half empty. You'd never go thirsty with me around all the time.
--Her: Living in a tin shack on wheels with you is more than I could stand.
--Me: I don't understand.
--Her: I'm sorry, but you're a small-dose-person; a little of you goes a long way. You're tolerably annoying. You always have been, and will continue to be, annoying.
--Me: Plenty of women have broken up with me in the past, and not one of them ever used the word "annoying." There may have been other, somewhat plausible terms used, but never "annoying;" that, I'd remember.
--Me again, after a long pause: If we get an RV, what should we call it? Patty Peck named theirs "Hello Goodbye," so I'll leave the naming up to you.
--Her: How about "The Murder Scene."

So the discussion was over, and though it was apparent we'd never be Scampers, the "annoying" inference was unsettling. This was a quality I'd never noticed in myself, so I began to reflect on past relationships. There was Raakel, the Finnish unicyclist, who used to call me something in her native tongue. It was "harmittaa." She used the word constantly when she was around me, and in fact, it was the last word she spoke to me (shouted, really) while riding off down Ashland avenue on her one-wheeled bike. She yelled it over her shoulder.

It would indeed be curious if "harmittaa" meant "annoying," but I don't see how it fits; it doesn't sound like the me I've come to know: the cautious me who checks the stove several times during the night; the thoughtful me who offers reminders about crumbs, expiration dates on food, remote control etiquette, and the proper way to squeeze a lemon. Not to mention my insightful commentaries on current culture, the legal system, and all Connie Stevens related events. Now that I think about it, that Finnish word must mean "thank you." Raakel now lives in Finland where she is undoubtedly enjoying the benefits of my tutelage. One day I hope to thank her, too, for the memory of her fond good-bye and remind her, again, not to leave crumbs all over the place.