| drew davidson |
 

 

Trippin'

by
Drew Davidson


Anything's within walking distance if you have the time. -Steven Wright

"Oh well, life's a rollercoaster, ya got yer ups and yer downs." This quote pretty much sums up the all-encompassing philosophy of Jamison Roberts Portwell IV, or as he likes to say, "Just call me Bob." Yep, me and Bob have been through many ups and downs together and either way it's mostly fun. My name, by the way, is R. Bailey Saville V, and the R. doesn't stand for anything but itself and don't ask me why. Anyways, you can call me Droopy, 'cause that's the nickname I'm stuck with. Lemme explain, Bob is my roommate at Swarthmore University up near Philadelphia. It's a little school with a pretty campus and a liberal community. Now most of the students, like Bob, are from up north. Except for me, I'm from down south. Twin Rivers, North Carolina to be exact; right near the coast. So you could say that I'm a transplanted southerner at Swarthmore University.
Well, believe it or not, me and Bob party, drink and get stupid quite often. And that's our word for getting drunk- stupid. There are nights where you get so stupid you end up on the T.V. watching the couch. Well, on one of these nights, Bob dubs me "Droopy" because, at the time, my slow southern drawl reminds him of the cartoon dog "Droopy"; and needless to say it's stuck. But enough background, come on, let's ride the rollercoaster. I'm gonna tell you a story about an adventure that me and Bob call "The Road Trip."
Last Spring Break, we decide to road trip to New Orleans in Bob's old VW Bug to catch us some jazz gumbo. We christen the Bug, "Further Too," in memory of the ultimate road trippers, Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. Well, we take off on Saturday morning around ten or so and our trip's going smoothly until we get into Virginia which is where the fun begins. As soon as we cross the border we hit a wall of rain, and right near Roanoke the engine blows. "Further Too" is going further no more. As Bob says, "We're going down, hold on tight." Luckily, we'd both been Eagle Scouts: we are prepared. We have lots of food and plenty of music; so we decide to kick back, eat, listen to tunes and take turns hitch hiking in the rain. After about an hour or so, Bob finally manages to flag down a bus, but not just any old bus. It's "The Daisy Ate Her" and it has flowers painted all over it in day-glo colors of red, green, blue and yellow (just to name a few). Blurred by the rain, it kinda looks like a giant Easter egg to me. Well, this egg opens up and we see this granola guy in love beads and tie-dye who yells, "Wanna ride on the Daisy Ate Her?" which sounds like,"daze-e-ator." Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, me and Bob grab our stuff, bid Further Too a farewell and climb on board. Like Bob says, "All right folks, we're headin' on up." Well, we get in and are met by six people. " 'Preciate you guys for pickin' us up," says Bob,"I'm Bob and this fellow with me is Droopy."
"Hey ya'll! And thanks for the lift," I say.
"Hey dudes! Like my name is Car," says the granola guy, "because I'm the one who always drives the vehicle, and because this here is my soul partner Toons," he says, pointing toward one of the girls, "Get it; Car/Toons. Cool buddy."
Another of the girls speaks up,"Hi! My name is like Flower and my like soul partner 's name is Bee." Bee looks up and says,"Hey dudes."
The third guy hugs his "soul partner" and says," Hey! We're like The Antonyms because opposites attract you know. Today she's Girl and I'm Guy. But we change you know, because everyday we're like totally different. Tomorrow she's gonna be Moon and I'm gonna be Sun."
It turns out that they're a group of Deadheads on their way to the Grateful Dead concert in New Orleans. Well, Car jumps into the driver's seat and gets to driving, while me, Bob and the rest of the crew settle down on the bus and smoke us a couple of bowls. Now, I'm a-looking about and taking in the funky decor. You see, "The Daisy Ate Her" is a bus that had been gutted and then refurbished. There are elaborately decorated silk tapestries of all sizes hanging all over at all kinds of angles. There are hanging bowls of burning incense and candles and tons of daisies everywhere along with a healthy crop of dope growing in the back. There are several mattresses and throw pillows lying about on which we all make ourselves comfortable. All in all, it kinda reminds me of a Star Trek set; it has this very "earthy", yet otherwordly feel to it.
So, we're driving along for about an hour or so, getting high and getting to know each other, and we're out in the middle of nowhere, when all of a sudden there's this house on the side of the road. Car slams on the brakes and we all stare out. You see, the house isn't anything special, but the whole front yard is covered with literally hundreds of those tacky porcelain lawn statues. There are deer, rabbits, turtles and even a giraffe and an elephant, but what caught our eyes is this little cupid in the middle of the yard; buck-naked with wings its a-flapping and bow-n-arrow in hand.
"Dude, look at the little angel. He's like trying to fly away," says Guy.
"Well, he's stuck and it's up to us to free him," says Flower.
"We'll get him," says Bob, looking at me. So, we both dash out, grab the little Eros, jump back into the bus, Car floors it, and we make a clean get away. We make a little shrine for the cupid up front and sit around trying to think up a name for him. After many rejected suggestions like "Archibald" and "Flyboy" we decide to call him "Sam I Am." We also agree that Sam I Am deserves a vacation, but eventually he'll get homesick. So, we'll bring him along and take pictures of him with all the sights he'll get to see, but after a while, we'll take him home and leave his pictures with him so he can share his memories with all his friends in the yard. After a few more hours on the road, a few more bowls smoked, and once again in the middle of nowhere, we make a pit stop at "Tally's Store." A friendly looking gas station with an even friendlier proprietor. Now, we're all getting out to go and borrow the facilities while this short old balding man with thick glasses saunters up from out of the building with this little dog in tow. "Look, it's Spuds MacKenzie," says Bob, and sure enough this dog looks just like Spuds; all white with a black spot around his eye. "Nope. His name is Spot," says the old man, "although he does resemble that Spuds dog, but, you see, Spot here likes Natural Light better than Bud Lite. By the way, my name is Taliaferro Lassiter, but call me Tally," so we all introduce ourselves and none of our odd monikers even phase him. "So, ya'll are out driving around," says Tally, "I remember when me and my brother Dave used to get in my Daddy's old Edsel and drive around. Back then all we had was dirt roads to drive on, so we always had to wash the car after we took it out. I guess you could say my love for cars started then and now, here I am still working with cars. Now that there bus you got sure is a sight," it's obvious that Tally's a talker, "Yep, sure is a sight. Too bad the weather's been so bad, cloudy now, I'd like to see that bus in the sunshine. I bet she glows...." About now, we're all edging back towards the bus, getting ready to make another get away when Tally offers us some "dope" if we'd like to sit around and talk some. Now he heads into the store while we all stare at each other and wonder if we'd heard him right. Well, out he comes with a ice cold bottle of Coke for each of us and a grin on his face. He knows he's shocked us and explains how his Daddy use to call a bottle of Coke a "dope" because of the cocaine they used to put into the drink. So, we join him and have a good talk in which Tally covers everything from the weather to both World Wars.
Afterwards, we wish Tally well, pet Spot for luck and take a picture of Sam I Am with the both of them. We then jump in "The Daisy Ate Her" and hit the road again, smoking some bowls and shooting some breeze.
"So tell me, exactly how'd ya get the name "The Daisy Ate Her?"" asks Bob, a question that we've both been pondering.
"Like I love nature and love to grow plants," answers Flower, "and the name comes from a combo of the dazes we catch from cannibis and the daisies I love to grow. And then we painted daisies all over the bus and since it's a machine where we go inside to catch a daze, it's our like daze-e-ator, get it? But we groove on the ambiguity and the like openness of 'The Daisy Ate Her.' It's like far out." Me and Bob both agree that it's far out. "And the name is cool because it like reminds me of the Bugs Bunny cartoon, "says Toons, "where Bugs goes to Mars and saves Earth from that little Martian dude who was trying to blow up Earth with his like 'Uranium P-32 Space Modulator,' you know, Mod-u-lator. Daze-e-ator." It's apparent that in Toons, I've found a kindred cartoon-loving spirit. I join in, "Yeah, one of my favorite cartoons is the one where there's the dog and the flea, and the flea keeps singing, "There'll be food around the corner, food around the corner, food around the corner for me! Halleluyah brother!""
"The flea- Ctenocephalidas canis ; a small wingless, bloodsucking insect that is parasitic upon mammals and birds and is also noted for its like leaping ability," chimes in Bee. "If you can't guess, Bee has this thing for bugs. It's like an insect fetish," explains Guy, "tell them what you're favorite one is Bee."
"That would be Blattidae elegans, the common cockroach," says Bee, "What fascinates me most about cockroaches is that they're like 657% less vulnerable to extremes of heat, cold and nuclear radiation than like anything else on earth. So, they would be the only ones left after a nuclear war. I want to reincarnate as a cockroach and live like forever dudes."
"Milquetoast!" yells Bob, to the confusion of all of us, "You know Milquetoast the cockroach with Opus the Penguin, Rosebud the Basselope, Bill the Cat and all the others from the comic strip Bloom County."
"Bloom County?" queries Girl, "is that a place? Like I'm from California. Where are you from Bob?"
"Why I'm from Connecticut."
"And where are you from, Droopy?" Girl asks me.
"North Carolina," I answer.
This sets off Toons, "Cool, like that reminds me of the Loony Toons that takes place on a bookshelf and Daffy Duck sings 'Nottin' can be feener den to be in Caroleener in da mo-ornin'." And this starts a rousing rendition of "Nothing Can Be Finer..." which leads us to singing songs. We cover everything from the Dead's "Truckin'' and Janis Joplin's "Me And Bobby McGee" to "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." But the one song that sticks out in my mind is when Bob leads a song that he says he learned when he went to summer camp at Camp Seagull. This surprises me because Camp Seagull is near the coast in North Carolina and I went there as a kid as well, but never met Bob. Yep, it's a small world, but I wouldn't want to paint it. Anyways, it's the "Tree Song" and it goes something like this

When I grow up I'm gonna be a tree
And make my home with the birds and the bees
And the squirrels, they can count on me
When I grow up I'm gonna be a tree.

Let my joints go stiff plant my feet in the ground
Take the winters off and settle down Wear my clothes til they turn brown
When I grow up I'm gonna settle down.

And I'm gonna reach, I'm gonna reach
I'm gonna reach, reach for the sky,
And I'm gonna reach, I'm gonna reach
I'm gonna reach, til I know why.
And when the spring comes around I'm gonna get real green
And if a dog comes around I'm gonna get real mean
Windy days I'll bend and lean
When I grow up I'm gonna get real green.

And if I should fall in storm or slumber
Please don't turn me into lumber
I'd rather be a Louisville slugger swinging for the seats
And I'm gonna reach.

And I'm gonna reach, I'm gonna reach
I'm gonna reach, reach for the sky,
And I'm gonna reach, I'm gonna reach
I'm gonna reach, til I know why.
Til I know why.

Well, we sing songs into the night until we all fade away and fall asleep. Sometime in the middle of the night, I wake up with the bus parked on the side of the road, everyone asleep and the blue lights of a police car flashing through the windows. I get up and get out of the bus, preparing for the worse, and meet Police Officer Edwina Dodd. She's really nice and all she does is ask if we're O.K. Breathing a sigh of relief, I tell her we're fine and that the driver's just taking a nap. She tells me that we really shouldn't have just pulled off on the side of the road, but she guesses that it's better than driving when you're overly tired. She then tells me how far it is to the next rest stop and is about to leave when I stop her and run inside the bus and get her some daisies. Just giving to her as she gave to me, or something like that. Well, she goes on and I go back to bed to join the others with Alice in Wonderland. When I wake up again, it's to a sunny morning and to the tune of "Dixie." Car's driving the bus as we all start to stir and look about. Apparently, he has pulled off the highway to get something to eat, has gotten lost, and now we're at the tail end of a parade. The marching band is right in front of us and is still robustly playing "Dixie." Needless to say, it's definitely an interesting way to wake up. But the golden arches of McDonald's are only a few blocks away so we decide to persevere. As we make our way down the street, the crowds on the sidewalks are all waving so, naturally, we wave back. We finally pass through the center of town and think we're home free, but we get directed into this parking lot and then get blocked in. Well, while we're sitting there wondering what to do, this man in a nice three-piece suit and a medal on a blue ribbon in his hand knocks on the door. Car opens the door and he steps on up. "Hello folks," he says, "I'm Mayor John Pendleton and this here bus has just won first place in the Tenth Annual Chrysanthemum Parade of Birdeye, Alabama. It is definitely, as far as I can recall, one of the most appropriately decorated entrants. We simply love all the colorful flowers." Of course, we're tickled pink by this announcement, but we confess to the mayor that we're really lost and didn't mean to be in the parade at all. Well, Mayor Pendleton and the town of Birdeye insist that we keep the award because they really like "The Daisy Ate Her." They then give us directions and get us going in the right direction. We hang the medal around Sam I Am's neck and head out on the last leg of our trip.
After about another hour or so on the road that's filled with the pride and joy of winning first place and with the irony and jokes of doing it by accident, we arrive in New Orleans. Car drops us off at the hotel where we have reservations. Me and Bob thank Car and Toons, Flower and Bee and Moon and Sun, make them promise to take Sam I Am home, and say goodbye to "The Daisy Ate Her," as we part and go our separate ways. I'd be lying to ya if I tell ya that me and Bob didn't have fun in New Orleans, but both of us agree that the memories we're gonna keep are from "The Daisy Ate Her." It was a wild and free trip that seemed as if we had all the time in the world to go everywhere, or nowhere in particular, for just the sheer fun of it all. Kinda like an ultimate road trip. Well, now we're back to getting stupid which is something we're both good at. But we look back on "The Road Trip" and can't help but smile, and like Bob says, "What a ride, man, we were doing loop-de-loops!"


 

 


 

| drew davidson |