August 07, 1994.
Exactly-to the day-14 years ago. (Update: Now 24 years ago!!)
The air conditioning in my pickup was broke and it was smoldering hot.
I had stayed the weekend in Indianapolis with my friend, Jane, oblivious to the fact that the Brickyard was witnessing it’s largest crowd of NASCAR fans ever. Still today, there isn’t a race that has had as many fans in attendance as the first Brickyard 400.
I don’t follow NASCAR. I know some drivers. I’m not a fanatic. (Waving to the die-hards, I know you’re out there!) I know #3 and I get teary-eyed thinking of him and Dale Jr. and the whole story surrounding them.) I’m not a Jeff Gordon fan (sorry) and I’ve went to my brother’s Daytona parties. I could be a NASCAR fan, I’m just not.
I didn’t know it was the Brickyard 400 weekend in 1994.
I’m SO glad I didn’t know.
Afternoon. Sunday, August 7, 1994.
Exactly 14 (24!) years ago, Jane I and decided to drive home in my pickup with no air conditioning–but a working CB radio.
I’ve had CB radio’s since I was a little girl listening to Teddy Bear on the radio and playing with my daddy’s set up in the living room. Oh hell, I still cry when I listen to Teddy Bear by Red Sovine.
When my fourth grade teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I told her “the first female truck driver.”
“Wouldn’t you rather be the first female president? You can be anything you want to be.”
“Nope. I wanna be a truck driver.”
I’m redneck to the core despite my northern upbringing. God rectified his mistake of planting me outside of Chicago by uprooting me this fateful day.
Jane and I were on I-65 heading north for our 3 hour drive home. Except we weren’t driving. We were stopped in traffic. A dead stop. With no air conditioning. On the hottest day of the year. So I turned on the CB. Because I’m like that.
“Go ahead sweetheart.”
“I wanna get home, I don’t have a-c. Are we going to be in this mess forever? Should I just jump off and take the backroads?”
“The Brickyard was this weekend little lady, wherever you go you’re gonna hit traffic. Might as well stay here. It clears up after a bit.”
Jane decided to get in the driver’s seat. I shucked my shoes and stuck my pretty little toes out the window. The CB chatter was annoying so we turned it off and sang to the radio. We moved a little and then got going good only to come to another dead stop. I turned on the CB again and this time listened to some trucker telling jokes. He was flirting with another girl, too. We moved up a little and I saw her talking into her CB and I hit Jane’s arm.”Look at her! Her hair looks like a Q-tip!”
“Well, he’s probably eight hundred pounds, buck-toothed–if he has teeth, and uglier than her. They probably belong together.”
She got off that exit. I hope she didn’t hear us. Her windows were rolled up. She probably didn’t. I didn’t think about that then. When I was sure she was out of range, I said, “Hawkeye, did you see that girl you were flirting with?”
“Aw hell, darlin, I don’t need to see her. Ugly girls need love too.”
I turned to Jane. “Hide the CB. Give me your purse. He’s got to be butt-ugly to say that.”
And I was one to know. I waitressed midnights at a truck stop. Told you I was redneck. You didn’t believe me, did you? You’re starting to now, though, huh?
Hawkeye told her what kind of truck he was driving. A maroon Prime, Inc truck witha “shiney hiney.” As we came up on it I tried my best to look like I didn’t have a CB and I wasn’t Mickey. I looked up into his window.
“Holy Shit!” I said. His window was up. I know he didn’t hear me. “Jane, look, it’s the Marlboro Man!” (and no. I didn’t steal that from Ree. But she got all popular and now it looks like I stole it. But you can ask Jane.)
And there he was. All decked out in his western shirt and his black cowboy hat. Dayum. Over the CB in my pickup I hear, “Holy Shit, huh? Well you’re not too damn bad yourself.”
I screamed. I swear I did. “He read my lips!! Oh.my.God. He read my lips!”
I composed myself for three seconds to answer him. And fake screamed to Jane. Who was leaning over in the seat to see him and telling me how cute he was. We talked for the next two or three hours, we were getting close to the exit for home and Hawkeye said, “Why don’t you follow me to Chicago. I got a load to pick up there and we can talk a little more.”
I looked over at Jane. Jane who always drove when I was too drunk. Jane who fished me out of potentially bad situations. Jane who was my only conscious at that time in my life. Jane said, “Sure. Y’never know. It might be fate.”
Stop for a dramatic pause. And my heart coming out of my throat and butterflies tripping on acid in my stomach.
“Okay. But we’re not getting out of this pickup,” I said, all of a sudden developing some weird maternal instinct. “We’ll stay in the truck and he can stand and talk to us. I don’t want to meet with some serial rapist or something.” Jane nodded in agreement. “But he is cute,” I added in my dream-like trance.
We ended up staying in Chicago for five hours. Five hours! We didn’t have cell phones or pagers and we didn’t see a pay phone. Really, even if I saw a pay phone what would I say? “Mom, I’m in Chicago with a truck driver I met on the CB and he’s really cute and…” Sure. I was twenty-two and old enough, but I did move back home after my divorce.
Oh, you really don’t want to hear that story–Jane’s fiance is still one of my ex-husband’s best friends. Yep. If I hadn’t have met and married and divorced Dingbat, Jane and I wouldn’t have been in Indy that day because my ex and I set Jane and her fiance up. They’re still married by the way. So for all the heartache Dingbat caused me, I thank him because I met my soulmate. Sorry. Did I get distracted again?
Sunset. Getting late August 7, 1994.
Jane had moved to the passenger seat and I was in the driver’s seat of my pickup talking to Hawkeye.
Jane was asleep, or so I thought.
She sat bolt upright out of the blue, scared the life right out of me, looked at Hawkeye and said, “Would you just kiss her and get it over with?”
Hawkeye took off his cowboy hat, put it on the top of my pickup, and looked at me. He leaned in, grabbed the back of my neck ever so gently with his right hand and cradled my cheek with his left and kissed me.
What a delicious kiss.
I remember thinking, “I wonder what it’s like to live in Missouri?”
He backed up and stared at me again, “You’re eyes changed colors. They were just hazel a minute ago, now they’re green!”
Today. August 7, 2008
Some things never change. Jane and I are still as close as we’ve ever been. The air conditioning in the car I have now doesn’t work. Jeff Gordon is still winning races. It’s still hot in August. Hawkeye still drives a truck.
And my eyes still change color when I kiss my cowboy.
Today, August 7, 2013
Jane and I are still close. Some improvements have been made, the air conditioning in the vehicle I have now WORKS!! I think Jeff Gordon is winning races, I can’t be too sure. It is still hot in August. Hawkeye is (thankfully) no longer driving a truck, he’s supervising truck drivers.
My eyes still change color when I kiss my love. I didn’t think it was possible to love him more than I did before, but every year it just gets stronger.