I’ve been writing long enough to get a few attaboys from friends, family, and strangers. I don’t write strictly for such, yet it’s nice to hear from readers time to time, when a composition’s funny or interesting. Writing is a form of therapy and nothing more. If you were to put me on a strict writing schedule, my brain would short circuit. I’m not adept at composing stuff under pressure.
The only accolade received for a piece of my literature is an honorable mention certificate. The Anchorage Daily News gave it to me 34 years ago for a non-fiction piece titled, “Fishin’ With Mike.” This story’s now in my new book and one that Mom despised. There’s a valid reason behind her disgust, but you’ll have to read Ordinary, Average Guy – Uncensored Memoirs of a Trailer Park Refugee to see why.
In September, I’ll get a truckload of compliments although not literary in nature. I’ll be taking my vintage 1950 Chevrolet pickup back to the McConnell Air Force Base Air Show in Wichita, Kansas. Four years ago, we made the trip with over 250,000 people attending. I have photos showing droves of attendees standing around admiring the relic. Doors were left unlocked, with many parents seizing the opportunity to place their kids inside and have pictures taken of them.
I didn’t build this vehicle for attaboys either. Like my writing, working on it is a form of therapy. All alone in the garage with radio playing, I’ll tinker with the Chevy while thinking up new story material at the same time. My wife checks on me quite often to make sure I’m still in one piece. Several times Joleen’s discovered hands and knees cut and bleeding, but nothing serious.
I’ve developed thick skin where my writing and criticism is concerned, including having calloused skin on hands and fingers from turning wrenches. I overheard one fellow at the last airshow negatively remark,
“Looks as if this thing was yanked out of some farmer’s field and hauled here!”
What the guy didn’t know was that I took his statement as a compliment. Four years were spent trying to make it look that way. If he’d poked his head underneath the man would’ve noticed powder coated high-tech chassis components. Just like people judging a book by its cover, he’d done the same with my truck.
To me, it’s a piece of art, yet in a strange kind of way. It took 72 years for nature to create the finished product. To car guys and gals, we refer to such as patina.
Glancing in the mirror, I see my hair and skin having patina of its own. Sixty eight years has given it plenty of different hues. An old Chinaman named Proverb, claimed that wrinkles are lines of wisdom. If that’s the case, then I’m a walking, talking, encyclopedia.
Mr. Proverb couldn’t have given me a better compliment if he tried!