Anyway, we all thought Grant was just googy with joy over his role as our personal driver until the day he up and traded his truck for a Miata convertible, one of the most worthless turd pellets on wheels if you ask me. It had only two seats, period, without even a jumpseat in the back. We still insisted Grant drive us places, and he never exactly refused, it's just that if he did drive, I'd have to sit my ass on Daniel's bony knees the whole way, and did I mention we were in a convertible? It's no secret that I consider convertibles to be decapitation mobiles, and it fairly infuriated me that Grant ignored my constant bitching about it, especially since his ass was all safely seat-belted while mine had nothing but Daniel's wiener arms around me to keep me from flying out on impact and ending up with my aorta pinned to the pavement.
"I swear to God," I'd shriek at Grant, "don't you care about your friends?"
"Bitch," he'd say, "you do not have to ride with me."
And that is how Grant passive-aggressively maneuvered himself out of his role as our chauffeur. It took a lot of effort and planning on his part, now wasted with the advent of the school bus idea. It's as though he's completely forgotten he hates to drive people around. You should hear him talk. "I'm gonna call it Sister Louisa's Rolling Glory Hole," he says, all excited. "I'm gonna give tours!"
A few months ago he sold his Rolling God Box, the former florist van converted to a mobile podium for his Sister Louisa trailer-vangelisms. "God is Pissed," was one slogan, blared in neon paint along the side. "Jesus Loves a Crack Whore," was another. It was bought for $1,666 by a sweet-natured transsexual named Pam, who drove it to California with hardly any incidents along the way, if you don't count that she picked up people along the way. She said it gave her a lot of opportunity to "minister" to the masses.Now Grant must miss it, because he's got his eye on that school bus, which is bigger than the van and seats 66. "Sixty six!" Grant exclaims. (It is no secret that Grant can't resist anything that comes in sixes; it's just a weird thing with him.) Now here he envisions chauffeuring these 66 people to places nobody else would want to go. Seriously. Places like the prison or the Old Country Buffet in Cartersville, or the dilapidated warehouse where Lary lives. "Are you not loving this idea?" he asks.
And I do kind of love the idea. Maybe it comes from my days as my dad's lookout. He was a traveling trailer salesman who used to drive with me in the front seat. "Ride with me," he'd say, and I'd hop in the car like a little bobble-head doll, not even knowing where we were going, ready to warn him of upcoming police cars and pass him a packet of peanuts in case he got pulled over and had to mask his booze breath. Throughout, he'd tell me of his dreams. He was gonna be somebody. On any given day he was gonna write a best-seller, become an inventor or open a popular lunch counter. It was when he drove that his big dreams weren't overcome by bigger fears.
He drove our whole family cross-country a few times, stopping at places nobody else would want to go, like Meteor City (population 12) in Arizona, where he bought me a sandlewood-scented cache that is still smelly to this day. We looked at the big hole in the ground after which the place is named and then continued on our journey, stopping next at a roadside vegetable stand where the proprietress allowed him to photograph me feeding fresh carrots to her donkey. Then we hopped in the car again, because if nothing else, my dad loved to drive. If he didn't, then his demons caught up with him. If he didn't, then he would lie in bed, sometimes for days, and let his brain become his enemy.
"Ride with me," he'd say soon enough, though, and off we'd go again to no place in particular. I went with him happily. I'll go with Grant, too, on his school-bus tours to nowhere. Of course I will, because in the end it's not where you go but the ride to get there that matters.
Hollis Gillespie is the author of Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch: Tales From a Bad Neighborhood (Harper Collins). Her commentaries can be heard on NPR's "All Things Considered."
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