need a pocket in the shower? you're free to be you

Pop didn't look anything like the model here but the guy's sporting the bath skirt thing! As I've mentioned before, dad had that nutty engineer thing in his brain and he tended to do things his own way regardless of convention, social norm, or personal safety. Freedom was precious to him and this was often applied in novel ways like... a terry cloth bath skirt as casual wear. Bein' free, as it were, was typically the first order of business at the end of a busy day. Get home, hot shower, careen out of the bathroom naked as a jay bird, and at last get into something more comfortable... bath wrap (that's what the trade calls 'em as copious research on the subject determined) and a V-neck T-shirt. (I get a real kick out of having two in a row capital letters hyphenated to short words.) Then it was time to watch Wall $treet Week with Louis Rukeyser and let out all the day's pressure. Dad was a champion fog horn when it came to farts. The cat's pupils would dilate and she'd slink out of the room real slow-like and close to the ground.

But I digress... the terry cloth skirt, with handy pocket in front and snap or Velcro fasteners at the hip, made the most of a comfortable weekend working in the garage shop. In the garage dad could proudly wear that skirt with slippers and a plaid flannel shirt while cutting threads on a new piece of three quarter inch galvanized iron pipe for the water heater, metal shavings and cutting oil dribbling on his toes, and not give a damn. Still brilliantly etched in my memory are the few perfect weekend days when one last critical piece fell into place and he was submerged in his element. The religious folk would stop by to proselytise. Honestly, I never could understand why they didn't have a map with red marks for the houses to avoid... the places where they would be hounded with outrageous logical conundrums and soul searching ineffable enigmas.

Ah, just picture it... The big garage door is up (by the way, it was nothing like your garage door. No way! This door pivoted on huge pin hinges about a third of the way down and was counter balanced by lead blocks. Uh huh, I told you, it's that da Vinci "I do it-a my wey!" thing.) Anyhow, it's a sunny afternoon, the garage is open, dad's in his comfortable place busy beating the living hell out of some sorry piece of metal that wished it had never seen the light of day, and a couple of well dressed folks walk up the driveway hoping to spread the word and be on their way. Instead, they are confronted by our cur of a rescued stray dog at the end of his steel cable tether and a guy in a terry cloth skirt mashing something with repeated blows from a six pound hammer. Wham! Wham! Wham! crunk... "Shit! Hi folks, how are you?" he says innocently without really looking up from his mashing whatever it was helplessly clamped in the huge bench vice. "Run you poor idiots!" I'd shriek in my head, but the words never left my lips, it was too late. It was too late when they came to our neighborhood. It was too late when they took up whatever faith they had innocently paddled their little leaking boat into.

The dog gave his usual mixed message, growl-whimper-bark-wag, and pulled his dead weight a little closer to the visitors. Another fine invention of dad's... tethering the dog with a stiff steel cable to a big hunk of rusted scrap steel thing-a-ma-bobber. It was heavy enough that the dog couldn't get far but could drag it along instead. His short tether didn't get wrapped around things and he wasn't constantly getting stuck. It had the added benefit that the dog was free to menace visitors with out being able to move fast enough to bite them on the butt. Like I said, dad valued personal freedom, but the dog was not really the thing the poor slobs had to worry about. The barrage could last for hours. As long as dad had work to do in the garage he was happy to coolly slash jagged wounds in the peace and love offered by the proselytisers. Oh, the agony.

"Why don't you folks give it a rest here and move on down the block?" I'd wonder. The chilled venom, piss, and vinegar had a bottomless source and I have gleaned some bits of explanation over the years. It seems that there had been at least two cases in my dad's life of people he cared about doing what he viewed as incredibly dim witted things based on religious belief. In one particular case it amounted to suicide by refusing basic medical treatment. Well, to each their own. I know my dad believed this too, but when anyone walked into his space to tell him what he needed to believe in to be saved he figured they were asking for it. And deliver IT he did, between the continuing loud hammer blows, all while his junk had plenty of room to dangle in that bath skirt!... and you thought I had forgotten about the skirt.

Mind you, I'm not making fun of the skirt. On the contrary, I have had my own weirdo clothing flings and I too am a big proponent of doing your own thing. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree I suppose, but sometimes the apple doesn't wear terry cloth. I have yet to adopt the bath skirt, in spite of my spouse's joking suggestion that she buy one for me.

Inevitably, the religious folks would look at their watches, pat down their hair that had been blown all cocky-whompus by the gusts of diatribe, and walk backwards down the driveway muttering blessings. I hope none of them took it personally. I can't imagine it didn't leave a few scars, and dad never even raised his voice above the din of his hammering. You can believe in whatever you like but a guy should be allowed to proudly wear terry cloth in his own garage and fart loud enough to scare off the banshees.

No comments: