Friday, July 1, 2011


Traveling Wilburys " You took my breath away". When this came on I was driving through the dark on a very welcoming open road. Your head was resting on your shoulder. You had fallen asleep with out tilting your seat back. I had never heard this song before. I had become familiar with the group many years ago. My brother had told me how much he liked this band. When questioned as to why, he simply replied, "Because no one in that band has ever pissed me off". It was the best musical review I had been party to in my life time. Now I had a fresh perspective. I had never gauged how much I liked something by how little it pissed me off. I was only nineteen and whistling down the road in his truck on our way to a grueling day. He had his own under ground utility company and I was working part time for him and part time at my life guarding job. My other job was easier but I liked this better. I was learning something. I was working with grown men who weren't in the middle of college like me. It was real every moment. All the sudden I wasn't looking at life as just one fun situation that of course leads to the next irresponsible fun. I didn't have much time to ruminate on this. Before I could blink, he was in boss mode and I was in helper mode. As I trudged along the field that would soon be a housing development with two five gallon buckets of wet cement in each hand heading toward a hole in the ground, I could feel my mind strain in unison with my shoulders. Something clicked and I took one step toward being a man. There was no place for boy hood silliness in this environment. I climbed down the hole and some one else lowered the buckets by a rope. I actually had a better job than the guy up top but I had earned it. It had nothing to do with being the bosses brother. It came from the way I had floated cement for him when he was doing more traditional cement work. I had the touch with the trowel and later that would lead me into becoming a great plasterer. That was years down the road though. For now I was hunched up in a pipe union that would later direct the water that would eventually throw through it. Four pipes came into the union I was squatting in. I had a pile of brick and ten gallons of cement to work with. This had to be right. I put the angle wrong and things are flowing back down hill. I could have been non chalant about it and just put it together how ever I cared. Eventually my errors would come to light and my brother would be responsible for tearing up a street that didn't exist yet and making it right. No. I was in that hole by myself. It was cool and dark but I was hot from the pressure. I needed to get this right. I started by two of the pipes and started laying my mud down. I carefully selected my bricks and squeezed them down until the mud started showing around the sides. After the main course was set I had to start breaking the bricks with the back of my hammer. It felt unreal as I watched this solid material break exactly where I wanted it to. I fitted the slender pieces and then turned around and started from scratch on the other two pipes that completed the juncture. When I crawled out of that hole proud of myself, I was given two more buckets and pointed at the next hole in the ground. There was going to be no back slapping out here. As I made my way to my next cool escape I heard my brother behind me shout, " Keep getting it Snow Pea!". I knew I was doing OK in his eyes if he was using a nick name on me that one of my other friends had come up with. I smiled and climbed down into the hole. I did what I needed to do and came back to the surface. As I rode back home I looked over at the bay and didn't care that we were stuck in traffic. He reached behind his seat and handed me a cold beer. If I never made it again, I at least knew I made it that day. .... As the darkness slipped past my steering wheel I wondered how I could have two things at once because of a song. Fond memories of past times with my brother and an over brimming realization that I just had heard a song that I would want to sing to you for all my years to come. As I reached over and put my hand on your leg you came to. "What the fuck? Where are we?" "Between here and there babe. Go back to relaxing and enjoy the ride." "Patrick, god damn it! I thought we were going to stop. My back is sore!" I couldn't look at you. I steeled my eyes toward the flickering road. " I'm tired too. We will stop when it is time." I could feel the salt in your anger as I gripped the wheel a bit tighter. I looked ahead as I drug those buckets into the hole knowing how important it was that the water flow in the right direction.

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