A few weeks ago I was all excited about mix tapes and was about to stage a revival of them. That hasn’t really happened. However, yesterday I plugged in my 50CD+1/tape deck that has lain dormant for so long and decided to give some old tape a try. Tony was working and I was all alone, I curled up in bed with War and Peace (I’m giving it another try as it is the one book I own that I haven’t read. At page 597 am almost halfway through!) and popped in a tape called “A Mix For Friend,” That Brooke made me when we graduated from SLC. It is an utterly awesome collection of songs, although Oasis “Live Forever,” gave me pause. It did capture the times though so I’ll let it slide. The songs were familiar enough that I could concentrate on my reading but, at times, they really started to take me back. They took me to so many different places that I can’t even begin to describe them all.
On of the places that I was reminded of over and over again was Bob. Bob was my car. He wasn’t my first car; that was The Little Red Mobile which deserves its own post. However, Bob was all mine. I paid my very own $200 for Bob and held the deed. Granted, the many hundreds and quite possibly thousands of dollars that went into keeping Bob running was primarily from my parents. They also paid for Bob’s insurance because they are good people. Nonetheless, Bob was mine.
I learned to drive stick on Bob. Dad had tried to teach me before but I crashed the car within 10 seconds (it jumped the curb into a tree, totally not my fault) and I was a little hesitant to learn after that. Since Bob was a stick, I had no choice but to learn. It was fun. To this day I prefer to drive stick. I think I owe that to Bob.
Bob was an old car, a 1981 two-door Volvo DL (not the 240 DLs you see all over the place just a regular old DL). I don’t know how many of you have seen a two-door Volvo but they are pretty funny, they have the biggest doors you can imagine. Bob was the best color, forest green with rust and Grateful Dead stickers. I could have cared less about the Dead and I removed the dancing bears from the back window. The skull in the front stayed, it simply belonged. Bob had a sun roof that was operated by crank and sometimes got stuck a little bit even though it appeared closed, you kind of had to push up on it to get it to close fully. If it wasn't perfectly closed and it rained little pools of water would form around the sunroof and as soon as you drove it would land in your hair, down your back, or in your lap. The seal around the stick shift was a little loose and you could pull it back to see the road zooming past under you. Bob had four gears and overdrive, I can still hear that hum when you hit the button and dropped him in. By the time I graduated, Bob had a tape player installed. For much of my time with him he had a tape deck wedged between the dash and the windshield. In case you can’t tell, this car was perfect.
I could fill post upon post with stories about Bob. "Bob and the Trip with Fewest Tolls," will have to be written at some point. That was a trip for the ages. This post isn’t about trips though, it’s just about Bob. It’s about who he was, and he was a good friend. He took me where I needed to go, when he would start, and I was glad that I never actually had to see him die. I left him when I moved to Chicago. I knew he was on his last legs and that I couldn’t afford $100 monthly to park him. Mom took care of him; it was the right thing to do.
As I listened to Brooke's tape, some of the songs really made me want to get Bob and drive. I didn’t care where I had to go as long as the weather stayed nice and it would take a minimum of three hours. Bob was at his best when journeying. As “If You Want To Be A Bird,” by the Holy Modal Rounders came on I had no choice but to put down War and Peace lean my head back and go OOOHHHHUUUAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUGGGGAAWWWWW, just like we used to do riding around in Bob, or Jules, or Thurman (his closest firends). It was a little strange that I was doing it by myself because singing the bird song was always a group activity. I let Brooke know what I was doing and she laughed at me appropriately. The thing is, if I was alone but driving in Bob I wouldn’t have felt silly singing it. I would have felt free, adventurous, unlimited. The bed just doesn’t do it like Bob could. As the tape drew to a close Lou Reed sang about a “Perfect Day”. Bob, I’m glad I spent so many with you.
1. Andy/ Would bicycle across town/ In the rain to bring you candy/ And John would buy the gown/ For you to wear to the prom/ With Tom/ The astronomer who’d name a star for you. The Luckiest Guy On The Lower East Side, Magnetic Fields. Identified by Sisterhead (on the last post as this one was going up so I’ll put it here to recognize how awesome she is)
2. I read the NEWS today oh boy/ About a lucky man who made the grade/ And thought the NEWS was rather sad/ well I just had to laugh. A Day In The Life, The Beatles. Identified by Brooke.
3. Nothing to here to fear/ I’m just sitting around being foolish when there is work to be done. Wednesday, Tori Amos. Identified by Brooke.
4. Life is hard/ And so am I/ You’d better give me something/ So I don’t die. Novocaine, The Eels. Identified by Monica
5. I pulled into Nazareth/ Was feeling bout half past dead/ I just need someplace/ Where I can rest my head/ Hey Mr. Can you tell me/ Where a man might find a bed. The Weight, The Band. Identified by Brooke (and yes, of course it was on the mix tape)