By on October 30, 2011

Note: This is a not-quite-sequel to a pair of previous stories, Carless in Nashville and Talisman, and fried chicken, at the crossroads. And since this ain’t a Harry Potter book, I don’t have 300 pages to recap what’s already happened, dig? — JB

The TTAC Southern Tour was in full effect, so I booked a flight to Nashville for the purpose of meeting up with Bertel, Ed, and Steve Lang. Flying there was dirt cheap — $106 round trip — so instead of packing a guitar I packed Vodka McBigbra along. Just to make things interesting, I asked her friend Drama McHourglass to meet us, and the TTAC crew, for dinner.

It seemed like a simple, reasonable idea. How was I to know that, once again, I’d be waking up in another girl’s bed?

Let me tell you something about Nashville. More specifically, let me tell you something about BNA, which is the airport code for Nashville. For no reason I can understand, renting a car there is insanely expensive. The fee chart went something like this:

  • Aveo or similar — $107/day
  • Cruze or similar — $109/day
  • Malibu or similar — $113/day
  • Grand Marquis — $117/day

And guess what? All but one of the rental companies were sold out at those rates when we arrived. Luckily, I’d booked weeks previously. As I drove the Aveo out of the terminal, I realized… oh, come on. Obviously we took the GrandMarq. This one was one of the leather-bound and alloy-wheeled “Ultimate Edition” run-out cars. St. Thomas built its last Marquis in January and dedicated its final eight months of operation to building Town Cars and Crown Vics. This black-on-grey example was already at the 26,600-mile mark. While it’s not reasonable to expect a Viper to last twenty-six K, for a Panther that’s just warm-up mileage, even when it’s dished out at the hands of uncaring renters.

Vodka’s calls to Drama went unanswered as we rolled down Interstate 65, but that surprised neither of us, really; she’s not so hot with the phone-answering and text-returning. We arrived at Drama’s rented ranch home off the freeway easement to find total chaos. The upstairs was teeming with children, roommates and at least one temporary renter. In the unfinished walk-out basement which served as Drama’s personal lodging, animal corral, and impromptu hair salon, no fewer than seven cats, five of which were kittens small enough to fit into the palm of my hand, were milling in aimless yet energetic fashion. As Drama shrugged her lithe yet curvy body into a simple flannel dress, she explained,

“I’m so sorry… one of the kittens fell in a vent… burned, maybe singed you would say… the fire department was here… I need to drink tonight, I really just want you two to carry me home here… fire department… stuck… Vodka, help me here, help me get this on… no, that’s the flatiron I need, the other is for you…” And then we were back on the road, Dylan’s skyline in the Mercury’s broad windshield, the girls chattering. We were late. I relaxed my hands on the wheel and let the leash out on the old two-valve mod-motor. Off the freeway and down a steep hill. Dark shadows ran off the street and down into the concealment of unlit parks, pulling high-heeled women and clutching packages; the Merc’s vigorous pace and its silhouette made us look like Five-O moving in with authority. I was struck again by the difference between the SWB Panthers and the Town Car. Where the Lincoln lumbers and smothers, the smaller cars are alive, floating on their steel springs and darting the wheel in one’s hand. They will all jump curbs, they will all bounce over train tracks, but the Marquis and Vic are eager to do it. If you think these cars aren’t fun to drive, you need to turn up the volume, okay?

Dinner was held at “Sambuca”, where Drama is well-known to all. I may have lived in New York, and I may live in Ohio, but Drama inhabits Nashville. She knows the city. She is known there. Later on that evening, she would face me on the pillow and whisper “I can breathe here.” In the midst of the Music City, among the howling kids and the pouncing kittens, even in motion, she is at rest.

Before long it was time to part company with my bosses and go party in earnest. I spaced-out my drink orders and idly juggled salt shakers to make sure my coordination was intact — drunk driving is an unacceptable behavior for me, particularly since a good friend of mine was involved in a DUI fatality a few years ago — while the girls burned through three hundred dollars’ worth of martinis and vodka tonics. V. McB complained to me that the strippers at the club we were visiting “couldn’t hustle for shit.” I respected her professional disdain. D. McH smoked and laughed in the VIP room with a six-foot-tall black girl who kept trying to kiss her in all sorts of places. Around two thirty we were out the door. Drama spawled in the center back seat with her ankles in the air. I tried to think of a reason to adjust the rear view mirror. She was crying because V. McB had put their extra bottle of vodka in the trunk for the drive back home.

“It’s called open container,” Vodka was explaining. “It’s a law. It’s not something I made up.”

“GIVE IT BACK!” Drama screamed. “THERE’S SOME LEFT!”

We stumbled through Drama’s unlocked screen door around three. Her bed was surrounded by heavy curtains on ropes suspended from the ceiling. She pulled one curtain aside and shrugged back out of her dress and bra. Standing before us, nearly nude but shrouded and untouchable in her ferocious, shock-haired, wide-eyed energy, she waved her hands impatiently. “There’s room for all three of us,” she said.

STOP

I know that some of you TTACers think I make this stuff up, right? Of course you do. And even Drama McHourglass herself has complained to me that, “…you have invented a version of me that isnt a reality.” Although I never lie about what somebody does, every experience is subjective. Here’s your chance to play God for a moment. I’ve written three endings to this story. One of the three really happened. The other two were just as likely in my opinion. You get to choose. If you think that the evening ends in a low-voltage fashion, click here. If you think I’m a morally bankrupt narcissist unwilling to face the future, my impeding fortieth birthday, or my own unwitting pathos, click this one. If you think I deserved the million-dollar ending, and you promise not to tell my son about it after I’m dead, then this will be the one for you. Go ahead… choose my adventure.
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“Screw this,” Vodka says, “it’s late and I’m sick. I want to sleep on the couch. You two have your fun. But get your rest.” I tucked in beneath Drama’s big white comforter while the girls smoked outside. Then the lights went out, I heard the rustle of curtains on the rope, and D. McH slipped into bed next to me. I could smell her perfume, the heat of her. She came close to me and threw a long, nude, smooth leg across my battered body. I braced myself for what would happen next, stilling the vibration in my heart that seemed to be tuned into the song broadcast from hers. Looking up, I saw a constellation of glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling. She’d taken a concrete-block basement and made a wonderland. I touched her leg with the tip of my finger. She didn’t move. I realized she was asleep already, breathing deeply and utterly motionless. I was trapped beneath her leg. I thought of Fitzgerald: “Angry, and half in love with her, and tremendously sorry.” And then I looked up at the ceiling and thought of Van Morrison:

Then we sat on our own star
And dreamed of the way that I was for you
And you were for me

I lay there motionless for a very long time, but then I heard the screen door move and slam shut. It was time to go find my girlfriend. Continue
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“Screw this,” Vodka says, “it’s late and I’m sick. I want to sleep on the couch. You two have your fun. But get your rest.” I tucked in beneath Drama’s big white comforter while the girls smoked outside. Then the lights went off, the curtain rustled on its rope and Drama tumbled into the darkness beside me. We whispered at each other. Then the curtain was whipped aside. “Too many cats jumping on me,” Vodka complained. “I’m going to go sleep in the car.” I helped her out to the Marquis, where she lay down on the back seat and was seemingly asleep before the door closed.

Back through the screen door, past the curtain which I drew closed, I lay next to Drama. She turned to me. I touched her. She moved closer. I half-rolled, half-shuffled into her fragrant embrace. I felt the heat of her skin. It’s odd. I’ve always been a little bit warmer than most people. They feel cold to me. She felt hot, feverish, smooth. Without a word or a sound, I began to touch her. Her hands found my the back of my head, twisted and pulled my hair, directed me like a toy though I was half again her size. Only when she was on top of me did she begin to kiss, and then bite, me, silent and terrifying, in her heat, in the violence of her motions. I opened my mouth to speak and she shushed me even as she distantly growled her own pleasure.

She toyed with me, pushing me away with unexpected strength, whispering “no, no, no” before seizing me again moments later. For ninety minutes we made different forms of love, without speaking. Then she shoved me to the other side of the bed with both hands and crossed those hands against her chest protectively.

“It never happened,” she said. “It. Never. Happened.” So there we were. I turned away, faced the wall, and thought about walking outside and lying down on the freeway until somebody did me the favor of canceling my check. Then I thought about my son, and how much I missed him, and I crawled out of bed, pulling the curtain aside, to go make my explanations. Continue
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Within moments, I was stretched out on the bed while these two old friends stripped down and hovered over me. Here’s the thing about pornography that you don’t realize: it’s physically choreographed, like dance. Everybody knows where to go on the stage. Not so here. Real threesomes, just like real sex of all kinds, require effort, and explanation. “No, move over… aarrrgh, not there, I broke that leg a while ago, move your elbow… okay, yes, that’s fine, wonderful.” A friend of mine, a big handsome fellow with a stellar college baseball career to his credit, claims to have had a fivesome with four fans back in school. I don’t see how he could have done it. It’s tough enough for three people to agree. Still, we did all those wonderful, terrible things together as Drama’s glowing stars winked at me from the ceiling of her makeshift bedroom. Her children slept above, my son slept hundreds of miles away, God was in his heaven, and no judgment came down upon us as we woved and thrashed in the service of our inebriated couplings. And in a real threesome, when the boy is finished, that one monkey does in fact stop the show.

An hour or so later, I awoke to hear the screen door shut. Of course. Vodka was allergic to cats, and we had seven of them in a confined space. My new “Silhouettes” glasses were gone from the bedside table, no doubt dragged away by a particularly brave kitten. I tumbled off the bed myself, groped around on the floor until I found them, and headed out to look after my girl.Continue
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Vodka was sprawled out in the back seat of the Marquis, having copiously vomited on the pavement some time previously. I fired up the car and drove slowly to the hotel down the street, arriving under the over-bright logoed canopy and paying $112 for five hours’ sleep.

The next afternoon saw the three of us come together for a late lunch downtown. The girls smiled and laughed. I bounced the Marquis up and down Nashville’s narrow downtown streets, past the protesters in their expensive Alpine tents, past the vintage archtops at Gruhn’s, through the miniscule “Five Points” where a small ice cream shop delighted Vodka’s sore throat and I played “Wish You Were Here” on a 1986 Ovation Collector’s twelve-string. If Drama or Vodka had any misgivings about the evening, they didn’t show them. I felt distant from them, separated by my own stupid, sentimental self. I wanted explanations. I wanted somebody to… I don’t know, bless the event by discussing it. I wanted approval. I wanted everyone to stop smiling and start talking.

When I was young I thought that some things would be hard and others would be easy. I thought it would be hard to be brave. I thought it would be hard to suffer terrible injuries, I thought it would be hard to earn a living with the mark of Cain on my forehead, I thought it would be hard to hurt others or meet violence with more violence. I thought it would be hard to compete, to raise the steam of my anger in the face of someone who wanted to hurt, or kill, or merely defeat me. This was man’s work and as a boy I was frightened of it.

I was wrong. Nothing is easier than raising your hand against your fellow man, nothing is easier than hitting the bumper or delivering the final blow to the face. When the blood is hot, anything is possible. Ask the “Generation Kill” children in Iraq. It’s easy to live behind the mask of anger — at enemies real or imagined, at lovers who scorn or, paradoxically, are scorned — to feel the passion which wipes away all impediments.

What’s tough, I think, is to love. It’s hard to ask someone how they really feel about you. It’s tougher still to admit how you feel. It’s terrifying to step out into the open air and wait for a woman to catch you. I sat there, watching Drama eating her ice cream, and I realized that if this problem called for some daring driving or a chair delivered to someone’s face with a sort of uncaring panache, I could handle it. Instead I sat there and hated her even while I loved her.

Before I knew it, we were pointing the Mercury back towards the airport. As usual, they told me to go through the Rapiscan, and as always, I opted out, standing there with a misdirected fury and snapping at the TSA people as they earned an unlivable wage touching my private parts. I stepped across the threshold for the 737. I thought about when we’d parted a few hours before. “I love you,” she had whispered into my ear, but that didn’t mean anything. She loves it all. She loves the city, the neighborhood, the house, her friends, her hangers-on, the kitten that was burned and the kittens that escaped the fiery furnace. She loves V. McB, she loves her old boyfriends, she loves the boyfriends yet to come, she loves me. If you’re like me and you hate just about everything except winning a race and playing the opening chords of “Look Over Yonder’s Wall,” you realize that hate’s just a background noise. Is that true for love? Whatever. I was up into the turbulent sky. Goodbye, Drama. Like the man said,

It ain’t no use in turnin’ on your light, babe
That light I never knowed
An’ it ain’t no use in turnin’ on your light, babe
I’m on the dark side of the road
Still I wish there was somethin’ you would do or say
To try and make me change my mind and stay
We never did too much talkin’ anyway
So don’t think twice, it’s all right

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29 Comments on “Trackday Diaries: Highway star, Nashville my love, you choose my adventure....”


  • avatar
    acuraandy

    Nice. Just wondering, are you Dr. Hunter S. Thompson reincarnate?

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Thompson was doing this kind of stuff back in the ’60s. I can’t imagine what he would do today, but it would be more than a 3-way.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        Agreed… I take Updike as my role model, not Thompson. Everything I do is based in the solid middle-class, Catholic-school mindset. If I ever shock the reader, it’s unintentional.

        • 0 avatar
          VolandoBajo

          I know this comment is one too many mornings and a thousand miles behind, but I am just now discovering some of your past writing, beginning about six months ago.

          I have just finished the first ending to the adventures in Nashville, but wanted to share something with you.

          A lesser known, but quite interesting, for his ability to look honestly at himself, his strengths and his weaknesses, is the late Harry Crews. You can still find his works on some well-stocked libraries, and the occasional second hand bookstores.

          I suspect you might enjoy reading him, in spite of the fact that he has neither the fame nor the polish of the so-called great writers of the 20th century.

          And thank you for many enjoyable hours of reading of your adventures, the real, the fictionalized, AND the in-between.

          Hope you bang out a full-length book sometime soon, and that it hits the top of the lists. It will surely deserve to.

          I wish I had started saving some of the better paragraphs and phrases when I first starting reading you, to review and re-contemplate, and to share with my son.

          I plan on reading the other two endings as well. Reminds me a bit of a Spanish language author, whose name escapes me now, who wrote a novel about an author who was writing a novel, and who managed to turn it into a much more convoluted adventure than I could hope to convey here. If I can track it down I will post it later. But I thought of it when I saw you tri-furcate your story.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        You shocked me with the Aveo, you should have kept us hanging more with that.

      • 0 avatar
        jonnyguitar

        I enjoy your writing, Jack, and I can see the ties to Updike. But I think its disingenuous to state you don’t intend to shock. I’m not saying you couldn’t write about the same subject matter with a “so what” or “that’s just what happens” approach, but I think you gave that up when you appealed to us that “you’re not making this shit up.”

      • 0 avatar
        jonnyguitar

        I enjoy your writing, Jack, and I can see the ties to Updike. But I think its disingenuous to state you don’t intend to shock. I’m not saying you couldn’t write about the same subject matter with a “so what” or “that’s just what happens” approach, but I think you gave that up when you appealed to us that “you’re not making this stuff up.”

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Jack, I would have believed any of those versions of events EXCEPT the threesome. I highly doubt Vodka wants to play second fiddle to anyone once she’s naked or take the chance that she might not get your FULL attention. But perhaps my POV is warped by by being with a woman who will step between me and a WalMart checker if she thinks the girl is being too friendly. ;)

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      ‘my POV is warped by by being with a woman who will step between me and a WalMart checker if she thinks the girl is being too friendly. ;)’
      Lol, I know how you feel, which is why I prefer the story of the threesome and choose to forget the two others were ever written. I want the Baruthian fantasy ,not my own life ;)

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Pics or it didn’t happen.

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      “Pics or it didn’t happen.”

      Well, Jack, if you are firmly rooted in the pre-FB ethos of no cameras allowed (in the VIP room, or wherever), then you are safe from having your chance at being the President of the US, or the head of IMF, being derailed by a couple of selfies with you in the backgrouond, as proof it DID happen.

      The best photo album is the one you keep locked safely inside your head.

      But I would vote for letting your son in on your midlife adventures, as long as he also understood it was a phase to go through, and not a lifestyle destination.

      My 21 year old son has a grasp of who I was before I met and fell in love with his mother. But he also understands that it was a different time, both with hidden costs, and minus costs that exist today, and that in the end, I ended in a better place.

      Sort of a “before I’m gone” opportunity for him to discover a bit about the rest of his father, similar to the moment in Six Feet Under where the recently deceased father’s son discovers his father’s secret other life, a mistress and an occasional smoke.

      As a result, my (and possibly your) son might be freed from the necessity to repeat all the parts of it, or if he chooses to do so, at least do so with his eyes wide open and bit more wise before he goes down some of those paths. And if he does, hopefully he will not beat himself up for not being as good as he thought his father was, and wanted him to be.

      I juar want him to be aware as he makes his choices, and I want him not to feel guilty for making mistakes as he finds his way. And for that, he must at least know the nature, if not the details, of who his father was, as a younger man, as well as who he is, or tries to be, today.

      As your son becomes older, and becomes closer to being more on his own in the world, I believe you will come to understand that you want your son to learn from what you did, rather than wanting him to try to be what you could not or would not be when you were younger.

      It’s getting deep…I’m getting out of the pool now.

      Nice reminesces. As I have said before, to me not so much Thompson or Updike, but a modern world Hemingway.

      Keep at it, Jack. You are clearly heading down the road in a right direction if not the right direction.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    Wow, just wow.

    Well written, as always and I would say, as I hazard a guess, it’s the final stanza that actually took place.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    Jack, honestly the threesomes are the least impressive stories you have. For any reasonably successful guy getting two women in bed is a non-event. I do highly recommend it. I belive you, but I second eggsalad on pics, try to crop out yourself. The racing is much more impressive.

  • avatar
    Dynasty

    Dang, I was hoping for a plug of http://www.truesouthwest.com in this article.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “Don’t you know what it means to become an orgy guy? It changes everything. I’d have to dress different. I’d have to act different. I’d have to grow a mustache and get all kinds of robes and lotions and I’d need a new bedspread and new curtains I’d have to get thick carpeting and weirdo lighting. I’d have to get new friends. I’d have to get orgy friends. … Naw, I’m not ready for it. “

    /Yet, I’m somehow the one that got the clap.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Two women? In the same house? at the same time? Yikes.

    If it were a Chinese character it would mean nuclear conflagration.

  • avatar
    SCR

    Slightly off topic, but because it was brought up, if indirectly, am I alone in thinking Generation Kill was one of the best HBO mini-series? I definitely liked it more than the likes of Band of Brothers.

  • avatar
    Birddog

    Jack, I’d never doubt these “stories”..
    I work in the MultiFamily field and it can get just as crazy. I’d call my partners in crime Whiskey McNicetail and Marg Manhater. I’m still getting crud from an award ceremony we went to recently.

  • avatar
    Manic

    Jack could have inserted Poll to the end of story and ask which ending readers chose, to know what people here are thinking about him.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Well another man might of been angry,
    And another man might of been hurt,
    Another man never would have let her go,
    I checked my bag with the clerk.

    Back there she’s acting happy,
    Inside her fancy home,
    And me I’m flying in my Town Car,
    Ripping riffs and writing gold….

    Nice piece of writing Jack, thanks.

  • avatar
    Jellodyne

    http://buttertub.posterous.com/if-you-own-7-cats-people-think-youre-crazy-7

  • avatar
    I_Like_Pie

    What the crap did I just read?

  • avatar

    I know that some of you TTACers think I make this stuff up, right? Of course you do.

    Well, I can attest to the beginning of the story. As we sat down in a restaurant called “Sambuca” (check), a lady with a huge mane of black hair (check), who was so well known at Sambuca (check) that the wife of the manager assisted in obtaining a bottle to take to the BYOB stripclub (check) sat down and pronounced: “Sorry, we are late. My cat was on fire. The fire department came. The cat is ok.” (check)

    I don’t know what happened in the VIP room. I never go to watch when a woman gets a lap dance in the VIP room.

    The lap dances weren’t worth the money.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I edited Herr Schmitt out of the stripclub part of the story just in case his impeccable public image required it. The girls liked him quite a bit but I believe most of them were too zaftig for his Eurasian sensibilities.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    Good story, Baruth!

  • avatar
    skitter

    That was an awesome ending.

  • avatar

    Very, very good Baruth, one cannot make this shit up. Seriously.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Reading through all the options carefully I’m starting to think it more or less all happened, but in the exactly opposite order they are written here. ;)

  • avatar
    Ian Anderson

    That. Was. Awesome. Your writing is great, Jack. I can’t even decide which of the endings to believe.

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