“Sign your name on the dotted line,” spoke a plump sorta lady behind a window in the Bangor City Hall.
I signed my name down on the specified line. I was curious to find out if the lady behind the counter would really believe that my signature was just a squiggly line. I thought it a better move to just scrawl a knot of pen lines down 0n the page and act cool about it than to take the time to carefully construct the same style signature that I signed into my passport in 2000.
I could not sign my name as I did 10 years ago even if I had hours at my disposal.
The lady took both documents and did not seem to care that my signature of “Wade P. Shepard” completely contorted itself into “Wahjfodaueaon” in the intervening nine years. She also did not seem to care that I look absolutely nothing like the photo of the cleanly shaved little boy with a good Florida tan and a full head of hair which still represented the bearer of the passport.
The form read “License and Certificate of Marriage” across the top, and this was precisely what it was.
Practice for the married life
“Wade, can you go out and clean the car before people get here for the wedding,” spoke Chaya.
“No, I don’t want to clean out the car,” spoke Wade
The car in question is full of mud and shit (literally: shit) from Wade’s previous 6 days of farm work. Wade shovels out pig pens and chicken coups, weeds muddy fields, and plants crops all day long. This dirt, shit, and mud has a way of attaching itself to Wade’s big rubber boots, pants, and jacket, and subsequntly migrating all over the interior of his Subaru.
The car in question is full of mud and shit (literally: shit) and Chaya wants it cleaned before the wedding. But Wade wants to continue working on the computer and not clean out the shit (literally: shit) that is all over the car.
Wade knows that he is going to lose. Wade knows that he is going to clean the car, but he is putting up an adolesent wall of resistance to Chaya’s good sense.
“Wade, I really want the car cleaned before the wedding, because we are going to have to drive people around and put food in it,” Chaya continues.
“Why can’t they just take another car?” Wade replied.
Chaya tried to impart basic logic through a stare, but Wade refused to acknowledge it. It seems to be common sense that no wedding guest would want to get shit all over their clothes, but, after working 10 hours doing farmwork, sense did not make much sense to Wade.
“Nobody is going to need our car,” he continued, “and if they do, we can just put a tarp over the dirt. I don’t want to clean out car just to get it shitty again the first day I go back to work.”
“Ok, then I will go clean the car if you are not going to do it.”
“You can’t clean the car, you’re seven months pregnant.”
“THEN YOU GO DO IT!”
Wade and Chaya were clearly having a married person squabble.
I suppose they were just trying to get some practice in for life after the big day.
“I don’t understand what cleaning the car has to do with the wedding,” Wade scoffed as he torn the vacuum cleaner out of a closet and made for the parked car in the driveway.
“Sign your name on the dotted line . . .”
Wade vented and fumed as he torn the foot mats out of the driver’s side of the Subaru. There were smeared shits all over it from an assortment of farm animals but Wade grabbed it with a bare hand undaunted: farm work provokes immunity to the standard mammalian aversion to feces. Wade smacked the mat down hard upon the paved driveway, and then roughly vacuumed up all of the mud, little poop chunks, misplaced pocket change, nose boogied tissue paper, crumbs, dirt, weird pieces of plastic wrappings, and all the other sorts of odd materials that have a tendency of taking over the interior flooring of an automobile.
Throughout all of this, Wade was pouting, stomping, and — as some could be justified in saying — throwing a hissy fit. He then smashed something with the butt end of the vacuum cleaner (but has since forgotten what it was that he smashed). Working 6o hours in the past 7 days just to come home and clean the car made Wade very grumpy.
Wade wanted to drink beer and publish travelogue entries before all of the wedding guest arrived, not clean poop.
He took it out on the vacuum cleaner.
As he did so, he thought of the Kelty backpack that still sat almost fully loaded on his bedroom floor . . . “I had the perfect life and then I . . .” he began muttering to himself before he happened to look up and see Chaya’s father standing over him.
He was smiling. He asked Wade what he was doing.
“What are you doing Wade?” he asked with honest innocence.
Wade, not thinking that it would be wise to revel his angst ridden plan, said that he was cleaning the car. This sounded like a benign enough explanation of what was going on.
Chaya’s father then laughed at the bumps that protruded out from all over Wade’s bald head.
“The black flies were bad today on the farm,” Wade explained, though he did go into explaining that he found it easier to just allow the flies to suck his blood than swatting at them all day long. Wade came out of the fiasco looking like some sort of mumpy circus geek.
Chaya’s father then laughed a little, and mumpy headed Wade went back to pouting, plotting escapes, and cleaning the car.
“All I want to do is write words . . .[mumble, mumble] [mutter, mutter] . . and now I am shoveling shit all day long so that I will have enough money to be a frigging . . . [mumble, mumble] [mutter, mutter].
Weeks of wedding organizing and work has diverted his attention from his writing.
“You failed, you failed,” a chorus of thought taunted him, “I told you that you could not make enough money writing . . . now you are shoveling shit. Ha! I told you! I told you! Get use to it, this is the road you are on from here on out.”
“This is how it all begins,” the inner voice continued, “you put off writing for one day because you are too tired from working 12 hours, then you put it off for another day because you have to clean the house, then you put it off for a third day to get married, then a forth day to take care of the baby, and then on the fifth day you are 60 years old with only a fallow stack of your old traveling notebooks, unfulfilled expectations, and the ruins of an outdated website to show for an unrequited life.”
So this is how people grow old.
Wade then ripped out a bag of old clothes out of the car and smashed it down upon the driveway. It only smushed and bounced a little, and did not provide the catharsis of destruction he was hoping for. He then remembered a telephone conversation with a member of his extended family.
“Once you get married and have that baby, you are done, there will be no more going abroad for your ass, you are done, stuck right here, there will be no more traveling for you!”
Fear and apprehension mixed in with the usual bout of fatigue derived crankiness. The thought of the constantly provisioned traveling pack on his bedroom floor returned to his mind, and a freshly cut paycheck rubbed warm between his fingers.
“Sign your name on the dotted line . . .”
“Passport — check; boots — freshly cleaned; clothes — just washed; money — enough to get to South America. . .”
This travel prep was soon interrupted by Chaya’s mother, who just returned from a day of work.
“Wow, what are you doing?” she asked cheerfully.
“Cleaning out the car,” Wade respo0nded sheepishly. He hoped that the sprawled out vacuum cleaner in the driveway at his feet and the dirty rag in his hand would be enough smoke screen to float his alibi.
“When you get done here, I have another car for ya!” Chaya’s mother spoke with a big laugh.
The smokescreen was apparently thick enough.
Wade then realized that he needed to go somewhere else to plot his underhanded maneuvers. The driveway of Chaya’s family home was obviously too cheerful of a place for constructing the itinerary of a run away groom. Wade slunk into the house.
He opened the door to his apartment to find Chaya standing vacantly, leaning on a broom handle. Wade’s noxious plots vanished instantly — he forgot that he even had any intentions other than wrapping Chaya in a big embrace.
“I don’t care if the car is clean,” Chaya quickly spoke through held back tears, “I just want this to end more than anything, I don’t want you to be mad.”
“No, you were right, the car should have been cleaned, I am just tired and grumpy,” Wade spoke as he stared into Chaya’s eyes. He felt himself smile. Sometimes even a vagabond knows that you can not rightly shuttle wedding guest around in a car whose seats are smeared with shit.
“I am sorry for making you go out and clean it. I know that you are tired from working all week. I am just frustrated with all the things that have to get done before the wedding,” Chaya explained.
A big kiss and two smiles lit the room. Wade picked up a broom rather than his traveling pack, and headed over to face a dirty living room floor rather than the lonely Road.
Sometimes love means standing still when your feet tell you to move.
Wade looked over at Number Three, bursting out of the midsection of the woman who would soon be his wife. He though that the baby belly looked like an octopus’ bulbous head flaccidly protruding out from its legs, and laughed at the memory of the Petra camel who tried to bite it.
This is good, he thought to himself. This is real good.
He knew that the Road which lead him to Chaya was only the beginning. Never before had he trod such a sure footed trail.
“Sign your name on the dotted line . . .”
Vagabond Journey to a Wedding