Crash course lounge

If it’s a Wednesday at the Crash Course Lounge, the place is full of stunt drivers and body doubles. Most of them the kids and grandkids of the dust bowl, the ones who moved out to Hollywood or L.A. a generation or two ago, leaving their scrub dirt farms for dreams of star swinging, in the glorious early days before the sting and pressure of urban work clamped down on either side of their heads like smog.


Dust Storm Texas 1935 


They came from farm and labor stock, leather-necked and tough as tanned hide from working out under the skies – Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas. Leaving behind red-eye gravy, coarse brown bread, hand-rolled cigarettes for the cool blue pools, the red tile roofs, palm tree magic – and it held sway for a generation or two. Now their kids and grandkids, courting melanoma in tanning salon coffins, eyes tucked shut like corpses, work like manic border collies at physical perfection.


Wednesdays at the Crash Course Lounge the specialties are melon balls with midori, tofu marinade, a rum drink called banana Popsicle. melon balls in midori All fat free. Bowls of thin sliced cucumber set around like the peanut bowls in the smoky old bars of their forebears.


A man painstakingly cultivating a Viggo Mortenson look has recently put a nutmeg rinse on his hair, which he’s wearing in a topknot this Wednesday. He is on a break between scenes, a larger than life epic drama about an Apache shaman trapped in a modern-day nightmare of exploding helicopters and tidal waves. He presses the cool cucumber slices against his eyes.


His grandpa was a hobo, rode the rails from Macon to Idaho and Washington and back again, working as a carpenter, a roughneck, a cowpoke, a drunk. rail rider  His other grandparents were sharecroppers, carried west on a wave of momentum and hard luck during the depression. That grandma makes a mean pecan pie, the bourbon kind. She’s still living in La Cienega in a bungalow they bought in 1942.


Like his grandpa, the stuntman has a poker face, a neck stiff from lifting weights and a stubborn resistance to a creeping sense of inertia. Disappointment. Sometimes he feels lonesome. His grandpa worked the fields, sweat hard, beat the fear out of his body with hammer and nail and physical mind-numbing dirt and labor. The stuntman runs, lifts weights, goes kick boxing and surfing. His skin is hard and tan. His hands are strong, he wears a silver bracelet with a bear etched on it.


He has a recurrent dream of wind and a shrieking blindness; pushing the hair out of his eyes, he is lifting a fallen tree off an injured man with his bare hands. His muscles spasm, he wakes wet and cold and shaking with fear.




5 Responses to “Crash course lounge”

  1. 1 Lollyloo February 19, 2007 at 10:12 am

    Fabulous story, mothergoose. Reminds me of a favorite movie, The Stunt Man. (We’ll see if links work inside of WordPress comments.

  2. 2 Lollyloo February 19, 2007 at 10:20 am

    Also reminds me of a song, Here’s to You Rounders, which echoes the Depression experience of my own family, and in particular the perspective of the wives and daughters on these poker-faced dustbowl drifters.

  3. 3 Teresa February 20, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    Thanks, LL. I think I’ll rent the Stunt Man. Think Ellie has seen it?

  4. 4 Romi February 21, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    I’m glad to know about your Blog, Teresa. I can hear your voice still after all those years of writing with you. You’ve got some great stuff here.

    Tell me, do you find the photos after or do you use the photos as prompts to fuel the story?

  5. 5 Teresa February 21, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    Hi there, these are mostly stories from various writing groups, generally improvisational, some old, some new. I almost always write the story first and find the pictures to go with them later. You will usually find the credit for the picture by hovering over it, although I’m not as consistent as I should be. I think blogging is fine-tuning my editing skills, though.

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