She Says That Him Is Not Worth Talking About

October 12, 2010

[Luke is sitting on the driveway next to the bobber. He is cleaning the swingarm and drinking a beer. In the cooler there are three more beers, two for Dr. Philbin, who’s late. Luke checks his phone. Dr Philbin is twenty minutes late. Luke lights a cigarette. He only gets two drags before he sees Dr. Philbin’s Lexus turn into the cul-de-sac and he stamps it out on the driveway and tosses it on the lawn. The car pulls into the driveway. Dr. Philbin opens the door and steps out carrying a large shopping bag.]

Philbin: Sorry I’m late. There was a fender-bender on 75 north of Cincinnati and folks were rubber-necking and if there’s one thing I can’t stand on the road it’s rubber-necking. It’s like, what, have you never seen two cars hit each other before? You can watch car accidents on TV all day if you want to. I have done that. One time when I was laid up with a broken collarbone I watched a car crash show for five hours.

Luke: I hate rubber-necking too.

Philbin: And when I finally pulled up to the cars I saw the problem: it was two women. One kissed the other’s bumper and she made a federal case about it, screaming on the phone to God knows who, the cops maybe. Women drivers, man. I’ll tell YOU what. They should have to put pink flags on their cars so the rest of know there’s a woman behind the wheel.

Luke: That would be an interesting law.

Philbin: So. You’re probably wondering what’s in the box. It’s why I’m late, actually. I was down in Lebanon. Doing some shopping. For you. For my boy Luke.

Luke: Really?

Philbin: Really. Guess what it is. GUESS. I’ll give you a hint: Lebanon, leather, black, bobber. If you can’t guess it from those hints then you’re a retard.

Luke: Is it a motorcycle jacket from Lebanon Leather?

Philbin: Bingo, bango. [He pulls the jacket from the bag and holds it up to Luke. It’s shiny and black and there's white trim on the sleeves. It’s a great jacket. Lebanon Leather does great work. Philbin says:] Put it on. Immediately.

[Luke puts on the jacket. It fits. He looks tough, from the waist up at least. He’s wearing basketball shorts.]

Philbin: Now you’re dressed for the first ride. That’s how you dress when you ride a bike. Damn. Now go inside and put on jeans and come back out here. I want to see you all dressed up for the first ride. You wouldn’t wear shorts on your first ride, would you?

Luke: I probably wouldn’t. But do you really need me to put on pants right now?

Philbin: Yes. You need to put on jeans. I want to see you in the full get-up. I’m going to take pictures. Oh, and look at this. [he walks to his car and opens the door and rummages around and come back with two boots. Like the jacket the boots are black and shiny and fancy-looking. Philbin says:] These are the boots. THE boots. The ones I was talking about. The Golden Geese. Ordinarily I wouldn’t let anyone wear them. They are primo and if they get scuffed up then they lose value. It’s probably like a buck per scuff, that’s how much they’re worth. And I’m not saying you can wear them for your first ride. Because you can’t. I’m not THAT nice. But you can wear them today. So go inside and put jeans on and come back here. Tell Sarah to come out if she has nothing better to do. She’ll want to see you in my boots.

[Luke walks inside. A few minutes later he walks back out wearing baggy jeans. Sarah is behind him.]

Philbin: Doesn’t that jacket look totally boss on him?

Sarah: Yeah dad, it looks boss. [She looks at Luke like, He is crazy, I know.]

Philbin: I’m going to let him wear the boots today. Not for the first ride. Just for today. So we can take pictures of him and you can put them online and email them to Mom and Bernie and Darryl’s dad. They’d all get a kick out of it. Can you do that? You know how to put pictures online, right?

Sarah: I do know how to put pictures online. Or better yet, I could show you how to and you could do it.

Philbin: It’d be great if one day you would sit me down and show me how to put stuff online. I’ve been saying that for years. Literally years. But not today. Someday in the future. Alright, son. Put on the boots. Slip on the Golden Geese and strut around for us.

[Philbin hands over the boots to Luke. Luke sits down on the driveway and puts them on. They are too big.]

Luke: They don’t fit.

Philbin: That’s OK. Sometimes in life your shoes won’t fit. But if you look boss in them, you don’t have anything to worry about. And you do look boss in those boots. If I were my daughter I’d want you to jump your bones right now. I’d say, Hey Dad, leave us alone for seven minutes so we can do the nasty thing right here on the driveway.

Sarah: DAD, stop it.

Philbin: Alright. Let me get my camera. [He walks to the car again and opens the driver-side door and grabs the camera. He walks over to Luke.] Alright. Now look like a boss.

Luke: What does a boss look like?

Philbin: Look confident. Looking like a boss is all about confidence. Stand up straight. Kids your age are always hunched over like they’re eighty years old. Close your mouth. Whay are you always breating through your mouth anyway?

Luke: I’ve got this thing with my sinuses. I can’t breathe through my nose for a long time. If I keep my mouth closed for a minute or two I could die.

Philbin: Bosses keep their mouths closed. Get your hands out your pockets and cross your arms. Pretend you’re saying, What do you want from me? Imagine that someone just told you you’re a chump and you’re trying to prove them wrong by standing a certain way. That’s how you should look right now. Put on your best I’m-not-a-chump face.

[Luke crosses his arms and closes his mouth. His legs are spread far apart. He looks like a boss.]

Philbin: Excellent. Now hold that pose. [He takes a few pictures.] Excellent. Now. Stand near the bobber. Lean on it. Put one arm across the dash and put the other hand in your pocket. Pretend you’re outside a gas station. It’s hot out. You’re waiting for your girl to finish taking a leak in the bathroom. You’re a patient man, but you have things to do and people to see. You’re busy, but you’ll wait all day for your girl because she makes you happy.

Sarah: Dad. This is getting weird.

Philbin: If it’s too weird for you, then go inside. This is what bosses do.

Sarah: Bosses take glamour shots of each other on a broken motorcycle?

Philbin: Yes. [He snaps a few shots of Luke leaning against the bobber.] Now. Mount the bike. Get on up there. Imagine that the bobber is fixed and ready to roll and you’re about to set off on your first ride. You’re going to ride to Yellow Springs and eat pizza and then go for a nature walk, solo, to clear you head, to escape from Perkins and the modern world. There won’t be any western omelets to make. It’ll be just you and Mother Earth. You’ll return to nature. You’ll sit down in the tall grass and hide from everything that’s been bringing you down.

[Luke mounts the bobber. His hands grip the grips and he leans forward like he’s riding. Dr. Philbin takes a few pictures.]

Philbin: How does that feel?

Luke: It feels boss.

Philbin: That’s because you’re a boss now.

Sarah: I’m going inside. You boys have fun. [she walks inside.]

Philbin: I’m getting some great shots. It’s good that I’m doing this because you’ll have these pictures for the rest of your life. You can look at these when you’re old and grey and think, That was the day Dr. Philbin made me a boss. Before you go on your first ride make sure to call me and I’ll show up with the camera and take some more. You’ll want to have those forever too. And heck, when you Sarah have kids they can look at them too. When you’re older you’ll start to appreciate the memory-making process more.

Luke: You do seem to be into making memories.

Philbin: Maybe I’m in memory-making mode right now. Don’t worry about it. It’s none of your concern. Oh man, I forgot to tell you: one of those ladies from the accident, the one who got hit: she was a babe. She may have been a ladybot. You got to watch out for those. Maneaters, man. But still, if you’re just looking at them, no harm, no foul. She had these legs. And she was wearing a tank top. And when I slowed down to get a good look at the crash I noticed she was not wearing a brassiere. Very nice, Luke. She was very nice.

Luke: Nice.

Philbin: Ladies on the side of the road. Nothing better than that. Think about it: You’re on your first ride. You’re cruising on 70 going east to Columbus. You’re wearing the jacket and those jeans. Or, wait, you’ve got to get some tighter jeans, son. What are those, JNCOs? Are you tryting to smuggle drugs in those? You could fit four legs in those jeans. Here. [he takes out his wallet.] Here’s fifty bucks. Go buy yourself some decent jeans for your first ride. OK. So you’ve got your jacket and your jeans, and you’ve bought a pair of boots ‘cause you’re not wearing those Golden Geese, and you see a lady on the side of the road. Her car’s broken down. No one else is around to help her. What do you do?

Luke: I would probably stop.

Philbin: YEAH YOU WOULD. So you stop, right. And you walk up to her. What do you say? You say, Car trouble? Do you need help? And she says, I need all the help you’re willing to give me. So you pop her hood and it’s smoking. It’s smoking real bad. Something bad is going on. The car is fucked. So you say, This car is fucked, ma’am. I don’t know how to fix it but I could take you somewhere. And she says, That would be nice. There might be a mechanic in the next town over. It’s about ten miles or so. And you say, Hop on. You hoist her onto the bobber. Her waist feels good in your hands. She’s not a thin girl. She’s a brunette, a smart-looking girl who likes to have a good time. Maybe she dropped out of law school to be a cruise boat masseuse. Maybe she’s never had to work a day in her life. You ask where she was going. She says, Anywhere away from Him. You ask her who Him is. She says that Him is not worth talking about. She doesn’t want to waste anymore words on Him. Him has ruined her. You say that’s good enough for you. You turn on the radio and it’s Roy Orbison. She says Roy Orbison reminds her of Him, so you change the station and she likes this song. You rev the engine and you’re going 60, 70, 80, real fast. She loves it. She says her dad used to race stock cars in Louisville and sometimes they would ride through the country super fast. She would put her head out the window and it made her forget about everything that was bothering her. She says you remind her of her dad and you ask if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. She says it’s a great thing. She digs her fingers into your stomach even harder. She has a strong grip. Big hands.

Luke: Alright, man. I think I get the point. You want me to get laid by a stranger on my first ride.

Philbin: I’m not done yet. You ride for a few miles and then you see the sign for a town. You pull off the highway. You see a gas station and you park the bobber in the parking lot and go inside and ask the guy there if there’s a mechanic in the garage. The guy says the mechanic won’t be back in until tomorrow morning. It’s getting late, after all.

Luke: Couldn’t she call Triple A?

Philbin: She doesn’t belong anymore. Her dues have lapsed. So you go back to the bobber and tell her that the mechanic won’t be in until tomorrow. She says that’s not a problem. She has nowhere to go, nowhere to be. She’s free. I’m finally a free woman, she says. I can do whatever I want with whomever I want. There’s a sign for an Econo Lodge in the distance. She checks her phone and says it’s eight o’clock. That’s my dinner time, she says. You got dinner plans? You don’t have dinner plans. Don’t make plans the night of your first ride because you’ll never know where it will take you. She says, We should get a room now in case it fills up later tonight. You think about saying something dumb like, Honey, it’s the Econo Lodge twenty miles west of Columbus. It’s not going to fill up tonight or any night ever. But you hold your tongue. Your big mouth has blown it before and you don’t want to blow it again. You say, Yeah, let’s get a room, and then we’ll get some dinner. She says she can pay for the room. She stole a hundred dollars from his wallet. Ten bucks for every time he cheated. You say, He cheated on you ten times? Ten times that I know about. He was a motherfucker. He was a snake. And I’m still in love with Him. But I’m thinking you can help me forget Him. I’m thinking you can fuck Him out of my head. Can you do that? Can you fuck Him out of my head? You say that you will try. You ride to the Econo Lodge and park the bobber. You two walk up to the front desk. She asks the girl at the desk if there’s a discount for the broken hearted. The girl says no.

NEXT: A Big Fish Never Goes Down Without A Fight

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