Confessions Of A Pre Middle Aged Drama King

20 03 2011

For someone who loves to write or create, you never really know when the moment is going to hit you.  Or at least that’s the way I operate.  So often I sit down with  journal and pen in hand, desperately wanting something profound to find its way onto my paper…. and I’m found wanting. 

Today I read a short story from someone I know that made me think about my own past, and has for the time being inspired me to do a little writing.  Considering we’re right in the middle of March Madness maybe the term “inspired” doesn’t really do the situation justice, but since I don’t have a Thesaurus, it’ll have to do.  Also, if you’ve never read anything from me before I need to disclose the following:  I tend to be sarcastic, use random pop trivia references and write more closely to how I speak.  Having said that you’ll also note that “sentence structure” is not that important.  But getting a cheap laugh or working The Beastie Boys into the story is.

Growing up on the North Coast of Oregon is, was, and always will be a true experience.  Growing up as a second or third generation with family in the area is like tacking on a multiplier to the whole experience.  I’m third generation all the way, both sets of my grandparents raised their families in and around Astoria Oregon.  On that note there are certain obstacles in life that are hard to overcome, in my mind having a birth certificate that says Columbia Memorial is one of them.  

It’s such a double-edged sword, but looking back I don’t know that I would have changed anything.  Lets be honest when you watch a movie set in some small coastal town you think, “Awwwe that looks so quaint and fun.”  Trust me it’s not all corn dogs and elephant ears.  What they don’t cover in the movies is the horrible weather, seasonal unemployment, and everyone knowing your business.  Somehow those scenes hit the cutting room floor.  The upsides were: I don’t remember a day when there wasn’t something family related going on, either a get together or some sort of drama.  You might interpret the drama as a bad thing but being a small town drama equals entertainment, and family get togethers equaled story telling about the good ol days. 

It’s clear that we live in a different world today when compared to Clatsop County say circa mid 1960’s to the late 1970’s.  To be honest I don’t know if we’re any better off today.  There was a time when cops would follow you home if you had been drinking instead of giving you a DUI.  A time when if two men (or women) had a disagreement, somebody got hit in the face and then they shared a couple of beers.  A time when city league softball actually meant something and was taken seriously.  You see it’s from this era that I have not actual memories but memories of stories that have been passed down to me.  I feel that at some point it will be my responsibility to pass these stories on to my children, and then possibly etch them on to stone tablets… I’m not sure.

Here’s a classic example:  My parents divorced when I was very young.  I want to say I was three when things started to fall apart and around four when the divorce was finalized.  My dad ever the romantic always believed that somehow the marriage was salvageable and when he heard that another man was lending a comforting ear to my mother, he did what any rational man would do.  He went to find out what was going on. 

Upon entering the house it wasn’t the smell of compassion in the air, but instead the scent of fear.  Apparently “Mr. sensitive I’m here for you guy” was well aware that my dad had a reputation of punch first ask questions……well.. never type of guy.  My Dad has lost two fights in his entire life out of dozens and dozens, even though he claims one was a draw against my Uncle (authors note: Uncle Vince was the baddest man on the planet or at least Clatsop county for some time, side story about this later).  The other in his words was, “The only time I ever got my ass kicked and I had to pay money for it.”  He signed up for a boxing match at the Seaside Civic Center and ran up against an army golden gloves winner in the second round of the tournament.  

Now back to our hero, “Mr. sensitive I’m here for you guy”.  Apparently in my Dad’s mind this “offense” if you will, was beyond just getting served a knuckle sandwich.  As the story goes there was a timeframe given (Timeframe: However long it takes to get a rifle) and then my father proceeded to pump three rounds form a bolt-action rifle into the tail end of a Shelby Cobra… From the front porch….From about 100 to 150 yards away.  Impressinve on two fronts:  First my dads guns are always loaded and this guy managed to put a football field between himself and my pops.  Secondly, my dad went three for four on a moving target.  Move over Lee Harvey Oswald!  No charges were ever filed…  To his credit the guy knew he was in the wrong and took his 1970’s style punishment like a man.

That same car would be sold several years back just a few miles from me at the Barret Jackson auto show in Scottsdale AZ.  I wanted to show up and let the buyer know if he looked real close he could probably see the bondo job covering up those bullet holes. 

Back to that side story about my Uncle Vince who was basically to Clatsop county what Mike Tyson was to the rest of the world in their primes.  A good friend of mine talked me into getting my ear pierced in 1994.  Hey, everybody was doing it!  The gold hoop look was all the rage during this time.  Anyway it was during Regatta, which if you’re from the area you know this is a big booze fest.  We showed up at the Portway Tavern and bellied up to the bar, fake ID’s in hand, Regatta pin on shirts, ready for some action as Sabotage by the Beastie Boys played in the background (YES!  I knew I could work it in). 

Not more than a minute after we sit down some 40 something year old man starts heckling us about our ear rings.  Since it was Regatta I told him we were with the pirates of the Caribbean… he wasn’t buying it.  Thinking we were a couple of college punks from the big city of Portland he slid down the bar and really started to heckle with the unoriginal gay humor..  Clearly this mental giant was pulling out all the stops.  I finally convinced him we were locals thinking that would finally shut him up, no such luck.  He started grilling me about who I was, wanting to know name.  When I told him I was Jim Colvin’s son the first words out of his mouth were, “Is Vince Rubino your uncle?” I could tell from the complete 180 in demeanor that he had either had the fear of an ass kicking put into him or it had actually taken place. 

After 15-20 minutes of listening to this guy I was going to turn the tables and start asking him questions and see how he liked it.  “I hear my uncle was a pretty tough guy back in the day, do you know him?” to which he responded, “well he wasn’t as tough as he thought”  Clearly he was trying to back pedal and save face at the same time.  “Really?  because from what I’ve heard he never lost a fight…..ever.”    At this point he mumbled something under his breath and walked away.  This was pre cell phone era, so for you younger readers he pretended to get an important text. 

The best part of the story is when I relayed the conversation to my uncle, he called and left a calm and pleasant message on the guys answering machine.  “Hello, this is Vince, I was just talking to my nephew and he said you guys were talking about the old days, if you want to go over anything feel free to give me a call.” (no return phone call was ever received)  The guys name was Jim Pinkstaff and he got his whippin by my uncle in grade school.  Reputation goes a long way in Clatsop County, approximately 30 plus years if my math is correct.




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