I have learned to embrace the adjective “crazy” that those closest would effortlessly use in describing me. In prior stories I have differentiated between “good crazy” and “bad crazy” and hope that for the most part I fall into the “good crazy” category, but know at times my cray cray can span the full spectrum.
- Good crazy: A good dose of fearlessness, knowing when to tell someone to fuck off and willingly doing so, seizing opportunities that would otherwise be missed, a spontaneity that results in stories to tell later on and good crazy sex.
- Bad crazy: Knowing when to stop but not doing so, knowing when NOT to tell someone to fuck off but willingly doing so, watching myself slip into the realm of the irrational and not being able to stop.
For the most part I would say that my crazy is a learned behavior. I’ve had so many amazing role models, but certainly my first stepmother Mel was a paragon of crazy. Her crazy also spanned the spectrum and because of this I’m sure my own diversity of outlandish behavior was conditioned. On a few rare instances, my husband will say something like, “Ok, this insanity is beyond Mel,” in a warning for me to come back down to Earth. Usually, the warning scares me enough to listen.
From prior posts you may know that Mel loved fast cars. She had a number of muscle cars in her four year marriage to my father, my favorite being a smokin’ 1970 Plymouth Road Runner. Like Mel who wore long red wigs that were always closer to God, her cars too were always tricked out with huge tires, hot rims and the Road Runner in particular, had a huge Road Runner logo on the trunk that Mel had painted herself. The car was spectacularly fast and Mel took any opportunity to demonstrate her driving skills, accelerating to breakneck speeds and used the trademark Road Runner “Beep-Beep” horn whenever she could. She loved to race trains and never passed up a challenge to drag the fastest cars at the stoplights.
In 1976, we lived in Eugene, Oregon and both Mel’s and my dad’s parents, who we visited on a regular basis, lived about fifteen miles to the west, in Veneta, Oregon. Mel was fond of the trip because she could get out on the open road and lay rubber. The narrow two-lane highway from Eugene to Veneta sported a long stretch over a lake, a perfect place to wide open throttle where no cops could lay in wait on the side of the road as there was no shoulder or turn out for miles. She would pack the kids in the back seat (Jerry would take shotgun), turn up the 8-track of Ziggy Stardust, her favorite, roll down the windows to take in the warm summer air and revel in the power of the engine. Hearing Suffragette City without the bass of the 440 6-pack, I always felt as if there was missing something.
One of Mel’s favorite games, which accentuated her crazy, was messing with any driver who ever tried to pass her, as if it were an insult she had to right. On one late afternoon as we were returning from Nana’s house, a driver tried to pass Mel on the straight stretch over the lake. The car was also a huge, muscle car, exactly the challenger Mel was ready to take on. As he quickly passed us on the open road, no cars in sight, Mel sped up staying neck and neck with the car, not allowing any gain possible for the car to overtake and pass the Road Runner. The car sped up. Mel sped up. The car floored it. Mel floored it.
A crazy maniacal scream, defined Mel’s overwhelming pleasure in the dangerous game. Once Mel had made it clear that the adjacent muscle car did not have the balls to take on the Road Runner, the driver slowed in defeat to fall to safety behind the victor. Unfortunately for the other driver, Mel was not done with the game and she too slowed to match the speed of the driver. He stared at her in disbelief and I recall a sense of fear in his face, perhaps it was the realization of what type of person would play this type of game. We were still a minute or so from the oncoming traffic and imminent danger so not knowing what else to do, the driver once again decided to floor it and tried to gain enough advantage on the Road Runner to put this crazy lady behind him. Silly mortal. Mel, once again, laughing and rallying the children in the back seat, stepped on it and matched every inch of advantage the muscle car tried to gain on her. The driver was wide eyed and was obviously ranting as our cars evened. By this time, the oncoming traffic was getting dangerously close so the driver stepped on his brakes and slowed to a dramatically slow speed.
Now, at this point it is clear that any rational person would have accelerated ahead in victory and let the defeated fall behind in line, but this is not what happened. Mel of course, being Mel, also fell back to the low speed that exactly matched that of the muscle car. Everyone was surprised, the other driver, Jerry, Jason, Jere and myself. Everyone except Mel. She had an agenda. It reminded me of the scene in Mommy Dearest where Joan Crawford reminds, “Don’t fuck with me fellas!”
The fear in the other driver’s eyes was evident and it appeared to throw Mel into a frenzy, like a shark who had tasted blood. It scared me and I was once again reminded that Mel was crazy and this game had bled into the dangerous crazy category. The oncoming car was beginning to slow and we could hear it’s constant blasting horn as a warning. Mel stayed her ground, side by side, not giving an inch. I was sure that we were about to witness a catastrophic death and I began to scream and plead with Mel to stop. At the last second, the other driver slammed on his brakes, threw itself inches from the back of the Road Runner and the oncoming car had slowed to a near stop. Mel accepted the victory and stepped on it, laying a nice “S” shaped rubber pattern for about 20 meters and laughing the entire way back to Eugene.