RW222 - Y's Guys

This week, Dan and John talk about

The show title refers to the oldest boys in the YMCA that were called the Y’s Guys, not to be confused with wise guys as John thought when he showed up to his Pine Box Derby race.

It is a beautiful day in Seattle, sunny and crisp at 63 degrees (17°C) with 70 (21°C) in the afternoon. They have some tractors going out in the back, it is busy.

John is living at his house now, but he has a lot of life at his daughter’s mother’s / partner’s house like his podcast studio, although he is able to take his laptop on the road and record from the comfort of his bed in his new house, but last night he looked at his computer and said: ”Oh, well!”

Raw notes
The segments below are raw notes that have not been edited for language, structure, references, or readability. Please do not quote these texts directly without applying your own editing first! These notes were not planned to be released in this form, but time constraints have caused a shift in priorities and have delayed editing draft-quality versions to a later point.

Hiring a professional window washer (RW222)

This morning John had a window washer come because saying: ”I am going to wash all the windows in my house!” would be the same as saying: ”I will never wash the windows of my house!” because it is just not a thing that he would ever do. The windows are very dirty, they haven't been washed since the construction, they are covered with a film of sawdust and the outside is all covered in mud.

A few years ago when John was selling the farm there was a window washer guy who was also a Rock’n’Roll guy. John’s good friend from high school Kell Mccarroll whom he first set out hitchhiking across America with ended up owning a window washing business, which is an entrepreneurial space for someone in Rock’n’Roll life because it does not require a lot of advanced degrees, but it is a meticulous one, an artistic one, and a profoundly meditative one. John hired this guy to wash the windows on the farm before he sold it and it was an amazing experience.

Relative to the pain in the neck of it it was not a large investment and the windows were just like: ”Wow, why didn't I do this years ago?” You could see right through them and there was no gunk on them. The window washer himself was a very enjoyable character and the whole thing was like when Sahm was working on his house (see RL257 and others, House Renovation), someone who came in for one day, made the house incredibly good, and the effect of it is much larger than the expense.

John reached out to the same guy again and although he is not going to get his windows washed every year it feels like one of the things you do in order to move into your house: You fix the gutters and you wash the windows. His Rock’n’Roll guy has transitioned out of the space, but he recommended a friend and the window washer showed up today and John just liked him immediately. He is a small ginger guy, and although they both had masks on you could just tell that he got flavor, some tattoos, wearing a pair of XTRATUFs (boots), standing next to the identical pair of XTRATUFs that belong to John.

The first thing he said was that he really liked the 1970s vibe John got going on, and from the standpoint of a 24 year old he was dead on. If it was a 50 year old who walked in and said that, John would go: ”Okay, what do you mean by that?” They would have to have a little bit more of a nuanced take, but a 25 year old to even notice, let alone like get in the ballpark? You would have been born in 1995 and he is identifying a style that is 20 years before he was born accurately based on not very many clues because you would not walk in and say: ”Oh, he is fully moved in!” because there are boxes all over and stuff leaning against the walls.

John’s thoughts about moving to a new house as a process to get rid of things (RW222)

This whole project from the very beginning has been about moving as a way of getting rid of stuff. His dad always said: ”There is no such thing as a geographical cure!”, which meant that you can't run for your problems. ”There is no geographical cure for alcoholism!” was was the first thing he meant and then there is no geographical cure really by extension to any of your nagging problems. John knew that 2-3 years ago whenever he started down this path of selling his house and move. His daughters had moved down into the suburbs, it was not quite like moving to a new state for work, but it was an opportunity.

John’s head has been ringing through this whole period: ”There is no such thing as a geographical cure!” and yet a change of geography or a change of scenery are opportunities. The cure isn't moving, but moving can be part of the process of growing. He always thought that leaving the farm and moving into the new house would be passing through an ever smaller grade of filter at each point. Packing up the farm was basically running gravel through a filter, somewhere in the middle the gravel turned to coarse sand and now he is somewhere between pea gravel and coarse sand in terms of the grade of filter that he is using to push stuff through.

John’s dad’s binoculars from World War II (RW222)

Today he opened a box with his dad's binoculars from World War II, a thing that he is never going to get rid of. How do you get rid of your dad's 1942 Bushnell Navy-issued binoculars. He doesn’t know whether his daughter will eventually as a middle-aged woman say: ”These were my grandfather’s!” At a certain point they transmogrify from being useful as a binocular to being an item on a shelf or a display piece. You could go on Amazon right now and probably buy a pair of plastic binoculars for $40 that gave you at least as much amplification. They are glass lenses, they are beautiful things, and the quality of the light through them may not be replicable, but the magnification of a thing and the wide angle of the view has been improved by technology.

These binoculars his dad had with him his whole life and when he was the chief counsel of the Alaska railroad the binoculars sat on the windowsill in the law library. In the old Alaska railroad building John’s dad's office was the whole left side of the top floor, the 3rd floor because the legal office was a huge part of running a railroad. As you walked into his suite of offices there was a receptionist, two other lawyers to the left that worked for him, and then you walked in through the door where he had the corner with his big desk and little sign on the desk that said: ”A clean desk is the sign of a sick mind!” He had certificates in frames and big paintings and all this stuff on the walls.

There was a door out of his office to the right that led to the legal library, three enormous rooms all the way to the back of the building that were full of the law books of the Alaska statutes and the federal statutes, back when the law was contained in books, and in the back of the law library there was a walk-in safe that at one point in time held all the gold dust or whatever that they use to run the railroad. At this point John doesn’t know what his dad put in there because he never locked it, but as a kid John loved this safe because it was big and old-timey.

He kept the binoculars on the windowsill in the back corner and you could sit there and survey the entire Alaska railroad switching yard from the back window, but also Elmendorf Air Force Base was right up at the top of the hill across called Government Hill and from the window you could sit with the binoculars and watch originally the F-4 Phantoms come in and out of Elmendorf and then after about 1981 it switched to F-15s, but also every other thing that went in and out of Elmendorf, the C-141, the C-130s , there were planes coming and going all the time.

John used to go down there and sit in a chair and it was absolute heaven because he would be watching the trains through the binoculars, switching around in the yard and the brakeman out jumping around, and you could see all the way over to the sheds where they actually did repair work on the locomotives. Then there would be an airplane and John would switch over and watch the F-4s or the F-15s come and go.

Sometimes they would be taking off in full afterburner because they would be intercepting a Russian bomber and two F-4s taking off in full afterburner is a real event and the whole city could not ignore the fact that these two jets were leaving town because it shakes the fillings in your teeth. Those were very loud airplanes! It was thrilling to watch through the binoculars because you could see right up to the hot center of the engines.

To the left from that window you could see Mount Susitna, you could see over the water, and that is also where every little small plane in Alaska is coming or going. Merrill Field Airport was over to the right and every little Cessna 172, every little de Havilland Beaver were all coming and going, flying up and down. John spent so much time with these binoculars! They had little yellow/amber filters that you could snap in in case you were trying to look straight into the sun, which weren't very useful, but they were an additional feature.

What is he going to do with these? All he can do is treasure them, save them forever, look through them periodically and look out the window through them and go: ”Is that a Robin? Why, yes, it is. I could have seen it with the naked eye!” At some point along the way John encountered a pair of identical binoculars at a thrift store. Someone else's father had brought them back from someone else's Navy, but their father died or they didn't used to watch the F-4 Phantoms take off on an intercept through their fathers binoculars, or even if they did it didn't resonate with their heart quite the same way and they took those binoculars to the thrift store where John found them.

How could he possibly pass up these wonderful World War II era binoculars identical to his father's in every respect, except he knew every dent and paint chip in his dad's binoculars and would never have any difficulty looking at the two and telling which was which. He bought them, they were not expensive, they were in good condition, and the idea was that now he had a pair he could use. He would put his dad's up on the shelf.

John has not ever gone on eBay and looked to see if these binoculars have any value, of course they don't. The world is full of people's old dented hammers. Nobody cares about anything anymore. He is just preserving his dad's binoculars for some reason and before he had a child the justification he often used was that he had to save these for to pass down to future generations and maybe he imagined in his 30s that he was eventually going to have 10 sons and they would all be fighting over his dad's old Navy binoculars. It turned out he did not have 10 sons, or at least so far he hasn’t, but life is long. It is conceivable he has a son that he doesn’t know about, although probably not given how well he knows all of the potential mothers, but 10 sons? No chance of that!

Now John has a 10-year old daughter and the jury is still out on whether or not she is going to be sentimental about her grandfather whom she never met, and her grandfather's binoculars from World War II, which by the time she is a grown up will be as distant from her imagination as the freaking Civil War was to John.

John’s issue right now is that at some point after he found the second pair of binoculars from 1942 he was some other time rummaging through bins in some junk shop somewhere and he found a third identical pair of World War II era Navy binoculars, also $5 on the Hogshead (unit for 63 gallons) because there is no market for these and anybody who actually uses binoculars is going to have some cool modern set that has five times the magnification and weighs 1/10th and fits into your coat pocket. John had to get them because now he has 3 and it is a collection.

The number of times he has said those words to himself: ”Now I have 3, it is a collection!”, those three words are some karmic burden because a prior Me in a prior life in an alternate universe taunted a Genie and the Genie said: ”Now I have 3. It is a collection!” and the Genie had laid a curse on him that would follow him through through the universe across time and space. Brass candlesticks turned into a thing where you couldn't even play his piano because there were so many candlesticks on it that it actually dampened the keys from the weight of candelabra.

Going through a box today in the basement while the window washer is upstairs on a ladder, gussying the windows up for the first time so that when he is laying in his new bed and looking out the windows he is not looking through a film of sawdust, he found these three binoculars, one, two, three, and he hears the bell toll: He hears Dan’s voice, his mom's voice, all of his Patreon subscribers, a million voices all crying out at once: ”Keep the one, give the other two away! It is not a collection!”

”You just found two more of these over the years at thrift stores and it seemed like $5 wasn't too much to get into them, but now they are just junk. They are beautiful junk and maybe some younger person with a mustache is going to find one of these at a thrift store after you give it away and they are going to put it up on their shelf!” Maybe a young person listening to this show will find it at a thrift store and go: ”I wonder if this is one of those that John was talking about. It is so cool!” He might give one to the cool little tattooed window washer, but there is a part of him inside that is very difficult to quiet down that says: ”No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no! You can't give these away!”

He is at that point in moving into his new house where he has to basically make that decision about everything and he has to go over everything four times: Pick it up, look at it, go: ”Oh, I can't give this way!”, put it down, look at it again tomorrow as he is walking through the room, pick it up again: ”Oh, wait a minute! No, no, no, no, this is too important. This is part of a thing!” The third day he lifts it up and looks at it and goes: ”Now you have looked at this three times and there is a reason because if it was actually supposed to stay with you, you wouldn't have to look at it a third time. If this actually was meaningful, you would know after the first time that this would go into the keep place, and instead you put it in a purgatory. Now you are looking at it a third time, that is all the evidence you need!”

And John replies: ”Yeah, but but but but the thing about it that you don't understand, other voice in my head, is that alone it is a non-essential item that should go in a box and should go away, but what you fail to appreciate is that it is resonating against that other object over there in a box that contextualizes this one and this stays not because it is intrinsically useful, but because it validates and is validated by other items!” and he puts it down and goes about his business and the thing still sits there on its little pedestal of overturned cardboard boxes for him to come along a 5th time and go: ”Just get it in the box. I don't want to talk about it anymore! I don't wanna think about it anymore. Just put it in to-go box!” and when it goes in the to-go box he honestly never thinks about it again.

Having a reference of time, what was 100 years ago? (RW222)

The other day John was watching an old black and white pre-sound film that was made in 1901 and he was thinking that this was 120 ago, which seemed like a really long time, although it felt like it wasn't that long ago because his grandmother was already deep in High School in 1901. In the course of his life John has known a lot of people who were alive in 1901 and it just doesn't seem like 120 years ago.

John first became aware of time when he was about 7 years old. He first understood that his father had once been young and it was an earlier time when they didn't have television and he fought in a war and here are some pictures of the war. All these movies that we love watching with the propeller airplanes are in black and white because they didn't have color mostly in the past. In 1975 when he was 7 these were all ideas he could grok for the first time. At that age, and the amazing thing about being in your 50s is that time is very compressed and John doesn’t feel any different from the person he was when he was 10.

120 years ago in 1975 was 1855, pre-Civil War, a whole different universe. There was still a gold rush in California! That is when the idea of how long a 100 ago got fixed in John’s head: 100 years ago is Little Bighorn (Battle in 1976) and he will never be able to fully adjust that sense of what 100 years represents. 1976 was a huge year for people John’s age because it was the bicentennial and the United States celebrated it the whole year. Also it was a presidential election year where Jimmy Carter was elected president and also it was an Olympic year and the 1976 Olympics in Montreal were a big deal, back when they still really mattered, it was all anybody talked about.

That summer in particular was packed because that 4th of July was just bananas and the whole country just went off the rails: Boston reenacted the Tea Party, it was an earlier idea of what America was and what the revolution was and it was a very uncomplicated take and a very uncomplicated celebration of 200 years of America, even though in 1976 stuff had been haywire not just on the fringe of popular imagination, but central to the popular imagination, and that is why everybody went crazy for it: ”Let's all come together! America! It is still a thing! Don't get all bogged down in Vietnam and race riots!”

Having been 8 years old then John remembers many things of that year very vividly. They were talking about it all the time: 200 years ago was when their founding fathers brought forth on to this continent, a new nation! All kids were being asked to imagine 200 years ago, a very colorful time with high stockings, wigs, muskets, and colorful characters. 100 years ago was also something that you had to imagine and in 1876 was Little Bighorn, but also reconstruction in the South after the Civil War was over. It was a fraught time: Industrial Revolution, Queen Victoria, and it is fixed in John’s mind as 100 years ago, a time when the railroads crossed America and it was the Old West.

John’s father's 100th birthday is this November and he has been dead now for 13 years, but it is his centennial and 100 years ago we are now in his my father's lifetime and John just can't put those two numbers together in his head because: ”What the heck are we talking about?” When he sees things referred to that happened in 1968, even though he knows he is 52 it is very hard to understand that the movie Barbarella is also 52. It is corny and it is from a while back, but realizing that it is also 50 years old. When John was in High School a movie that was 50 years old was from the 1930s.

It was not weird for Dan as a kid to turn on the TV and watch a black and white TV show or watch a black and white movie on their color television. Whether it was The Munsters, Addams Family, Mr. Ed, Gomer Pyle, whatever it was, that was a staple of shows that Dan watched. Movies would come on in black and white and you wouldn't think: ”Oh, that is an old movie!”, but: ”That is a black and white movie!” You knew it was older, but it didn't feel like it was from a different time period, except some of the movies from the 1930s or 1940s. You would think that it was probably something your parents watched, not that it was old and irrelevant now. When Dan’s kids see a black and white anything, they will ask: ”Why didn't they put it in color?” There is no connection to it.

Bugs Bunny cartoons were the bridge into Dan’s parents and almost into their grandparents generations. They grew up watching Bugs Bunny cartoons which were for the most part from the 1940s, they had 1940s humor and they were about World War II and you had Bugs Bunny doing his best Groucho Marx. These were things that Dan was only learning about through the cartoons. You would see the different caricature characters of Bela Lugosi and other people who would appear in these things, and they Dan didn't know who they were, but he knew that they were some actor from that time period. It was a connection because those were very funny cartoons. With what modern kids have now there is nothing even really to connect them that much to Dan’s parents generation, even to his earlier generation.

Star Wars is 44 years old and somehow it still really resonates. When John was in High School, that would have been something that was made before World War II, it would have been the Andrews Sisters or something. It is not like John wasn't in High School conscious of and immersed in some of that because he was a fan of big band Jazz and he listened to Benny Goodman, but his daughter is fully on board with Star Wars, she can rattle off Star Wars facts until the sun goes down and then comes up again in the morning. She would still be telling him all about Kyber crystals, which didn't even exist in the first three Star Wars.

Dan thinks there is one deleted scene of Luke building his own light saber and he was dorking around with crystals in that, but he they did not use the term. The Star Wars films precipitated this whole enterprise. Basically Star Wars is Rock’n’Roll in the sense that Rock’n’Roll started at some point and then took over a corner of the culture and was an incredibly varied… Star Wars to John’s daughter is as big as The Beatles for sure.

John’s soccer trophies from the King Tucks Hurricanes (RW222)

That is the process and John expends so much energy. You could put a man in space with half the kerosene that he burns trying to decide about a soccer trophy that wasn't even his. John has several soccer trophies, one of them from 1975 when his soccer team, the Hurricanes, which was sponsored by King Tucks Tavern in North Seattle, and when John pulled this trophy out of a box and looked at it he realized for the first time he had named his band The Western State Hurricanes in 1998 and his childhood soccer team from 1974-77 was also the Hurricanes.

John had never made that connection until five days ago when he pulled this trophy out and went: ”Hurricanes? What?” Of course he always knew it was the Hurricanes, he had just never been standing in a room where on one side of him there were boxes of Western State Hurricanes records and on the other side there were boxes of trophies from the from King Tucks Hurricanes, engraved with: ”King Tucks Hurricanes 2nd place John Roderick”

In that box were other trophies, including his 2nd place for boy’s junior racers in 1981 for giant slalom for the whole season, his crowning achievement as a ski racer, and an identical trophy to his 1975 King Tucks Hurricanes 2nd place in the league trophy where the little engraving says King Tucks Hurricanes 2nd place Coach Emilio Gonzalez and he was wondering why he has Coach Gonzalez's trophy. Where has it been all these 45 years because he has zero recollection of having this trophy.

His own King Tucks Hurricanes trophy has been somewhat prominently displayed in all of his childhood bedrooms because he did not win that many awards, he does not have that many trophies. He has a lot of white participation ribbons, but he didn't get the yellow 3rd place ribbon, but the white ribbon which was: ”Thanks for showing up to the track meet, nice try!”

John has that ski racing trophy where he got 2nd place in 1981 and he has 3-4 soccer trophies from childhood, one from the boys club, they were always second in the league, and John was a fullback and never scored a goal in 5-6 years of childhood soccer.

John found that trophy today, but the trophy that belonged to his coach is like a Berenstain Bears moment where he just feels profoundly gaslit by himself. Somehow since 1975 he has been schlepping his coach's trophy and he has a super-faint memory of the awards ceremony that happened at a furniture store in Edmonds, Washington called Darcey's, an old furniture stores that was two stories tall and they had room after room after room set up like a living room, not like you see now where it is just a universe of couches. They would sell furniture sets, you would move along like you do through IKEA, and you would come to a couch, a chair, a table, a lamp, a love seat, a coffee table, it would all be set up, and then you would move 20 feet down and there would be another one.

You could rent Dorsey’s out for events because it was such a huge building, and none of this makes any sense and the more words that he says the more it sounds like he is having a stroke, but this furniture store had a banquet hall in the middle of it and you could have a Rotary Club meeting or Knights of Columbus meeting there after hours, so you could have your event in the big hall, but also then you could run around the furniture store and the lights were all off. It was the greatest place to have a Cub Scout meeting or a soccer awards banquet. After the dinner, after the awards ceremony was over and the parents were all sitting around doing what 1970s parents did, which was smoking and drinking, the kids could all run around the furniture store, play hide and seek, or just go crazy.

John has a recollection of this award ceremony where they got called up and were presented with their trophy and at the end of the night when everybody was packing up and the kids were all gacked out on cake and the grown-ups were all half buzzed and were ashing cigarets on each other… John may just be picturing this out of some catalog of stock images, but he remembers the folding table that when they first arrived had all the trophies lined up and it was just fantastic looking, covered with trophies, and at the end of the night all the trophies were gone and there was one trophy left and it was the coach's trophy and he took it and he doesn’t know whether someone said: ”The coach left already, what are we going to do with this trophy?” - ”I will get it to him!” or what?

That is the last memory John has, and he is only finding that memory by really searching, he has never seen that coach's trophy since until he opened the box five days ago and there it is, right next to its matching trophy with his name on it, right next to the broken Pine Box Derby trophy, right next to the 2nd place boy’s junior racers giant slam trophy. Same boxes, three binoculars. There is also a very cool piccolo flute in there that he doesn’t where it came from. He knows for a fact he was not displaying the coach's trophy on his trophy shelf all these years, but 46 years he had this coach trophy and never put the pieces together? And what about his heightened sense enabled him to see it now for the first time?

He was looking at these things, picking them up, and going: ”What is this? Am I keeping this? This has been with me forever. Am I keeping this ski trophy? Of course! Am I keeping this Pine Box Derby trophy, even though it is totally broken? Yes, absolutely I am! Am I keeping this soccer trophy? Yes! Am I keeping this soccer trophy? What the hell is this soccer trophy?” How has John never done that in all these decades. This week is the first time he ever realized that it has to have been sitting on his trophy shelf all these years, up there with his collection of 5 trophies that he had ever won, and one of them wasn't even his, it belonged to the coach! He was supposed to give it back to him! It is a debt to the universe and John has to see if that coach is still alive and if so, get that trophy to him!

Winning the YMCA Pine Box Derby in the wrong age group (RW222)

He also has the trophy from when he won the Pine Box Derby at the YMCA because they put him in the wrong age group. He had showed up with his little hand carved Pine Box Derby car, his parents were divorced, his dad didn't live with him and didn't know how to use tools, his mom knew how to use tools to fix things that were broken, but she never picked up a knife and whittled a piece of wood because when she was growing up, that was what Tom Sawyer did and she was busy washing the laundry on a hand crank or rendering lard, she was not sitting around with a piece of straw and her mouth whittled a stick.

When it came time to build John’s Pine Box Derby racer (actually Pinewood Derby) he had no adult who had ever built anything out of wood to guide him, and he had no tools except his boyscout pocket knife and a Phillips head screwdriver. He made this Pine Box Derby racer out of that block of wood that they give you and he still has the car that he hand carved with a pocket knife, and all the other kids at the Pine Box Derby their dads had tools, the cars had little lead weights on them, they had been tested, they had been shaped, most of the wood had been taken off, they were sleek, they were aerodynamic, and John had just basically sat with his boyscout pocket knife and carved the edges off of the wood block and he painted the car itself with yellow paint from a model airplane kit, and he painted the number 13 on the side 13 and he painted the cockpit with red fingernail polish that he took out of the bathroom. He was very proud of it.

John got dropped off at the YMCA, nobody was with him, standing there with his car at the check-in and the woman behind the folding table says: ”Are you in the youth group or are you a Y’s Guy?” and at 9 years old if you asked him if he was a Y’s Guy he would say: ”Yeah, I am a wise guy. Are you kidding me? You are going to give me that as an option? I am a wise guy!” - ”Good, okay!” and she pointed over to where the Y’s Guys were lining up, a group of preteens, the oldest kids in the YMCA youth program called Y’s Guys. Everybody called it The Y and these were the Y’s Guys, but John didn't know that was true and thought she was saying: ”Are you a wise guy?”

When he answered he said: ”Well, yes I am, in my best 9-year old smarm!” and the woman gave no recognition and identified herself as a woman with no sense of humor because when a 9-year old is like: ”Well yes, I am a wise guy!” and you just give him a blank stare, you are one of those moms that is dead inside, a 1970s mom who wears her hair up in a handkerchief or in a Mod cool Rhoda headscarf (by Rhoda Morgenstern of The Mary Tyler Moore Show), but you don't get what is happening.

It was the Pine Box Derby with the big ramp that goes all the way across the gymnasium, there were 1000 kids at this thing, and John lined up and knew immediately something was wrong because he was 9 and everyone else in the line was 13. They were looking at him, but he was always a big kid and although he was visibly smaller than all the other kids he was big enough that it looked not completely insane, he could have been a small 13-year old rather than a large 9-year old. But they were just looking down their noses at him. For some reason the teens went first. They all knew how to do things and their cars all looked incredible with cool paint jobs, they had been wood worked so they looked like cars with weights on them, all super hot!

This had happened to John several times in life: He had made an honest error and had said wise guys because he didn't understand what she was saying, but then he didn't correct the error, he didn't go over and say: ”I said Y’s Guys, but I am actually a kid!” It happened several times. He was in a cross-country race in High School (see OM3) and in Alaska the cross-country races often just went out into the woods and you ran around on trails and nobody could see where anybody was, you were just out in the forest and you are doing a 10K race or something, you are out there for a long time.

John was not a good cross-country runner and one time he stopped to climb a tree and pick up a bird's nest and carried it around for a while and as he rounded the last corner these guys started going past him really fast, they were in really good shape and giving him super-weird looks and John started sprinting and came in in the top 5 at the end of the race and what had happened was that he had been gone so long that they had started the second heat and the second he had done the racecourse and had lapped him. John’s heat was done, then they waited 10 minutes and then started the second heat and they were coming into the finish line as John was.

He was up on the leaderboard and everybody in his school couldn't believe it: ”How did you Mr. Last Place come in 4th?” - ”I have zero idea!” Nobody was more surprised than he was, and it took 20 minutes for them to straighten out that he had started in the first heat, and that was very embarrassing to everybody involved. It wasn't even embarrassing to him because what can you say? He started in the first heat and finished 4th in the second heat, it was just surprising that he finished that high.

They put up their Pine Box Derby cars at the top of the big ramp, and this is 1970s Pine Box Derby which was a big event. The gate opens and off their cars go, and John’s car just schools everybody and goes right to the lead and finishes three lengths ahead of the next closest car. It looked like it was made by someone who lived in the Amazon and you described a car to them, and it was painted with a paint that you made from chewing up berries, spitting them, and mixing them with lye. He won and all eyes were on him, a weirdly small ”teenager” with a car that does not compute. His car wouldn't hack it over with the 6-year old's because they had dads that helped them while John’s car looked like he had chewed it, like it was made by a beaver.

John understood his mistake, but he didn't know what to say and now that he had won it was going to be really embarrassing and so he didn't say anything and stayed there for the whole day, watched the entire rest of the Pine Box Derby, there were kids after kids, races after races, heats and heats and heats, and at the end of the day he stood on the podium with all these kids from different age groups with his 1st place trophy as the number one Y’s Guy. All the other Y’s Guys were all teenagers, so they bailed out of there a long time before and none of those guys were standing around watching, but all the parents, all the other kids his age and it was a tremendous incongruity.

John was already replaying what had happened then, and he replayed it 1000 times over the course of his life. He still has the trophy and he still has the car, for years he displayed them together, but then at some point somebody was cleaning or some bull in a china shop was walking through his little trophy case and knocked the trophy off. It has a gray marble base with a Pine Box Derby car on top in a swoopy gold space age way, it says his first place on it, and when they knocked it off the shelf it broke the car in a way where there is no way to repair it. It is cantilevered and if you put glue on it you can't tape it in that position long enough for the glue to dry. John tried to put glue on it, it didn't hold, but now the glue has gunked up the join and even if he could get glue to hold, it wouldn't fit together anymore because there is a layer of gunky glue.

Now John has his Pine Box Derby car and a broken trophy, but what do you do with a broken trophy? He can't get rid of this trophy! That trophy and that car have been with him his whole life and no one else has known it because he has never told the story to anybody, not even to his mom because he was embarrassed to tell her. It is not a legit trophy because he was in the wrong heat. These kids should have beaten him by a 1000 points and he made no changes to the running gear, he did not even put Form One oil on the axles, it was just the nail polish, that is the only thing he can think of that was different: The nail polish on the number 13, and the fact that the car had been shaped by a young beaver.

When John broke the trophy his mom asked: ”Why do you have a broken trophy? Throw that in the garbage!” - ”I can't throw that in the garbage!”, but he couldn't tell her the story. She doesn't understand why anything means anything to him because she is like Dan, everything she owns she could put into a Tupperware. The things that matter to her at least. She owns other things, she has spatulas, but if you asked her: ”Do you need these spatulas?” she would throw them right in the garbage. She would not say: ”I had this spatula for 30 years!” Nothing! Whatever spatula she had 30 years ago she got rid of 28 years ago, like a normal person.

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