The Leaning Cow

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Going to the Ohio Redoubt

January 29th, 2015 ·No Comments

Don’t mention it to Der Bingle, but I’m really going to City Barbecue – and, with luck, this lunch will not be followed by a quick trip back to Lagrange because of a break-in. I may twist his arm and have him grab another Hot Head Burrito – or maybe a sub. I may think I am on the Road to The Redoubt, but it seems as if I am on The Road to Perdition when it comes to dieting.

I opened another Wickhan file . That’s a warning.

Malcolm Falls has been such an idyllic little town to live in that R. Simon Wickham, aged 68, was quite taken aback when he came out of the Back Door Café, turned the corner and saw what appeared to be gang members – yes, gang members, clustered around what the younger generation would refer to as a pimped out RV. “Pimped out” being defined somewhere as “having excessive embellishments or ornaments, particularly of the flashy kind.”

Well, at least that is how the RV appeared to Simon; scenes from the James Dean movie “Rebel Without a Cause” were painted on the sides – and it was the kind of artistry in which the eyes of characters appeared to follow a passerby. He also noticed that there were about six other huge RV’s lined up, all with distinctive paint jobs and some with gold rims.

Simon was unnerved. Malcolm Falls was a place of picket fences and soda shops, band concerts on the courthouse lawn, Friday night high school basketball crowds.

It was not a place of “pimped out” RV’s.

In fact, how did Simon even know the phrase “pimped out?” Oh, yeah, reading the big city newspapers. He looked at the gang members and a strange shudder passed through him – his world was changing . . . or maybe not. There was something familiar about the group.

“Lucas? Lucas, is that you?” Simon choked out. The fellow in the black leather jacket with “Grey Lion” on the back turned and grinned a warm hello. Striding forward, he reached Simon quickly and slapped him on the back: “Hey, how’s it going? Haven’t seen you since our 45th reunion at Yale.

For some reason, Simon didn’t want to say he had been on the croquet circuit during the summer and playing chess with some other retirees from his old accounting firm, so he said, “Big game hunting.” He figured Lucas was envisioning a lion’s head mounted on his den wall, or at least a moose, while he, Simon, could only see maybe a giant rook or Queen’s pawn over the mantle.
To change the direction of the conversation, Simon thought fast on his feet and asked, “Uh, and what have you been doing?”

Lucas beamed and extended his arm at the giant RV, “Well, Maude and I got tired of retirement and decided to follow the example of your Aunt Bernice.” Ah yes, Simon remembered his Aunt Bernice who had traveled around the Pacific Rim paragliding over volcanoes when she was in her 80’s and he responded, rather dully, “Oh, yes, Aunt Bernice.”

“Yes indeed, Bernice Wickham,” Lucas said, awe in his voice. “She had a great funeral, too, a real celebration of life – her ashes blown into the sky from a cannon.”

Lucas pointed at a 43-footer in the line and said, “Lloyd and Sue read Bernice’s autobiography and checked out of their retirement home and got their RV. We’ve got about 37 folks in our group now. We’re searching for our own volcanoes.” Of course, Lucas was speaking metaphorically.

Both men were silent for a while. Lucas’ face a mixture of admiration and sadness; Simon’s one of inadequacy.

Yes, Simon was once again reminded that he was the black sheep Wickham – always conforming to the mainstream mold, never once even considering doing anything until it was well established and, if necessary, covered by his insurance policy.

He also realized in that moment that Lucas would know he was lying about the big game hunting remark; heck the most adventurous he had ever been was to be the point after man on the football team – sometimes it rained and the ball was slippery. What had they called him? Oh, yeah, “Ole Sure Shoe Simon.”

He once thought he had heard one of his Wickham cousins say “Simply Simon.” That’s what he was, actually, without an eccentricity to his name.

All at once, he realized Lucas was talking about how he and Maude had decided to embrace life . . . and the American Highway and the National Park Systems. “Well, Simon.” Lucas began, “We were going to first go on motorcycles and then Maude saw a picture of an RV in a magazine.”
Simon nodded.

Lucas invited him inside the RV . . . and the transformation of Simon began. It was big – 45 feet of pure luxury with two TV’s and a walk-in closet in the bedroom, not to mention the stacked washer/driver and Granite Entry Steps – we kid you not.

Lucas pointed out some of the features: “Yes, sir, Simon, this baby has a Series 60 Detroit Diesel 515 HP engine with Allison® 4000 MH 6-Speed world transmission and electronic shifter, heavy-duty steel superstructure with steel cage cockpit construction, triple head power controlled heated chrome exterior mirrors with turn Indicator lights, a 40? LCD TV in living area ceiling, and – the piece de resistance – dual trumpet air horns.” He said more, but Simon simply wasn’t listening anymore.

He had finally felt the call of his heritage and asked, “So where do you get one of these babies?” Lucas looked at Simon and saw the newly-lit gleam in his eye and exclaimed, “Buddy, that’s easy; the hard part is picking out a name for your jacket.”

So if you’re cruising along the highway and pass a line of RV’s and if you hear the sound of a dual trumpet air horn shake you out of your socks, there’s a good chance you’ve crossed the path of Richard Simon Wickham, aka “Cruiser with the Oldies.”

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