Sunday, November 13, 2011

Either Keep Your Sense or Follow The 'Lonestar'

(Reprinted from today's Times and News-Star)

Wonder how Lewis and Clark could leave Missouri with nothing more than a compass and a toothbrush and find Oregon nearly 200 years ago, while I can’t find the new restaurant I ate at last night?

This would make a good Andy Rooney moment, God rest the popular and now departed newsman’s irritable and entertaining soul. “It’s really sort of fascinating, don’t you think,” I hear him saying, “the sense of direction some people have and others don’t? Those who have it can find Deluth by the stars. In the daytime. The ones who don’t can’t find the Esso station on the corner of their own neighborhood. I just hate those kinds of people. They’re stupid.

“And didja ever notice how I don’t trim my eyebrows? Why is that? I just hate that. Maybe I’ve lost my sense of direction and can’t find the scissors.”

I don’t like complainers in general but I did like him. We need a Designated Complainer. Every family has one. Even the American family. I’ll miss him. Wish we could find another one like him. Meanwhile…

You know how the robbers blindfold the guy when they’re taking him for a ride? They would not have to do that to me. I couldn’t fall out of a boat and find water.

Back in the day, I had a sense of direction. I grew up where there weren’t many signs. You had to “know.” You didn’t know that not knowing was even an option. My direction sense is now confined to back home only.

We moved to the big town and I got used to signs and I lost what sense of direction I had. I could probably go back and find it – if I had a sense of direction. I think it’s one of those things that you can’t find once you lose it. Like virginity. Well, maybe not quite like that. Maybe nothing like that. Maybe losing your sense of direction is more like breaking a $100 bill: once you do, it’s hard to understand where it went when it’s gone.

My good friend Chief has a device in his new truck he mistakenly calls “Lonestar,” and he hits a button and a nice lady gets him all the way from where the lives to wherever he wants to go. And tells him when he’s there. “Take the Waco Exit. Proceed in the left lane. Turn right in 500 yards…in 300 yards…in 100 yards,” and on like that.

Lewis and Clark had Sacagawea. We have GPS.

I do not know at this point if we have GPS back home in the Carolina Piedmont country. During my most recent visit four years ago, we did not have cell phone service. I know this because 10 miles from the house I called to let them know I was almost there, and I might as well have been holding a Dixie cup with a string coming out of it. GPS back home would go something like this:

“Well, you mean from HERE? OK. Well, go about a mile, mile and a half, and what you’ll come to is a red barn. Used to be red. I remember when we helped build that barn. Anyway, take a right and pass Peabug’s place and you’ll come to where the Clark boy got in that wreck on his two-wheeler motorbike thing and broke his leg. Good boy. Limps a bit. I believe it’s there that you take a left…,” and on like that.

It’s wise not to lose your sense of direction back home.