Opinion | Biff America: Deep thoughts at slow speed
“Tell all your friends to come on by; especially if they are cute.” Only on a small town country radio station would that tag-line in a promotion be considered OK.
It takes some time to drive through Nevada at 60 miles per hour.
Of course the time would pass more quickly if the FM reception was better. But for the last hour, the best we could do was catch the assorted country stations fading in and out. I actually enjoy country music, especially if there is nothing else on the radio. My mate, on the other hand, does not.
It was for that reason she sat in the passenger seat wearing earbuds listening to downloaded music on her phone.
We have one of those fancy trucks with cloth seats, electric windows and the ability to scan channels with just the touch of a button. On the back sits a slide-in camper providing all the comforts of home, especially if your home’s bathroom is the size of a phone booth.
U.S. Route 50 is nicknamed “America’s loneliest road.” We usually drive that route as we travel to the Sierras to ski and bike in the spring. Most of it is two lanes; it is not uncommon to see herds of wild horses and the towns can be hundreds of miles apart. It is indeed desolate with a forsaken barren beauty.
The narrow road and lack of traffic gives me the gifts of driving our small RV at my preferred speed and a lack of distraction that breeds reflection.
Whenever we drive that road Ellie chides me for not going the extra mile and money to have satellite radio installed in the truck — rather than just the camper. But in truth I enjoy both the silence and the odd small market radio stations I can capture on the way. Usually I’ll pick up a station for 20 or 30 miles, then have it fade out. I’ll then hit the scan button and I might pick up another. Often it will just keep scanning, forgotten, for miles.
The above mentioned radio station’s promotion targeting “cute friends” and songs with lyrics like, “Get your biscuits in the oven and your buns in the bed” caused Ellie to put in her earbuds and we drove on without speaking.
The scan picked up an excerpt from a news cast that announced, “many movie fans’ favorite James Bond, Roger Moore, died at 89.” The station faded out and I hit scan to no avail.
The sun was getting low in the sky and we would be looking for a free place to camp in an hour or so. This gave me some time to ponder the passing of my second favorite 007 and do some death math.
Certainly Roger Moore had a good run — 89 is a pretty long life. But, when someone passes, it’s tempting to compare their age at passing with your own and wonder. I know how my book will end, I’m just not sure how many chapters it has.
I looked over at my mate, silhouetted by a red sky, as she bobbed her head to her music. Given our disparity of ages, I have to assume she’ll outlive me. But we both are active, eat well and never wear Birkenstocks to gun shows, so we, hopefully, will have many years ahead. A day earlier, we had just used crampons to climb over 2,000 feet of rock hard snow that, in places, was 45 degrees steep. We skied down just after it softened. I reasoned, a guy in his final chapter could not do that.
But looking over at her I could not help but wonder. I reminded myself, upon vacation’s end, to go over our finances and tax issues and tell her where we keep our vacuum cleaner.
The sun was getting lower and the sky a little more red. We would be looking for a dirt road to drive down to park and spend the night.
I was reminded of a quote, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of sorrow — only today of joy.” It was going to be a beautiful sunset. I would watch it with someone I love.
As we pulled off the highway, the radio on scan stopped at another country song with the lyrics, (and I’m serious) “God is great, beer is good, people are crazy.”
We were about three miles off the pavement when we saw a wide pull-off with a 360-degree view of stark beauty.
An hour later, sitting outside with the benefit of reflection and bourbon, affirmed the truth in the above assertions: Worrying is worthless, God and beer are great and people are indeed crazy. I shared those thoughts with Ellie sitting next to me in a lawn chair.
I refrained from also demanding she, “Get your biscuits in the oven and buns in the bed” because I want to live a long life …
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Biff’s new book “Mind, Body, Soul.” is available at local shops and bookstores or Shop.holpublications.com/products/biff-america-mind-body-soul.
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