And somehow, strangely, I missed the announcement. I can't escape the news that one of our finest space-going folk lost a bolt up there, but it's not like we've been losing bits and pieces of giant space-going lasers and things since the 50's, so what's one more bolt gonna do?
Its official. Pluto is now asteroid 134340. The strange thing is that even as disconnected as I am with all things bizarre and unnatural in this world I realised I have a connection to that big asteroid. The thing is, those numbers are the exact same as the combination that opened my grade-school locker in gymn class. R-L-R, 13-43-40. Seriously.
So this locker of mine wasn't really a locker per se, it was more of a little wire basket just big enough to hold my tennis shoes and two pairs of PE shorts and t-shirts, and a stick of smell-well. I remember I had a pair of Converse All-Stars, size 13. I was a big kid, and always wore big shoes.
My Mom and I had found those white canvas All-Stars in a little store off the beaten path, in the 4300 block of our local market area. The place was run by a little middle-aged Vietnamese couple who had left the old country in early 1940 to come to America to start a new life. We always chatted a few minutes with them, just visiting like southerners do, and I remember thinking that $43 was a huge sum for tennis shoes, but I loved them, and my parents always wanted the best for ms.
My folks. They did without so much so their boys could have nice things. I remember the old Pontiac Kingswood station wagon they had for so long. It was brown, and had a strange wood-grain sticker on the sides so it looked like an old 40's Woody, but it was all steel. I learned to drive in that car. Took my first real drive on the street when I was all of 13, and now here I am, almost 40.
I didn't learn to drive in that car, though. I learned on a 1943 model Allison Chalmers tractor. Clunky old thing, yellow-orange where it wasn't covered in years and years of dust, dirt, spilled gasoline and oil, machine grease, every sort and kind of detritus you could imagine. I learned to drive that in the field. It was a three-speed, so I think the wide-open top speed might have been all of 13 miles an hour, but it certainly taught me the rudiments of steering, braking, and watching my outside edges. I bushhogged that 40 acre field for years before I ever realised I was learning valuable lessons that I would use for the rest of my life.
My other driving lessons ocurred in an old International Harvester pickup truck, an old work truck that my father bought from his place of work when it got too worn out to be street-worthy. I creeped around that 40 acre field in this 43 year old truck, learning how to work a clutch, how to steer and brake at the same time, and how to manipulate a gear-shift that was almost as tall as I was.
Ah, the field. What a place. It was home to a pair of sharecroppers, father and son who worked that place until I was 13 or so, when the father finally retired from farming. I so miss playing every fall in the big cotton trailers, watching their antiquated old John Deere Model 40 cotton harvester creep around the field like a green hunchbacked giant, gathering up cotton to pile in it's huge mesh basket.
Oh I could ramble on forever, but I shan't bore you any further. I just thought it rather interesting that I shared a connection with Pluto.