Sorry, Keep the Champagne on Ice – Part 2

(Posted in Muddled Memories)

(Continued from Sorry, Keep the Champagne on Ice – Part 1)

“The God’s” quintessential jam was blaring when he peeled into the parking lot.  It’s been a long time since I rocked and rolled.  Very good sign.  Meant he was in a good mood; Piston mode.  You know when your jamming to a rager, say For Whom The Bell Tolls , you start uncontrollably stomping your foot and head banging.  Oh really, you aren’t into rock?  You prefer listening to Jack Johnson and throwing a frisbee.  Well, just move along then.  Anyway, that warm blood pumping upward from your rockin’ foot to your metal head starts producing an impulsive, excited feeling.  You want to do something spontaneous, something crazy.  I cranked up the treble and volume.  Ol’ Piston started nodding his head.  Hopefully he’ll want t0 do something crazy; like back this headless venture.

We roared onto the interstate.  Ol’ Piston kicked his high school sweetheart into 4th gear.  You could feel the American muscle rumbling (OR PUMPING IRON?) through your seat.  Let me get it back, baby, where I come from.  I was smashing an “air” bass drum, channeling my inner John Bonham.  These speakers have projected some of the greatest riffs in rock history.    90 mph and climbing, we passed a minivan.  Pansies.  Ironic, considering we also own one.

It’s always an honor to ride co-pilot in the Charger.  Ol’ Piston only brings her out on special occasions now.  Round 30 years ago, he peeled through the Detroit night piloting this beast, racing for 12 packs.  She delivered many victories, many PBR’s.

Those victorious PBR’s didn’t come easy.  At age 13, Ol’ Piston began grinding away at a downtown gas station.  Removing dead rats, cleaning the crapper, pumping gas, and everything in between was part of the the job description.  And, no surprise, the owner was a full blown alcoholic.    Piston kept his Chuck Taylors  laced tight in case he had to make a run for it.  Fast forward five years, and he was a master mechanic at the age of 18.

Like your ordinary alcoholic, the owner was damn near broke.  In desperate need of cash, he put  his prized Charger up for sale.  Ol’ Piston  put in a offer well short of what he was asking for.  The owner threw his hands up in the air.  A couple days later, he lowered them to shake Piston’s hand.  Instead of gunning it out of the lot, laughing at the guy with his middle finger raised, like many would have done, he continued working for him.  For 3 more years.    He kept the shop alive, along with the owner.

When I was a spud, we all met the owner.  Doing his best to hold back tears, “Piston is the reason I’m still alive.  The poor guy had his problems, but damn did he come up with a great nickname.  Actually, he might of stole it from the basketball team, but . . . it stuck, so screw it.

Decades later, you can still see faint black lines embedded in the crevices of my Dad’s  fingers.  If you didn’t know him, you would think he’s allergic to washing his hands.  There’s nothing he can do about it.  The oil is pretty much tattooed on his skin.  Those lines aren’t the only permanent marks on his skin.  He has an actual tattoo on his upper right arm. “Motor City” above a sketch of a  Charger.  Now a days, he makes sure this is covered at all times.  The Joneses would turn their noses up at the sight of it.  He wouldn’t admit it, but, I’m sure that’s why.

As a youngster,  it was cool to see all the neighbors roll their cars into our driveway for Piston to fix.  By this time, we all were living in the Commonwealth and pops had become the manager at a car dealership.  Everyone in the neighborhood knew him as the Detroit motor head; Mr. Piston.  He’d have his sleeveless t shirts on, proudly showing his Motor City branding.  Many payments went unfulfilled, but it didn’t bother him.  More than anything, it was to get back to his roots.  To remind himself of how he got his Charger.

We’re now in the right lane going 55.  Minivans are passing us on the left.  The music inside the Charger is tuned to the level a nun would vibe to.  Genie in a bottle is thumping from the Odysseys flying by us.  I’m beginning to feel sick.

Currently, Pops is an industrial engineer executive.  He can’t red line his fun anymore.  As many females in my age group would say, “no time” to be irresponsible.  No time for victorious PBR’s.  We pulled into the parking lot.   I’d like to see Ol’ Pistol roll his sleeves up, one last time. 

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