This is a 1979 Coupe Deville, just like mine except for the color!

    THE CADILLAC (Part 1)

    Many young people, upon reaching the landmark age of sixteen, immediately begin to yearn for the type of independence that only having a car can bring. I, of course, was no different. It was simply a move borne of necessity - I mean, how was a fella supposed to get the ladies interested in what he was offering while riding on a skateboard? ("Come on back to my place, baby. We'll read some Mad Magazines or maybe play some Game Boy or something, and then I'll REALLY get ya in the mood, OK?" Yeah, right...). Drastic action needed to be taken.

    When I was not even fifteen, I began posturing for my parents to try to convince them that they should provide one for me, or at least help me with the process. I was definitely going to need some wheels, and it was up to me to put the thought in their minds, so... 

    So, they spoke about it in private, the three of us spoke about it (less privately), caucuses were held, issues were debated, and we did some brainstorming, and eventually it was decided that I would inherit the Swamp Boat. 

    The Swamp Boat was a legendary figure in the town where I came from. A 1979 Cadillac Coupe DeVille d'Elegance (Cadillac was never shy about singing the praises of their steel behemoths in the most elevated manner possible; d'Elegance? What the hell was "d'Elegance" supposed to mean, anyway? Had we all moved to the South of France and no one noticed?) finished in a sparkling, effervescent metallic green, there was surely not another one like it for miles around. She had a dark green, velour, upscale interior. She also had a giant, thirsty, 425 cubic inch V8 engine topped by a gigantic four-barrel carburetor that devoured fuel like a space rocket and provided passing power of a similar capacity. Also, she was equipped with a then state-of-the-art sound system - an in-dash 8-track player with stereo speakers (I can't tell you how many nights in my youth were spent cruising while listening to an ancient, yellowed copy of Led Zeppelin II in 8-track truly had to be experienced to be understood, you see). 

    In other words, Cherry To The Max.

    I had the car for most of my early adult life, and we went on many adventures together (some of which are featured somewhere or other in my other tales). So, it was no surprise to anyone when the Swamp Boat accompanied me to my first semester of post-high school education at Ithaca College in upstate New York.

    I became the de facto driver on many an occasion up there due to the massive passenger capacity of the Cadillac. Six adults (and even eight, on occasion, depending on the amount of alcohol consumed by its passengers, and desire to resemble a tin of tightly-packed sardines by said passengers) were able to ride in perfect comfort, bathed in the soothing rhythms that only a stereo eight-track player could provide. Many road trips were logged in this beast in this fashion, further increasing the scope of her ever-broadening legend. This was not a car to be taken lightly.

    So, on one fine autumn evening, my roommate and I were at this dive bar called the Bomb Shelter. The Bomb Shelter was a very forgettable establishment- basically a wide open room with as many chairs, benches and tables as would fit crammed in there, and a sound system which would have been too overpowering for an Irish soccer stadium. But the real kicker was their weekly beer special - "Dimie Night" on Wednesdays and Thursdays, where beers cost 10 cents each. As if this wasn't enough, they would only sell you a tray of 20 cups at a time. 

    Two dollars (and the twenty cupfuls of swill it purchased) was enough to drop even the most heroic of ale drinkers to his or her knees. Trust me - I witnessed variations on that scene enough times to forget it a hundred times and still giggle when thinking about it. 

    As one could imagine, this novel method of mass alcohol distibution resulted in countless lost nights for countless people - It was commonplace for the freshman class at Ithaca to gather, en masse, at the Bomb Shelter for endless nights of forgotten debauchery. People would truly let their collective hair down, and really let loose - one wonders how many freshmen had engaged in sex acts with a partner who would have been thought of as utterly repulsive as a result of a Bomb Shelter-provided Milwaukee's Best binge.

    On this particular night, my roommate Rick (the star of "Both of Rick's Ends", another fine chapter from "The Madcap Adventures of Orgo & Texas" ) and I had driven down to the Bomb Shelter in the Swamp Boat for a night of drinkin', dancin', and (hopefully) lovin'. It was a Tuesday night, sometime near midterms, and the student body at large was antsy and generally crackling with pent-up energy and school-inspired stress.

    On this night, Rick and I had been there for some time, and both of us had consumed an entire tray each, and we had somehow talked these four nubile, drunken, spectacularly conditioned examples of the female gender into coming back to our place under the guise of "after hours fun". The six of us jumped in my old hoopdie Cadillac and away we went, with my roomie driving up front with one hottie and I was in the giant back seat with the other three babes. 

    We had gotten to about the halfway point in the fifteen minute drive, and (due to my massive imbibance of Milwaukee's Best) I began to feel as though the whole back seat was spinning like a flying saucer piloted by E.T. on crack, and I suddenly, sickeningly realized that I was soon to be faced with the prospect of a violent episode of involuntary nausea. Dimly aware of my manners and the situation around me, I thought it to be impolite and not in the best interests of my evening to coat the chickybabes with the contents of my overtaxed stomach! 

    Providentially, I found a maximum-capacity ziplock freezer bag in the back seat (the kind that Dom Deluise has made a living hocking on TV since he became too obese to do movies with Burt Reynolds - don't ask why it was there; just be as thankful as I was) and I immediately, volcanically, emitted a gigantic Technicolor Yawn right into the bag the split second that I got it into my hands - neat as can be, and didn't spill a drop! 

    The girls are staring at me with utter shock, but are beginning to break into grins as they realize that they have escaped serious harm (or, at least a serious dry cleaning bill). So, as I finished my caustic emission, I zipped the bag up nice and tight, looked at the babes, shrugged, and said "No problem." They were all applauding and laughing their collective ass off - they were obviously grossed out beyond belief; it likely struck them all as so funny because they had avoided a Dimie Night Shower by only the barest of margins. 

    With my stomach returning to a safe state, I asked the lovely brunette to my left if she had a stick of gun or a breath mint. She handed a Tic Tac to me and, with her best pouty, oversexed look, said, "Sure, take one...your breath better be nice for when you get me back to your room."

    ALL RIGHT, I thought. No harm done. I must be a Greek God to still have this scamp interested after practically blowing chunks in her lap. All that needed to be done was to get rid of the offending stomach matter before the bag started to leak, and then the rest of the night would be spent in the throes of erotic bliss (foreshadowing, anyone?). 

    I asked the babe in the shotgun seat on my side of the Swamp Boat to open the window so I could dispose of my unpleasantry in the best way possible at the time - heave it to splatter all over New York State Route 94, safely behind the cozy confines of 1979's finest rolling stock. 

    She opened the window, and I raised the tightly-packed bag to shotput it out the window and out of our lives. However, it was right at this point that my good luck suddenly, inexplicably, left for the evening.

    Just as I raised the bag into prime launch position, shotgun-occupier decided to turn and point her finger out the window at the pizza joint which bordered our campus and started to shout something to the rest of us. She turned in the seat as she pointed, though, which caused the seatbelt to suddenly twist and partially retract, effectively sawing the ready-to-burst bag right in half in an instant. As if loose debris in the cabin compartment wasn't a bad enough development, the window was wide open...

...meaning that there was a strong wind whipping across the back seat...

...across the passengers currently residing in the back seat...

...and we all got completely spackled, head-to-waistband, with my whole stomachful of Ithaca College dining hall baked ziti and Milwaukee's Best puke. 

    The reaction was strong, sudden, and overtly negative in tone. 

    Needless to say, the girls had us drop them off immediately (Ridiculous! It was the dumb idiot in the front seat's fault! I didn't spill a DROP even when under the most extreme duress!) and both Rick and I fell asleep, alone, in our respective beds. 

    Once again, I had proved an absolute - the world of alcohol (and its abuse) is bigger than any of us, and we should never even dare to think otherwise for even a split second...or we will get burned. 

Thanx fo' readin'.

RTO 4/3/2001 

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