One For the Road

by | May 6, 2012

This post was imported from an old blog I used to have.

Creative Non-Fiction Class

The first assignment was to write about a person. It could be anyone real, but didn’t have to be someone I knew personally. I decided to write about Scott (October 2010).

It wasn’t difficult for me to fall for Scott.   He has the whole package: good looks, sense of humour, intelligence.  He’s dark and handsome with an athletic build, chiseled jaw, soulful eyes and adorable dimples.  Always smiling, he laughs a lot and so do those around him.  Sometimes they’re laughing with him, and sometimes at him, but either way he doesn’t seem to mind.   His passion for education led him to become a high school teacher and inspired me to go back to school.  Popular and loved by all who are fortunate enough to bask in his glow, Scotty O had me at hello.

I didn’t have to explain to my friends and family what was so great about Scott because they could see it.  He treated me well.  My face lit up whenever he entered the room.  He is a genuinely nice guy, without the blandness that often comes with that descriptor.  I was attracted to him, not in spite of, but because of his quirks: his commitment to learning how to break dance, his fascination with computer games, and his refusal to ever drink alcohol.  Scotty O enjoys being different, and he isn’t afraid to let everyone know it.

Years ago when it was first becoming popular to carry around your own water bottle, Scott decided that he’d make his own.  He doesn’t really drink much water – his drink of choice is orange Tang.  The typical 500mL reusable bottle just didn’t cut it.  So Scotty O started taking his daily dose of Tang from a Downy bottle.  Yes, that’s right, the 1.5 Litre, baby blue, pink-lidded, fabric softening liquid container.  Oh, he cleaned it out really well first.  Rinsed it with bleach, then vinegar, then lots of soap and hot water – he wasn’t trying to poison himself – but try as he might, the “April Fresh” aroma never left the bottle.  He was persistent though.  He carried that thing around for over a month, happily drinking April Fresh Orange Tang.  His favourite part was unscrewing the pink lid and using it to sip a little shot of Tang.  Those who didn’t know him gave him strange looks; perhaps they thought he was some kind of middle-class drug addict, swilling fabric softener instead of Listerine.  Our friends just laughed and shook their heads.  A few even played along and accepted a lid full of Tang when offered.  Me?  I loved it.  Not the Tang, but the creativity and ridiculousness of it all.  Don’t get me wrong, I teased Scott relentlessly, but I made an effort to be supportive and encouraging of his crazy endeavors.

I like quirky, but that doesn’t mean that I always enjoyed Scotty O’s antics.  He has no shame, and sometimes I couldn’t help but feel embarrassed by association.  He was always telling stories of his escapades to anyone and everyone who would listen, and I ended up sitting through countless renditions of the same tales over and over again.  I tried to maintain a sense of humour about it all, but more often than not I could be found sighing and rolling my eyes at the start of each familiar anecdote.

Scott’s favourite story, the one he’d tell at any opportunity, was the one about the year we spent Christmas Eve with his family in Edmonton and then got up early Christmas morning and drove the two and a half hours to my parents’ place in Lac La Biche.  The roads weren’t too bad considering it was winter in Alberta, but it was snowing and he had to drive carefully.  Once we left the city limits nothing was open – all the gas stations in all the small towns along the highway were closed.  There weren’t a lot of other people on the road and it was a peaceful drive.  We always travelled well together, sometimes talking, sometimes just enjoying the quiet.  About halfway there Scott says, “Uh oh,” and starts to shift uncomfortably in his seat.

“Do you have to pee?” I ask.

“Nope.” He responds and gives me a pained look.  Uh oh indeed.

With nature calling urgently and nowhere to go he decides that he will just pull over and try to shelter himself with the side of the car.  I can’t get over the feeling that it is just WRONG for a human being to shit on the side of the road.  I remove a few Christmas presents from a Safeway bag in the backseat and tell him to use that, then tie it up tightly and bury it in the snow when he’s finished.  I’m not sure it’s much better, in fact, thinking about it now I’m pretty sure it’s worse, but I did not want him to bring it into the car so we could dispose of it properly, and I didn’t want him to just leave a pile of poop on the side of the highway.  Scotty O couldn’t wait to tell my parents when we arrived.  “I took a crap in a bag on the side of the road!  Merry Christmas!”

I have to admit that it’s a funny story and, to be honest, it’s nowhere near worst that he told.  But funny or not, I still can’t figure out why he always found it necessary to reveal these little tidbits to everyone he knew.

About a year later, Scott pulled over again on that same highway.  He got out of the car without saying a word.  I assumed he was going to take a leak, but then he appeared outside my window, grinning.  He opened the passenger door, got down on one knee in the snow, and pulled a velvety blue ring box out of his coat pocket.  I finally figured out what was going on.  Overcome with emotion I burst into tears.  Scott opened the tiny box, took out the ring, placed it on my finger, and asked me to be his wife.  I said yes with absolutely no hesitation.  It was the silliest, most romantic, exciting thing that had ever happened to me.  I had to get out of the car to look at the ring in the headlights because it was so dark.  The tears in my eyes made the diamond sparkle that much more.  I couldn’t wait to tell everyone I knew the story of how my boyfriend pulled over on the side of the highway one dark December night to propose to me.  A little part of me can’t help but wonder if he didn’t come up with this plan so that he’d have the perfect excuse to tell his favourite story for the rest of our lives together.

Sometimes I wonder if Scott still tells that story, even though we’re not together anymore.  Maybe he tells it differently now, leaving me out of it.  I’m sure he’s got new stories that he tells, but I’d also be willing to bet that many of the old ones are still in circulation.  I wonder if his new wife sighs and rolls her eyes when he gets going, or if she’s more understanding of his need to be the centre of attention at any cost.  I can honestly say that I hope they’re happy together.  While I wasn’t able to sustain a relationship with Scotty O, I still think he’s one of the best people I have ever known.