Reversing the Numbness

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Batman and the Yellow Sports Wagon

It was the summer of 1989, just before my senior year in high school, and I was 17 years old. The greatest week of my year, camp week, was but a few days away. I was on top of the world. Then I woke up with a sore throat. A very sore throat.

At first I held on to hope that it would clear up, but it didn't take long for me to realize that this wasn't just an ordinary sore throat. Within a day I was admitted to the hospital with a hard-core case of mono.

Not only was I devastated to have to miss out on my yearly camp experience, but I felt absolutely miserable. My throat got so bad that the only thing I could eat for two days was whipped cream. I was so worn down that I could barely walk to the bathroom. I'd end up spending three or four nights in the hospital, watching the summer days pass outside my window and thinking about all the awesome things I was missing. I sank into a pretty deep depression.

During this time, there were only two things that made me feel better. The first was my nightly dose of Demerol and the second was knowing that Batman, starring Michael Keaton, was due to be released soon.

For some reason, I was just crazy about this movie. I wasn't even into comic books, but when I heard this film was coming out, I got all amped up. Somebody brought me a copy of Premiere, which had Batman on the cover, to read in the hospital, and I kept telling myself that I'd know I was on the road to recovery when I was finally well enough to catch this flick.

Anyone who's had a bad case of mono knows that recovery comes slowly, and after I got out of the hospital I was laid up for a good week or so before I could do much of anything. Eventually I started to come around, though, and as soon as I was remotely well enough, I called my buddy Raoul Duke (pictured). Time to go catch Batman!

We usually went to see movies in Fairmont, which was 20 minutes up the freeway, just because they had chairs that reclined back and it was always cool to leave town by ourselves at that age. Good ol' Raoul swung by my house and picked me up in his good ol' Yellow Sports Wagon. My recovery was under way -- everything was going to be okay.

Before he picked me up, I specifically remember looking at the thermometer, and it was a scorching 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius). As we embarked on our journey to my well-being, I remembered that the Yellow Sports Wagon wasn't equipped with air-conditioning. Oh, well. The fresh West Virginia air would probably do me good, even if it was packed with 98 percent humidity.

As I reached down to twist the window's handle, Raoul said the following:

"Uh, what are you doing?"

I sort of looked around to see if there was someone else in the car he could be talking to, but when I realized that he was indeed talking to me, I answered:

"Uh, putting my window down."

"Oh. Yeah. Well, see, I'd really rather you didn't do that."

"Dude, shut the eff up!" I reached down again toward the window. He slowed the car down and said:

"I'm serious. I don't want the window down."

"What? It's 104 degrees! I'm freaking dying here! Why don't you want the window down?"

What Raoul didn't know was that I had a tape recorder going at the time, secretly recording our conversation. After nearly 20 years of keeping the existence of this tape a secret, I'm bringing it out right here on RtN. And I'm going to uncover it by playing Raoul's actual answer as to why I couldn't put the window down in this extreme situation. This audio recording hasn't been manipulated in any way and is 100 percent authentic.

Click here to hear Raoul's response.

It was his car, so I relented. My throat started to swell. After a few miles, I started to hyperventilate, and soon I was hallucinating as we raced zebras up the interstate. Eventually we made it to Fairmont and to the theater. As the door of the Yellow Sports Wagon opened up, I looked like an Army recruit fleeing from the tear-gas house at boot camp. I was lying in the parking lot, gasping for air, my throat well on the way to swelling shut again.

Raoul said Batman was great, at least as far as he could tell, since he spent the whole movie making out with some Fairmont chick in the back row. I wouldn't know, because I spent those same hours recovering on a cot in the theater's office. But I wasn't mad. Raoul's perfect hair got him the girl, and as a best bud, if you can't make a sacrifice for the greater cause, what kind of friend are you?

16 comments:

Fleming said...

wow. I don't know exactly what to say. I totally didn't see that voice coming from that picture.

SleekPelt said...

fleming: That's why his hair had to be perfect to get the chicks.

Clash said...

Wow! In your best John Travolta voice, recite the following line from Saturday Night Fever.

"Would ya just watch the hair. Ya know, I spend a long time on my hair and he hit it; he hit my hair."

Raoul Duke said...

if you hear a knock on the door, you better hide. it's the Jive Police.

rd

Raoul Duke said...

(as Sleek). Then there was this other time when we were in the yellow sportswagon and RD slammed into a car full of Nuns. He maimed them all. I think that was his initiation into the Church of SET.

SleekPelt said...

clash: You really can't believe just how much it was like that.

rd: Look, I wasn't going to bring up the accident with the nuns. I certainly wouldn't have mentioned the French exchange student who was enjoying his first day in America when we convinced him to go to the movies with us. No way would I have mentioned the look of horror on his face when your car approached the unwitting nuns' car at such a high rate of speed as you were spooning with that girl in the front seat. (I also wouldn't have mentioned that the girl was originally with the French exchange student.)

I'll pick this up later, Raoul -- I have to go get the door.

Zee said...

RD was a PLAYA! Nice.

getto said...

Hey, hey, hey! I am digging the Bill Cosby sweater. I think 90% of the people in my graduating class had the exact same picture, with the tree and all.

getto said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Dalai Mama said...

Getto: Oh my God. That's hilarious.

SleekPelt said...

zee: RD didn't get voted Best Looking for nothing -- a playa fo sho.

geto boy: I just shot Dr. Pepper out my nose. 'Hey hey hey' -- ha ha ha!

getto said...

I just listened to the vocal track-that is some funny shit! Based on the vocal and the picture I am thinking more George Michael during Wham! than Bill Cosby. But Bill Cosby makes me laugh and George Michael makes me want to not let my kids out of the house, so...

Come to think of it, before my big hair days I would beat somebody down if they touched my hair. So I must empathize.

SleekPelt said...

geto boy: First the hair and now the hammer. Don't touch, people!

missy said...

That's hilarious. He's quite a cute teen-ager!

I'm not sure what kind of a friend I am. I can think of many "sacrifices" I've made but this is not always perceived as such. Then again, I can think of many things my friends have done for me and yet, I am not sure if they saw it as a sacrifice.

I guess I am a good friend :-)

missy said...

(One who talks too much and over-analyse everything)

SleekPelt said...

missy: If you continue to stop by, which I hope you do, we'll become friends and I'll let you know how good of a friend you are. ;)