Indian Lookout Country Club
1142 Batter Street
Pattersonville, NY 12137
Phone (518) 864-5659
Fax (518) 864-5917
Sunday, May 28, 2017

Nightmare at the Vol Vo Voo

By Colorado T. Sky

 

            I love this event.

I suppose that kinda goes without saying, seein’ as how I keep coming back year after year (and I must be doin’ somethin’ right, ‘cuz they keep askin’ me. Or at least lettin’ me. For almost twenty years now). Still, it’s the kind of thing that ya gotta say out loud once in a while. Like with yer ol’ lady or your kids or your dog; they know it, we know it, everybody knows it, but it doesn’t hurt to remind ‘em in case it might’ve slipped their minds (ain’t none of us getting any less senile).

 

            We are “The ‘Vous.” Principally, but not exclusively Harley (although I’ve ridden in on a Harley only once, a ’60 XLCH. Made it once or twice on a KZ 750 and two-and-a-half times on a VW trike). We got Beemers and Guzzis and all kinds of machinery and, frankly, I find the variety fascinating. I don’t know what I’d do if I was cast adrift in a sea of all one make.

What would there be to talk about? Fuel filters? Chrome polish? Tire pressures?

 

            The problem with something as good as this is that, sooner or later, it’s gonna get ripped off, corrupted and turned into something bizarre. You saw it happen with Hollister and Daytona and Woodstock and beer and sex and so many other wonderful things. The Fools’ll get a hold of it and fix it ‘til it’s fucked.

 

Once in a while something comes along that makes us realize just how much we love this event. This is the story of just such a something.

 

            Now that I’m not working, I kinda lose track of time sometimes. Okay, a lot of the time. Maybe it’s just encroaching Old Timer’s Syndrome. When Uncle Daft called and told me to get ready for the ‘Vous, I figured he was on top of it (like he knew what month it was). He wanted me to meet him out on the Thruway so I could lead him in (I’ve made the trip a whole bunch of times. Got lost the first few. Not so much lately).  To say that he has no sense of direction is to give him more credit than he deserves (of course, neither do I). Let’s just say that we’re two of only three guys I know who can get lost in an outhouse.     

 

            So there we were, he on his stroked and bored WL (“Ol’ 55”) and I on my ’69 FLXCB (a chopped 45” dresser), popping and farting along what we thought was the right road, ridin’ the ride an’ diggin’ the day. Then we saw the sign.

 

             “VOO,” it said, above an arrow pointing off to the right.  It was kind of crudely-lettered and had fresh paint drippin’ off the bottom. I figured they just had the young kids makin’ ‘em.  Most of ‘em can’t spell shit unless they’re typing with their thumbs.

            We followed the arrow down a long, shady, dusty, dirt road. It was longer than White Knuckle Way and, if possible, even dustier. Much dustier. I figured I’d found a new back way in to Indian Lookout. Should’ve known better.

It got dustier. We slowed down. It got to the point where I couldn’t see through it and was just navigating by ridin’ the rut and listening for Uncle Daft’s hacking cough. It sounded like he was choking on a piece of lung.

We finally emerged from the gloom.

Or so I thought.

By the time the dust cleared enough for us to see, we found the sun shining brightly and ourselves in the center of a wide, rolling field of pristine paint and polished chrome, kinda like Show Field on Saturday afternoon. I thought it was spectacular.

Then it came into focus.

 

They weren’t bikes; they were cars, but cars can be cool, right? Who doesn’t get a thrill drooling over a chop-top ’51 Mercury or a ’34 Deuce Coupe, a T-bucket street rod or even an Edsel Wagon, to say nothing of an Aston-Martin, Ferrari or Maserati. My clutch foot twitches every time I look at Chief Eric’s Power Wagon.

            These weren’t antiques or classics.

            These were Volvos.

            There must’ve been a hundred an’ somethin’ of ‘em, fairly neatly parked a door-and-ahalf’s width away from each other. A whole herd, a shimmering landscape, a glistening shitload. Of Volvos.

It was like looking at a fractured rainbow, a kaleidoscope of agonizing monotony.

Volvos. Talk about gloom.

           

As one whose sphincter puckers every time I see “ovlov” coming up in my rear-view mirror (especially above a California vanity plate), I was flabbergasted. I didn’t know there were that many of ‘em out there. Of course, they weren’t “out there”- they were “in here!” …and Uncle Daft and I were in here with ‘em! It was despair on wheels. I didn’t know whether to shit or wind my watch. What I shoulda done was to punch Daft in the head and make a one-eighty for the gate.

 

“Vol…wha? Shitfire, sonny, lookit all them friggin’ Ovlovs!” Daft snorted.

“I’d really rather not….” I managed, coughing dustily. My tongue felt like a brick. My sphincter puckered. I’d had a nightmare like this once. I was naked, on the bike, in heavy high-speed traffic. I spotted an Ovlov off the port bow and slid into the middle lane, right behind another one. There was one beside me. Two in my mirrors. I was surrounded. The Crumplin’ Zones were closing in.

 

Uncle Daft knew about my Volvophobia. He was looking around and pointing, ooohing and aahing, (“Hey, look! A red one!”) generally rubbing it in. He’s an asshole sometimes.

 

I was trying to think of some smartassed way to tell him to shut up. I was trying to find the “out” gate. I was trying to convince myself I’d crashed through a dealership on the way to the ‘Vous.  Along about then, a tall, gangly, goofy-lookin’ guy came shambling up to us.

Being only too keenly aware of some of the weird shit that I’d seen at the ‘Vous, I figured nothing was too strange. After all, over the years we’d had professional wrestling, yodeling on the radio and “they’re-not-pink-they’re-fuchsia” staff shirts. I figured maybe this was Chuck Schmidt’s twisted idea of a Rodeo Clown.

He stood about six-foot-five and probably weighed about a hundred an thirty, fully dressed and soaking wet. From his droopy purple socks and dusty Birkenstocks, sparse hair grew in mangy patches on his spindly shins as they rose, swelling roundly into knobby knees before disappearing under the hem of his baggy khaki Bermuda shorts.  He wore a Taiwanese polyester imitation of a Hawaiian Hukilau shirt, three sizes too large and buttoned at the collar. Above, his prominent Adam’s apple bobbed its way up and down his scrawny neck like a hamster in a garden hose. Atop it all, a teal-and-umber (ratbarf green and big-dog-shit brindle) umbrella hat perched above a pair of bifocal Rayban Wayfarers and a Friday-o’clock shadow.

 

You know about “berserk,” right? From the Saxon “bear sark,” meaning “raving like a mad bear.” I looked at this guy and thought, “squirrel sark.”

 

“Hi, guys! Nice Rides! Welcome to the Vol Vo Voo.”

“Glad t’be here, young fella!” Daft grinned.

“You dudes campin’ or just passin’ through?”

“Just passin’ through.” I barked. “Where’s th’ ‘out’ gate?”

“I’m Jake.” The Rodeo Clown offered. “One of the V-people guides here today. You guys up for an iced herbal tea?”

“Hell, yeah!” Daft chortled. “Make mine a double!” He flashed me a wicked leer. “You guys got any tofu-dogs to go with that?”

“Wouldn’t be the Voo without ‘em!” Jake grinned. “C’mon, follow me!”

 Saying this, he folded himself on to what had once been a Volvo riding mower (I didn’t even know they made the damn things!) and took off for their idea of Vendor’s Alley. They were sellin’ stuff, so I guess that makes ‘em vendors. 

Uncle Daft, constantly on the lookout for another chance to be an asshole, followed eagerly, grinning and hooting. I loped along behind him, still looking for the “out” gate.

 

The long line of canopies, Cinzano umbrellas and designer tarps stretched along one side of the field. I checked ‘em out as I motored sullenly by.

Aside from the tofu-dog guy (who also offered solar-broiled veggie-burgers, both on gluten-free buns, served with soy chips), there was a yogurt stand, a cellphone booth, a t-shirt kiosk (they all had pictures of Volvos on ‘em, with room at the bottom for the car’s year and name. Name?), a hemp-shirt joint, a squirtgun-the-Dubya game, an aromatherapy candle and incense dealer, the herbal-tea wireless Internet caf, a poster stand that could print a two-by-three-foot of any model in any stock color, an Amnesty International table, two aging vegan lesbians handing out Greenpeace propaganda, a portable Starbucks and an ATM. I lit a cigarette and they looked at me like I was a leper. O’course, they were working up to that look anyway.

Among the pedestrians and recline-o-bicyclists, a couple of nubile-lookin’ college-age tiny-titters in tie-dyed polyester were circulating a Nader for President petition.

“C’mon, kid.” Uncle Daft chided, elbowing me in the ribs as he pointed at one of them, “Tell me you don’t dig redheads.”

“What of it?”

             “Well, junior, see that perky little neo-hippie chick over there with the tattoo peekin’ up over her sarong? She got red dreads an’ red-headed legs an’ red God only knows what the hell else. You oughta check her out.”

            “You oughta lighten up while you still can.”

            He chortled loudly and spun a handful of gravel into my windshield.

            We found a shady spot past all the vendors and Daft putted in, stalling it in gear ‘cuz that’s the quickest way to shut it off.

            I circled around and backed in. I wanted a clear shot to the “out” gate if I could find out where it was. 

            “Well, of course, this is no ordinary Voo.” Shaky Jake assured us.

            “Shitfire, Stretch,” Daft coughed, then hawked, then spat. “We gotta celebrate!”

            The bloody, muddy golf-ball-sized lung oyster hit a hot rock with an audible splat and sizzled, startling the shit out of the Nader chick-lets, who danced off the road and onto some orthodontists’ self-pitching tent.

Them yuppie-domes, they go up fast, I’ll give ‘em that.

They come down faster.

 

            Daft slung an avuncular arm over my shoulder.

            “Ya gotta have a tofu-dog,” he urged. Hardly a recommendation from a man who could eat the asshole out of a skunk. “It wouldn’t be the Voo-oo without tofu-dogs.” He turned to the bucktoothed nerd behind the counter. “Give him a juicy one. Extra sprouts. And some of that all-organic hot sauce.”

            It almost seemed like Shaky Jake had figured out that Daft was being an asshole, then the old fart turned around and snarfed his tofu-dog in about a bite and a half. He gave “shit-eatin’ grin” a whole new meaning.

“I’ll pass, thanks.” I growled as I listened to the ice melt in my herbal tea.

“Let’s take a look around, kid!”           

            “…yeah.” I sneered. “Let’s….”

 

            “Like I was sayin’, this is no ordinary Voo.” Shaky Jake started again, “This is our 80th anniversary. Of the company, that is. The event’s only been around for six, but we’re getting’ bigger all the time. We like to think that we get one more that last year.”

            “Eighty years, eh?” Daft gasped, apparently enraptured.

“Yes indeed! Volvo was founded by Assar Gabrielsson and Gustav Larson back in 1924. Over a crayfish dinner, the story goes.”

“ Crayfish, eh? That explains a lot.” Daft growled.

“Their first car, the 1944cc Jakob, was in production by 1927. That’s why I picked “Jake” for a nickname.”

 “Shaky Jake.” Uncle Daft chuckled.    

Shtdafkup.” I hissed.

            “Ever since, The ‘V’ has been a model of safety.” Jake announced enthusiastically.  “In 1958, Volvo invented the 3-point safety belt, considered the most important safety feature of all time.”

I remained unimpressed.

 

            Not wanting to stray too far from my bike in case I got a clear shot at the “out” gate, I hung back while Uncle Daft and Shaky Jake shuffled down the dusty cowpath and chatted -chattered- like two apes in a thunderstorm.

            Beside the stage, three P-1800s sport coupes each squatted on their own little red carpets, each, according to their owners, was the car driven by Roger Moore in the ’60s series, “The Saint.” None of ‘em ran, but they all looked pretty good.

 

            On the stage the opening band was tuning up. I think they were the opening band. Maybe it was just sound check. Maybe they were escaped lunatics way off their meds.

“Word has it that we’re having tape loops from Yanni and Enya an’ live performances by Ebola and some other guys and just a whole lot of great music later.”

“Maybe later,” Daft growled, “’cause he sure ain’t mentioned any music yet!”

 

            There was a small tent on the far side of the stage. 

            I was wondering what the long line was about when Jake spoke up again.

            “That’s the shrine in the back, beside the stage.” He continued, almost reverently. “It contains the front bumper from one of the ‘42s! There were only 99 made you know. All now lost to the rust of time. Except that one bumper. I’ve got a snapshot of it on the dashboard of my restored ’64. The body and upholstery are done, but I’m still trying to get it running.”

            “Yooooou got a ’64?” Daft can really be an asshole sometimes. Jake didn’t seem to get the sarcasm. He was undoubtedly enraptured in the image of his forty-odd-year-old boat anchor.

            “Yeah,” Jake replied dreamily. “His name is Gaylord. I went off the stock color chart with him. He’s lilac.”

            “Lilac?” I groaned.

            “Yeah…it’s a gem.  Just for a joke, I put an old “Goldwater ‘64”sticker on the bumper.”

            “Wow!” Daft leered. “An antique lilac Volvo named Gaylord with a “Goldwater ‘64” sticker. I bet you got a Schwarzenegger bobblehead doll in the rear window.”

            I told ya he’s an asshole.

 

            The lukewarm herbal tea was clogging my pancreas. My anxiety was just kickin’ into high gear when a bleached-out blue (you know how they get) Dukakis-era 245 wagon pulled dustily alongside us. The tailgate was covered in bumperstickers and the cabin was filled with alligator shirts and blonde dreadlocks.

            Hey, peeps!” the broker behind the wheel called out cheerily, “We’re headed out for more Vitamin-2-O and blue taco chips. Can we get you anything?”

            “Just directions to the “out” gate.” I growled.

            “It’s.. ah…  just over there, on the other side of the shrine.” Remarkable how big his eyes got once he got a good look at us. Especially Daft. “Y-y-you can follow us.” He stammered. “Not too close, ‘k?”    

            “Lead on.” I growled, wafting a lungful of smoke –and numerous other noxious fumes-- into their little aroma-therapeutically-tuned personal space. “Have a nice day.”

            I watched him dash away in a clod of dust, but no so cloudy nor dusty that I couldn’t see him clearly as he ran like a scalded rat for the “out” gate.

            “That’s our exit lane,” I muttered, elbowing Daft. He waved me off, then turned to the Rodeo Clown again.

            “Tell me, there, Jake, ol’ man,” Daft asked snidely, “Isn’t this singularly remarkable machine truly named for some part of the female anatomy?

            “No, y’ol’ fool, that’s a ‘vulva’.” I elbowed him again, pointing to the exit.

            “It’s Latin.” Shaky Jake proudly announced. “It means ‘I roll’.”

            “And we,” I growled, turning to Uncle Daft, “ are gonna roll, too. Now.”

            And roll we did.

            And the next time this old fart wants directions, I’m gonna draw him a map. Over the phone. In Braille.

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