Writing Challenges

You Better Put Out…

It’s August 1993 and we’re making our way east along I-40 to Memphis. I have a splitting headache but that’s what you get when you hydrate with hot Coca Cola. We’d picked up 2 cases of 12 at the last gas station for a few bucks. It was a great deal except they’d been percolating outside in the blazing sun for God knows how long. Did it make a difference how long they’d been out there? It’s not like the car had a fridge or even air conditioning to keep them cool.

Speaking of no air conditioning, we were overheating again so we were going to have to stop for the day. It was only 11am but we’d all agreed that the only way to make it to Vegas from Montreal and back in this piece of shit car was to drive at night and sleep during the day. The plan had worked so far except not every motel will rent a room to 4 guys for 6 hours while the sun is still shining.

Once we did find a motel, we checked in and I tried to sleep it off but the pounding in my brain was too much. I drank some water but it didn’t help so I would have to let it pass. Meanwhile, Dave called the local pizzeria and Phil pulled out a can of Kiwi brand shoe polish and got to work on his Doc Martens.

He took a match and lit the polish, letting the heat soften the wax. The doorbell rang and Dave let the pizza guy in. Phil got up and gave him some cash. I lay on the bed and watched the unattended flame spread to the carpet.

I managed a few words before finally falling asleep.

“Guys…you better put out the fire or we’re going to burn to a crisp.”

Then finally…sleep.

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  • I love your writing. Great piece! You leave us with bit of a mystery while getting in the phrase of the day.

  • He took a match and lit the polish? I’ve never heard of that. You learn something new every day. This post could have been used for “and the next thing I knew…” You’re so versatile, Mike.

  • Your adventures are always one-of-a-kind. I have traveled all over the US including Memphis and not once have I set a hotel room on fire. Maybe I am not normal? I find it funny that you would of had trouble finding a motel for 4 men for 6 hours….in the south… Frankly without a southern accent and local plates you were living on the edge.

  • mikewjattoomanymornings

    I love this line: The plan had worked so far except not every motel will rent a room to 4 guys for 6 hours while the sun is still shining.

    Great post, CheesyMike, one of your very best ever, as far as I’m concerned.

  • Hah, I loved this! Brilliant post, Mike. So when will you tell us what happened in Vegas?

  • I love this! Since you are here to tell about it, someone did put out the fire. I bet there’s a lot more to tell from a trip like this.

  • Ha! That’s great, Mike. But Vegas from Montreal, through Memphis? Lost?

  • I think that this story needs a few more chapters!

  • That was a sizzler, Mike! (FYI… next time make it a case of Dr Pepper… it actually tastes good hot.)

  • Hey Mike, I really enjoyed this; it was nicely observed and evocative of heat and light. Reminds me of one of my favourite songs. Thank you, Indigo

  • Mike, I just worry about that bad headache. Do you get migranes? Oh that’s miserable.

  • I think this line, “It was a great deal except they’d been percolating outside in the blazing sun for God knows how long.” was absolute BRILLIANCE.

  • Thanks, Lauren!

  • I never even figured out if it’s normal practice. It softens the polish pretty good though.

  • What’s funny is how catchy those accents are. Once after a few weeks in New Orleans we were practically speaking like locals.

  • Thanks, BonyMike. It’s easiest to write when it’s true. Mostly.

  • Maybe in a later post. But you know what they say about Vegas and what happens there, right?

  • There are a bunch more, that’s for sure. Now if only I can remember them…:)

  • Actually we cut through St-Louis on the way down and Memphis on the way back. I think we had planned to visit Graceland, but that didn’t pan out.

  • I’ll see what I can do 🙂

  • That’s good to know. As bad as the Coke was, we choked back most of it, mainly because we were idiots.

  • Oh, I thought maybe when you got over into the States, the whole miles thing got confusing and you ended up down South instead of out West. 😉

  • Thankfully I don’t get migraines. I remember it being pretty bad at the time but it was gone by morning.

  • Thank you. There was a lot of heat on that trip. First time through the deserts and it was scorching.

  • Thank you, Katherine 🙂

  • haha no, not at all. That was another trip 😉

  • Phil’s Delta 88? In ’93? That wasn’t a Vegas year. That was New Orleans via Athens. ’95 was the Vegas trip when The Idiot went in my place.

  • MalisaHargrove

    Oh, man, I could feel the heat and taste that hot Coke. Nothing more miserable than a car without an air conditioner in the South. Your words made me feel your pain. Glad you survived to tell us this story. I am anxious to try to set shoe polish on fire now. Are you pulling our legs?

  • KZ

    I can feel the heat and the exhaustion. I have issues with insomnia, and I can totally relate to those feelings of desperately wanting to sleep while your head is pounding, or while you’re fixated on some other form of discomfort.

  • Yeah, they say “you should always tell Ziva.”

  • I probably shouldn’t be laughing at this – but I am!


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