Scooby-Dooby-Doo, Where Are You? (R)

ON THE ROAD

 

We meandered. That’s the best word to describe the course of our travels; no planned route, only Points A and B. We saw the width and breadth of the country in stretches of blacktop. We came to know America by its back yards and billboards and roadside diners. One thing’s for sure, we made our nation’s great gray veins just a bit more colorful. That flowerful van got us more than our share of flat stares and shaken heads. We were freaks, aliens and scum, and that was alright by us. We kept driving.

Just outside of Cleveland in a little town called Devola, Ohio, we pulled off of I-90 and into a national forest and parked out under the stars. This quickly became our favorite pattern of travel. We spent our nights in forests, woods, even the occasional parking lot, never once paying for a hotel room.

It was cozy and we were tight, but it soon became apparent that Shag and I would have to spring for a pup tent. It was impossi­ble and, well, a mite creepy to sleep in the back of the same van with a couple of sexual carnivores of the caliber of Fred and Daphne. They were discreet up to a point, but there was no way they were going to go celibate just for our comfort.

Was this a workable arrangement? Allow me to propose another entirely unrelated question: Would you eat a cow patty if someone put whipped cream on top? I’ll assume your answer falls in the negative category and move on.

“How long are you gonna wait, Vel?”

Daphne and I were spending some quality time in a Laundromat in Social Circle, Georgia. Leaving, as we had, with no announcement or preparation, had left us with just the clothes on our backs, literally. It was several days into the trip before we went thrift shopping and picked up musty third-hand wardrobes for less money than a large pizza pie. On this particular day, we ladies had volun­teered to fulfil our domestic roles and do the washin’, while the boys (and Scooby) tended to collecting supplies.

Oh, well, we made sure they had to pick up some maxi-pads for us and watching them squirm made handling their rancid tube socks worth it.

“I wasn’t aware there was a deadline, Daph.”

“Hey, if you’re scared, I understand. But it goes so fast. I don’t even remember my first time.”

I refused to look up from sorting the whites from the perma­nent press. “Quite the sparkling endorsement. You should be the national spokeswoman for deflowering.”

But Daphne was elsewhere, squinting into her past, fishing, “I think I was fourteen….”

“Daph, please, ” I intruded, “no offence but I’m not interested in your old war stories, nor am I in the market for a sexual role model.”

She was enjoying this just a bit too much. “You ever notice the way Shaggy automatically agrees with whatever you say? It’s so sweet. And sometimes I catch him watching you out of the corner of his eye and smiling. He has the most adorable smile, don’t you think?”

I was shoving quarters into the washing machine and trying to avoid looking at her. I squealed a bit in impotent frustration, “Rraagh! Enough!” I squealed in impotent frustration, “Not interested! If you think Shag is so friggin’ cute then why don’t you mount the poor skinny boy yourself?”

I think I might have, for once, stunned the cheerleader. She dropped the topic for the moment and lit up a cigarette. I was drawn to the red ring of lipstick she had left around the filter like her own signature. Those were the kind of lips she had, the kind that left a mark.

It was a silent few minutes that followed. Already well-hypno­tized by the slosh and spin of waterlogged undies and soap suds, I’d nearly forgotten whatever it was we’d been talking about. Until Daphne’s reflection, a darker, shadowy her looking back at me from the glass porthole of the washer, spoke through a veil of smoke.

“Do you ever take care of yourself, Velma?”

Her eyelids were lowered slyly, her voice at the bottom of its register. Naive as I was at the time I didn’t catch on at first.

“What? You mean like dieting or exercise?”

She laughed high and hoarsely, ending in a few smoker’s coughs. I patted her on the back until she recovered. When she looked up, her eyes were wet and sparkling with puckish mirth.

“Do you ever do your homework? Do you ever pet the cat? Tickle the clam? Stroke the mink?”

It hit me in a burn across my cheeks and the tips of my ears. I put a shocked hand to my mouth and had to look away.

“Christ, Daphne! I can’t believe you sometimes!”

She was laughing again, rocking back and forth, grabbing hold of my knee as if to stop herself.

“And I love you, Velma Dinkley of Plum City, Wisconsin – every blushing inch of you!”

I really flared up then, but it was nice. We were waiting out the spin cycle and her hand was on my knee.

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