On Monday, my wife and I left Dallas to drive all the way to Los Angeles for a wedding. We left Dallas after work and took I20 to Roscoe and started heading northeast on HWY 84 to get to I40. We wanted to spend a couple of days in Flagstaff before heading into Los Angeles, so we took this crazy route.
After about half an hour on 84, I told my wife I needed a power nap. She was reading a book in the passenger seat and said that would be fine. The roads are so straight out there that she could just look up at the road everytime she finished reading a page and adjust the wheel if it was necessary. As always, I had the cruise control set to 9% over the legal speed limit.
I must have really been dead asleep. I was in the middle of a dream where I was John McCain and in a prison camp in Mexico. They were giving me the NCAA water torture. I was tied down on a table and Lou Holtz was giving pep talks to all 120 Bowl Subdivision Schools. He was going through school by school and spitting and drooling over me, and there was nothing I could do about it. I think he was almost finished, because Mark Mangino had walked in the room donning a Sumo wrestling outfit, and I understood that was part of the next phase of my torture. That, my friends, was a nightmare.
I woke up as our car was skidding off the road. Although thankful I could leave my dream behind, I shot forward in my seat just as the air bag crashed into my head. It knocked me out for a couple of minutes, but my wife revived me by pouring some red Powerade on my face.
“I didn’t know there was really such a thing as a jackolope,” she said.
“A jackolope?” I asked.
“I didn’t say anything,” she said, “but I was just thinking we almost hit a jackolope. That’s why I turned the wheel, but I guess I overdid it. Did you just read my mind?”
I looked at her and I could hear her thoughts. “What the fuck is going on?” she was thinking, but she was saying nothing.
Just then a car pulled up and parked behind us. A man opened the door and I heard a bottle shatter on the shoulder of HWY 84. In the moonlight I could see him lean over and throw up, though he didn’t make much of an ordeal out of it, like it was something that he did every day. He walked to the other side of his car and started to take a piss. I started walking toward him and as I got closer, I could hear some of his thoughts. They didn’t make a lot of sense and were stream of consciousness style.
“I hate Phil Bennett. Fuck. Whiskey. Do pirates pee? Maybe I’ll get a hook. Right, left, or middle. Ha. Envelope money. Camps. Bobby Knight crazy, Mike Leach Crazy.”
I tried to block these ramblings from my new psychic mind. I approached him just after he zipped up. “Howdy,” I said.
He looked at me and said “Hi.” He thought, “Did I invite him?”
It was then that I recognized him. “Hey, you’re Vince Gill. It’s good to meet you.”
He chuckled and replied, “No, I’m Mike Leach. I get that a lot.” His thoughts again rang into my mind: “I wish I had gills. I wish I was a tiger with gils and both fur and scales. Maybe a snake.”
I explained to him that we needed a ride into town to a hotel. Tomorrow morning we’d get a tow truck out here and get our car towed into town. He looked at me like he was contemplating my request, but I could still hear his thoughts. “I need a drink. No I don’t! I hate Lubbock. UCLA has a shitty athletic department. My hero is Vince Gill. No, that’s wrong. I hate defense. Some day I want to coach at Clemson. I didn’t think Wes Welker was any good. Spike Dykes sucks.”
He simply nodded and pointed at the car doors. I rode in front with him and my wife rode in the back seat. As we set out for Lubbock, I asked him if he would give me a short sentence describing what he thought of each Big 12 school’s football team. It was kind of interesting because he would say one thing, then I would hear what he really thought. I told him I would name a school and he could just blurt out what he thought of them.
He said: They are tough at home.
He thought: Ames has three letters. No, four. I think Ame would be a better town name.
Said: They seem to be improving.
Thought: Their coach is a dumbass.
Said: That quarterback has a rocket arm.
Thought: I like purple, but they look more blue. Purble is a good sash color.
Said: They are well coached.
Thought: I don’t want to sit next to that coach on an airplane.
Said: They can run or pass on offense.
Thought: Are they in the Big 12?
Said: Improving team with a lot of good, young players.
Thought: Do we play them this year?
Said: That’s a good young quarterback they have there.
Thought: Their stadium may be shittier than ours.
Said: We’ve had some success against them in the past, but they look good this year.
Thought: I need to make another payment to the guy that called that run a touchdown.
Said: They’re hard to defend because they call their plays at the line of scrimmage.
Thought: I shouldn’t have fired my defensive coordinator after that game.
Said: I wish I could coach the athletes they have there.
Thought: My job here is a stepping stone. I need to get my name out there.
Said: It’s a tough transition for a new coaching staff.
Thought: Aggies were justified in calling us classless clowns. We are classless clowns.
We didn’t really talk much after that. I fell asleep while he drove us into Lubbock. He pulled into a Holiday Inn and let us out. “It was good to meet you two,” he told us as we got out of the car. I couldn’t hear his thoughts anymore, and I’m thankful for that.
We ended up skipping the wedding. We spent two nights in Lubbock while our car was being fixed, then just drove back home.