Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

"Where'd my youth go? Why didn't fame hold off old age and death?" - Elvis Presley, Bubba Ho-Tep

While this may look like toys Ozzy Osbourne gave his kids when they were babies, these are actually Ulu knives, a traditional Alaskan knife. Tourists love 'em, they're really handy, and in a pinch you can use them to complete your Klingon outfit on Halloween, if you're 38 and live in your parents' basement.

It’s the Solstice up here in Fairbanks. Well, technically, it is where you are, too, but you don’t sacrifice a pine tree in a drunken bacchanal to celebrate yours. A virgin pine tree.

In reality, neither did I. I went to work. I worked. I came home. It was the coming home where the epiphany hit me.

I was driving down the road at about 60MPH (210km/h) and listening to a CD that I bought from Amazon. Amazon is great – free Super Saver shipping, even to Alaska, unless you buy the “Fifty Pounds of Rocks” for $7.99. Even Amazon draws the line there. The CD that I purchased (for $9.98) was a greatest hits compilation, and the original vinyl LP (that plays on a re-cord play-er for those of you younger than 30) that had some of the tunes I was listening to is gathering dust in the basement, unplayed because the record player has been as dead as The Dixie Chicks’ career for about twenty years.

Somebody (Confucius? Al Gore? Lindsey Lohan?) said that the music you enjoy most at a party was the music you liked at the point in life when you were dumbest. For boys, that’s probably age 14-16. While this CD isn’t my all-time favorite music, it is music I hadn’t heard in decades that I had loved when I was in my stupid years.

It was Krokus, playing the titular (that’s not dirty, it just means “related to the title”, but it sure does feel vaguely naughty, doesn't it?) song from their album, Headhunter.
Feel the heat
throw your bodies into the fire
time to feed

Okay, okay, so it doesn’t make any more sense than you would expect from music written in English by Swiss musicians who only had a passing knowledge of verbs. Nevertheless, it evoked memories from years ago, like the smell of chlorine and cotton candy brings you back to the muni pool when you were eight, or like the smell of red-hot pokers, evaporating tequila and burning fur reminds you of the evening you partied with Rob Zombie when you were twenty-two. (Memo to self, next time party in Rob’s hotel room, not mine – let him explain the chicken blood to the maid.)

For a second, zooming down the road my mind traveled back. I was driving down the road in a pickup truck that had a plastic seat, a four speed, an AM radio, and a rubber floor on a dirt road, kicking up a rooster tail of dust behind me thousands of miles and decades away from Alaska. It was a nice, sunny day where the future was an infinity of time, and all material things would yield to my will in the years to come. The indestructibility of youth and certainty of victory beyond imagining surged through my veins in hot waves.

My mind caught up when I realized that sixteen was way too young to have a mortgage, and way too young to have kids, at least outside of Arkansas. I looked around, and thought about my current situation:

Here I was, driving down a road in Alaska, on the Solstice, listening to music that’s so old that they no longer manufacture it on the original format that it was sold on. I had a thought. What would 16 year old John think about me, today? Would he like it?

Hell yes. Besides a great wife and wonderful kids, I’ve got guns, chainsaws, and beer. What’s not to like?


Blogger Liang Boy said...

Those Ulu Knives sure looks great, if there is a halloween costume to come along with. :D

Also, since I am from a British colonial country where we actually uses km/hr, I found out a wrong calculation on ur entry. 1 Mile = 1.6 KM. That makes 210 km/hr impossible, as that is what F1 drivers averaged on a regular circuit. You will be so priceless if Ferrari found out you could do that!!!

11:30 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

I'm jealous. I want a chainsaw. I have a scythe at my parents house, but it doesn't have the...the...vitality a chainsaw has, you know?

2:10 PM  
Blogger chaipo said...

Hey, if you are looking for what do do with an ulu, they make the greatest pizza cutters.

Happy Solstice!

2:47 PM  
Blogger shawnkielty said...

That's a great and scary looking tool -- please don't let me anywhere near it ...

9:32 PM  
Blogger HP said...

I think the 16 yr. old you would like you, too. Come to think of it, I'm impressed too!

5:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Krokus brings back a lot of memories, ZZTop, Uriah Heap, Dio, Iron Maiden, my misspent youth, 1st job (Burger King, with a 20 something manager who "made the big bucks"), 1st car, 1st wreck, learning about insurance, etc.

Sitting here tonight with the kids doing a 700+ piece puzzle trying to remember if that was me doing 100 mph on I80 standing on my motorcycle at 2 am. And what happened to my body?

7:39 PM  
Blogger John said...

Actually, I've got the metric system down, but I'm just mocking it. Who wants to buy two Newtons of apples?

Yeah, you're right. Chainsaws rock, but I think that California would probably outlaw them if they could. Not good for mice, or something.

They do . . . and thanks!

Don't worry, I think you have to come to Alaska to get one. But it does have "finger slicer" written all over it, doesn't it?

Aw, shucks . . . thanks! Fortunately the 16 year old me is sleeping most of the time. Not all of the time, but most of it. He loves Beavis and Butthead.

True story - I almost (at my older brother's urging) got in a fight with Uriah Heap. They were jerks at breakfast. Sixteen-year-old me could have taken' 'em all. They're skinny.

Yeah, I drove a Camaro at 120MPH at night, and then turned off the headlights. Jeez, that was nearly Darwin in action.

6:28 PM  
Blogger Woofwoof said...

Wow, a Bubba Ho Tep fan. There can't be more than 12 of us. You just scored ten points, even if you are an Alaskan.

8:50 PM  

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