RUDIMENTS, pt. 7
It's mostly about how language evolved.
I had a friend, as a kid, who used to say
'thee-ay-ter' for the word I knew as
theater. Never could figure that out.
Local, neighbor, friend. A bit slow
in the computation department, I
always thought. His father was the
local postman, and moonlighted too,
right nearby, at the Americana Motel.
He was part porter, part doorman,
and part security. The American was
one of a series of hot-sheet motels right
here along Rt. One, both directions.
Little did I know, as a kid, this highway
strip of nothingness, Avenel, had a
regular reputation of having these
trysting places, one after the other -
the tiniest little roadside cabins, right
up to regular motels, hourly rates.
Basically, it's where you took someone
to get laid. Secretary at lunchtime,
girlfriend, a buddy's wife, neighbor.
Whatever. Most of them, in fact, had
little walls and things around them
so your car was hidden for the duration
of the hump. No detectives or wives
could easily tell you were there. Later
on, even the local cops got in on the
deal, a few of them, about 1978, opening
one called the Loop Inn. Before that,
the biggest deal was the La Mirage.
I never frequented either, but was told
by those in the know : jungle room,
mirrored ceilings, theme rooms, the
'equipment', etc. My friend Don was
a pro at all this. When I first got wind
of this I was taken aback. Only later
did I learn that, once, long back, this
was really fringe area for the old southerly
flow of NY-to-shore traffic, and the other
direction too, of course, and all these
little way-stations once involved needed
stops for what used to be much longer
journeys and real treks. Food, lodging,
and even encampments. One of those
encampments later turned into the
trailer park at the end of my road.
'Hiram's Trailer Park.' Once it was
also a roadside eatery and fruit and
vegetable stand stop too. That was
all gone by my time there. I had a
few friends from that trailer park.
In that much different, and much slower,
world, things had another set of identity.
Travel was a chore, of some interest,
yes, but still human. A biblical move
across the landscape. Not like now.
So, my friend, back to him, and thee-ay-ter.
Where would he have picked up that fancy
pronunciation? I couldn't figure it out and
often wondered if there were other words
he spoke differently - that whole tomAto,
toMAHto thing. Did he even know his
quibbling pronunciation was so different?
I never knew, but it certainly wasn't anything
refined or special that he'd gotten from his
father - postman, regular guy, doorman at
the local brothel, for all I knew. His mother
was a cipher - in the house, never seen
except maybe when hanging laundry in
the yard. So I never knew. But, you now,
that 'rudiment' thing kept popping up. No
matter they were, at core, they too sought
their dignity of being. Like anyone else;
to them the world was trim and proper,
and they belonged. I never really got to
talk much, deeply, with him, because as a
kid he just never talked much. We'd walk home
from school, as far as the mailbox that used
to be at the corner of Clark Place and Inman
Avenue, where I'd go straight and he'd turn
left to go up Clark Place. It's funny, as kids,
it seems there was always something to mutter
on abut - TV, a movie, a ball game, a girl.
Whatever, even in fifth grade. Rudiments,
again. Like the really normal people who just
go along making the world : cars and car parts.
the ideas for brakes and accelerators and
carburetors. Pools and tents. Baseball gloves,
sneakers, belts for one's pants. A million
little things. My friend died really young;
by the time he was 25, he was gone. Too
bad. We never covered any of that final
ground I'd have liked so much to have
known more about.