Amboy II

This is my second installment of the Amboy Chronicles. As I wrote in a previous (Amboy I) post, Amboy, WA is where my parents have retired, effectively removing themselves from any semblence of the city life they left behind in California. It is here that they've immersed themselves in country culture. Whether that may be going to get your mail on a tractor, building creeks ("crick" in country vernacular) on your property, or searching for bigfoot in the neighboring forest, it's all part of the daily life in Amboy.

Another part of daily life, at least for my folks and some of their friends, is to spend countless hours during the week hob-nobbing with the locals at Amboy Espresso, affectionately known as Tim's. As I mentioned in Amboy I, the town (more of a village), despite it's quaint and sleepy facade, is home to a disproportionate amount of odd characters. So it is here, at Tim's, sitting at the crossroads of "downtown" Amboy, that one can witness these various characters.

On a recent drive to Amboy, I made a stop at Tim's, as I saw my mom and Mike were already there. As I stepped inside the shop, Mike quickly greets me, "Brainstump, how the flock are you?" We then proceed to connect fists (think high five) a la Ali G and mutter "respect" to each other. Mike's friend Gary, a.k.a. Land of the Hawk, repeats the fist pounding with me, also muttering "respect" while doing so. I am then welcomed with a hug by my mom, and one from Susan Black Hawk (of no relation to the aforementioned Hawk). Tim promptly gets a mocha started for me and we all shoot the shit for a while.

As a few minutes pass by, one of us notices someone walking along the street donning a Santa hat. As the figure approaches the parking lot (dirt and gravel surface with potholes), someone recognizes the person as Rex, another local. Rex is in his mid-30's, but because of head trauma sustained in an accident as a teenager, as well as numerous acid trips, he managed to remain 17 and stop time still in it's tracks circa 1987. In his mind, Van Halen, Guns and Roses, and Judas Priest still top the charts. In fact, every time we run into Rex, he, in his raspy Don Corleone voice, generously invites Mike to go see Van Halen live in concert with him. And, for some odd reason, he always states that the concert will be on May 5th. Not that a concert can't take place on May 5th, but he's been referring to the same date for 3 years now. Mike always obliges and agrees to accompany Rex. Rex then, in a sign of excitement, gives Mike the "rock on" sign...you know, the one where you hold all your fingers down except the pinky and index finger. As soon as Tim pours Rex his frozen, blended mocha, he says his goodbyes and wishes everybody a "Merry frickin' Christmas and a happy frickin' new year." As he leaves, he once again gives Mike the "rock on sign," and tells everyone to "have a good one, bro."

Just as Rex leaves, in comes the local scam artist. Well, he's not a scam artist per se, as he is verifiably employed and runs a legit operation. However, his job entails visiting all the local businesses and selling discounted (stolen?) goods. He usually makes his rounds once a month, and actually does pretty good. His stock typically includes leather jackets, art sets, and kids' toys. He's always willing to bargain and rarely is an imposition. He is now quite a regular, and his routine has become somewhat of a scripted show with some entertainment value.

Before Pork, Mike, and I decide to leave, we can't do so without first running into another local. I won't name names, so as not to offend or stigmatize, but he was once the local drunk and part time stand up comic. He is in his 70s, but appears to be more of tough bulldog in his 50s. Now sober, he is the town fix-it man and knower of all, as well as resident Santa during the holidays. As we meet him in the doorway, we say our hello's and quickly catch up before taking off.

See, it is not an exciting way of life, but it is far from normal and monotonous. And despite the lurking oddballs that make up the town of Amboy, everyone knows everyone and treats each other with respect and kindness. The cast of characters may deter some, but the community they've created is quite comforting.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

it is amazing to me how much amboy is like Port Alexander(known by locals as PA), only with cars...reading your entries really makes me think of PA, and how much I am looking forward to my visit there this summer.