Monday Morning Mark • 72
Space Aliens • The Romance Novelist Returns • 1976
One Minute Wit
Isn’t It Weird?
Isn’t it weird when an alien travels millions of light-years to get to Earth,
lands on your lawn,
ruffles your hair,
then gets back in his starship and leaves,
never to be seen again?
The Romance Novelist Returns
And brings home some irony
Justin built a fire, set the table, and cooked dinner. Janice had been to a writer’s retreat, and Justin hoped to set a romantic mood for her return.
“What’s this all about?” Janice asked as she came inside.
“I missed you.”
She kissed him.
After dinner, Janice said, “That was a lovely dinner.”
“Not as lovely as you.”
“Sorry, I have a great idea for my novel. I need to write.”
“Can’t it wait?”
“No, it can’t.”
Justin grabbed his coat and headed out the door.
“Where are you going? It’s freezing out.”
“Not as cold as in here.”
I call my car Rusty. I know cars are supposed to be female, but Rusty isn’t. He is far too lazy to be female. He can sit all day long and be perfectly content. And he was cheap. Girls are not cheap.
One day I was having lunch with Rusty. Actually, inside Rusty. In a fast-food parking lot. Out of nowhere, Rusty told me he wanted to visit his homeland. Normally he doesn’t talk much. Cars are like that. Moody. Of course, he didn’t talk in an audible voice. But if a car likes you, and trusts you enough, it will talk to you. You just have to listen the right way.
Since school had just let out, and I had gotten my driver’s license a week earlier, I thought why not?
“Alright. We’re off to Detroit.”
I finished the last bite of my burger, wadded up the wrapper and stuffed it in the bag. Suddenly, the guy from the drive-thru window came running out of the building and straight to my car window.
“Dude. I couldn’t help overhearing your car. I need to get to Michigan. Can I catch a ride with you?”
“You heard my car?”
“Sure. You just have to listen the right way. I will split gas with you and I get a discount on Chubby burgers.”
“Hop in,” I said. “What’s your name?”
“I’m Mike. I gotta stop at home and grab some t-shirts and fishing poles and tell my Mom I’m going fishing for a couple of days. I usually go camping and fishing with my friend Rob in the summer. So she won’t mind. We can swing by your house after that.”
“No need. I got a t-shirt on under my work shirt. And shorts in my backpack.”
To illustrate his point, he began taking his work shirt off. Underneath was a Frampton Comes Alive t-shirt.
“Right on. I saw him last month with Steve Miller. Great concert.”
I put my Frampton Comes Alive 8-track in the player and cranked it up.
Do you? YOU! Feel like I do?
“Why do you need to get to Michigan?” I asked Doug.
“Well, I used to live there. In Flint. They have this donut shop there called Supreme Donuts. They have this one donut that is like a cinnamon roll with peanut butter icing and peanuts on top. I have been Jones-ing for one for weeks.
“Cool. I’m in.”
We pulled out of the Chubby Burger parking lot and headed for my house.
“This is a sweet ride,” Doug said.
“Yeah. I got it from my Mom. It’s got a 350 V-8. I went 105 in it once about two o’clock in the morning. I didn’t want to get a ticket so I turned my lights off. Then I remembered there were curves coming up so I slowed down and turned my lights back on.”
“Rockin’. You ever been to Cedar Point?”
“What’s Cedar Point?”
“Dude! We are so stopping there. It’s the best amusement park ever. They got some sweet roller coasters. They got one that goes upside down. It’s called the Corkscrew. It’s in Ohio.”
“I know. Right? Ohio is boring. Except for Cedar Point.”
“It can’t be more boring than here. How much does it cost?”
“It doesn’t matter. I’m paying. I got a huge wad of cash on me. My old man is rich. I only work at Chubby Burger because he thinks it will teach me ‘Work ethic and responsibility’, and stuff like that.”
“Are you serious?”
After stopping at my house, we hit the freeway and headed north for Ohio and Cedar Point. Only stopping for gas and Chubby burgers. And Chubby fries. And Chubby strawberry shakes.
“Can I check out your 8-tracks?” Doug asked.
“Foghat, Energized. Excellent.”
“Thin Lazy, Jailbreak.”
“Wings At The Speed Of Sound.”
“ Boston. Yes!”
“Fly Like An Eagle.”
“Aerosmith, Rocks. Toys In The Attic is my favorite.”
“Bob Seger, Live Bullet.”
“Robin Trower Live.”
“J. Geils, Blow Your Face Out!”
“You got some good stuff man.”
“I got about fifty albums at home. These are my cruising tapes.”
“You got a girlfriend?” Doug asked.
“Nah. I had one last year.”
“Me either. They’re nothing but a pain anyway. She would be all ‘You mean you would rather go to Michigan to get donuts than spend time with me?’ They just don’t get it.”
“You got that right.”
“Maybe we’ll meet some girls at Cedar Point,” Doug said.
“We’ll probably have to fight them off.”
After a couple of hours, we pulled into a gas station to get gas and restock our snacks. I saw a payphone.
“Do you need to call your Mom?” I asked Doug.
“My Mom died a few years ago. My Dad works all the time. As long as I go to school and work and get into college, he doesn’t really care what else I do. He probably won’t even notice I’m gone.”
We were getting dangerously close to showing real feelings. So Doug said, “Come on. Let’s roll. Cedar Point is waiting for us.”
If you’ve ever been on the Ohio Turnpike then you know what boring is. Endless miles of straight road with nothing but farms and semi-trucks to look at. So I was relieved when Doug said, “This is our exit.”
We drove for a while longer on back roads and ended up in a little town called Sandusky.
“Are we staying here for the night?” I asked Doug.
“Yeah. There are some cheap hotels. We can get a room and then go to the park. They let you in for half price after six. Then we can go back tomorrow for a full day.”
“Awesome. I can’t wait to see the park.”
“You’re going to love it. It rocks.”
We got a room. Doug changed into shorts. We both used the john and then we headed to Cedar Point.
Cedar Point is on a peninsula that sticks out into Lake Erie. The lake looked kind of gross. But it didn’t matter. Once we reached the parking lot I could see roller coasters and Ferris wheels rising above the trees. I was pumped. We both ran to the ticket booth.
Once inside Doug said we had to go on the Blue Streak first. It was tradition. Who was I to argue? The Blue Streak is an old wooden roller coaster. It is painted blue. I guess that’s where the name comes from. We waited about 15 minutes in line and finally got on our first ride. We buckled the seat belt across our lap and the train started rolling. It went around a curve and started cranking up the hill. Doug looked at me, smiled, and unbuckled the seat belt.
“Is that safe?” I asked.
“Sure. They only put these in to keep people from standing up. You need to take them off so you can float.”
I wasn’t sure what he meant. But I figured I would find out.
We got to the top of the first hill and everyone put their arms up. Including me. The front cars hung over the edge for a second or two and then the whole train went streaking down the hill.
“YEAH!!!” I shouted all the way down.
We raced up the next hill and over the top. As our car went over the crest of the hill I came out of my seat and started to float. It only lasted a second but it was awesome. The same thing happened on the next couple of hills. I was glad we took the seat belt off.
When it ended I said, “Let’s do that again!”
“We will. When it’s less crowded. Let go to do the Log Ride now.”
We rode a bunch of rides. Ate some elephant ears, and popcorn, and french fries, and a couple of hot dogs. We played some pinball in the arcade. And we took one more ride on the Blue Streak. Which was even more fun at night. Then the park closed. We rode back to the hotel and crashed. I was exhausted, but happy.
The next day we got up early enough to be at the park gates at opening time. We weren’t going to waste one minute of the day. We hit all the rides. The longest line was for the Corkscrew. It was crazy. There was a bar that went over your head and chest to keep you from flying out. The first hill went into a loop. We went upside down. And then the track went into a corkscrew. It was intense. But the whole ride only lasted like a minute. There were a bunch of smaller wooden coasters and a metal coaster with two tracks that raced. We did them all.
We ate at the buffet restaurant for dinner this time. It was all you can eat. Which was a lot. The rest of the day we ate more hot dogs and fries and other stuff.
There were lots of girls at the park. We tried to talk to some of them while we waited in line for rides. But I am not very good at talking to girls so I didn’t say anything. And Doug kept saying stuff that made no sense. Sometimes a girl would smile, but mostly they ignored us and talked to each other. They usually traveled in groups.
It was one of the best days of my life. We crashed at the hotel again.
The next day started with a four-hour drive to Flint. I was getting pretty tired of driving when Doug said, “There it is. The car sign!”
In the distance was a huge sign. As we got closer it grew even bigger. It was more like two signs stacked on top of each other. They both had giant Buick cars on them. I wasn’t sure why Doug thought it was such a big deal.
“That means this is our exit,” Doug said as if he was reading my thoughts.
“Good,” I said.
We got off the freeway and headed into town. It wasn’t very far. A couple of miles maybe and there it was. Supreme Donuts. It wasn’t much to look at. It looked like a coffee shop.
We went inside and Doug went right to the donut case.
“Whew!” He said. “They still have some left.”
“I’ll take all of those,” Doug said way too loud to the lady working the counter.
There were a couple of people in the place smoking and drinking coffee. They both looked at Doug. They were probably not used to such enthusiasm over donuts.
The donut lady calmly put two dozen donuts into two boxes and handed them to Doug. He paid and we went back out to the car.
“Now what?” I asked.
“We head home. I got a shift tomorrow at Chubby Burger.”
“You drive,” I said.
“Cool.” We switched places.
Doug handed me a box of donuts.
“This should hold us on the trip back,” Doug said.
He started the car and we headed back home.
I opened the box and took out a donut. I handed it to Doug. Then I took out one for myself. I took a bite.
I smiled. Doug was right. Supreme Donuts are the best donuts in the world.
This is one of the first “long” stories I wrote when I started writing in 2018. I started the story without an idea or plan. I simply wrote the first sentence. And then the next. Until it was done. A short way into it I realized it was just about being 16, nerdy, and carefree. And friendship. Many of the details were taken from my memories and experiences as a teen. I grew up in Michigan and went to Cedar Point every year of my life from age 4 until 36. “Get to The Point!” Yes, Supreme Donuts were the best donuts in the world. Sadly, they shut down many years ago.