The summer before my sophomore year at SFA, my parents and I, and my Mother’s sister and brother-in-law, Claudia and Ralph Daye drove from Texas to Denver to see Claudia and Ralph’s son, Joe. I believe we went in our 1962 blue and white Chevrolet Impala. The 1969 beige Chevrolet Impala is subject of another story for another time.
We had a marvelous 10 days in the cool air of the Rocky Mountains and experienced the unbelievable beautiful scenery of the state. Everything had been perfect until we reached some place in New Mexico on the return trip. We stopped someplace for lunch. Upon finishing and leaving the restaurant, Honeyboy (if you do not know why he was called Honeyboy, let me know) asked if I would drive to Lubbock where we planned to spend the night before driving home to Conroe the next day.
Of course I wanted to drive. This relegated Uncle Ralph to sit in the back seat with Mother and Aunt Claudie. We piled into the car. I turned the ignition key to get the air conditioning started, adjusted the review mirror, adjusted the outside mirror and adjusted the seat, just like the Drivers’ Ed manual said to do.
Honeyboy was riding shotgun as he always did. Just before we were to pull out of the parking space, I said, “Let me put this medicine on my lip for my fever blister.” I did not take into consideration the heat of New Mexico; nor did I realize the heat inside of a car in New Mexico heat. I twisted the top off the green jar of Metholatum, only to find the entire contents in liquid form. The entire liquid contents of the jar split into my lap – aka crotch.
While I was screaming, Mother and Claudia were howling with laughter, and my father said “Drive. We have to get there before dark.”
He refused to stop, unpack the already stuffed car to let me change clothes. I received no help from Mother or Aunt Claudia who continued to laugh until we crossed into Texas and even then. Uncle Ralph kept asking what’s that smell?
It was almost three hours to Lubbock. The one thing I remember about the car was an air conditioning vent sat just below the steering wheel right at the level it needed to be to drive three hours with a body part on fire smelling like menthol.
Years later as his health declined and he would be sad, I could always get him to laugh when I would ask “Remember when I spilled the Metholatum fell in my crotch?” He would laugh and say “Yep, soon as we got to a hotel in Lubbock, you jumped in the swimming pool, clothes and all before the rest of us got out of the car.”
Honeyboy, I hope you, Mama, Dale and Aunt Claudie and Uncle Ralph are laughing about it today. I also hope Heaven doesn’t smell like Metholatum.