BS & Donkey Dust #6

All About Caywood and Ruination 

Once upon a time, I had a friend named Caywood.  He was a good and true friend; the kind of friend with whom confidences could be shared, secure in the knowledge that those secrets would go no further; the kind of friend to have adventures with . . . from beer joints and one-day 500 mile motorcycle rides . . . to being my personal financier of everything from a houseful of new furniture to a brand-new 750cc, red four-cylinder crotch rocket that would “do the ton,” 100 miles-per-hour, in a mere handful of seconds.  I know.  I did it more than once, up to “a buck and a quarter,” 125MPH, where they top out unless there was a tail-wind, but by then the tachometer and speedometer were vibrating so much they were unreadable.  Way, way, way too fast for two-lane country blacktop at one ortwo o’clockin the morning . . . or any time at all, for that matter.

But Caywood, Woody, as he preferred to be called, was an enigma, a rough cut diamond with many facets.  He was unique, one of the ten most interesting people I’ve ever known.  He was my friend for thirty-five years . . . and his loss a few years ago toALS, Lou Gherig’s Disease, still reverberates with me.

Woody was a paradox.  He was a college educated man who chose to communicate in the common, plain-spoken way of the working class.  From a well-off family, he often acted common, yet saw himself as a real ‘son of the south’ with an antebellum attitude to go with it.  Politically he was to the right of Ghengis Kahn, yet strongly supported a number of liberal causes, including homeless shelters, the soup kitchen and was known to hand fifty-dollar bills to street beggars.

“Woody,” I’d say, “whad’ja do that for?  He’s just gonna go to the liquor store.”

“So?”  Would be the enigmatic reply, followed by, “We’ve all got our place in the world.  Some’s place is more understandable than others.  Cats gotta kill to make their place, bird has gotta fly and drunks got to get drunk.”

Woody, you see, had a way of cutting things to the bone.  When he spoke, it sometimes needed a translation, so the rest of us could get it.  We called them ‘Woodyisms’, and someday I’ve promised myself to compile a catalog of them.

And although he was rich; he owned at various times a commercial bank and a chain of three tire stores, and some pieces of real estate . . . he was cheap . . . thrifty, as he put it.  He once said to me, “When I die, I want to have enough money to be called ‘eccentric,’ instead of ‘just fukken nuts.'”

I don’t know if that happened or not, but I can say that several hundred people were present at his funeral service, and that it was attended by everyone from businessmen to outlaw bikers, from lawyers to homeless folks, friends, family and employees . . . and all mourned, paying their respects in their own personal ways.

I’m telling you all of this for a couple of reasons.  The first is ruination.  See, last week another friend came over to see me, and he introduced me to a new treat from Starbucks: a chai tea iced chocolate frappuccino, complete with whip cream and nutmeg on top.  Wow!  Those things are so good, I am amazed the government hasn’t passed a law against them!  One sip and I was hooked, at five bucks per 1100 calorie wallop.

. . . and that made me think of Woody.

The guy who famously, and briefly tried to reuse coffee filters, would have said, “FIVEDOLLARS? FOR ICED TEA?  You have surely lost your mind and come to ruination boy.  There ain’t no fukken tea in the world worth that much.”

He’d rant like that for a while but then, he’d go off and try one; so he’d know what all the fuss was about, because he had a curious streak three feet wide.  So he’d try one, and dollars to donuts, he’d be hooked . . . because my old friend Woody you see, had a sweet tooth that ran halfway down his neck it was so big.  And that brings me to the second reason.  One time Woody and I had lunch together; I don’t recall if it was before or after hisALS-death sentence diagnosis was confirmed, but he said to me . . . in the course of other conversation  . . . “As long as someone, somewhere, remembers your name and says it out loud, you will never die.”

“You really believe that,” I said.

“Absolutely,” was the instant reply.

So Caywood old friend, here’s to you, Caywood B. “Woody” Lindsay Jr. I’m hereby launching your name into the infinite, sending your spirit on an electronic journey into the ether.  May it sail, far and wide, and forever in the cyber wind.

–JDM

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