Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What's your son's name?

If you were reading the "California to Ohio" series of entries I had been writing (and may continue eventually), you probably remember that I was only as far as Quartzsite, Arizona when I left off. I didn't meet Earl Wordlaw (my ride out of Phoenix) for another few days, so I really shouldn't write about him yet. However, there is a moment from my travels with Earl that I thought was perhaps funny enough to share with y'all, even though I still have not introduced him to you.

After a long day of driving on December 20, Earl and I were sitting in the food court of a truck stop in Las Cruces, New Mexico, just shooting the shit after we ate. I had the camera rolling, in hopes that Earl might share a good story with me or just say something interesting. Like usual, most of that footage was pretty boring. But when he started talking about his infant son, it got better.

Before I tell the story, some context might be necessary. First thing: Earl is black. I only mention Earl's color because it might help you "hear" the words a little better. Fact is, white guys like me speak a lot different than black guys like Earl, and sometimes I found it a little difficult to understand some of his words. I'm not saying Earl speaks like the dude from Fat Albert (Mushmouth?) or certain pro athletes; I'm just saying he sounds a lot different than Peter Jennings, just as my uncle in eastern Tennessee sounds a lot different than Peter Jennings.

So there we were in Las Cruces and Earl was telling me a story. At some point in the story he told me his son's name. I couldn't understand what he said. So Earl said the name again. I still couldn't tell what he was saying. And that's probably about when we get to this:

Earl: My son's name is _________. [Sounded like "McGeh" or something.]
Me: Mc...(?)
Earl: "McGeh."
Me: How do you spell that?
Earl: [To himself] Uh, how do you spell "McGeh"?
Me: You don't know how to spell your son's name?
Earl: She named him!

I didn't figure out what he was saying until I got home and reached that point in my tapes. That was probably a few weeks ago, if not more recent. After watching the tapes, I'm pretty sure he was saying "Miguel."

Anyway, Earl is a real good dude. It was fun riding with him. I hope someday I'll be able to do something really great for Earl.