My dad calls me “Dot,” short for Daughter and I call my ol’ man “Pop-O,” a nod to the Wint-O-Green and Pep-O-Mints we used to share on long car rides, or so called “road trips.” Those yellow dotted lines that sew one side of the road to the other like black matching hems, mesmerized me and, in their own way, sewed our relationship together… two matching Taylors equally mystified by the lives we’d fallen into at birth and equally uncomfortable in our skin which my dad nick named “the meat suit.” My brother and I called him “corn dad,” cause we found his rhetoric so corny but I loved that term. I still love that term in reference to the body because it both reflects the proper (un)importance of the body in the dualistic perspective (I’ve grown to favor) but also because of the screwed up face it makes on those who hear me use the term. I love the way my father sees the world. It’s a perfect blend of scientific, spiritual and “what the hell is that?” curiosity. “Ya know,” I say to friends and acquaintances, “You got a good meat suit there. You know, body? the soul’s vehicle?” I hear my dad’s mischievous southern voice in my head as I say it as though somewhere he might be laughing along.
So I guess its fitting that my dad and I, each in our 20s and 20 years apart, took rolls in road trip movies. My father’s “Two Lane Blacktop” has since become a cult classic while mine “Baja Beach Bums,” has since become a free download on YouTube. But both reflect a middle of a nowhere that I, in the best of times, recognize as my home. Home on the planet. Home in the meat suit. (Note the internal disgusted screwed up face you’ve just made).
At 8 I found out my father was in a movie and spent the next 10 years trying to track it down (no easy feet in the 80s when analogue was “hi fi”) So you’ll be surprised to know that when I finally did find it on a dusty Rick’s Movie Rental shelf, It took me more than 3 days to finish it. I kept falling asleep!!!! It’s the slowest movie I’ve seen EVER. No kidding. You’ll see a car on the horizon and 3 minutes later, no edits, that same car will get to camera and then it’ll just keep on going. No one will get out or shout a line or nothin. It was agonizing to watch!!!
But not more agonizing than my movie performance however. My good buddy Pat Healy (yes, the Farrelly brothers named their Matt Dillion character after him in “There’s Something about Mary”) wrote a script and modeled this character “Smiley” after me and then thought I might be a good to play the roll (why? I have no idea). So I show up with my guitar in Northern California with these other surfer/actors (who were all much more qualified to act) slept on a matrices on top of a school bus for a month and just sort of played guitar through the whole film and smiled a lot. Not the best use of my talents in retrospect, but an adventure and certainly fun none the less.
This is all to say that I see quite a lot of myself in my dad. Our dueling road trip movies are just the tip of the mountain range, a metaphor for the way I imagine us both, in harmony, staring down the horizon in search of a hint of a tare in the fabric of reality through which to understand this world we live in.
I’m so grateful to my dad for giving me this life, and instilling me with curiosity, and creativity. There are many more adventures for us dear ol’ dad, many more Pep-O-mints for the yellow thread tailored up road my dear sweet Pop-O.