The Fun Uncle
I always thought they named “butch wax” after Uncle Butch, because in his youth he had his dark hair, waxed up to the sky above his blue eyes. His uniform was jeans and a white T-shirt, some low-top Converse tennis shoes. Sometimes he’d throw a short-sleeved plaid shirt on if he was dressing up. He was the fun uncle because he was a teenager and we were not yet ten. It wasn’t until after I graduated from high school that I discovered his name was Gordon. I can’t imagine calling him Uncle Gordon.
Fun meant riding behind him on his motorcycle, clutching his white T-shirt, down the sidewalk in the Humble Camp. Neighbors would come out and tell him that wasn’t allowed. So he’d giggle and tell us to jump off. He had all kinds of neat stuff in his room where he and Duke stunk up the place. I only got as far as the stack of Mad Magazines. I still appreciate that literature for giving me a glimpse into satire and social consciousness. Everything else was off limits. But I remember staring at the bow and arrows and BB guns.
I don’t know what year it was, but I couldn’t have been much older than 10, he drove a Corvair. Must have been an early model, probably 1959 or ’60. He’d take us fishing. Most of the time was spent trying to scoop my flip-flops out of the water so I wouldn’t have to go home barefooted. All the way home, we’d watch the gas gauge to see if we’d make it back to Refugio. It was an adventure.
Wherever he went after he graduated from high school, we went to see him, San Antonio, Big Springs, (His uniform had changed.) Texas City, Houston, Victoria. We were always met with deep dimpled grins. I don’t think anyone can deny, he was Grandma Genty’s favorite, the baby.
Now, he’s enjoying naps and chocolate ice cream for breakfast, but I know he’d rather be giggling at the antics of grandchildren or fishing. But I’ll always have memories of holding on to his belt as he drove his motorcycle down the sidewalk in the Humble Camp and riding on empty in his Corvair.
Yeah, he was the fun uncle of my youth.