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Daniel Boone Was A Man (Lexington, Kentucky)

TTAE reader Scott grew up in Lexington, Kentucky. When he found out I was headed for the Bluegrass State, he hooked me up with his Henry Clay High School homie, Frank. To be Frank, well, that's something...

Frank's restaurant rendezvous texts were positively Germanic: precise and comprehensive, updated on a minute-by-minute basis.

Being a two-wheeled Teutonic, Fritz approved. A mach schnell sprint down Man of War Boulevard – dodging poisonous jellyfish – had us arriving at Ramsey's Diner at the appointed hour.

Given Frank's anal retentive texts, I expected a buttoned-down bastard of one sort or another. Not at all.

Standing six-foot-two, extending a considerable ways horizontally, Frank had a warm smile, a gentle manner and a Kentucky accent evoking memories of Fess Parker as Daniel Boone.

I don't remember the coonskin hat-wearing TV hero running across any single-minded silver miners. Frank was born to play one.

Even before we ordered, the 62-year-old Uber driver launched into a comprehensive lecture on the silver market: prospectors' prospects, Chinese market manipulations, gold prices' affect on silver values – everything except how Long John Silver got his name.

Downloading metallurgical mishegas, Frank barely managed to eat a spoonful of his gravy-topped mashed potatoes, leaving his fried catfish unmolested. Surveying my rapidly emptying plate, I did the Jewish mother thing.

"I have a hard time talking and eating," Frank admitted.

I had a hard time eating and listening. As I devoured fried chicken and coleslaw, I thought I was going to die of cholesterol, boredom or both. I was wrong.

Frank's "conversation" eventually morphed into random rants and revelations, from the possibility of Joe Biden body doubles, to Frank's determination to visit every Major League Baseball stadium, to his anger at looming mortality.

Understandably enough, Frank's angst inspired him "to look for something important to do with the last part of my life." Growing sunflowers.

By his own admission, Frank suffers from ADHD and OCD. He's spent his entire life tumbling into an endless series of rabbit holes. And? And he's a highly intelligent, curious, open-minded, quick-witted, self-aware, passionate and, most importantly, kind-hearted man.

By the end of the meal I was desperate to share my Adderall stash. "My father was a pharmacist," Frank averred, recoiling from the suggestion. "I don't want to fill my body with drugs."

This from a guy who ran for Congress as a Libertarian on a "legalize marijuana" platform. Go figure. I went back to the hotel to recover.

Our Grand Day Out

The next morning, I rolled-up on a suburban house fronted by a "garden" that looks like a shallow grave, home to freshly-planted sunflowers hoping to survive the Kentucky heat.

A life-size knight in not-so-shining armor guarded Frank's front door. The interior wasn't a Hoarders-class hovel, but it still evoked my misspelled namesake: a farrago of bits and bobs collected during numerous investigations into numerous things.

A part of my mind had been dreading the journey to the Daniel Boone National Forest. Would Frank talk my ear off? That he did!

Until I snapped. I started firing rhetorical shots at my host. Frank was non-plussed. I took that as a green light.

As we hit the trail to the Natural Arch Scenic Area, my "observations" on Frank's pronouncements escalated from gentle chiding and mild ribbing to searing sarcasm and ribald rebukes. Frank didn't give as good as he got, but we were both enjoying the exchange of non-pleasantries.

Upon arrival, the Kentuckian struggled mightily to ascend the steep path to the park's eponymous arch. The stop-and-go effort reduced Frank's ability to sustain his solipsistic soliloquies, even as it increased my ability to give him shit.

By the time we reached the top, Frank and I had established a natural rhythm of call-and-response insults and observations. To the point where a father leading his brood marveled at our shtick. He wanted to know how long we'd been friends.

"Twelve hours," Frank replied. "It seems like forever," I said. "And not in a good way," I teased.

Aside from that...

According to your red/green color blind motorcycle-mad correspondent, the Daniel Boone National Forest is green. Full of trees, plants, rocks, fungi and birds.

As you might have guessed from my flair for describing flora and fauna, I'm not exactly Nature Boy. I'm less about hiking on a [short signposted] forest trail [with stairs and bannisters], more about smoking a stogie at a scenic overlook.

More about people. I'm not saying I like other people. I just like to meet new people. To find out how they think. How they are.

Frankly Speaking

I always begin making an acquaintance in a polite, respectful and friendly manner.

I don't often go beyond that. Asking challenging questions and/or unleashing my cynical and sarcastic OK Jewish sense of humor can be a dangerous business, especially in "can you squeal like a pig?" territory.

Frank is only the second person I've met on the road with whom I connected beyond the superficial. I think it's because we're similar in so many ways.

We both spend a lot of time alone, lost in our thoughts. Generally speaking, neither of us plays well with others. When we're rejected, we blame ourselves for our ostracism, isolate and throw ourselves into our work.

While I reckon I have superior socialization skills and sticktoitness, I know exactly how Frank feels. I know what's it like to have a keen mind and a kind heart in cruel, closed-minded world.

All of which made meeting Frank a mitzvah. I hope my short presence in his life gave him a shot of self-esteem, which he needs. More importantly, which he deserves.

Some day, Frank may text me an image of a huge bed of sunflowers. If he doesn't, no worries. In the final analysis, it's not what we do that's important. It's who we are.

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1 Comment

Sequoia Sempervirens
Sequoia Sempervirens
Jun 29

Definitely think that Joe Biden has a body double, or maybe several body doubles.

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