It Was and Shall Always Be Monster Road

MonsterRoad_newThere’s no journal entry, so I can’t recall an exact time. But I do have the date and place: Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2007, at a Placida, Fla., seafood restaurant called Johnny Leverock’s.

It was around noon.

I sat at the bar alone, a vodka gimlet in front of me and cell phone to my ear, fighting back tears.

That morning I’d had breakfast with Dad in their kitchen. He suggested I bring Mom something to eat in the master bedroom where, for what seemed like the first time in years, I saw her. It was clear from her paleness and emaciation that she was dying.

I told Dad I was going out on my own for a while, to drive along the coast and maybe have some lunch. Leverock’s wasn’t far north of their house, so I settled in there for some clam chowder. That’s when I called my brother to talk about Mom. And have a cocktail.

And then another.


We called it “Monster Road.”

You get there by taking County Road 44 out of Mound, Minn., south toward Highway 7. Tall oaks and cottonwoods hug the shoreline as the road winds past the quiet, sparkling bays of Lake Minnetonka. Where Lotus Drive meets what is now Trillium Way, it was somewhere back in the woods, off newly paved streets meant for housing developments.

The first mention of it in the diaries is Friday, Oct. 21, 1977.

Because it was fall conferences, I had the schoolday off, but had to work at Super Sam’s. After taking the city bus home at 6:30 p.m., I took the Dartillac and met Jeff Greene up at the Mound bowling alley. From there we went “out to Monster Road, the Navarre Lanes, where he played Mark Christansen in foosball.” I’m fairly sure that we went out to Monster Road that night to see if there was a party—a field kegger—and to see if Sonya was there, too.

Monster Road was where we escaped to—to make out with a date or to party, away from adults’ watchful eyes. These party escapes usually involved the older kids, the ones who could get the cigarettes, the liquor, the drugs. They were unruly and tough.

For a time, Dad waged war against those kids, and I was stuck in the middle. When they built a treehouse across from our garage and hurled down rocks at passing cars, Dad confronted them.

Even going into my senior year, I felt hugely insecure. A history of self-consciousness and awkwardness dogged me—of not fitting in at junior high school, of being small, slight and tentative, of dreading to play tackle football when older and rough neighborhood kids came knocking at our door. Years of dread followed me right up to graduation day.

I wince thinking of those times now. They seemed biblically severe, insurmountably monolithic.

I never, ever, thought they would end.

Some things helped, some did not. Marijuana made me feel scattered and paranoid, but liquor eased the anxiety. The pressure was heavy: to be a good kid, living up to my father’s expectations and not be like one of the local burnouts.

I still think of Monster Road as the dangerous path, but it’s very real—as real as the houses that now stand on the street where it once existed. Some kids went down that path and never returned: pills, alcohol, suicide and depression took many others before they even saw the age of 18.


Back to November 2007. I left the bar at Johnny Leverock’s and returned to the folks’.

Lying at the bottom of that gimlet glass: guilty feelings for not doing enough for Mom, enough to save her from dying, for not achieving Dad’s expectations—of being the kind of morally upright person he wanted me to be. And guilt for stuffing away feelings stemming from all that.

Back at their house, I crashed out in the guesthouse for a couple hours. After a while, Dad rapped on the sliding glass door. “Mike!” he shouted, “What are you doing? Are you high on drugs?

Are you high on drugs. Yeah. Yeah, I was. Lit up from the vodka and drained from the heat and humidity.

His blame gnawed at me all through that Thanksgiving—the last one with Mom and Dad. Even the memory shocks and shames me now.

Now I see that Dad felt abandoned. He was losing his beloved wife forever. What he needed the most was the presence of his first-born son.

What he needed was me.

~ by completelyinthedark on September 14, 2012.

2 Responses to “It Was and Shall Always Be Monster Road”

  1. Beautiful entry Mike….you know, how fitting to my life right now. Tomorrow I have to let Coda go join Spirit and your blog today reminds me to cherish every moment with those we love…to the best of our ability at that time. Thanks for being her friend too.

    Liked by 1 person

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