Seldomly do we meet people in life that can give their friendship without a price tag. I was fortunate to have found a friend in no man's land who not only loved unconditionally, but also withheld making judgment calls as well. Carol was a true free spirit. Yes, she had faults and it was one of those faults that heightened the danger factor of our friendship and made our time together an adventure.
I’ve always tended to gravitate towards the edge. It’s where I feel most comfortable. Maybe it’s the suspense, the thrill, the uncertainty of the outcome that makes teetering on the edge so appealing to me. Whatever it was, that certain something was a definite factor in what kept a smile on our faces in those days. The day I met Carol, we headed to Panama City to have some fun. The guy Carol was with had a friend, so the pairing off was a given. I usually don’t do prearranged dating set up by a friend, but I was bored and in need of some male attention, so WTF? It wasn’t until the next day that I found out that the guy Carol was with was not only married, but was married to a legendary bitch in those parts. Rumor had it that Peggy would just as soon shoot you as look at you. Yes, birds of a feather flock together and just as free spirits (aka "saucy tarts") tend to seek each other out and form alliances, the psycho bitches of the world do the same.
I saw the writing on the wall soon after our association began. Although I was not guilty of the whole married man thing, in the eyes of many I was just as guilty as Carol because I knew what was going on. That type of thinking seemed to escape my way of viewing things and I decided early into my Vernon experience that I’d have some fun with my guilt by association. Peggy sent her minions out to do some feather ruffling one day. Carol and I had stopped at the local generic hamburger joint to grab some lunch. While Carol was inside, a fiery spitfire about 8 inches shorter than me approached me while I was sitting in Carol’s car finishing my lunch. When she announced that she needed to talk to me, I looked up at her and smiled sweetly. I told her that I don’t like being disturbed while I was doing 3 things. For future reference so she would know my list of do’s and don’ts, I was courteous enough to list them for her. I explained the "don’t disturb me sign is up while I’m sleeping, eating and fucking" and let her know if she had something to say to me she was going to have to wait until I was done eating and then we’d talk. She left in a huff! Later, I got mixed revues on what many thought was a foolhardy action on my part, but I can say I didn’t get my head blown off for my little power play that day. Risky? Maybe! But it was definitely satisfying, too. By the time Carol returned to the car, harmony was restored and the potential volatile situation was diffused for the moment…
One of my most memorable moments with Carol was when she introduced me to The Cat’s Eye one evening. The Cat’s Eye was a typical honky tonk. It was the only place adults could go locally for entertainment, but in doing so one stepped into the arena of barroom fights and many other things. What I didn’t know when we entered the bar, Carol had an agenda. Carol always had an agenda! She scanned the bar and then quickly introduced me to a pleasant Southern hippie with long curly blonde hair and a gorgeous smile, then announced she had to go meet someone, but would be back before closing. She assured me that I was in good hands and asked Ricky if he minded babysitting me. He made some cute remark about how hanging out with a Yankee might ruin his reputation, but he agreed to make an exception this one time. Carol mysteriously disappeared after enlisting Ricky's help for the evening, but didn’t return as promised.
Ricky and I hunted for Carol after closing. We found her car, but naturally it was locked. I left a note on her windshield telling her to pick me up at Lucas Pond where Ricky lived, but I didn’t expect to see her until the next day. During the course of the evening, Ricky and I had discussed a wide array of topics and he seemed pleasantly surprised that a long-legged 18-year-old hottie had a brain. He confessed that he had a preconceived notion about me before he met me and that he had been wrong. I was equally surprised by his confession. Rarely do men reveal things like that especially when they’re hoping to get laid. You see, I had a preconceived notion also…I thought getting in my pants was his motive for being nice to me and was even more convinced of that when we arrived at his cabin on the pond.
Kindred spirits inhibited all the cabins on the pond. The only late night sounds on the pond were the low melodic hums that came from the music within each cabin. Ricky’s cabin was silent…dark, mysterious, yet inviting all the same. I tried to imagine what lurked within and was immediately amused by his "conversation pieces" hanging on his bedroom wall. Before me was a collection of women’s panties arranged into a huge collage. He noted my amusement as he asked me to select what music I wanted to hear. It wasn’t long after I had arrived, when Carol showed up with the cavalry (the guy she had gone to meet earlier) to "rescue" me. She seemed surprised that Ricky and I were totally engrossed discussing music when she arrived and not in the throes of passion. Eventually, the four of us fell asleep on the floor with Goats Head Soup playing in the background. That was just one of many nights spent in the peaceful solitude on the pond but only after telling Ricky my panties would never be on his wall because I didn't wear any.