The Road To Nowhere - Part Nine

If the mistakes we all make make and the regrets we all have were made into a game show, I think many people would stand in line waiting to be crowned king and queen. I think a large, shiny trophy to stick on a shelf as a conversation piece and dust collector might be a nice thing
to have for all the time and effort we all devote to making mistakes and having regrets. I don't necessarily want to be crowned, but I want a trophy! Damn it! Wait a minute I do have a trophy. In fact, I have a few trophies. 

Once in awhile I stumble into doing the right thing. Although I truly didn't want to go back to Pensacola to give birth,  I did because it was the right thing to do. Changing my mindset to  think of the life growing inside me FIRST before anything else didn't take long to accomplish.  The remaining months of my pregnancy were spent getting healthy and preparing myself for motherhood. In my spare time, I couldn't help, but reminisce and wonder if all the abuse I put my body through would ultimately affect the child I was about to have. Everything I had experienced in the last few years was still fresh in my memory...sometimes too fresh! 

My mind didn't just linger on past lovers. I thought more often of my friends and the zany times we shared together. I can't help but smile when I think about the time Carol and I burned a cross in Gene's wife's front yard or how Carol would go topless on Panama City Beach like she was sunbathing on the French Riviera instead of on the Redneck Riviera. 

I couldn't help but smile when I thought of how we shamelessly flirted with Larry Gilley and Chip Coatney (one of many Coatneys in that area), but did so not because we wanted either of them. We did it because we could. We did it to give people something to talk about. And I guess we did it because we were bored and they always seemed to be around. One time we pulled them over just to mess with their heads. That act never required too much effort because it was like shooting fish in a barrel. I proceeded to rub myself all over Larry and told him I was getting him ready for Lana Carol (now, there's a great Southern belle's name) and believe it or
not her last name was the icing on the cake. Lana Carol Duck lived conveniently directly across from the Cat's Eye and Larry Gilley "belonged" to her and Chip was her younger brother. In those days the  word "cougar" hadn't been coined just yet, but that's exactly what Lana Carol was...a hot mess who was an older blonde hussy with big boobs and a southern accent most Southerners would kill to have. When I used the word "foreplay," Larry looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language. Now, tell me how one goes about explaining what foreplay is with a straight face. At that point, the mood was gone and we sent them along their merry way while Carol and I laughed our asses off.

Two of my favorite Chip Coatney memories involved me playing strip poker with him and a group of people. Chip designated himself as being dealer and thought he was slick by cheating. I knew what he was up to, but kept my mouth shut. I just played along then told him I knew he had been cheating when I was sitting there as naked as a jay bird (how naked do jay birds get?). I earned his respect for doing that, but that respect was short-lived. Not long after Mr. Cardshark saw me without my clothes, he decided he'd annoy me one evening at the Cat's Eye. He kept razzing me until I had my fill. As we were told to take it outside by Leon Anderson, the owner of The Cat's Eye, Chip decided that calling me a "lanky-legged Yankee bitch" was a smart thing to do. It might have been a great strategic move for most people, but Chip wasn't a
fighter. Chip was a hemophiliac, and when I tackled him and we started rolling around on the ground in the parking lot outside, I told him I was going to make him bleed if he didn't apologize. Guess what? The thought of profusely bleeding and not being able to make it stop, made him apologize quickly. When in Rome, do as the Romans do! Be fierce! Be a gladiator! And never give up!

My list of doing stupid stuff included a trip to the woods one night to be shown an actual KKK meeting place. It was a small church stuck in the middle of nowhere and the inside was set up like a courtroom. The thought of white-hooded racists possibly showing up made it a quick trip. Being inside that place really did give me the heebie jeebies. Add going for a leisurely trip down the snake and alligator infested swamp (the local creek) with the sole purpose of shooting down hornet nests that were hanging from the cascading branches. The hornets were only part of my concern...what about the HUGE spiders, the water moccasins and the rather hungry looking alligators? All the rocket scientists I was with assured me that the swarm of hornets would fly the opposite way and not towards us, but to this day I don't know how certain they really were of that. To me that's called wishful thinking while being willfully ignorant. The odds were 50/50 at best and I guess that makes me a dumb ass for going along for the ride.

Do you know how you know know when you're truly fried? It's when you make a 14 year old drive a stick shift about 20 miles because no one else was able to do it. That same 14 year old tagged along most places with us because he was the younger brother of my current boy toy, Kenny Rowe. One night when all of us had our fill of Vincent, we made him go sit in the closet in my bedroom with the door closed. Everyone was surprised he stayed there and we all assumed he had fallen asleep. When Theresa came home, she went into my room to change her clothes. Let's just say Vincent feasted his eyes on seeing his first living breathing naked female and Theresa wanted to poke his eyes out for sitting in the closet with the door cracked open just enough to get a good look at her.  

Let's not forget the time Theresa thought drinking homemade moonshine was a great idea. What wasn't so great was how it took four grown men to get her out of the car. Moonshine will make you CRAZY and when you're already crazy to begin with, moonshine makes your inner redneck shine brightly.  Those four brave men (bless their hearts) got the shit kicked out of them and Theresa never remembered it the next day, but they did.

I remembered the toilet paper we would steal from the wayside park at the creek because when you're on a tight budget you have to cut corners somewhere. Sometimes it was either buy toilet paper or buy food (bologna.) Hmmm! It's not too difficult to figure out what we bought and what we ripped off. It was all good until we actually had to use the "free" toilet paper. Isn't it said that in life "you get what you pay for?" I kid you not that state of Florida spares no expense when supplying toilet paper for its public restrooms. Only the best for for our rumps. Let's just say the toilet paper was like wiping your backside with a course piece of sandpaper that had wood splinters attached to it, but thank goodness all of us became very skilled at removing sphincter splinters.

What story would be complete without it including someone who shoots any insects that find their way inside their house? Yes, you read that correctly. When it comes to oak roaches and if you live somewhere that oak roaches thrive, you know no matter who you are or where you live they will find their way inside. I think they like air conditioning! When it's 90+ degrees outside and almost 100% humidity, every living creature likes air conditioning. Now, you can cut down on the number of the little bastards that find their way inside by having an exterminator
service spray around the outside of your house, but things in Nub City aren't done that way. While visiting some people one night, we all were sitting around the kitchen table when an oak roach rudely made an uninvited appearance on the kitchen wall. The next thing I know, the resident gunslinger pulled out a handgun and blew a hole in the wall. I think the proper terminology for doing that is the word "overkill." 

Last, but not least, what story is complete without revealing a truly bitchy moment that doesn't paint me in a very favorable light? Yes, I know most of my stories don't paint me as Miss Pristine Princess. One day while we were "in town" we saw Gary Harris and Judy Wood just about fell over and most of the female in those parts chased after him. Yes, he was fine looking, but there was something about him that just didn't appeal to me. Maybe it was because he knew he looked good. The day before he had stopped me while I was taking a walk and asked me to ride with him out to Lucas Pond. His thinking was that the police wouldn't harass him between point A and point B if he had a girl in the car with him. He had a whole trunk load of weed to deliver, so in I got and away we went to Lucas Pond. I could tell Royce was surprised to see me with Gary even though I wasn't really "with" him. 

When Carol and I saw Gary the next day, Judy couldn't wait to invite him to the party we were going to have that night. I guess she thought by inviting him, it would give her exclusive rights to him and what I thought was that she needed a lesson in rules of the meat market. First come! First serve! When Gary showed up that night, I never gave Judy a chance to claim her prize. As he and I slid past her, I whispered to her, "Sorry, Judy. He's mine tonight." I really didn't want him, but for some reason I didn't want Judy to have him and he seemed more than eager to get me alone. What can I say? I was just smoother than she was and maybe she learned a lesson not to assume anything when it came to the meat market. Gary never spoke to Judy at all that night
and the next day she decided to go back to Orlando where she lived. Another one bites the dust! I hate when that happens!

For all of you who have made it this far...Part Ten is the last segment of this glorious year long tale of woe. At this rate,  it'll take me the rest of my life and then some to write my entire life story so my descendants can see the gene pool from which they come. 

An Intermission With Lynyrd Skynyrd

Have you got 7+ minutes for some good old-fashioned negativity with some disturbing images? I can close my eyes and I can still smell that smell. Can you? Ooooh, that smell! The smell of death surrounds you! It isn't just in the drugs and alcohol that people abuse. It's in our food. It's in our water. It's in the air we breathe and the pharmaceuticals our doctor prescribes us and deems as being perfectly safe. It's in the cars we drive and the cellphones we use! It's in the sex we have! It's in the wars we wage! It's in the poverty and hunger all around us!  It’s in our planet as it grows warmer and more polluted. It’s in the hatred and fear we feel towards each other. It's everywhere! It's in everything we see, feel, smell, taste and hear! There's no escaping it...

Whiskey bottles, and brand new cars
Oak tree you're in my way
There's too much coke and too much smoke
Look what's going on inside you
Ooooh that smell
Can't you smell that smell
Ooooh that smell
The smell of death surrounds you

Angel of darkness is upon you
Stuck a needle in your arm
So take another toke, have a blow for your nose
One more drink fool, will drown you
Ooooh that smell
Can't you smell that smell
Ooooh that smell
The smell of death surrounds you

Now they call you Prince Charming
Can't speak a word when you're full of 'ludes
Say you'll be all right come tomorrow
But tomorrow might not be here for you
Ooooh that smell
Can't you smell that smell
Ooooh that smell
The smell of death surrounds you

Hey, you're a fool you
Stick them needles in your arm
I know I been there before

One little problem that confronts you
Got a monkey on your back
Just one more fix, Lord might do the trick
One hell of a price for you to get your kicks
Ooooh that smell
Can't you smell that smell
Ooooh that smell
The smell of death surrounds you
Ooooh that smell
Can't you smell that smell
Ooooh that smell
The smell of death surrounds you

Any insomniac, addict, mentally or emotionally disturbed person or anyone who has ever been in dire straits and is at the end of their rope with nowhere to go is well-acquainted with temptation, self-indulgence and pleasure seeking behaviors. "Satan", imaginary or not, comes in many forms and touches the lives of the most desperate and the most vulnerable. We are his army, the hedonists of the world. Even when we aren't capable of actually feeling pleasure, there remains the memory of pleasure and what a driving force that can be. To love one more feel the pleasure of carnal delights one more time, to experience whatever revs your engine and gets your juices flowing is the ultimate mind candy! I say it's time to dig down deep inside yourself and satisfy that wild hair that beckons you and when you do heed its call, please make sure you write about your adventure in explicit details and post photos so I can satisfy my troglodytic voyeurism. lol

The Road To Nowhere - Part Eight

I've always believed in the philosophy "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" or in other words, I was a chameleon who changed colors to fit into any environment. I learned early in life that deceptively assimilating to change is so much easier being a faux chameleon than it is constantly butting heads with the status quo. It was another thing I was great at in short bursts, but one huge problem with
being a chameleon, I didn't have a color for pregnancy and whoever came up with the asinine idea that all pregnant women are beautiful was either a fool, a damn liar, a man or a combination of all three...try fat and ugly with stretch marks and having some award-winning hemorrhoids and insane food cravings instead and you might have hit the nail directly on its head. I always loved the reaction people would have, when they addressed me as "Mrs. Ratched" assuming that because I was pregnant I was married and I would politely correct them by replying "Miss Ratched...I'm not married." To my response always came an immediate apology and I always assured the person not to be sorry because I wasn't.

Upon finding out I was pregnant, I made the decision to return home. My mother insisted I do that because she was worried I wouldn't take care of myself. For the life of me I couldn't understand why she would ever think that [please insert sarcasm and eye roll here], but returning home seemed like the right thing to do so home I went...for awhile at least.

While I had been having my misadventures in Nub City, my stepfather's niece, Teresa had moved in with my mother and him. She had no problem with making herself right at home. This included plundering through my belongings whenever she felt like it and wearing my clothes without asking me. When I confronted her, she simply told me that I wouldn't be wearing any of them any time soon...TRUE, but they still belonged to me and she should have asked me first. It didn't take me long to see the writing on the wall. My relationship with her would always be adversarial at best. So much for having a peaceful pregnancy with no stress...

One day when I had my fill of Teresa, I wrote my mother a short note, walked out of the house and hitch hiked back to Chipley. Surprise, bitches! I'm back! Bring on the bologna sandwiches, but hold the mushroom tea!

In reality I was no closer to figuring out what I was going to do than I was before I left Pensacola. With plenty of time on my hands, I couldn't help but think about all the days that led to my present situation dilemma delicate condition. I think getting a birthday card from Bruce (remember him?) effected me more than I cared to admit. I never did tell my friends I was hurting. I just did what I always do...put on a convincing act as if and everyone saw me as a free spirit with not a care in the world (another thing to add to my list of things I do well.)

Everyone always assumes Florida has no winter. Up here on the Redneck Riviera, winter does exist! It may not get into sub-zero temperatures like those in Maine, but it gets in the 20's several times throughout the winter months (not exactly considered ideal camping weather) On one of those chilly nights in January, Theresa and I went by to visit her family and ended up spending the night at her mother's house. Her brothers had built a nice, toasty fire in the backyard and had pitched a tent. We thought camping out sounded like a splendid idea until about 3am when I hadn't slept a wink and was colder than a witch's tit (an old Maine saying.)  No matter what position I got in, I couldn't get comfortable laying on the ground in a sleeping bag. The crackle of the inviting fire had long died out and was replaced with the sound of Theresa grinding her teeth in her sleep. And yes, Theresa could sleep through anything!

I woke her up and told her I was going inside the house because I was freezing. I was either going to kick one of her brothers out of their bed or I was going to crawl in with one of them. Upon waking, Theresa discovered she was cold also and thought going inside was a great idea so in we went and out came her brothers bitching at how rude we both were. Being pregnant definitely had its advantages.

The next day Theresa and I made our way back to Chipley. Our first stop before going "home" was to make a bologna run at the local Piggly Wiggly. Murphy Laws states that whenever you don't want to run into someone, that person will always show up unexpectedly so one should always be prepared for such inauspicious occasions. When we came out of the store, there was Rickey Brooks and Kent French waiting for us. Naturally, after the customary greetings, Theresa thought it would be a friendly gesture inviting them back to our place. This would have been a great time to have Theresa wear a shock collar set on "kill the bitch," but I smiled and agreed to the visit.

By this time, there was no hiding that I was pregnant. I could see the wheels grinding away as Rickey did some quick math in his head. It seems like I went from being able to wear my normal clothes to nothing fitting overnight. Being pregnant definitely has a way of spreading the news without ever having to say a word. The visit was somewhat awkward. Rickey eyes never left me and I kept trying to avoid looking at him as much as possible. He looked like he was waiting for me to say something acknowledging being pregnant, but I never said a word. Add that to my list of things I'm great at doing! A simple discreet "the baby isn't not yours" would have adequately sufficed, but no such  words ever left my lips.

Rickey looked good...he always looked good. But more important, there were no visible signs of the horrific accident he had been in a few months earlier. After awhile Rickey fell into his normal playful banter with everyone and he even tried convincing me he was crazy because his car rolled on his head. To that, I kindly reminded him that the car rolling on his head had nothing to do with him being crazy. That ship had sailed a long time before his accident! When it came time to say our farewells, I did manage to tell him I was glad he was okay and that I was moving back to Pensacola even though I hadn't actually decided to do so. I just knew I couldn't tolerate anymore visits from him. I had some real regrets where he was concerned, but dealing with them now had been placed on the back burner. Maybe someday I'd address those regrets, but today wasn't that day.

The Road To Nowhere - Part Seven

The remnants of a broken heart linger for a long time. To cope with all those ugly feelings I felt I made myself believe I didn't want someone tagging along after me like a puppy in search of yummies. Just fuck me hard and go your ass home or wherever, but remember your way back just in case my itch needs to be scratched again. That's how I came off, but it wasn't really how I felt. Like anyone else, I wanted to be loved by a special special someone, but I was quite clueless when it came to making that happen so instead I threw up my wall and acted like an alley cat in heat. That was easier than admitting what I really wanted. I had myself convinced I didn't deserve to have a normal life with someone who loved me. It was definitely a dangerous slippery sloop! Yes, it was easier to be a saucy was familiar territory and I was good at it. The other option scared the hell out of me and I was clueless. REALLY CLUELESS!

With the holidays fast approaching I set up my monthly doctor appointments to fall so I could spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family. That meant I'd be eating actual food instead of bologna sandwiches. My mother was a fantastic cook and I was really looking forward to all the goodies I knew she'd make. So off to Pensacola I went with an insatiable appetite and a bag full of dirty laundry. 

I was keeping my fingers crossed that my "Christmas" follow-up appointment would be my last since the pain in my abdomen was finally getting better. My mother chauffeured me to the base and patiently waited for me outside the examination room.  The doctor I saw wasn't who I had been seeing, but that was normal for the military way of life.  Patients got stuck with whatever doctor was available at the time. Rotations sucked and I hated it because no one was ever given the luxury of having their doctor get to know them. Patients were merely a number and a name and nothing more. I had been fortunate to have seen the same doctor for my last few appointments, but that had abruptly ended. Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!

Now with my feet up in the stirrups and the white sheet strategically draped across my legs, the doctor readied me for a pelvic exam. I knew the drill, but liked it about as well as any woman liked being poked and prodded without any foreplay or a few kind words. This doctor took a little longer examining me than the last one had. When he was finished, he stood up and casually asked me if I knew that I was 4 months pregnant. What? Did I know what? I told him that I had been being treated for an ovarian cyst. The last doctor told me it was quite normal not to have a period, so I never got too concerned about it. As reality set in, I felt the color drain from my face and I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. What in hell was I going to do with a baby? Babies can't survive on bologna sandwiches and mushroom tea. When I left the room I was totally dazed and confused.  My mother took one look at me and said, "You're pregnant, aren't you?" No lecture followed. No sermon. No interrogation. No bright lights and rubber hoses. Whatever followed would be entirely my decision to make...alone.

So what do you get when you have a lot of unprotected sex? BINGO! The previous idiot doctor had been treating me for an ovarian cyst. Did he get his medical degree from the University of Hard Knocks? Guess what, Einstein? My cyst grew arms, legs and a head and was eventually named Christina and nothing quite slows your roll like facing an unplanned pregnancy. 

Those days seem like so long ago, yet when I get together with any old friend from those days it all seems like yesterday. All our lives have changed immensely over the years, but I think the more things change the more they ultimately remain the same. So in remembrance of those good old days and the people who imprinted themselves upon my life, I inhale slowly…deeply until my smile glows from within and the memories warm my chilly heart.

The Road To Nowhere - Part Six

Shortly after my early September birthday, I developed a dull persistent pain in my lower left abdomen. At first, I ignored it hoping it'd go away because I was 19 and invincible. Around the same time several bursts of reality snuck into my brouhaha life. Jesus, I hate when that happens!  Nothing kills a good buzz like quite like reality.

First, if I wanted to eat on a regular basis and have a roof over my head I was going to have to get a job. My first attempt at doing just that was a complete wash out. I went to work at Christo's, a small five and dime store in Chipley and almost as soon as I was hired, I was fired. The reason? Are you sitting down? I wasn't wearing a bra. Hell, I didn't even own a bra, but it wasn't like I was flopping all over the place and wearing revealing clothing. Unless you really looked hard, my firm breasts pretty much stayed where they were supposed to stay. Of course, Carol and I had a good laugh over my plight. Other than putting me back at square one, it really wasn't a big deal.

Around that time, Carol and I opened our small circle to a third person. Theresa was a local girl, but we deemed her acceptable anyway. Our two became three and now, we were three unemployed females in dire need of employment. We heard Evergreen Construction Company in Chipley was hiring laborers so the three of us went to fill out applications and all three of us got hired.  No bras required! Thank goodness! Interstate 10 still had large gaps of unfinished road between Defuniak Springs and Tallahassee in which Evergreen was contracted to help remedy. Our primary function was to lay sod on the embankments to prevent erosion as the overpasses were built. The job was a real no-brainer, but it was a job and it had its perks and disadvantages like most jobs. But what do all construction companies have in abundance? Men! Men with great tans and hard bodies! Oh boy! This was going to be fun!

I almost believed that the pallets of sod that were delivered to us were purposely full of fire ants just for our male coworkers entertainment. Yes, fire ants bite men, but when swarmed by a colony of pissed off fire ants, men could peel off their clothes without much commotion involved. With us women, as the ants swarmed and bit us, it involved being yelled at to strip down quickly in front of a cheering audience. If you ever encountered fire ants, you know that they dictate how you react and the speed in which you react. If you aren't familiar with them, trust me you you're better off staying that way.

Now, for a brief lesson on fire ants... If nothing else, always remember fire ants are called that for a reason!
This leg is just a tad bit hairy to be mine.
Fire ants can turn a blissful afternoon outside into an itchy, burning stream of misery. Recent testing of fire ant venom suggests that the venom contains poison that affects the nervous system. This may explain why some fire ant sting victims report hallucinations (and here I thought it was the mushrooms) and other similar symptoms, particularly after getting a large number of stings. A fire ant sting often begins with an intense pinching or burning pain immediately after the sting. This pain is relatively

short-lived, lasting anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Next comes itching or burning that may be mild or intense. Itching tends to get stronger over the next few days. Fire ant stings produce a mark that sets them apart from other insect stings. The wounds are pus-filled blisters that are round and may look like pimples. Oh boy! Fire ant "acne" sounds like fun, doesn't it?
It wasn't long after we started working there that the foreman took a liking to me. First, let me tell you that it wasn't a mutual admiration. He wasn't ugly, but how he handled himself turned me off completely. He thought offering me an opportunity to learn how to operate heavy equipment would get him in my pants. What it got him instead was being told to go fuck himself instead. In hindsight, knowing how much heavy equipment operators make, I probably should have fucked him deaf, dumb and blind. Oh well, live and learn!

A couple of our fellow crew members immediately became our friends. Willie Van Lanningham (a typical, long-haired, country boy hippie) paired off with Theresa. The set up was supposed to be with me, but I passed because I was busy stirring things up with the oldest son of one of Washington County's finest. Kenny Rowe was a year younger than me, but with the thrill factor added in he more than made up for what he lacked in experience. Kenny's father was a deputy sherriff and it was oh, so fun helping to corrupt his first born. My unlikely pairing with Kenny started one night when a bunch of us were hanging out and Kenny and I went inside the store at the same time to get a Coke. The cashier commented on us being a cute couple because we both were wearing jean jackets. I guess we looked like the Bobbsey twins to her.  We looked at each other and said WTF? Neither one of us had anything better to do at the time, so why not do nothing together? We left the store arm in arm and stayed that way for awhile.

Carol paired off with Gene. And yes, Gene was a married man who whined all the time about his marital discord so Carol took pity on him and told him he could come live with us.  I often wondered if Carol had a death wish. At the time we first met Gene and Willie, Carol and I lived in a mobile home way out in the boondocks. The area was referred to as The Sand Hills.  Paved roads only existed in town. Everything out in the Sand Hills stayed dusty all the time except when it rained and then driving on those dirt roads was fun. Carol drove like a seasoned stock car driver. No terrain seemed to slow her down very much. She loved doing donuts on those slick roads and scaring the bejesus out of me.

One the advantages of living out in the middle of nowhere is that you could hear a car approaching for miles. One evening, as we listened to a car approaching we wondered who was coming to pay us a visit. We had already chased off all the regulars and was just about ready to call it a night. Had one of them forgotten something? When the car pulled in the driveway, I said, "OMG! It's Janice Arrant!" Carol flew to her bedroom with instructions that she wasn't home. That left Theresa and I to deal with Janice. Thanks a lot, Carol!

As the anticipated knock came on the door, Theresa and I just looked at each other. Neither one of us wanted to deal with Janice's nonsense, but I opened the door only to be greeted by a smiling Janice Arrant who was all by herself. Wait a minute! Wasn't Janice Arrant Psycho Bitch #2? Curiosity got the better of me, so I invited her inside. Janice was on her way to Panama City Beach for some serious partying and wanted to know if we wanted to come along. Just for a second, my brain seemed to short-circuit. What? She wanted us to do what? Why would we want to ever do anything like that with her?

I quickly regained my composure and thanked her for the invitation, but told her that we worked and had to get up around 4am each day to get to work on time. That explanation seemed to satisfy her and she left as happily as she arrived. Or as the old Southern saying goes, "She got glad in the same pants she once got mad in..." When Janice was no longer in site, Carol reappeared and the three of us speculated as to what she was up to and decided she had wanted to take us off somewhere and splatter our brains all over the countryside because we all knew she didn't really want to bury any hatchet unless it was to bury it in the back of our heads. The likelihood of one or all of us going off to "party" with Janice Arrant on a scale of 1 to 10 was about a minus 30.

One of the many bursts of reality we encountered on our way to official adulthood was that because we were employed and had our own place, everyone thought our place was party central 24/7. The problem was that our job really did require us to get up before the crack of dawn. Now, if you party until 1 or 2 o'clock in the morning that only leaves time enough to shut your eyes before your have to open them again. We learned quickly that working out in the heat all day required some TLC afterhours. We decided to tell everyone that our place was off limits during the work week, but let's just say that went over like a fart in church. Everyone just looked at us like we were speaking some foreign language and that we smelled foul. From that point on when we got ready to go to bed, we'd go regardless of who was sitting in our livingroom. We thought moving to Chipley to be closer to work might help, but the party and the party animals followed us. By the time we moved, Gene was living with us and Willie was there most of the time when we weren't at work even though he didn't officially live with us. 

The year was 1974. I remember eating a lot of plain bologna sandwiches and actually liking them. Often those bologna sandwiches were washed down with psilocybin mushroom tea from the mushrooms Gene and I had freshly picked earlier in the day. Gene knew all the best mushroom picking cow pastures and we always had fun goofing off. I guess when you’re young and stay perpetually high, eating anything tastes great even when what you eat is washed down with putrid-tasting mushroom tea cut with kool-aid in attempt to hide its horrid "earthy" taste.

So we moved from the desolate Sand Hills to a small 2 bedroom house on Highway 90 in Chipley, Florida (population: approximately 3,000).  That small move was like moving from back hills of West Virginia to New York City. My bedroom had these weird peacock curtains. Looking back, I really think those curtains were symbolic of my life and times…loud, proud and wowed. We would fell asleep each night listening to Lynard Skynard and would awake to Bad Company singing good morning to us. And in between there was sex, sex, sex…lots of drugs and a few bologna sandwiches to keep our strength up for all those midnight rodeos.

By the time, we made the move to Chipley the pain in my abdomen had gotten worse. I was beginning to get concerned and realized I wasn't invincible after all. I finally broke down and hitchhiked to Pensacola to see a doctor at the Navy Hospital. I was still considered a military dependent until I turned 21 unless I got married before then and the chance of that happening was even less than the chance of me going off partying with Janice Arrant. The Navy doctor examined me and told me I had an ovarian cyst and that it most likely would go away on its own without having to be drained. He put me on medication and wanted to see me again in a month. I wasn't

supposed to do anything considered too strenuous in that time period. I guess that meant I wouldn't be pushing Carol's car off as she put it in second gear and popped the clutch until further notice. I don't know if that contributed to the pain I was feeling, but I was ready to follow the doctor's orders and get back to my normal running speed.  All I knew at this point was that pain is bummer and I wanted it to go away!

The Road To Nowhere - Part Five

For your viewing pleasure...This is a short video (length: 1:06) filmed at one of Vernon's City Council meetings. Note the guy with the hook for a hand (remember Vernon was crowned "Nub City"). I don't think I'd want him mad at me. This is a great example of what decades of inbreeding will do to a person's psyche! Just kidding! Well, maybe...maybe not! Judge for yourself...

The guy named Coleman Armstrong named in the video is someone I once knew, but not very well. He was just one of those people who would pop up in a crowd every now and then. What I remember most about him is that whenever he'd be around, he'd come over and have a special way of getting in on a conversation. He was one of those people who loved to mess with people's heads when they were mentally incapacitated.

With that in mind, picture someone who would jump into a conversation by telling the person who was talking to "spell it" at some strategic moment in the conversation. And at that moment, if it were me he wanted to be the dictionary, I could barely spell my own name. But I always sucked it up and spelled whatever word he wanted me to spell. It never occurred to me to take the easy way out when he'd say "spell it" and just simply spell "it" and smile. Hindsight is 20/20!

An Intermission With The Kings Of Leon

Everyone, it's time to sing along:

Sex on Fire

Lay where you're laying
Don't make a sound
I know they're watching
All the commotion
The kiddie like play
It has people talking
Your sex is on fire
The dark of the alley
The breaking of day
Head while I'm driving
I'm driving
Soft lips are open
Them knuckles are pale
Feels like you're dying
You're dying
Your sex is on fire
With what's to transpire
Hot as a fever
Rattle of bones
I could just taste it
Taste it
But it's not forever
But it's just tonight
Oh we're still the greatest
The greatest
The greatest
Your sex is on fire
Your sex is on fire
With what's to transpire
And you
Your sex is on fire
With what's to transpire

The Road To Nowhere - Part Four

I saw the writing on the wall soon after my association with Carol began. Life with Carol was never going to be dull or routine. Although I was not guilty of the whole married man thing (as far as I knew anyway), 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 McDade (Psycho Bitch #1) 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 using the restroom, Janice Arrant (Psycho Bitch #2), 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 believe in arming a person with facts so they can make an informed decision. I explained my "don’t disturb me" sign is up while I’m sleeping, eating and fucking" and I 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! You could almost see the steam coming out her ears as she walked away. Score ONE for the Yankee. Later, I got mixed reviews 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 small town 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 rowdy, redneck activities. 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 laid-back 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 Rickey Brooks 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 Rickey's help for the evening, but didn’t return as promised.  Was that part of some master plan to hook me up with Rickey? I never asked and at this point I can only speculate. I'm sure if I asked Carol today that she'd give the same sly smile she was famous for back in the day.

Rickey and I hunted for Carol after closing. We found her car, but naturally it was locked and she was nowhere to be found. I left a note on her windshield telling her to pick me up at Lucas Pond where Rickey 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 which even included revealing our favorite breakfast food and he seemed pleasantly surprised that this long-legged 18-year-old Yankee 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/early morning sounds on the pond were the low melodic hums that came from the music within each cabin coupled with the sounds of nature from outside. The pairing made for an interesting effect. Rickey’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 the cavalry showed up to "rescue" me. Carol seemed surprised that Rickey and I were totally engrossed discussing music when she arrived and not in the throes of passion. Eventually, the four of us fell asleep. Carol and Chip took Rickey's bed and Rickey and I slept on the floor with Goats Head Soup playing in the background. As the song Angie came on the stereo, Rickey held me close and whispered in my ear, "we need to try this again minus the company." I couldn't help but notice how good his hair smelled and made a mental note to ask him later what brand of shampoo he used as I fell asleep with a smile on my face. That was just one of many nights I spent in the peaceful solitude on the Lucas Pond, but only after telling Rickey my panties would never be on his wall. 

Carol and I were always up to night we decided to liberate pumpkins from a closed road side vegetable stand. Why? Because we could! So we did! We loaded her car up completely and made our getaway towards Lucas Pond. As we got closer to the pond, we ran out of gas. Great! Here we sat in the middle of nowhere on a dirt road late at night with a car full of pumpkins and not a gas station open in probably 30 or more miles. In Vernon, the sidewalks were rolled up at sundown and stayed that way until morning. The only thing we felt safe in doing was to stay put until daylight and then walk to the nearest gas station. I guess neither one of us wanted to run into a rattlesnake in the dark. As we settled in for the night, a truck approached us and slowed down as it got closer. It finally came to a complete stop when it was parallel to Carol's car. It was Royce Anderson. He was Rickey's friend who lived in the next cottage. After he got done laughing at our antics, he told us to hop in and he'd take us to the

cottages with the intention of remedying our gas situation in the morning. Like two naughty children, we obeyed him. As Carol and Royce walked to his cabin, I stood looking at Rickey with a "girls just want to have fun" look. He put his arm around me and led me inside.

When Rickey met my brother, Brian and his family, he could hardly wait to leave so he could mimic all of us. I had to admit that his fake Maine accent was right-on and I laughed hysterically at him. He definitely could "pahk da cah" (park the car) with the best of them. We went to all the usual places couples around those parts went (like softball games and other outings) and whenever we ran into Rickey's friends he introduced me as "Gail." Gail? But my name was Karen. He explained he did that because he didn't want any of his friends to know my real name and he thought the name Gail fit me. Okay! So I played along. I was Gail. Or Gale (a very strong wind). The only place Rickey wouldn't take me was when he'd go to Panama City Beach to do some "business." He said he didn't mix business with pleasure and that his business was risky and he didn't want to risk me getting busted. I was cool with that. I hung out with Carol while he conducted "his business" and when he returned, he returned to be with me. Rickey was different from most guys I knew. He really did pay attention to detail and seemed to enjoy surprising me. Our very first conversation led to him surprising me by making me my favorite breakfast...steak and eggs. Just when I began thinking this thing with him had definite real possibilities one night he didn't come back. Then one night turned into another and another and I didn't hear anything more from him. I'm not one to chase after anyone, so I just let it go. I assumed he had found something better to do than to keep me amused.

One night about a month after I hadn't heard from him, a mutual friend frantically tracked me down to tell me that Rickey had been in a horrible car accident and that he wasn't expected to live. He had been thrown from his car and the car had rolled on top of his head.  I really didn't know what to do. Was I supposed to go to the hospital? Was I expected to go to the hospital? What if I went and some other female was there? There I sat with my new boy toy, Kenny Rowe and I was seriously conflicted.  I wanted so badly to drop everything and rush to Panama City, but I was frozen where I sat. I was afraid to face losing someone I cared about. I couldn't do that again. I knew I couldn't see Rickey torn up and barely clinging to life. Everyone present was so impressed that I knew Rickey and Royce because they had a very tight group of friends that rarely admitted new people into their inner circle, but I didn't go into any details. I just acknowledged that I knew them and when asked how I knew them, I just shook my head as if to say "not now"and looked down. My eyes were full of tears, but I just sat there and did nothing. I mean what could I do? So, instead of doing the right thing, I chose to do what was easiest for me. My actions that night are something I deeply regret. Rickey, wherever you are, I'm so sorry for not showing you that I really did care when you needed it most.