Monday, January 11, 2010

As Cold Now As Then

Hard to believe, but it was as cold around here back in January of '84 as it is now.  Or at least we had plenty of cold weather and nights where we had to turn the water off to protect the pipes. 
Pete had took my phone number with him when he had left New Year's Day morn.  He had to leave early.  Said he had to work. Something about "pumping wells".  I really only half expected him to ever use that phone number. 
But he did.  And we started dating regularly.  Lord knows it's been awhile and the hows, whys and whens are fuzzy.  But I have a collection of memories and snippets from that time.  A very vivid one is that Pete was the most consistent man at things like holding my coat for me when I put it on, or helping me off with it, pulling out chairs for me, opening doors for and all of that old school chivalry of anyone I had ever dated.  If he ever missed a single time, I can't recall it.  So I always felt special and respected when I was with him.
I also recall how at odds Pete's nature was to how he lived.  By this I mean he had a childlike joy and thirst for fun in simple things.  Like a precious tow-headed boy.  But he was actually in his early twenties and had lived a fairly hard, grow-up quick sort of life.  The two things made him quite a paradox and I never knew quite what to expect out of him, from him.  He might call me on the phone and I might answer just to find playing in my ear "I Can Help" or "Rub it In" by Billy Swan.  Or he might surprise me by pulling a teddy bear shaped sucker out of his pocket for me. 
We went to pool halls a lot.  He liked to shoot pool and was good at it.  He really didn't care to dance and hardly ever did.  There were songs on the juke box he liked to play.  One was George Strait's "You Look So Good in Love".  He'd play it and laugh and say he was dedicating it to my ex.  That it was what he was saying now.  And he liked John Cougar Mellencamp's "Little Pink Houses". 
We also went to the woods spotlighting rabbits.  The first time he ever took me out for that I really was a little scared at first.  He was dressed all in black.  And we were too far out and away from any place I had been before.  I thought, "Lord, Barbara, what if he's a crazy axe murderer."  But it turned out all that got murdered was a rabbit or two and my Justin boots in the briar patches and mud.  Every time we went out, I dressed nice.....but I never knew no matter what we started off doing when we'd end up in the woods somewhere. 
I was very stern and committed to my promise to myself to make them call, make them pick me up, etc., in the beginning.  I remember once we had planned for him to take me to his mama and step-father's for the weekend and he called me and said the clutch in his car had burned up the night before and he couldn't come, please follow my directions and you come here in your car.  Well, I told him no, absolutely not!  If you want me down there, you'll find a way to come get me.  He hung up.  I'm sure he simmered and cursed a little.  Then he called me back and said "Look, normally, I wouldn't mind at all coming after you.  But my car is torn up right now.  I could borrow my mama's but I just can't see the point in doing that when YOU have a perfectly good car all of your own."  So I thought this over a while and finally relented and drove down there myself.  After all, it was clear he was very serious and I also figured maybe being somewhere totally new to me with people I had never met before, to have my own wheels might not be a bad thing.  His mama was so kind, so welcoming.  Pete had even convinced her to let us both sleep in the room he used when he was there....because he had told her, "she won't give me any, anyhow."  LOL  Talk about nine shades of red when I found out he had asked and told her that. 
But we did.  We slept with all our clothes on in that old bed, with the radio on all night long.  I don't know how many times it played "I'm Gonna Wake Up in Your Arms Tomorrow" but it seemed like every single hour.  (I had never been one to sleep with a radio or TV on, so I didn't sleep much at all.  Mostly just lay there in his arms and listened to songs.)
Back to the cold:  once Pete and I were about to leave my house and the weather was gonna be below freezing.  My stepfather was gone and I told him I had to cut off the water first before we could leave.  Pete offered to open up the faucet around back for me and he grabbed hold of the top of the chain link fence that separated the front and back yard, hopping over like guys often do.  In about two seconds after his feet hit the ground on the other side, Spot, my stepfather's pit bull got after Pete.  And Pete hopped right back over!! 
Just little bits and pieces of memories swirling around my head on a very cold January day.    
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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Barbie meets Pete

I decided to post some of "our" stories here on Life & Faith. In part, because I love sharing them, telling them. But largely motivated to save these stories for my children. So please come along with me as we go back to Dec. 31, 1983:

This December was on of the coldest I can remember. It was 17 degrees for a high on Christmas day! Very unusual for us. And I was 23 years old. I had lost my mom less than a year before and was still living in the our home with my stepfather, Polk, as we both tried to chart out what came next. Between work and my running the roads I was actually seldom there.

On New Year's Eve of 1983 I was fed up with men. You find one treats you right, and seemed "the right feeling" never developed. Find one with the right feeling and sooner or later they let you down. Coming out of a nearly year long relationship that had gone south for no explainable reason, I had made up my mind to simply do what I pleased, go out with whomever I wanted to just for their company. New rules to play by: don't phone them, don't go to them, don't meet them, don't spend a dime of my money on them. They could do it all or nothing. I wouldn't be used, played, toyed with any more.

So on this particular evening I was at home getting dressed up to go out dancing for New Year's Eve. My best friend (who was already married), Mary Lou, phoned me up to say "come out here with us for New Year's. Glen and Connie are playing." "No, I think I'm going somewhere else." "Oh, come on" she insisted ~she was very good at insisting ;o)~"Paul is gonna be there with his fiance and Ronnie says you have to be there." "Okay, I'll come out there, but I'm not promising I'll stay there."

So I finished dressing, pulled on my cowboy boots and got a good coat and left the house. I walked into the club to find the others already there. I ordered a drink and sat down with them. It wasn't extremely pleasant for me; hearing and seeing Glen and Connie brought back nostalgic memories of the past year. I half hoped, half dreaded Rocky might walk in the door. I wanted to bolt and run. Go somewhere else, anywhere else. But each time I was about to make my excuses and cut out, someone would ask me to dance or engage me in conversation and I'd end up staying on.

It wasn't long before us girls had to excuse ourselves to the ladies room. Being single, my eyes were perusing the men I saw along the way. Sloppy, ugly, obviously taken, drunk, old so and so....then I spy a tall, slender frame bent from the waist over the pool table. His hair looked like spun gold, shining under the Bud light hanging above the table. His jeans fit his rear just right. I nudged Mary Lou in the side and said, "Oh, look at that one! The only good looking guy in here." Mary Lou said, "What? Where?" Oh, hell, she was too married to notice. Coming back by the pool table upon exit of the ladies room, I tried to catch his eye, but seemed to fail. Oh, well, back into the dark recesses of our table.

Later on, a song started, Percy Sledge I think, and Mary Lou was obviously going to be mad at Ronnie if he didn't make it back to dance with her. So I went to warn him to high tail it to the dance floor. I walked up to find him talking to the handsome young man I had noticed over the pool table. Forever full of himself, Ronnie made some crack. And then the handsome young stranger leaned in between us, tapped the side of his cheek with a long slender finger and said, "give me a little kiss, right here." I pulled back a little and took in his face. It was kind, cheerful and full of mischief. His right brow was slightly cocked. Why not? So I leaned over and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. It seems Ronnie made some quick introductions. But suffice it to say, at some point he ended up over at our table. After Mary Lou and stomped his foot repeatedly, he had asked me to dance to a slow song. And he got up once again to dance to "Auld Lang Syne" as the clock struck midnight. As the lights came up and "Turn out the Lights, the Party's Over" started blaring from the jukebox he asked about us doing more tonight. I told him I was going home. Told him where I lived and told him he could come over and watch TV if he wanted to. He assured me he'd be there. I wasn't counting on it.

I walked out to my Mustang and cranked up, started getting ready to leave. Letting some cars pull out and get away from me. Noticed in the rear view mirror that my handsome young man was packing about 5 girls into an AMX. Well, he obviously got a better deal! So much for that. And I pulled out and headed home. I was surprised to find my stepfather had not returned from a family party he had gone to. Being an old night owl, I suppose. I walked through the cold house. Lit a couple of heaters. Peed. Was kicking my boots off when I heard a car in the drive and in just a second, there was a knock on the door. I turn on the porch light and opened the door to see HIM standing there! Wow. I didn't think you were coming, it looked like you were busy. He claimed the women I had seen climbing into his car, were his three sisters and a couple of their friends he had to take home before he came over. We settled down on the couch. Watched TV. Talked. He had given me three options of names I could call him, and I never could settle on one. Polk finally came home. I made introductions. Then Polk headed for bed. We talked some more. Cuddled and kissed a little, as much from the cold as anything. Not long after Pete said he'd better head off to home, that he had to work the next day. That he was a pumper and had to check the wells every single day. I urged him to settle down on the couch instead, due to the late hour, the 15 mile drive and the whole New Year's and alcohol thing.

(It was several months later when I heard the story from his sisters about that night after the club closed. They said he herded them into the car like cattle. And literally drove like a bat out of hell, leaving them scared senseless, to get them where they were staying that night. Claimed he fairly threw them out of the car when they got there, barely slowing to a roll. It was a good 30 mile round trip from the club, to there, and back down to my house. He made it in about 10 minutes.)

Friday, January 1, 2010

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