For me it was Jean. In the town she grew up in, outside of DC, the driveways were a quarter-mile long. There were no driveways in the Heights where I grew up. She’d held my guitar while I finished a bar fight I hadn’t started, and somehow we became inseparable.
I have a reputation for never starting a fight, but always finishing them. It was the way my father taught me. Either I won, or he beat me. It was a hard school, and it means that I only have two settings on my switch: on or off. I can’t do subtle. Jean never understood that, but it was why I avoided fights if at all possible. She just thought I was luring jerks in.
A few weeks before Thanksgiving, she began agitating for me to come to join her family during the holiday. I was having trouble just making the rent on my room. She got enterprising and found some extra jobs so I could get bus fare together. She didn’t want her parents to see me let off from my last ride in their driveway.
The long Greyhound bus trip from Maine to suburban DC was non-repeatable. She flew.
We all see what we want to see in our partners, and what I saw in her was a bit more like a quiet steadying force. A sea anchor to help me resist the storm. She saw a rebellious rule-breaker, always in trouble. I guess it was glamorous and fun. She wanted a bad boy, and I was not bad, I just looked that way, and had an unruly life.
Thanksgiving was, of course, “interesting.” Her father and I became acquainted. Friday evening, he openly discussed with me the string of disastrous bad boys who had preceded me. He expressed the hope that I represented a maturing on her part. By Saturday, she was ignoring me, and by Sunday, I was out of their house by 7 in the morning. I conspicuously stuck my thumb out where anyone in the house could watch. I no longer thought Jean was so sweet. By Tuesday afternoon, I was back at my regular table at the Gate coffeehouse picking out a tune with my friend Jim.
I didn’t see her again till the weekend. She walked into the Gate and ignored me while flirting with someone she picked up on the spot, casually whispering, and then looking my way. I suppose this was supposed to incite a riot, fight and result in someone getting knocked about. I won’t lie; I was mad, but habit made me wary. Eventually, the pretty boy got up and sauntered over a grin on his face. “Jean tells me you’re a coward.” I smiled; ignoring him I got up with my guitar in my hand, and walked to the stage, thinking this is pretty much how my last fight started. I mounted the stage, sat down and announced my first song: Drop Down Mama.
Drop down, mama, let your daddy see
You got something really worrying me
No my mama she don’t allow me fool around all night
Fool around all night, all night long
I may look like I’m crazy but least I know right from wrong
Some of these women sure do make me tired.
Gotta a hair full of “gimme,” mouth full of “much obliged.”
No my mama she don’t allow me fool around all night long.
Fool around all night, all night long
Listen, candy is sweet too, but you can’t make a steady diet of it.
6 Replies to “Wishes”
Another great story, Lou. You have met some very interesting people along the way, haven’t you?
I was very fortunate. I avoided many of the consequences of the lifestyle that caught up with my friends. I do not think a single one of them is alive. I enjoy writing fictionalized versions of real events, but I really wish my friends had escaped with me. Thank you for your kind comments. I really like reading your posts!
You really have to do a book someday… maybe you can dedicate it to your friends.
Thanks for always tuning in, Lou. Greatly appreciated!
Hi, Lou; have you removed your comment section for good? I could not find the comment window in your next two posts.
Hi Irene, I just got forgetful when I posted. Thanks for bringing it you my attention! All fixed.
Great, thanks Lou!
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