Even redneck boys like pretty girls and I remember one evenin’, back in the late sixties, when my old pal Bill arranged blind dates for my brother and me. We should have known better. I mean, if Bill dated anything like he camped, the night could very well prove to be fatal. Bill assured me that my date was not really blind, merely a blind date. I was still concerned, because with him you had to ask direct questions and hope you hadn’t left anything important out. While Bill wouldn’t lie to you, if you didn’t ask he wouldn’t tell. Like most rednecks, he was honest unless cornered, then he’d lie his rear-end off.
When Bill arrived at our house he was drivin’ his mom’s car, which sure beat going to town in a hay truck. Let me assure you, it is hard to pick up girls with a hay truck no matter how big your smile. His expression was that of a used car salesman, the I know and you know this car is a lemon, but you’re going to buy it anyway look.
Since we were going out we’d already washed down at the creek. Also, we were dressed our best, with all three of us wearin’ jeans, Bubba’s Bait Shop tee shirts and, of course, cowboy boots. And, as you might guess, each of us wore a cowboy hat. Bill had his cigarettes rolled up in his right shirt sleeve and Larry had a can of snuff in his right rear jean pocket. I hated smokin’, because I choked when I tried it and snuff was like taking sand into my mouth. No thanks to either, I chewed Deadman chewin’ tobaccer.
With a grin and a laugh the three of us piled into his mom’s car and were soon leavin’ a cloud of dust following us on the old country road toward town. We were to meet the girls at a drive-in theatre in a small nearby town. That meant girls, maybe a beer, and a good movie. Onliest thing better would have been a greased pig contest at a county fair.
On the road, Larry kept askin’ about the girls, while I was more worried about maybe gettin’ some beer from Bobby Lee, the town drunk. Now, like I said, I’d never seen the girls, but decided to help Bill out by sayin’ things that were probably true about anyone. Things like, they have real nice personalities, they really like drive-in movies, they have good smiles (this one came back to haunt me), and they are lively. When Larry asked Bill about his date, he told Larry his girl had a smile as big as the Mississippi River. I had double dated with Bill before and he had good taste, so I wasn’t very worried, but I should have been. Actually, if I had known what I was going to face that night, I would have doubled the beer order from Bobby Lee.
Once in town we went by Bobby’s place and he got us a six pack of beer along with a couple pouches of chewin’ tobacco. That and a woman is all a redneck man needs to be happy, ‘less it’s grits and coffee in the mornin’s. Bobby took his usual cut, a gallon of wine that cost us a dollar. But, Bobby always did have expensive tastes. We soon had the beer in a metal washtub iced down.
Then it was off to the drive-in. At the entrance gate it was two dollars a carload and it made me wish, in a way, that we’d brought the whole hay haulin’ crew. Then again, maybe not this night, after all, we were girl trollin’. We drove around the parkin’ area and soon found the girls. Bill got out and brought his and my girl over to his car. His girl was very pretty and had a nice shape too. I guess my date was all right, except for her moustache. I was trying to grow a beard at the time, but I shaved it off later that same evening. Why? Well, when I realized it would be years before my facial hair was as good as my dates, I just lost all motivation. Plus, I found out later that she chewed a bigger wad of ‘bakker than most men did.
Bill then took Larry over and introduced him to his date for the evenin’. The poor boy looked over at me like a coon dawg that’s treed a skunk. Larry’s date had a left thigh that was thicker than his waist. Nonetheless, since Larry had agreed to go on this date, he had no choice but to sit next to Mabel Nadine. See, cowboys and rednecks do whatever they say they will, ‘cause our word is bindin’. Larry didn’t drink, although I’m sure he wished he did right soon enough.
In less than an hour we were all wrapped up watchin’ some alien creature eatin’ a town up north. Being a southern gentleman, I shared a beer and my chew with my date. I opened my second beer a little later (after lookin’ at her my first one went down quickly) and relaxed a bit. My date spat a string of brown juice out the winder, turned toward me, leaned over, and gave me a stomach turnin’ kiss. I say stomach turnin’, because that’s the only way to describe a French kiss from a girl with a beard that’s chewing. It was sort of like kissin’ my uncle Henry would be, I suspect. While I thought I had it bad, it was nothin’ compared to what my brother was goin’ through.
All kinds of noise broke loose as alien’s started eatin’ a bus load of tourists. I heard a very loud scream. Now, a scream ain’t really unusual durin’ a science fiction movie, except this one was real close, in the next car. Bill and I scrambled over to the car, assumin’ Larry’s overweight date had suffered a heart attack.
Larry’s body was forced up against the car door with his head hangin’ out the open winder. I saw saliva drippin’ from the left corner of his open mouth. Nadine kept calling Larry her “little porcupine”. We had to act fast or my brother would end up being a greasy spot on the front seat of a ’55 Chevy in a matter of minutes. So, in desperation, I took another drink of beer and thought on it a spell.
Nadine, noticin’ we were there, looked up at me with her lips squeezed together like she had been sucking a lemon, and said simply, "Buzz off dipstick.”
This fine southern woman was the first person to call me this name, but for sure not the last. My ex-wife and her lawyer have almost made it almost a love term. I worked my chew to the right side of my mouth as I wondered if dipstick was a big city love name. Bill, smarter than he looks, course he would have to be, pushed his hat back on his head as his brain kicked into overdrive.
“Nadine,” he said softly, “What are you doin’ to Larry? He’s studyin’ to be a Baptist preacher.”
Back then most folks will never mess with two things, the church and my uncle Henry.
She screamed, “What?”
In a flash she was off of Larry, the two girls were in her car, and only a cloud of dust showed were the car used to be.
“Larry,” Bill said as he took a long swig of his almost empty beer, “what’s the matter son? I told you she had a big smile.”
I laughed and Bill was on me faster than my grandpa would have been on an egg suckin’ dog. “What are you laughin’ at? Didn’t the bearded lady tickle your fancy?” With a disgusted look on his face, he shook his head and got into his momma’s car. As he placed both of his hands on the steerin’ wheel he turned to us and said, "Don’t you guys know ugly is only skin deep?"
Sure, ugly is only skin deep, if your date is good lookin’, and not the ugly one. Then all of this skin deep beauty stuff gets personal. ‘Sides, I didn’t make ‘nough money to keep me and that woman supplied with chewin’ tobacco and razors.”
Art by W.R. Benton