Kenneth, born and raised in the South, resides in Hamilton, Alabama. He enjoys sharing his unique perspectives on life through his writing.
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die
— Don McLean, songwriter
When I Met 'Her'
I was an awkward, scared like a stray mutt, just glad to be cowering in the backseat of such a hot and easy girl. I was 16. Never been with (any) girl of my age because I lusted for the 30-year-old divorcee's running wild in a beat-up pickup truck making young male lives eating-away from boredom--these gals would literally eat a male up for breakfast and spew him out at dawn--I dreamed for that night. I would have paid for the experience if my dad wasn't so tight with his money.
I never got to Woodstock. My dad raved, "go out, get high from dope and die," and he meant it. Right up until I met a guy with morals so loose that he rattled like an old fender on a '56 Buick, but I didn't care. I use again the term about being a stray mutt so lonely that (this) guy, a new pal, might have had a Mercury Outboard for a mouth, but he was wise enough to see into a person to know just what made them tick. I always liked Alan. From start to finish. I can't lay claim to putting this label on many of my hoodlum friends.
A Typical Saturday Night
in my hometown of Hamilton, Ala., was no more exciting than Sante Fe, NM. At least New Mexico had more Gila Monsters and Road Runners. We only had us, the Hoodlums, not a gang. Not organized crime, but six, sometimes-seven guys hungry for any girl's love and keeping cash in our jeans. Life was so simple in 1971. So simple in fact that we would sit downtown on our car hoods and swear that we had awoke in Heaven when we would see (instantly) an average-looking girl or two in their daddy's car and take in to them like a wolf looking for prey--as we rode, we always manufactured enough lies to do all around so none of us would be lonely (or stupid) enough to spend the night alone. Simple.
This is where two 30ish brunettes in a beat-up Chevy truck entered our lives. We scoped them out just to get one chance of going out with them for we knew that money alone wouldn't seal the deal. But knowing what town they came from and did we know (this) so and so, might get us to getting a phone number or asked to go for a drive and with the two divorcee's having free beer, we couldn't ask for more than this.
Alan, the self-appointed leader, said, "we can ride in my car," and that was that. He showed a stern hand and it didn't fool us that much, but I would have told anyone in 1971 who valued a dollar and a name to NOT get into a poker game with him unless you want to be cleaned out and to the naked bone. Alan was ruthless when it came to poker. He would go all-in with three-three's, all 6s, with no sign of fear of those who played poker with him. He had won and he has lost. You could look by the cut of his clothes and how his '57 shined that Alan was no dope. And for a short while ‘we’ somehow ruled the asphalt in and out of Hamilton, Ala., if you are out on vacation . . .visit with us.
Sunday Evenings Meant:
a group meeting anywhere, but where the cops like to troll for troublemakers for the sake of writing tickets to meet their quotas because our mayor was a stickler for Law and Order. Our clandestine meetings were for ONE reason: to compare notes of what girl gave whom their number and how. This was the main question: would Alan be driving us, who were low on scratch, and gas for our cars, to our next weekend outing to chase down those beautiful worldly 30ish divorcees—and one, she wore those wonderful hoop earrings, a sure sign that she was “easy,” and green lighting us to approach her and her girlfriend.
But even us card-carrying rural guys knew that the one thing (besides having dough) would be ample influence enough to score with these gals, so we drew lots on which of us would be elected to drive Alan’s ‘57. He hated the process, but he was, after all, our leader—even if we hadn’t voted him in—it was his ‘57 that the girls loved, not necessarily Alan, but do you think us backwoods guys would be so dumb as to tell him?
I remember waiting to watch James, Gary, and Steve go on attack when the two divorcees hit town and we were ready. But Alan, being our leader, said that in order for us to drive his coveted ‘57, he wanted to get the first drive. We agreed. And he burned out like a cheap Black Cat firecracker—fact is, the girls, although flattered, laughed at Alan and his thick glasses and empty promises, so they thought that he was just joking by promising to take them both to Birmingham, Ala., for a Saturday night of dancing, drinking, and some heavy petting. Alan was a big dreamer besides being a big liar.
But The ‘Girl’ Who
carried him home (and us) was the loving, care-free ‘57. Always trustworthy although being ‘shot-down,’ by the divorcees, Kathy and (Georgia.--what a true southern belle name.) When it was my turn to convince the girls that “I” was the answer to their needs, Georgia was the one who loved to laugh—and when I drove up and parked next to them, Georgia was the first to cackle like a hyena, but Kathy looked more like those models us guys loved to look at in STAG and other men’s magazines—with her eyes with a bit too much mascara and eye-liner and those perky lips, red and full. Yep. I was in love, but I never was able to take them out for dinner, just good enough for a few good laughs. One weekend came and we didn’t see them anymore, so we made plans to head over to Red Bay, Ala., home of fast girls and short-tempered guys who loved to beat guys up just because they were from out-of-town.
I tell you this with a straight face: we drove into Red Bay one Saturday evening into Alan’s ‘57 and she looked fine—waxed and washed, Alan loved to show her off which was his main gift to the world.
We rode up and down the streets of Red Bay and then back to Hamilton, all without as much as a curse word aimed at us. The ‘57, although ‘she’ looked so fine, put out a certain vibe (to evil girls and men alike): if you mess with me, I will give you lots of misery. In 1971 as in 2019, I do not know that much, but that much I did know about Alan’s 57 and that vibe that was aimed at one and all troublemakers.
Then, One Fateful Saturday Morning
in my hometown of Hamilton, Ala., four months ago at our Hardee’s Restaurant, my wife and I were having breakfast and up he drove—Alan and he looked so beaten-down and depressed. I thought to myself has he been laying-out drinking, gambling, or just leading the solitary life. I knew that he had married a few years ago, but I wonder if she was able to change him at all.
“Hey, man,” I said as he walked toward us. “what’s going on?” I added being interested in why he looked so down and out.
“Just stopped for breakfast,” Alan replied. And still had that depressed look although I asked about his wife and he said that she was fine.
“Did you sell the ‘Red Demon’?” I asked, and (I think that you know whom the ‘Red Demon’ was.
“Sold it two years ago—the biggest mistake I have ever made,” Alan said with a certain sadness in the tone of his voice.
I tried to console him as I was then thinking about his ‘57 who was like an important family member who was now deceased.
“Good to see you, Alan,” again, I tried to cheer him up. He halfway smiled, shook my hand and walked away.
If you were blessed to know a ‘girl’ like his red ‘57 Chevy, then sell ‘her,’ you would never come back from that.
February 12, 2019______________________________________________
A Look-Back to 1971:
For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.
- Did you own a 1957 Chevrolet?
One More Look . . .
© 2019 Kenneth Avery