his face splattered across my big screen tv. still recognizable. i gasped. that's all i could manage.
my thoughts shifted to 1978 and a souped-up baby blue nova. to the guy with arms the circumference of watermelons (maybe this explains the temptation of dan uggla), with demonstrative movements that roared "i'm the man"', azure eyes as intense as the grand canyon, and a compact body that rendered me powerless and weak in the knees. then, there was that smile, a sly, edgy slope of the lips that was rare, but spoke volumes of intent. i made excuses to be in the same room as he, and i found myself carrying a crush that would endure for years. he became an inferno not easily doused by water or common sense. long before i knew what a 'bad boy' was, i had my very own.
while my fire continued to blaze, he remained comfortable in the field. the choice of every warm-blooded young teenage girl who registered a pulse. in the end it became clear, there was no prescription to tame a guy like that. what was i thinking? however, there were a few moments when his resolve withered and good old-fashioned desire won out. it was nice. in fact, it was too nice. on one cold november night, he even seemed normal, just like the high school quarterback, offering a christmas gift of overly expensive earrings, opening the car door, and then, altering his sly smile to one of genuineness. then, on that same night, the bad boy met a bad girl, and i was history.
fast forward almost thirty-five years. there was an accident, a fiery crash on atlanta's perimeter, and it was his moment. there are lots of descriptors for bad boys; most follow the usual stereotype. and for right or wrong reasons, most labels include running into catastrophe, attempting to save the day, which is what he did on this day when he saved a man from a burning vehicle. he was labeled a hero by the man and a community. and in true bad-boy fashion, he abated his response, giving credit to instinct. to god. to his parents.
my knees buckled when i saw my bad boy, just as they had years ago. i hadn't thought of him in years, but i had always wondered what became of his cherished nova and about the girl that finally crippled his heart. from the on-camera interviews, i could see his sly smile had been replaced by one of compassion. from the neck up, he looked much the same. as for the rest of him, my imagination will have to kick in.
congrats to my bad boy. now, the world knows exactly what i know.
once every four or five weeks, my jersey-born husband drives his juiced up trans am into town and pulls over to the only barber shop within miles of our home. right smack dab downtown, on the corner of school and main. he walks in fuzzy and walks out coiffed to perfection. and that procedure includes an air compressor.
after hearty conversation of summer heat and the neighbors found on the police blotter, the cut is done and it all comes down to the 'blow'. she grabs the long blue hose and lets him have it, blowing microscopic pieces of hair from one end of the parlor to the other. people sit and read their papers, unshaken by the blast of air that inevitably whisks right by their ears. they pay it no never mind and wait for their turn in the chair.
the south is an amazing place. i forget that it runs through my veins, sometimes right up until the moment an air compressor becomes part of an unconventional salon experience. we're weird, i get it, and we're solid, too. we carry our traditions out the door and hope no one flinches when we shout our 'y'all' and 'ya hear' on a daily basis. come to think of it, those words warm my heart, just like remembering the aroma of country ham frying in an iron skillet and fluffy cat-head biscuits baking in my mama's kitchen.
i try to convince my husband that he is truly a southerner now. after almost 20 years of being in the thick of our drawl, you can't help but become one of 'us'. every now and then, he'll say my version of 'why' - always a multi-syllable word - and that confirms my suspicions. he'll try to deny it, but i know better.
another reason I know for sure? i'll bet my life that his hair cuts will always include an air compressor.
meet the [other] animals
in an effort to introduce ourselves to our new son-in-law on the other side of the globe, we continue these posts and hope that by the time we finally meet face-to-face, there will be little need for any introduction.
according to bear, the other animals are just that, other - an afterthought, just taking up space.
we let bear think that and love the others just as much. here's the rest of the family on mayne.
meet jack and lolly. jack - a blm mustang - (center and below) was once wild, born on the range in colorado. he was herded up by the bureau of land management and shipped east in hopes that he would find a home. there's a white freeze brand on his neck that tells his story, of where he came from and how old he is thought to be.
at auction, len fell for jack's childlike personality and won the final bid. the next day, he returned, loaded the scrawny thing in the trailer - along with cheyenne who they threw in for an extra $25 - and headed home. today, he's still the life of the party, helping len fix fences and entertaining the rest of the crew. he's len's best friend with an extraordinary shoulder.
riding him is still a challenge. jack goes backwards very well.
lolly [right with len] was once a hypotherapy horse - meaning she was trained to work with the physically challenged, to take care of them on rides, to be calm and reassuring. in other words, if len convinces me to ride, he puts me on lolly for she reads my fear and goes slowly. she's also the queen of the pasture. all the others goes where lolly says 'go' and moves when she says 'disappear'. she rules the roost and all the others fall in line accordingly.
she is always fed first, and she hates donkeys and cows.
meet woody [below]. he's a king ranch quarter horse that is magnificent in statute but a little timid when it comes to acting his size. he's mostly a loner and stands on the sidelines while the others determine the sequence of events. but, it seems like he's happy to do it. len enjoys riding woody but only after he's 'run the snot out of him' in the round pen first. one time, about three years ago, he didn't do the prerequisite, and woody had the last word.
he dumped len smack-dab on his tailbone which broke and len's been aching ever since.
and then there's cheyenne [below right]. you can't bridle her, you can't catch her, you can't worm her, you can't trim her feet. she just eats and bugs woody. that's all i have to say about her.
then, it's the boys. cody [left] and silas.
cody appeared september 1, 2011. he was starving and i threw him old hotdog buns. he scarfed them down. he hasn't left. he is part german shepherd - something else mix, and about six months old when he arrived. he had/has more energy than god. since then we've snip-snipped and were told that would calm him; that wasn't the case.
he can sit on command and is very protective of me and his food. we'll celebrate his third birthday in 2013.
he's a digger and when he rides, he barks at every car that passes like he will devour it completely.
needless to say, he doesn't ride much.
silas was a shelter dog. instead of us rescuing him, he rescued us in 2007.
silas was an inside dog and it took me a while to get the hang of living side-by-side with a dog that weighed almost as much as me. my leather shoes were his first victim, and i was his second for he stole my heart and hasn't given it back. now, he has learned to live with cody and share the backyard, but each does have his own house.
we celebrated his eighth birthday in may of this year.
silas sits and shakes when you say 'paw' - a trick taught by ty. silas is now teaching cody about 'paw'.
that's our tribe. bear, jack, lolly, woody, cheyenne, cody and silas. welcome to our party.
Whether it is exploring this amazing world or being content on my own piece of real estate near Athens, Georgia, I'm spinning stories and fashioning tales from a Southern perspective. As an editor and writer, I get to meet incredible people and share their stories. As a photographer, I get to cement these moments in time. As a wife and mother, I'm always excited to see what's around the next corner, For it's anything but ordinary.