It's all a matter of perspective.

Friday, January 10, 2003

Hello Betsy. It sure is nice to see you again. You look even prettier than I remember.
My name is Jimmy Lee Herringbone sir. It’s awful nice to meet you, seeing as how we are going to be in-laws and all.

I’m Willard McCord son, and my first impression of you is that you are not very bright.

Now why would you say that, Mr. Willard?

Because you could have gotten that thing out of there, but you had to let it soak.

Well sir, the truck got kicked out of gear, we rolled down and hit a tree and then there was also keg beer involved, I apologize Mr. Willard. I’m sure sorry about us meeting like this but I think we can make the best of it. I am a good, honest, hard working man and you strike me as the same. Anyone who raised up a daughter as fine as little Betsy here would have to be. Also I know for a fact that the Daleville McCords are good people and I know them to be your kin.

I ain’t the one on trial here son. You watch football?

Yessir.

Who is your team?

College or pro?

College first.

Arkansas.

What do you think of Frank Broyles?

He needs to retire and quit meddlin’, but he wont stop till he dies.

Pro?

Cowboys.

What do you think of Jerry Jones?

He needs to retire and quit meddlin’, but he wont stop till he dies.

What kind of music you like?

Country.

Who is you favorite singer?

Randy Travis.

What do you do for a livin'

I help my old man run his saw mill.

Did my daughter prep you on these questions?

No sir.

You wouldn’t lie to me would you boy?

No sir.

You gonna take good care of my daughter and teach my grandson to call them Hogs?

Yes sir.

Then welcome to the family, Jimmy Lee Herringbone. Where can we find this Pastor Ronnie?
When you get to the corner of Arkansas highways 186 and 183 you are in Daleville. There are no signs that tell you that. There is not evidence of a town right there at the intersection. Just two gas stations situated on opposite corners and a light hanging from wire that blinks yellow one direction and red the other. On Arkansas 186, the street where you don’t have to stop, the speed limit slows down to 45. You would have to be from Daleville to know that there is a school just down from the intersection where 1500 kids attend k-12. It seems like there is a dirt road every quarter of a mile on those main highways and those roads weave in and out of each other in those wooded Ouachita Mountains with thousands of houses spaced generously apart.

Jimmie Lee Herringbone had lived down one of those dirt roads, the Hickory Holler Road, for his entire life. His folks had an old three bedroom farm house on ten acres and the saw mill. When Jimmy Lee was in Jr. High and trying to make the Daleville Fighting Beavers football team he would run to the highway and back every afternoon after school. He had his mom check the distance on the odometer of her car and it was 3.2 miles one way. When his dad made him assistant manager of the saw mill (he was in charge of the three other employees besides himself and his old man) he brought in an old trailer house he bought out of the Sunday classifieds and set it up about half a football field from his folk’s house.

Betsy and her dad stopped at the Citgo down at the Daleville intersection and called for directions to Jimmy Lee’s trailer. After he got off the phone he walked out in the front yard in those Sunday best clothes of his and leaned up against his truck with his thumbs in his belt loops and a twig of sage grass sticking out of his mouth. It was not long before Betsy and her father pulled into the front yard. They were in an old pickup, not much different than Jimmy Lee’s. Betsy had on a pretty little sunflower dress and her dad had a chartreuse cowboy shirt, black leather vest, bolo tie, and a big black Stetson with silver Mexican conchos around the band. A brown Swisher Sweets Little Cigar hung from his lips and his hands were locked onto the steering wheel in the ten and two position. He did not smile, he did not say hello, and he did not even look over. Jimmy Lee climbed through the passenger side door and Betsy scooted to the middle of the truck.

“I done called Brother Ronnie. He’s the one what baptized me when I’s 12 down at the 3rd Missionary Baptist Church of Daleville. My folks still go there most Sundays and I reckon I would if’n I could get up that early.”

Jimmy Lee’s new father in-law just grunted.

Jimmy Lee noticed for the first time that Betsy’s eyes were red and puffy from crying.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Jimmy Lee Herringbone lived in a small town in the Ouachita National Forest. He cut lumber for a living. To entertain others he cut the cheese. Jimmy Lee was thirty years old and never did finish high school. He didn’t drop out; he just kind of stopped going his senior year around March. When graduation rolled around he figured there was no sense in going. He found out later at the after party that they had called out his name and even had a diploma for him. At this point he was too embarrassed to go up to the High School Principal’s office and collect that diploma. He couldn’t imagine that they would graduate someone that had not been to class in eight weeks. But they did.

Jimmy Lee took a job at the sawmill that his old man ran. They made wood shavings that were used in the chicken houses that were springing up all over those hills. On good days his old man would let him drive the big delivery truck through the woods to some chicken house that needed them. This meant that Jimmy Lee got to get out of the mill and listen to his Randy Travis tape and daydream about moving away to a far away exotic town like Mena or Russellville.

At a party one night he met a girl from LA . . . Lower Arkansas that is. Her name was Betsy McCord and she was from down around Camden She was visiting her cousin Betty. Jimmy Lee liked Betsy. She wasn’t that pretty, but she was nice. She was so nice in fact that Jimmy Lee kept her plastic cup full of keg beer all night. About 11:30 they consummated their relationship on the bench seat in the cab of his 1987 full-size Chevy pick-up. While they were going at it, Jimmy Lee accidentally kicked the gear shift and it slipped into neutral. They had no idea that the old truck was moving until it hit a tree. They were parked out in the woods and it only rolled about twenty yards, but that was enough to put a nice dent in the front bumper. Right in the center, no less.

As it turned out, that dent was not the only souvenir that Jimmy Lee would have from that night. About a month later Betsy called him up and informed that she and her Daddy were headed north and they intended to pick up Jimmy Lee and go find a nice Missionary Baptist preacher that would marry the two of them because her daddy said he weren’t going to have no bastard grandchildren. Jimmy Lee just played it cool. When they got there he had on his cleanest black jeans, a short sleeve while button down shirt, and a paisley tie. Hell, he even shined up his boots. He liked Betsy, after all. He couldn’t think of any reason why the two of them and a little rug rat could not live happily ever after.
Hiku for Lunch

Saffron rice in my gut
Thank you Dan for taking me
Star of India


Sitting here at work
Drinking an afternoon coke
With each belch I ‘m back

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Sam's Little Sis!
Laney Elisabeth Barber was born at 4:44 PM today! She was 7 lbs, 8 oz and 18 inches long. Mother and baby are both very healthy. Everything went extremely well!
You can find Laney's old man Here
And her sweet momma Here
Special thanks to Ms. J for hosting
Suddenly, in the spot where comments go it will sometimes say, "Poseurs" rather than "Comments." I just wanted to say that I don't know how that happened, I don't know how to fix it, I did not do it, and I don't feel that way about you all at all!
State employees be smokin’. No kidding. Every time I enter or leave the building, the same ten or so people are standing by the doorway, toking up like Keith Richards in the morning. Today I had to leave mid-morning to go pick up the boy and take him to his new Mother’s Day Out. When I left, state employees be smokin’. When I returned, state employees be smokin’. That makes me wonder, is that their job description? They could not possibly be accomplishing much else. How do you get such a job? Where do I sign up? I can see the ad in the paper:
Wanted: A highly motivated person with experience in local, federal, or state government to stand in front of a government building a smoke. Must be able to complete at least three packs a day, Basic or Price Saver preferred but Camel or Marlboro also acceptable. Benefits include Health Insurance and 63 paid vacation and holidays a year.


So I got back from taking the boy to class and I am now sitting at my desk enjoying a Del Monte Fruit Cup. Because I took an early lunch to deliver the boy, my sweet Ms. J made a sack lunch for me to bring back to work and eat at my desk. Since I am Fatnathan, I am eating it immediately. I realize that it is only 9:30 and I will be hungry by the end of the day, but I am hungry now too. Also they have a snack bar upstairs. Don’t tell Ms. J.

Wylie was very excited about his new school. He has been talking all week about making new friends. When we got there he ran to his new teacher and jumped in her arms and gave her a big hug. All of the kids gathered around him to say hello to the new boy. Then they had dry Cheerios and red cool aid. I went out to the truck to get his stuff and when I got back I heard Wylie tell his teacher, “I’ll be right back real soon. I have to go play with some of these toys.”

I said, “See you later Wylie, I have to go back to work.”

Without looking up he said, “Otay Dadoe. See you soon.” Then he looked up at his new teacher and said, “Dadoe has to go to work.”

I hope it goes this smooth all semester. Last fall mother’s day out was a disaster. His teacher was a real b-with-an-itch and he hated going. We can not afford the one he is going to now, and it is thirty minutes from our house, but the program and teacher are so much better. It really is no comparison.