Growing up in the great state of racism and tobacco had its advantages. I can’t come up with many right now, but in all fairness, I had no time to prepare for your incessant prying.
There was the food. That was good.
Lots of biscuits and gravy and sweet tea and always some manner of animal insides fried until crispy.
There was the cache of good looking Southern boys who wore Wranglers with the requisite round imprint of a Skoal can on the back pocket and whose pick-up trucks and/or Camaro’s bore the Rebel Flag and at least one loaded shot gun in the back window.
That was scary.
And there was Southern marriage. That was all kinds of good, if good means disturbing and not at all healthy in any way, shape or form.
When I was in my sophomore year of high school (and openly dating grown men who today would be ambushed by Chris Hansen and his Dateline militia for doing the things we did before 11 PM on a Saturday night), there was a girl in my choir class named Karo who was also dating someone who was plenty old enough to know better.
(Before you go thinking Southern people name their kids after tasty syrup products, Karo is not her real name. It’s just that I learned my lesson after writing of an old boyfriend only later to be told he was on God’s payroll and my description of him was at the top of Google’s search listings for his name. I changed it as I figured church-goers didn’t want to know one of their pulpit guys was at one time a young horn-dog.)
Anyway Karo and her tall, weird looking, twenty-something honey wanted to get married in the worst way. She was fifteen after all and not getting any younger.
Every morning before she went to school and he went to his job, he’d drive to her house and wake up Karo with a kiss and a bowl of her favorite cereal in bed. Fruity Pebbles, no doubt.
Then while she was poofing her hair he’d go out and crank her car for her, always making sure that it was just the right temperature inside and that the perfect song expressing his deep pedophiliac love for her was playing at just the right decibel level.
I’m guessing something by Air Supply.
Their love was the gold standard of creepiness.
One day, Karo came to chorus and told me that Old Balls… I mean, that guy she was dating, had asked her Daddy for her hand and had been turned down cold. Even though in North Carolina it wouldn’t have been uncommon for her to be somebody’s wife before she could legally drive a car, she was an only child and her parents weren’t ready to let her go.
Karo was so distraught, she could barely sing the words, “Shine little glow worm, shimmer,” through her salty tears.
Her anguish had eased markedly however just about three days later when she arrived in class with a big grin and an even bigger diamond on her wife finger.
“We just told him the truth,” she said to me in explanation of Daddy’s change of heart.
For a brief moment I thought she meant the truth about what Old Balls was actually doing when he tucked her in after every date.
“We explained to Daddy & Momma that we were really and truly in love and that we wanted to spend as much time as possible together before the Rapture.”
How’s that now?
Even the good Southern Baptist girl I was recognized the gospel crazy in that logic.
“He told Daddy that he could tell by the signs that Jesus would be coming back in a year or two and he wanted to spend every minute of that time with me because there is no marriage in Heaven and so once we get raptured, we couldn’t be together any more. Daddy said he couldn’t argue with that, so we’re getting married!”
I’ve thought about poor Karo and her lawfully wedded criminal about a million times over the years. I wonder whether he still starts her car in the morning and brings her breakfast in bed.
I also wonder just how pissed off the two of them are that Jesus did not have the decency to come back already so they could finally enjoy the sweet release of what amounts to a Heavenly, completely God-sanctioned divorce.
And if I might be so bold, I wonder exactly how funny Jesus thinks this is. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn He is in fact delaying His big day just to teach the love birds a little lesson in theology. Perhaps something in a “Thou Shalt Not Use My Name in Pursuit of Hillbilly Stupidity” commandment would be in order.
Oh, but who am I to throw redneck stones? I once married a man because he knew all the words to the Old Rugged Cross. Ok that’s not true, but he did have a bigger shotgun than any of the other boys. Nothing says loving like a big gun in your window.
Now I'm all feeling all kinds of 80's. This is the song I want played at my funeral, by the way.
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