A recently released study claims an overwhelming majority of Americans have engaged in premarital sex. In homage to premarital sex, family lore, and heart-pounding adventure, I bring you this tale of young love and an unexpected encounter with the Bull of the Woods. I call it Love in the Afternoon.
When my parents were courting they often double-dated with my mother's sister, Faye, and her boyfriend Jim. Aunt Faye was everything Mom wasn’t. She was outgoing, brassy, and bold, enjoyed a cold beer or a shot of bourbon, and could cuss like a sailor and fight like a man. It took a man with guts to date my Aunt Faye, and Lord knows, my future uncle, James Davis, had guts.
Jim was a rough-houser, a down-home country boy from way back in the woods with an engaging smile, a ready laugh, and sparkling eyes full of mischief. Not much bothered Uncle Jim. He could get along with you, or not, and smile either way. He’d grown up a sawyer’s son and worked in the mills and on the farm all his young life. He was an immensely strong man and wasn’t afraid of much of anything. He was a bit afraid, perhaps, of my grandfather, who’d threatened to take a shotgun to the young lad if he got out of line with his daughter.
Through Mom and Faye, my Dad and Jim met, and became as close as brothers for as long as they lived. The two had much in common. Daddy wasn’t afraid of anything or anyone either, and like Jim, he wasn’t one to shy away from a fight or a cold beer. My father always laughed as he told me about meeting Jim. Faye introduced him, and Jim looked up and said, “Damn! You’re a big sonofabitch, ain’t ya?” Pop said he laughed and shook Jim’s hand, and the bond was immediate between them.
The four of them liked to steal away in Jim’s old Buick out to the country to go parking. They often found themselves along Halter Road, a little strip of gravel that survives to this day, and one which I made much the same use of growing up. The best spot on Halter was at the top of the big hill. From there, you could see a car coming from a half-mile away and it gave you time to get yourself situated before unwanted attention was paid to you by the authorities or an angry father.
One lazy summer afternoon, the four found themselves at the top of the big hill enjoying a beer and each other’s company. Faye and Jim were a bit more, shall we say, 'advanced' in their relationship than Mom and Pop were at the time, and Faye let it be known that they’d like a bit of privacy.
Pop led Mom off, and they took a hand-in-hand stroll down the hill to the creek that ran through the bottom of the hollows. I don’t know exactly what Pop had in mind, but being young myself once, I can make a pretty good guess. My mother was a chaste woman, and Pop didn’t get very far in his youthful attempts at amour with her. Momma believed in ‘ring before fling’ and suggested they cool their feet in the creek to get Pop’s body temperature down.
As the two young lovers sat, soaked their feet, and talked on the moss-covered rocks of Halter Creek they had an unexpected visitor. The old farmer that owned the land had a big, black bull named Samson. He was a huge old bull, thick and wide with a bit of an attitude. He was the King of All He Surveyed. On this particular afternoon he surveyed my parents cooling their heels in his creek. The old fellow seemed to take offense at this trespass, and wandered over to lodge a formal complaint.
Wrapped up in each other, the two lovers didn’t see Samson coming. Being a polite bull, he announced his presence with a deep huff, and Mom looked up to see him standing just ten feet away on the other side of the shallow creek. My mother was a woman prone to quick reaction in time of doubt or fear. When it came to the ‘fight or flight’ instinct, she had a double portion of ‘flight.’ Grabbing her shoes, she took off running as fast as she could back to the car, leaving poor Pop to fend for himself. Pop didn’t know what to do, so he took off running after Mom. Poor old Samson didn’t know what to make of all this but he must have thought, ‘hell, if everyone else is gonna’ run, I may as well too,’ and took off in hot pursuit of my parents.
Reaching the car in a panic, my mother jerked the door open and dove into the back seat. Right on top of a very busy – and buck naked – Uncle Jim. Jim thought it was my grandfather and he let out a screech you could hear from a mile away. The poor boy thought he was a dead man! Faye was screaming at Mom to get the hell out of there, Mom was screaming ‘you go to hell, there’s a bull out there,’ and wouldn’t budge, and Jim was trying to get his pants on before Mom saw something she shouldn’t.
While this was going on, my poor father was rolling on the ground laughing. It didn’t matter that Old Samson was just a few yards away. Pop couldn’t stop laughing at the funniest thing he’d ever seen. Samson himself seemed to think this was worth watching, because he just stood there pawing the ground and taking it all in.
Poor old Jim lost about five years off his life when Mom landed screaming on his back. Faye was mad at Mom at first, but when she found out the whole story she laughed 'til she cried. She told Mom, "I wish I’d seen you coming, Mary. I’d have locked the doors just to hear you scream." I told you Faye had a mean streak!
I remember my Daddy and my uncle telling me this story while my Mom’s face got red as a beet and Faye laughed. Jim said, “I’ll tell you what, son. I’m glad it wasn’t your granddaddy. I’d rather have taken my chances with Old Samson.”Powered by Sidelines