Mom and Dad were adamant that I'd do better in life than they had, though I thought they'd done all right. We weren't poor, by my standards anyway. Jimmy
Clarkson was a high school friend of mine and the Clarkson's were poor.
My dad was a farmer. We ate roast beef or chicken or pork steaks with mashed potatoes and gravy and some other vegetable, usually green beans or corn or peas every night. Dad raised and butchered the meat. Mom raised and butchered the chickens and canned all the vegetables. Jimmy's Dad worked at the filling station in town, and didn't make much money so they bought cheap.
They ate spaghetti or beans every night.
Our old farmhouse was big and leaked cold air in winter, but I had my own bedroom. Jimmy shared his with two other brothers. Dad bought a new car about every five or six years. Jimmy's dad just kept fixing up their old one.
Yes, I figured compared to the Clarksons, we were rich, but Mom and Dad didn't see it that way. They wanted the Malone family to have at least one college graduate, and their Jason was going to be that one. I wasn't looking forward to four more years of school, but I sent in the application for three state schools and took the SAT. Mom and Dad were ecstatic when I got accepted by MTSU.
After the first week of classes, I sort of changed my mind about more school.
The classes, with the exception of the required English and History classes, were pretty interesting. They were also pretty hard work, but I was getting it. The basic engineering classes were a blast. Those classes let me see the science behind the farm equipment I'd worked with since I could remember. They were also something for which I could see a future use.
The other thing that changed my mind was my distance from home. Mom and
Dad were only an hour away by car, but they only came to visit once a month.
The rest of the time, I could do pretty much what I wanted, when I wanted. I liked being an adult instead of their child.
That four years turned into five years of working part time at various jobs and studying my ass off, but I graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering and accepted a job offer with an architectural firm in Nashville. The first week at
Peterson, Burns and Partners was pretty confusing, what with reading all their policies and design guidelines and finding and setting up an apartment. The second week went better, and after a month, I was doing real work that I enjoyed.
There were several younger engineers and architects at PBP. On Friday night we'd head out for a couple of drinks and dinner, and then go club hopping for a while. The dinners were nice, but cost as much as Mom spent in a whole week when I was living at home. I've never been much of a drinker, so I usually got elected to be the designated driver. Life in the fast lane was interesting for a while, but I soon tired of it. After hearing my same excuses twice, the other guys stopped asking if I was going out on Friday.
I'm not sure why I stopped in at The Saddle Horn that night. The sign out in front of the little bar said they served food. Maybe I was just tired of my own cooking.
Maybe it was that Friday night TV wasn't to my liking. I'd passed the sign going to and from work every day for six months without giving it a thought. That
Friday night, my car just seemed to turn into the lot all on its own.
Inside, the place was only lit by a few neon beer signs, so it was pretty dark. The only actual light seemed to be over the bar, so I walked there. The woman tending bar smiled and asked what I wanted. When I said a cheeseburger and fries, she smiled again and pointed to another light at the back of the bar.
"You'll have to see Sadie about that. Just tell her how you like 'em and she'll fix you right up."
Sadie was probably a little over fifty, with a body some would describe as voluptuous. She had dark brown hair with a few silver streaks I thought were sexy, and she wore it pulled back in a pony tail. She grinned when I walked up.
"Hey there, what can I get for ya'"
"A cheese burger and fries."
"You like your burger rare, medium, or burnt?"
"Medium would be fine."
"Medium it is then."
Sadie walked over to a freezer, retrieved a burger patty, and tossed it on her grill.
She went back to the freezer, pulled out a bag of fries and dumped a generous pile in the basket of her deep fryer. After shaking the basket to level them out,
Sadie lowered it into the oil, took the fries back to the freezer, and then walked back to the counter.
"You're new around here, aren'tcha?"
"Not to Nashville, but this is the first time I've been in here. Why?"
"That white shirt and tie aren't gonna fit in. Why don't you take off the tie and roll up those shirt sleeves?"
After I'd done that, Sadie looked me over.
"That's better. You really oughta be wearing jeans, but at least the regulars won't toss you out on your butt now. Here, gimme your tie. I'll keep it back here until you get ready to leave."
I ate my burger at the bar, accompanied by a beer that Janet, the woman behind the bar, got for me. There weren't many people in the bar, and Janet stayed with me while I ate. She asked where I was from.
"Ah, you probably never heard of it. I was raised on a farm just outside of Archer
Wells, about two hours west of here."
"Nope, can't say as I have, but there's lots of little towns I don't know about.
Whatcha doin' now?
"I work for an architectural firm. I'm a mechanical engineer."
"Well, Honey, I'd just keep that to yourself if I was you. Somebody asks you what you do, just tell 'em you're in construction. The regulars are a bunch of great people, but they're pretty common folk. They might not like a college man, especially if he goes tryin' to pick up on their girls."
"I'm not in the market for a girl, not yet. I need to get my feet on the ground before I start thinking about a family."
"I wasn't talking about a family. Most of these guys aren't looking for anything more than to get laid. Our girls are pretty smart, and they've figured that out, so they play the game, but they don't let the guys get too far. You being the good looking guy you are, you'd probably stand a better chance. That's what the guys won't like."
I liked Janet. She was straightforward as well as being good looking. The wedding ring on her left hand said some other guy thought a lot of her too. I figured she'd had her share of proposals as well as the other women in the club.
I grinned, and put my hand over my heart.
"I swear I won't try to take any girls home with me."
Janet laughed too.
"Yeah, and I'm gonna lose the extra ten pounds on my ass and the lines by my eyes too. Well, it's about eight. The regulars'll start coming in any minute. You just remember what I said, OK?"
The place started to fill up and by nine, what had been a quiet little country bar had turned into a bar full of laughs, loud country music, and some very good looking women on the little dance floor.
For women who didn't want to get picked up, they sure didn't understand how to dress not to. There were women in jeans so tight you'd wonder if they weren't just body paint. There were women in little jean shorts that almost showed the curve of their butt cheeks. Their tops were even more revealing. Most were little midriff tops were held up only by thin little strings if even that, and if the top actually had a neck line, it was cut so low even a girl with small breasts had visible cleavage. I thought it was pretty great. Evidently Janet picked up on that.
"What you grinnin' about. Never seen a girl before?"
"Oh, I've seen girls before, just not this much of so many at one time all in one place."
"Yeah, we have to watch pretty close or we'll have boobs hanging out all over.
Last week, we had to send one home because, as she put it, she forgot to put on her panties. Now, I'll tell ya', I might forget to feed the dog, and I might forget to lock the back door, but I'd never forget to put on my panties."
"Well, there was this one time ... but I was a lot younger then."
"You could still give most of these girls a run for their money."
"With my big ass and what two kids did to my tummy? I don't think so. Besides, most of these guys are young enough to be my son, and that just wouldn't seem right to me."
Janet's brow wrinkled as her eyes narrowed.
"Say, are you one of those young guys who like older women?"
I was, but it didn't seem right to tell Janet that so soon after we'd met. I liked women my own age, but there was something about a woman in her forties or even a little older that really tripped my trigger. It was all Lisa's fault, and I'd loved every second of it.
The last semester of my senior year at MTSU, my schedule was sort of messed up as far as working anywhere during normal hours. One of the hotels in
Nashville had an opening for a bus boy from five to ten at night and was the only job I found that would work.
.... There is more of this story ...