Friday, May 12, 2006

HEARTS OF DARKNESS, Pt. 1:
I'm Still a Bad Mofo from Nutbush Road

SOUTHSIDE VIRGINIA (ZP) - I'm not going to mince words here. I'm not going to use some silly euphemism or tired cliche - I wasn't a "problem teenager" or a "reckless youth." In case you haven't figured it out by now, I have a rather complex past.

When I left Virginia back in 1996, the day after my high school graduation, my relocation to Colorado was only partly a choice. I had been accepted to a university in Colorado; I chose to attend that school despite the fact that I'd been offered better financial aid packages by local schools. I left the Old Dominion for one reason and one reason alone - survival.

A few weeks after my 18th birthday, I was at this party. A guy started running off at the mouth. The gentleman was an unwelcome guest at this gathering; because everyone knew he was "packing," no one wanted to ask him to leave.

Stoned, drunk, and knowing that I was packing heat myself (kept that sucker in the glovebox of my car), I asked the guy to leave. The guy asked me what I was going to do if he didn't. So I introduced his forehead to the hood of my Dodge Shadow.

I thought I'd knocked the guy out. His girlfriend, a friend of a friend of mine, started screaming and I found myself distracted. I turned back around just soon enough to catch the guy reaching down the front of his pants for something. Not wanting to end my high school career as a corpse, I kicked the guy in the head. Then I kicked him in the ribs. Then I rolled him over, put my knee in his gut, and spit in his face. Turns out the guy was actually reaching for his pager.

Back then, I remember thinking Tough shit, kid. You picked the wrong peckerwood to fuck with. In hindsight, however, the whole event is extremely disturbing.

I went back to the party and found this friend of mine, Thor (not his real name) - one of the hardest motherfuckers I've ever known. By 15, he'd already had his nose broken four times, jaw twice, eye socket fractured, and already had arthritis in both hands. I once watched him extinguish a Phillies Blunt on his forearm and clean the wound with Colt .45 malt liquor.

That's hardcore. Half-insane, but hardcore nonetheless.

I told Thor about the fight, proud of myself for giving a guy an asswhooping of Thor-like proportions. Instead of congratulating me, Thor got in my face, shoving me and telling me how stupid I was for doing what I'd done. I was now 18, he reminded me, and subject to being charged as an adult. If my foot had landed in the wrong place, I could've killed the guy.

Then he made me promise to go to college. I'd been debating whether or not to go, to possibly pursue a "safer," more familiar career - one in the illicit pharmecutical industry. He threatened to kick my ass if I ever went that route. He told me he never wanted to see me again once I left for Colorado, that if I chose the career I was thinking about choosing, they'd find me face down in the James River.

So I promised I'd choose the college route. And, despite all my stumbles along the way, it's something I've never regretted. I wouldn't have a postgraduate education, wouldn't be working in a field that I love, wouldn't have met some of the amazing people I've met in this life if I hadn't made that promise more than a decade ago.

So why do I bring this up?

After visiting G'maw in the hospital and having dinner with the ZenFo Dad, I went out looking for a watering hole. My nerves were completely shot. Seeing my grandmother doped up on morphine, head half-shaved, steel mounted to her ankle... that's a hard thing.

I found this redneck dive out on U.S. 460. Ignoring the Confederate flags in the window and the Larry the Cable Guy bumperstickers on the rusted out GMCs in the parking lot, I strolled in and ordered a Jameson's on the rocks.

Some guy came up and put his hand on my shoulder. I turned around to find a fat, balding man in a Kyle Petty tee-shirt, covered in drywall mud, staring at me. Despite being a good 30 pounds lighter than I was in high school, the guy still recognized me.

Uh...yeah. You know that guy I kicked the shit out of just after my 18th birthday?

And he had some friends with him, Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumbass, both grinning from ear-to-ear.

To be honest, I was ready to meet my Maker. Not that I was necessarily looking forward to an untimely demise, but I came to grips a long time ago with the fact that I've been living on borrowed time. To borrow from that old Klingon mantra, every day is a good day to die.

Instead of wanting revenge (I didn't just beat this guy up, I'm certain I removed teeth and probably cracked a rib or three), this guy wanted to relive the "glory days." He bought me a fresh Scotch, and I joined their table.

So here sat these three over-the-hill alcoholic good ol' boys, two very young looking girls, and a librarian from Ohio. The girls, visibly annoyed that their beaus had chosen to bring yet another guy to the table to trade war stories, got up and went to shoot some pool.

The trio were long removed from those "glory days." "Tom" (again, not using real names here) was far from the skinny white boy who used to brag about having sex with black girls behind the Winn-Dixie, the guy who talked such a good game about wanting to put me on a milk carton but never did shit, the scared kid behind an imaginary shield of gangsta rap and tricked-out used cars.

Instead of being pissed, Tom wanted to exaggerate and reimagine the whole fight into this Romanesque battle. Ignoring historical fact, Tom and his buddies simply invented a version that sounded more macho, more glamourous. Apparently, Tom and I had fought to a bloody draw, ending when both of us had loaded pistols at each other's temples.

Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumbass, neither of whom could've been old enough to be at the party in question, were both supposed witnesses and echoed Tom's version. They embellished the tale into near epic proportions, claiming the fight had lasted an hour and was really over Tom's girl, 30 pounds of Chocolate Thai, and a few insults.

Wow. Sounds like one hell of a battle. Too bad it never happened.

Facing 3-to-1 odds, with no one to cover my back, and in a seedy redneck bar, I played along, enjoying my free Scotch, which turned into a free Tequila the next round.

By Round Three, the trio - long past sober - were slurring their words, exchanging threats of cartoon violence, and singing along to a Toby Keith song playing on the juke. One of the girls, "Tina," came back to the table and asked Tom to drive her home. Tom looked at her, cussed her out, and said he wasn't done drinking.

Looking for a polite exit, I offered to drive Tina home. Tina - Tom's girlfriend - had introduced herself as being 22. Tom had confided in me that his "old lady" was actually 17.

In most parts of the country, a drywall guy pushing 30 dating a 17-year-old probably comes across as creepy, immoral, or simply vile. In the rural South? Hell, I knew girls in middle school (ages 12-14) who were dating 22-year olds. Sure, it's probably not right. And I'm certain there's exploitation. But this sort of thing is silently accepted because, well, that's how rural folks have been hooking up for decades. Slim pickin's in the sticks...

Tina lived in her sister's mobile home, 20 minutes from the redneck bar. On the drive out, she told me about her career ambitions (she wanted to be a "sex goddess," i.e. porn actress... or the next Jessica Simpson), her relationship with Tom (he bought her stuff; in return, she let him "do" her any time he wanted), and her sister's quest for a husband without a criminal record.

She told me her sister, the other girl at the bar, was planning on hooking up with Tweedle Dumbass so she wouldn't be home. You know... I thought I was getting better at identifying big FRIGGING red flags...

She invited me inside her trailer for a cup of coffee and a piece of cake. Unable to drink in the bar, she had no problem filling her cup with just as much bourbon as Maxwell House. Even though I kept trying to change the subject, she always found a way to bring the conversation back to sex.

It wasn't until she started talking about how she thought "bookworms" were sexy and that she'd first masterbated in a local library that I started getting uncomfortable. When she picked up my hand (under the guise of reading my palm) and started sucking on my finger, I knew I was in a very bad situation.

Instead of being a rational, logical adult and saying something like this is inappropriate and I think I'd better leave, I indicated my discomfort with the situation in a more blunt manner:

Chica, I'm not fucking a kid. Ain't happening.

Can't exactly describe the look on Tina's face. I don't think she'd been expecting that. But I knew too many girls like this when I was in high school here; girls who fucked anybody to escape their situation, to escape even momentarily. Plus, the idea of being possible ammunition for breaking things off with Tom - or to be a pawn in whatever angle she was working in their relationship - wasn't too appealing. And, of course, there's the fact that, well, I have no desire to fuck a kid.

Did I mention the fact that this kid has a kid of her own? Yup, Tina had a two-year-old she and her sister had left unattended in the house while they went out for the night. This adorable little girl was curled up on the couch, six feet away from where Teenaged Mommy was sucking the finger of a 27-year-old stranger.

Tina got pissed, called me a slew of nasty things, started to cry, and threw a fork at me. So I left.

I returned to my hometown for one reason - to take care of G'maw. I didn't come back to relive the "glory days," to wax nostalgic about some redneck version of Beowulf, or to become Roman fucking Polanski.

I've really gotten too old for this shit. Ten short years ago, I would've had no problem hooking up with that girl. I probably would've done it, drove back to the redneck dive, and told Tom about it, just to pick a fight. And I wouldn't have worried about a cherubic toddler sleeping on the couch, either, or age, or anything else.

I was, as I've said previously, the bad motherfucker from Nutbush Road when I called this part of Virginia home.

Thor was right; my way out of a jail cell and an early trip to the morgue was to head off to college, to make something of my life, to get the fuck out and flourish in a brave new world. I don't need somebody's baby-mama or drywall subcontractors or tall tales about violence to prove that fact. The fact that I still survive is proof enough, at least to me, that I'm still one of the baddest motherfuckers of them all.

29 comments:

Smurf said...

J- I am proud of you. You have changed. I dont want it to sound bad but I remember so many times when you were with extremely attractive minors.

I love the way you write J. Sometimes for a brief moment I forget about the life you came from. Then you remind me. I remember when you came back from VA after Christmas and you would stand there and rap for me. I would love when you would bust a rhyme or sit up in my dorm room and either do voices and entertain me or play the guitar and sing to me or we would just talk about any and everything under the son. You had so many stories like this that were so interesting.

I am proud of you for getting out and making it as far as you have. Well done sweety! :)

Miz BoheMia said...

Wow Jason... I am still stuck on the whole toddler thing... My god. As a mother I cannot even begin to tell you how completely unfathomable such an action is to me and how it pains me to hear of such things...

As a woman I feel rage at the whole "dating scene" there... if it can even be called that...

And as a fellow human I am proud of you, for forging ahead and fighting your demons and for being the amazing young man you are today! I am proud to call you a friend and loved the post...

Great job amigo!

Voodoo Child said...

Tough start, and you're too kind for your own good. You don't need a trailer-park baby-mama. The thing that gets me though is the stark contrast from that town to where you are now. White-trash to white-snobbery. You need to find some middle ground.

Cowgirl said...

OMG I can so relate...but I think you got me beat. Mine is midwestern small town, your's is southern small down; kinda different.

Doesn't everyone date someone or hookup with someone in their 20's when they are in highschool? lol ;)

I love how you quoted the Klingon mantra too.

And talk about red flags; a trailer park is a pretty loudly waving one in my book.

Oh and I think "The Bad Motherfucker From Nutbush Road" sounds like a good title for a song. Just sayin...

Anonymous said...

omg. wow!


hi. you know i think you handled this very mature and i think that makes u a very sexy motherfucker as well even though you didn't actually fuck the mom.

i grew up in a trailer park and i knew too many women like that which is why i don't go back

Nice pants btw. i'll say hi next time i see ya in walmart ;-P

i would very likely fuck the living shit out of you given the chance just so you know.

~ A SECRET ADMIRER

EsotericWombat said...

"I'm not fucking a kid"

Word, bro. She'd have probably blown up on you anyways. Better to earn it.

Good to hear you made it out. Bad motherfucker indeed.

The ZenFo Pro said...

Smurf:
Lol...yeah, my 18-19th years on this planet weren't exactly noble, were they?

Lol... I remember the hootchie magnet thing, too. If she didn't have a teardrop tat somewhere...lol.


MizB:
Yeah, not exactly mother of the year material. Quite common, though, at least from my experience, with a lot of young mothers. I knew girls who got knocked up simply to keep a guy or to treat the kid like some kind of toy...when they realize they have to be parents, they simply give up.


VC:
Lol, yeah, Oxford is quite different from my home territory. Here, students have a tradition called "Ghettofest," where a bunch of affluent kids get together and pretend to be poor. Drives me nucking futs. Wanna be poor? Give your damned trustfunds to charity. They don't take foodstamps at Aeropostale...

Hey, if ya know of any job openings... ;)

Voodoo Child said...

What's your taste? Ref, ChiLib, Accounting? A lot of our people will be retiring in the next few years, the librarianship age is shifting, and I'm loving it...

Smurf said...

J- I know you aren't calling me white trash, but the white trash, trailer trash comments I find insulting. People should be judged by who they are not where they come from or what they look like. I grew up in a trailer park, I went to college and I make a better income than quite a few college graduates.

Smurf said...

Sorry Jason, It just reminds me too much of that time with Jane. She was cool with me until she learned I grew up in a trailer park, then she treated me different. She came to the house we rented and made that plate/ white trash comment about us. I have been overly sensitive about the white trash trailer trash thing ever since. I just dont think that's cool.

The ZenFo Pro said...

Cowgirl:
Lol...life in a small town...

Re: Klingon thing -
I know, I'm a dork. I know way too much about Star Trek ;)

It does sound like a decent song title, doesn't it...hmm...crappy acoustic Anteres is in the back of my truck...hmm...


Anon/"Secret Admirer":
Um...were you checking me out...at the Wal-Mart?!? Here in Oxford or elsewhere?

You know, a lot of folks come from mobile home parks and sadly, affordable housing does have a rather unwanted reputation thanks to a minority of people (I was conceived in a trailer park ;)

LMAO...didn't think about the Baby Mama/motherfucker thing... yeah, say hi!


Wombat:
Given my history of attracting completely batshit women, you're probably right. Plus, the whole "Under 18 Equals 10-20" thing...


VC:
Hmmm...director? ;)


Smurf:
You know, I was wondering about that. There are a lot of stereotypes associated with trailer parks and, honestly, I've met more people in affluent areas who fit the "trailer trash" stereotypes than people who actually live in trailers.

Of course, the stereotype's probably not going to go away.
You know as well as I do that there are good people in mobile home parks but there are also too many people who fit the stereotype.

There's no need to feel insulted; I don't think anybody meant anything by it.

****INSERT AMNESIA LANE/PRIVATE MESSAGE HERE***

Yeah, Jane was a bitch, wasn't she? I wonder if she's still the same shriveled-up Beatles-worshipping cul-de-sac trash she was back in the dorms?

Cowgirl said...

I certainly didn't mean anything in my comments. One of my best friends lived in a trailer park when we were growing up. And I spent a summer living in a trailer during an internship at a horse farm, so I guess I can stereotype myself, eh?

You gotta do what you gotta do.

Seriously, I thought I was making fun of my "red flag issues" that I have; right ZenFo Pro?

Smurf said...

Its ok. I guess its just me. I shouldnt be so shocked that so many people I grew up with are into so much stuff. I mean prison time, drugs... I mean HARDCORE DRUGS, gangs, yea... I just tend to be the one who is an odd ball. There are lots of good people in trailer parks, but there are probably more that arent. *sigh*

For some reason I have also noticed that I have been super sensitive to stereotypes in general lately cross the board. I heard my daughter Kaylee making comments about the "Mexicans" and I got on her case about how they are individuals and how they need to be judged by who they are person by person just like we are. And used the example if it would be fair if she was judged and someone said something and assumed something about her just because she was a girl. She said no. Joel has said a lot of things about his feelings on things and so kids pick up on it.

When we moved to Ellicott, Kaylee was scared to go to school there. She said, "Mommy, what if my teacher is a Mexican?" I said, "What if she is?" She said, "Well, MOM, I DONT SPEAK SPANISH!!!" I looked at her and said, "Kaylee, honey, your teacher even if she is Mexican, she will speak, English, you dont need to worry about that."

But I am trying so hard to try and get these things that their dad has said in front of them out of their heads. I am trying to teach them the outside means nothing... stereotypes are unfair... I am trying to teach that people should be judged by what's on the inside. Anyways... lol... this turned out longer than I meant for it too. *blush*

The ZenFo Pro said...

Cowgirl:
Very true...

Lol... yeah ... I think you were definitely self-depricating (based on our conversation last night) more than actually meaning any kind of insult...

Smurf said...

(and lol to the comment about Jane! You made me just remember the "I Dream of Jeannie", Beattles, Monkeys, ROB thing.. how she dogged us for smoking and then she was a big smoker when she started dating one of our friends... I dont remember his name but he had black hair and glasses.)

Cowgirl said...

*whew* glad I was self-depricating. Thanks man. ;)

shayna said...

I believe you are probably the baddest motherfucker I know as well... :)~

cooper said...

Interesting post Jason.

I feel lucky to not be able to relate to any of it due to no fault of my own really. I just was brought up lucky and pampered to to some degree.

I think you have turned out quite admirably for having such things happen to you. I dounbt I would have turned out the same. A little bit of stress and I am done for. lol

You are the baddest motherfucker around.

Chewie said...

dude you are such a bad ass motherfucker that you make samuel jackson jealous... and i owe props to Thor.. cause if he hadn't made you make your promise i never would have met one of the best people on this planet and had the opportunity to call him my friend..

fight the good fight my brother

The ZenFo Pro said...

Smurf:
Yeah... The ex Smurf hubby's damage to the Smurflings will indeed take some time to undo, but it is undoable at least. And to you as well. I can tell from your comments that you's stil working your way through your stuff as well...

Hey, remember... I went through the whole emotionally abusive/traumatic relationship, too. It takes a while, but eventualy, you get your bearings back, get comfortable with being yourself, post relationship.

No worries...just let it out, breathe deep and remember to take things one day at a time. That's why I have a very open policy towards the posting of comments here (lol...you know how hard it is to get me to actually answer my phone :)


Cowgirl:
Lol... yeah, you and I chatted yesterday so we're all good I think.

And oh Lordy...one hell of a hangover this morning (Two litres of PBR and then I hit the "nasty" stuff - Old Style - during the "Library Conference" I told you about ;)

Shayna:
Hey. Back atcha, chica :) Lol...I realized this morning how cocky that line sounded, evidence enough that I've changed a bit sice high school (the fact that I get upset about that kind of stuff)...

Hey, I only lnk to bad motherfucker blogs, too ;)


Cooper:
Lol...you know, I'm reading your comments this morning and I was remembering one of our less-friendly, earlier exchanges about trustafarians...don't know why exactly and I'm too lazy to relink it...

It's amazing because I forget you come from the background you do sometimes. You're so (and I hope this doesn't come across wrong) NORMAL, down-to-earth, and intelligent compared to some of the folks from similar backgrounds I deal with during the school year.

Lol...since I'm posting a lot of "behind-the-blog" responses to coments this morning, thought I'd pass along the fact that I used your Duke lacrosse postings and backlash/discussions as a talking point last week during a work-related meeting concerning building more information literate, socially responsible, community.


Chewie:
Dude, the feeling is mutual. Always and forever.

The ZenFo Pro said...

NOTE TO THE LIBRARIAN BLOGGER WHO SENT ME SOME HATE MAIL LAST NIGHT:

I should be polite in responding to allegations that I somehow set librarianship back by posting about professional topics as well as personal experiences. I probably should behave like a responsible professional and explain my personal lie or to justify my professional credibility by discussing work-related shit.

I'm not going to go that route.

I'm so sorry you find my personal life to be unprofessional. So professionally (and no, I will not be attending the American Library Association Conference in NOLA this year), I'm responding to your demands for me to not mention that I'm a librarian on this blog...

Since my weblog is not configured to handle streaming video, I'm providing a bit of "metadata" (for non-lib folks, metadata is informational data used to define other data) to explain the content of my physical movement/response...

Here's one middle finger in the air. And here's the other. Fuck you very much!

Thanks,
The ZenFo Pro, MLIS.

Smurf said...

I am taking it one day at a time. That is all I have. I just am alone. Sometimes its nice to have a friend to talk to... whether to laugh with or vent with or just have a friend. The friends I had... Joel said a few things to and things got all blown out of proportion mainly cuz of the person he told about my friend in Quebec to and now I ... that's why I have tried to call. Its all good. Take care J.

Let said...

We all have our "past". As much as people like to say they've lived like angels all of their lives, I think it's pretty easy to do that when you don't know what's like on the other side. I think it says more about a person who maybe got lost and chose to get back on the high road, than those who was too chicken to ever try anything that may seem the slightest bit dangerous.

It's good to know you've chosen a different track now but either way, remind me never to piss you off. The only heat I pack is my blowdryer.

Ms. Monkeythong said...

Hey, I only link to bad motherfucker blogs, too ;)

Aw, c'mon Jason, you should know by now that I am so not a "bad motherfucker", just a big ole goofy nerdlet who writes about silly stuff. Perhaps you should rethink being associated with me? I might pull down you street cred ;-)

Leigh said...

I agree with Shayna, you are pretty badass- awesome for telling it to that girl straight.

Living in the Bay Area, it's hard to imagine such situations, but I guess in suburban/urban California, we are pretty sheltered.

Cowgirl said...

I have to tell ya, I could visualize you flipping that person off. ;)

Props.

G said...

Yeah, nothing like returning home to the sticks to see how nobody's life seems to have changed, and the life you would have had ... dude, I'm there now. Stuck back in the sticks, running into old 'acquaintances' with whom I'd espoused grand dreams and visions for the future, way back when ... and then I discover I'm the only one who ever followed through on any of it. That one's tough ... all these guys pushing 30 are no different than we were in highschool, and here I am trying to fit into that. Not easy.

I got out, initially, because I didn't like myself then, and needed to start over fresh. Thor gave you the kick in the ass you needed to do the same, and it paid off well. Sometimes we need those friends who care enough to tell us when to fuck off, right?

And hey, hopefully a kid in a similar situation will read this post and be inspired to do the same as we did. It's amazing what a shot in the dark such as college and a new town can do for our lives, such as save them.

Peace J,
G

G said...

PS Ever see the flick "Beautiful Girls" (1996)? Sorta along the same lines ... a guy who got out coming back home to old friends who never changed. Great flick.

Let said...

Beautiful Girls is a great movie. Reminded me not to go to my ten year reunion.