Jan 032017

I was born in Decatur, but my family moved to Anniston before I was a year old. So it’s the first home I can remember. I took some time last month to drive around and look. Here are a few through-the-windshield shots of some innocuous-looking locations that are full of memories for me. (Click image for larger.)

This is the first shopping center I can remember. The grocery store used to be Windsor’s, where a personable young man named Roger put up the produce. (Jenny wanted to be Roger for Halloween one year.) It was Golden Springs Pharmacy on the south end. I can’t pull the pharmacist’s name in, but he was a very nice man with a big wave of hair right over his forehead. (Think Donald Trump but with a normal person’s sense of restraint.)

Driving north on Sand Rock Road. There were numerous bike trails straight ahead and to the right when I was young. This is also just about exactly where Brian and I nearly caught the woods on fire one night. We finally got it stomped out, and I had to throw the jeans I was wearing away because they had char marks on them. I was scared for months that my mom would ask me what happened to them.

This is driving up Pecanwood Drive on the way to my house (the white one on the left). This seemed like the longest, steepest hill in the world when I was a kid—like, maybe one time in five I’d walk my bicycle up it instead of ride. In reality, it’s barely 300 yards top to bottom, and the slope is gentle until just past my house. I didn’t park and walk around the neighborhood on this trip, but it feels so small. It’s like traipsing around in a model train layout.

This curve on Coleman Road is the site of the only serious traffic accident I was ever in. I was one of four kids ejected from the bed of a Ford Courier pickup when it spun and overturned in the ditch (where that distant guard rail is now). From skid marks and the pickup’s final position, police estimated the pickup speed at 60 mph when the driver lost control. It could have been so much worse. Of the six kids in the pickup (two in the cab, four in the bed), only one was even admitted to the hospital. (She had to be extricated because the wreckage had trapped her right leg.) Four of us were treated and released in the ER, and my stepbrother, who was the lightest and had been thrown the farthest (into underbrush instead of pavement), didn’t even go to the hospital. To this day I can remember the sights and sounds of flying through the air after leaving the vehicle but before I hit the road. If I could unload a single memory, it might be that one.

This was a barren field of clay for the first 12 years of my life. It sprouted a Winn Dixie when the one on 78 that was destroyed in the 1983 tornado didn’t return. There was a Harco Drugs on the east end of this shopping center, and I spent a fair bit of time in there. Among the employees was a 35ish brunette who wore too much makeup and smelled really good. She cranked my tractor (not that it takes much for a 13-year-old boy). I can remember buying Heart’s Private Audition on vinyl in there, as well as some cassette storage boxes that I’m still using.

It’s surreal that these locations are only 100 miles or so from me. Supercharged with my excellent memory for detail, they’re really powerful experiences. They seem so much more distant and exotic than something to which a two-hour car ride permits exposure.

 Posted by at 11:13 pm
Dec 142016

In 1999, my employer sent me to Atlanta for a one-day class. The training facility was in Buckhead, about a block from where there was a Swissôtel at the time. And that’s where I got to stay.

For several years now my position has been that when I am out of town and unhurried for dinner, I want to do something potentially memorable, and preferably particular to the locale. But with Swissôtel amenities (gigantic whirlpool tub, silk sheets) and a glass of Gentleman Jack waiting for me, I was less choosy. I was happy to get something in my tummy expeditiously, so I could get back to the room and float away.

Bennigan’s was walking distance, so I went there. I’d had a burger and a beer and was about to leave when I heard a woman say “what about Dr Pepper and Crown? How would that be?”

“You can’t mix Dr Pepper and Crown Royal,” I called, as I got up to go. Goof off a bit on the way out? Sure.

“And why not?” she called back at me, playfully defiant. I couldn’t see her yet, but she was louder, so I was walking toward her.

“Because Crown is so sweet all by itself, mostly,” I said, as she came into view. She was 25ish, with a teased shock of white blonde hair, a tiny white skirt, and a hot pink tight-knit top that just barely contained some of the biggest breasts I’d ever seen in person. She was sitting with a slender, well-dressed gentleman with a ponytail and a beard. Maybe he was 32 or 33.

I must have had quite a look on my face, because as soon as I got an eyeful of her she laughed genuinely and heartily—way beyond a giggle—and said “I think you’re coming to have a shot of Crown with us.”

And that is how I met Holly the stripper and her boyfriend Brett, who was also the director of security where she worked. (I’m sure they told me where this was; alas, this detail has perished.)

Wow. OK.

She was, of course, expertly flirtatious, and teased me a bit. “Go ahead and get a really good look,” she purred, leaning way over into my personal space and winking. Brett remained in good humor. I suppose if you’re going to date a stripper, you can’t really be the jealous type, can you?

The three of us talked, laughed, and drank until way after midnight. I didn’t know a damned thing about that world except what I’d seen on television, so it was educational too. Holly told me she usually took home about $5,000 a week (and even if she was doubling that for effect, she was still doing all right, yes?). Ever practical, I said “well I hope you’re being smart with it because you really can’t make this kind of living for very long.” She smiled and said “yeah, I have a great investment guy.” So there was a heartening detail.

What else? Her boss had fined her $100 earlier in the week for kissing a waitress. I said “huh? I’d love to see you kiss a waitress.” She laughed and said yeah, but some guys aren’t into it, and we’re not supposed to do that unless we’re sure. I asked Brett what he carried and he wouldn’t tell me specifically, though he confirmed he was wearing two sidearms. I asked him about his work at the club, and he said the place was nice enough that there usually wasn’t much for him to deal with beyond an occasional patron having too much to drink and getting a little grabby.

Holly wrote down and gave me her pager number—remember, this is 17 years ago—and invited me to come see her if/when I was in town again. I gave her a hug, shook Brett’s hand, and went back to my room.

Quite a headache the next morning in class, but I got a great memory for it.

(And yes, I told Lea the whole story at the time.)

 Posted by at 11:29 pm
Feb 112015

You don’t have to read BoWilliams.com very long to learn that chili con carne is one of my favorite foods. It’s rare that a whole week goes by without me having some. I recently made a pot and it occurred to me that I’d never posted my recipe. Here it is. Good stuff! To make […]

 Posted by at 7:36 pm
Mar 182014

I read a remarkable opinion piece several months ago that has since had me thinking every day about relationships between human beings and animals. I encourage you to read it at the link in the previous sentence. (Be warned that it will likely make you uncomfortable.) Regular readers may remember the first or second time […]

 Posted by at 6:54 pm

BoWilliams.com is using WP-Gravatar