“Aw c’mon, man. Grow up!” Ralph laughed after accessing my latest girlfriend. “You can’t be serious. Her?”
“What’s wrong with Kacey?”
“Nothing, if you like bubbleheads. What do you have in common with her? What do you talk about?”
“We really don’t talk a lot,” I replied, smiling.
“Yeah, I get it, Casanova. Look, you’re twenty-eight now. You should get serious about your personal life. Stop going out with girls and start dating women. You’ve been lucky so far. The only thing you’ve lost is your money. You keep hanging out with girls like Kacey and you’ll lose a lot more - starting with your reputation. Sure, you can have fun with Kacey, but I bet you’ll wind up asking yourself if she’s worth the trouble. Go out and find someone who is, Mike. Don’t be afraid to grow up.”
I ignored Ralph’s advice. After all, he’d only been married two years, claiming to see the light of monogamy after he’d met his wife while staggering around a bar. He and I had hung out in college and for two years afterward. We were so devilishly active that women referred to us as the “Sin Brothers”. I was “Mortal,” and Ralph was “Moral”. So, I didn’t see that a repentant Ralph had the right to criticize me, or that I had much of a reputation left to lose.
Kacey Jones was a pneumatic, 4’ 11” mini-Jayne Mansfield who was the ringleader of the Pound Ridge Comedy, a group of girls of indeterminate ages who came to the park to watch our softball games. The half dozen cheering party girls came in all sizes, shapes, and nationalities. None of the guys were certain of their names because our cheerleaders changed from week to week, and personal details only seemed to get in the way.
Kacey was my favorite. She wore virtually nothing and knew nothing. She was a cutie in a constant state of the giggles, something I found attractive at the time. She did have one distressing trait, a speech impediment, which was hardly her fault, or a deal-breaker. Whether it was natural or self-induced, Kacey had trouble with her r’s and w’s, making even her sexiest sentences sound like they were being rendered by Elmer Fudd. Having conquered my stuttering problem at a young age, I bonded with her, even after she said in self-defense, “what steech impediwent?”
Kacey’s most attractive attribute was her utter lack of guile. To most guys that simply meant she was an easy target, but she also had an enthusiastic, naïve innocence about her that said, “C’mon, let’s have fun!”
We got to know each other when the Pound Ridge Comedy stuck around to share in our post-game celebration.
“That catch you made was wubbery,” she said.
As the crowd dispersed, we stayed behind. I knew I might be on to something when she stole my hat and dared me to “Twy and get it back.” I chased her into the woods, and we shed our clothes like two horny nymphs.
After our first random encounter, Kacey didn’t show at our next game or the next one after that. When she turned up, I got a hug, a kiss on the cheek, and a high five. After the game, she said I was “A wheely good outfielder and wheely fast.”
Some of the players went into town for pizza and beer and Kacey and I tagged along. As the girls were leaving, she nonchalantly said, “Give me a wide home. My parwents are out so we can pardee.”
And pardee we did.
I’m known for my relentless wise guy wit but prop me up in bed with a naked woman and I might as well not have a tongue. Casey seemed to sense my anxiety and without the slightest impediment, laid out the roadmap for the future of our relationship. “I know you don’t wanna be tied down. Me neither. Okay?”
I responded like a bobblehead, nodding enthusiastically.
“Good. Then we understand wonanuthah. Hey, I got some concert tickets. You wanna go see Wes?”
“Not Wes. Wes.”
“Who’s on second?” I replied.
“Wes, why’s guy.”
By the time I figured out we were going to see the rock band named Yes, I was too flustered to ask if we were going alone. We weren’t. Andrea and Ellen, two other charter members of the Pound Ridge Comedy, came along.
Andrea embraced the burgeoning punk rock attitude and look, sporting a nose ring, spikey brunette hair, and black mascara that matched her often dark mood. I got the feeling that even though she came to our games, the only way she liked men was boiled, baked, or burnt.
Pleasant, polite Ellen went for the hippie look and outlook wearing frilly blouses, faded jeans, and a peace-making smile. She had a fondness for homemade dandelion wine, which left her even slower on the uptake than Kacey.
Although it was an early afternoon concert, Ellen seemed intent in getting a twelve o’clock high. We’d driven about a mile when she pulled out a bottle she’d apparently been swigging since she woke up, finishing it in a few impressive gulps.
“None for us?” I asked.
Reaching in her large, fringed pocketbook, Ellen produced a bottle labeled with a skull and crossbones.
“Enter at your own risk!” she challenged.
It was a risk we were all willing to take.
Heading into the stadium we got embroiled in a traffic jam. Kacey had been fine while driving at a brisk seventy, but now with both hands bound to the wheel and her petite body practically pressed against the windshield, she seemed distressed.
“Gotta pee!” she announced.
Opening the door, she suddenly abandoned the vehicle.
Seated in the back, Andrea and Ellen screamed, “The wheel! Take the wheel!”
In her haste to relieve herself. Kacey had neglected to put the car in park. We drifted forward, banging into the car in front of us before I could jump into the driver’s seat and hit the brakes.
I got out, hoping we hadn’t done any damage to the mint Chevy Nova in front of us.
The driver, a tall ponytailed hippie, sprang out.
“Hey man! What the !!#$@!”
I offered a meek apology. “Sorry, man. The driver unexpectedly bailed on us. She forgot to put the car in park before she left.”
Ponytail’s arms flapped like he was about to take flight.
“I just detailed this beauty this morning!”
Andrea and Ellen told me later they were sure Ponytail and I were going to come to blows.
I looked down at his bumper. Then I looked at Kacey’s front grille.
“There’s no damage.”
Still flailing his arms wildly, Ponytail looked at both cars.
“Wha? Man, it’s a miracle!”
Ponytail slapped me five.
“Hey, man, you goin’ to see the Yes concert?” he asked.
“Yes. I mean, yeah!”
We laughed, high-fiving each other. “Hope to see you there, man We can celebrate good luck, good music, and good friendships!”
Kacey stumbled toward the car.
“That the driver?” Ponytail asked.
“Man, you really are lucky. You’re with three beautiful ladies. You’ve got your own posse.”
“Some people have criticized me for being shallow.”
“They’re just jealous, man. You ride that pony until it dies, ‘cause the only ladies you and me are gonna have around us when we’re eighty will be our nurses. I bow to you, man.”
Yeah, I did feel lucky. But my luck was about to run out.
It was an incredibly humid day and we had to share space with 60,000 impaired fans who were already loopy from heat prostration.
And one of the 60,000 was Kacey.
She leaned against me, throwing both arms around my waist for support as we walked in.
“I feel a bit woooseee,” she muttered.
“Don’t worry, we’ll get you some water.”
“Maybe a beeyah.”
“No more alcohol for you, Kace.”
“If I don’t sit down soon, I may have plewenty of woom for more,” she cautioned. “I think I’m gonna womit.”
We got to the gate before most of the other concertgoers. Normally that would have been a plus, but since the gate was closed, it proved to be a claustrophobic mistake. Thousands of people kept moving forward, pressing us against the fence.
“Hey, back off!” Andrea yelled. “Give us some air!”
When no one did, Andrea pushed back. A couple of docile hippies fell backward into the surging crowd.
The crowd slowly pushed forward again.
“Don’t make me get Medieval on you!” Andrea yelled.
“Medieval?” I asked.
“Don’t question my method of threatening hippies, Jefferson,” Andrea replied.
She got in the face of a bearded guy in a Yes T-shirt. He was wearing thick glasses and was so short he could have passed for a garden gnome.
“You testing my resolve, Yes-man?”
He backed off. Way off – but that didn’t stop everybody else from moving forward.
Ellen, who’d been pleasantly absorbed in her wine-induced funk, finally spoke.
“There’s a big wave of fat coming at us.”
The surging wave of humanity knocked us to the ground. I quickly sprang up. Realizing Kacey was still down, I pulled her to her feet.
“Thanks! You know, it’s wheely hot.”
“Yeah. We’ll get you some water soon.”
“Better make it wheel soon,” Kacey replied dreamily.
I turned to see how Andrea and Ellen were faring. Andrea was sneering at the encroaching crowd. Ellen was endeavoring to stay upright.
When I turned back to Kacey, she was laying on her back.
Since we didn’t have any water, she got her beer, after all, courtesy of the bearded Yes-man.
I quickly realized that instead of Elmer Fudd, I now had Gumby on my hands. After finishing her beer, I had ninety-five pounds of staggering, stammering, sexy flesh on my hands.
Fortunately, the gate finally opened. Once inside, we put our blankets down, carving out a spot center stage.
“Problem, Jefferson,” Andrea said, pointing at Kacey.
I turned to find Kacey flat on her back again.
I checked on Ellen. She was blissfully marveling at the flight of half a dozen Frisbees that were being tossed about.
“Wow, I think I actually see trails,” she said.
That was when one of the Frisbees came down like a scythe, striking her between the eyes.
“That’ll leave a mark,” Andrea noted.
“One down, one wounded,” I replied, watching Ellen’s nose swell up.
Since it was beastly hot, it didn’t surprise us when dark clouds moved in, threatening to unleash a thunderstorm. Patrick Moraz, Yes’ new keyboard player, came out on stage and began playing, ignoring the very real possibility he could be zapped by lightning or electrocuted at any moment. He played for ten minutes, then, as if on cue, the dark clouds parted, and the sun returned.
Everyone rose to their feet, enjoying the music. Since Kacey was so short, she couldn’t see.
“Pick me up,” she urged.
I hoisted her on my shoulders, where she stayed for the next three hours, beating my head like a bongo. Fortunately, we weren’t at a Santana concert.
Andrea volunteered to drive back with a severely compromised Ellen as co-pilot. Ellen’s nose had now blown up to the size of a cabbage but being ossified kept her from feeling the pain. Kacey and I hunkered down in the back seat. I knew she was feeling better when she draped the blanket over my lap and proceeded to disappear underneath it.
“What are you two deviants doing now?” Andrea asked.
“We’re playing submarween,” Kacey replied.
Andrea frowned at me in the rear-view mirror. “Yeah, I see the periscope’s coming up now. Remind me not to sit on that blanket anymore.”
“I might want to have it bronzed,” I replied.
By the time we reached Kacey’s house, she’d either fallen asleep or passed out again. Ellen was blissfully humming Yes songs to herself, unaware her swollen nose made her look like Cyrano de Bergerac.
“So, what do you think, Jefferson? Home, or the emergency room for Ellen?” Andrea asked.
“The ER. That beak is busted.”
“No! I’m sure it’s happy hour somewhere. Let’s find one!” Ellen demanded.
Although Kacey and I had sworn our relationship was casual and fluid, the word “girlfriend” crept into my lexicon whenever I referred to her, and Kacey was whispering to her friends that I was “the one.”
Then my mother got involved.
Charting a path that most responsible adults had followed for years, Kacey and I had made plans for a real date. Like a true burgeoning couple, we even split the duties. Kacey offered to drive, and I would foot all the bills.
It was our misfortune that my mother was gardening when Kacey pulled into the driveway. I saw her jaw drop when Kacey got out in a skirt short enough to make her short legs look long, and a barely-there top that made staring unavoidable.
My mother, who was not much taller than Casey, yanked me aside with the strength of Sampson pulling down the Tower of Babel.
“I’m not going to tell you who to date, but that girl dresses like she’s trash.”
I made a poor attempt at humor. “You keep asking me for grandchildren. Casey comes from a big family with good genes.”
“I bet her father married his sister. I want grandchildren, not mutants.”
My mother homed in on Kacey like a fun-sucking vampire. Kacey’s peaceful brown eyes grew larger with each rapid-fire question.
“Who are you?”
“I’m Kacey. Kacey Jones.”
“Kacey Jones? Do your parents like trains? How do you know my son?”
Crap. My mother noticed Kacey’s unique speech pattern and zoomed in for the kill.
“Is something wrong with you?”
Kacey swallowed hard, “…No…”
“You’re not on dope, are you?”
“No! I’m sobah!”
“Where’s your clothes?”
“I’m warewing dem.”
“Warewing dem,” Kacey repeated.
“Then you need more. Where are you two going?”
“A pawk. Then dinnah.”
“Are you from Boston?”
“No. I was bawn heyah.”
“How old are you?”
My mother cocked an eyebrow at her.
The inquisition went on for another painful ten minutes, with my mother playing Joe Friday and Kacey stuck in the role of the perp. When Kacey finally got behind the wheel, the first sarcastic sentence she could muster was, “That went wheely, wheely well.”
Rather than romping at the reservation and dinner, we ended up getting take-out pizza.
Kacey practically smoked the tires as she drove off, waving weakly at my mother.
“You’re not serious about that girl, are you?”
Ralph pulled his softball bat out of his trunk. “I just ran into a friend of yours at the grocery store.”
“I hope she spoke kindly of me.”
“More or less. It was Ellen Arcadia. She said she went with you, Casey, and Andrea to a Yes concert a few weeks ago. She said it was an epiphany.”
“I don’t see how, since she was blacked out for most of it.”
“It was a wake-up call for her. She gave up drinking,” Ralph said. “See? That’s what I’ve been talking about. She used the experience to help her become a better person. How’re things between you and Casey?”
“I think she’s outgrown me.”
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