It was the end of the day and my cousin Joey and I were skating in the concrete drainage ditch on the outskirts of town. It was spring in Witt, Texas and I was gonna be history as soon as I could figure a way out of this town. Not that Witt was such a bad place to be, I’m sure there were worse. But you can only spend so many years watching the bug fryer at Allsup’s on a Saturday night and remembering not to speed on Main Street in case the cop is parked somewhere and you might hit the median if you have to make a run for it.
“No way Joey, I won’t degrade myself to those stupid standards!”
“But Mary Ann, if you would just enter, you never know. Think of the money.”
“Well there are other ways to get out of this town and get into medical assisting school,” I told him. “Entering the stupid Miss Rutherford County contest just isn’t one of my ways of doing it.”
“Okay, it was just an idea, thought it might help you out. You don’t even have to win, just get second place, and you can still win enough money to buy a car.” He turned to me and adjusted his skate strap. “Wanna race to the end of the ditch?”
My grandma had always called me a tomboy, but it wasn’t so. I was interested in all things other teenage girls were interested in, but it didn’t bother me to take care of livestock and play a good game of football when the occasion presented itself.
“Shame, Agnes, and your granddaughter is such a pretty girl too,” I overhead Mrs. Reynolds say to grandma. That’s one thing about small towns, people just can’t mind their own business because it is much more interesting to mind everyone else’s.
That’s the thing about small towns. When all the Baptists are in church screaming about hellfire and being washed in the blood on a Sunday morning, a few of the flock can sometimes forget about not gossiping and remember to love their neighbors the other six days of the week.
I was up in my room stewing about this and planning options for graduation. It was only a month away. The phone rang and I picked it up.
“Mary Ann, Hi.”
Eliza was my best friend. I could trust her with anything. I did make a mental note to teach her to drive better before I left town. She drove a green Vega and had been known to take a few mailboxes down when trying to hit second gear. She even ran over the Stewarts’ mailbox.
“Hi, Eliza, what is going on?”
“I was just calling to see if you have picked out a prom dress yet.”
“Umm, no, I haven’t really thought about it.”
“Are you serious? It’s only two weeks away!!”
“I’ll manage. There is just so much to do now. By the way, how’s your hairstyle shaping up?” Eliza was doing her best to imitate one of the Charlie’s Angel’s hairdos for the prom.
“Mom says I may have to get it permed because my wings are flat. By the way, since you said no, who is poor Rudy Bobby taking to the prom?”
“Last I heard, Helen Cooke,” I answered.
“Gee, sometimes I feel so sorry for him, he is just crazy about you.”
It is not that anything was wrong with Rudy Bobby, except for the fact that he would probably become a farmer. Yep, stay right here with his dad and just keep plowing those fields. But not me. I was going to California to be a medical assistant for a plastic surgeon. I had thought about it for years. I could see Beverly Hills in my mind, the palm trees, the expensive stores, the beach. In a short time, I’d be outta here and no way would I consider staying and marrying Rudy Bobby. I could just see myself in the kitchen with three screaming kids while looking out the window and seeing miles and miles of treeless, dried fields. This wasn’t the life for me.
“Well, he’ll get over it someday. Oh and Eliza, congratulations for winning the fashion show.”
“Thanks. It was nothing, my mom helped me put it together.”
Mrs. Hoglebee, the homemaking teacher, thought Eliza was the best seamstress in the class. I was another matter, the outfits I made looked like extra long pillow cases. Sometimes Mrs. Hoglebee would just look at me and shake her head, but that was okay because I didn’t really have any aspirations in the Future Homemakers of America….