Frolicking With Jane Eyre
Just as I get disgusted and start to throw Jane Eyre into the garbage--"Into the garbage with thee, where thou dost belong"--Charlotte drops into another unexpected "highway" experience. You see for a couple'a chapters, young Jane was on the verge of hitting matrimonial paydirt when her dear "ugly" Mister Rochester, in his forties, decided he'd like some of young Janet's 19-year-old virgin treasure, but, yo, this Rochester is not Mr. Benny's butler--nope, he's so rich he's fiefdom royal, a total nutjob, a liar, but quite a dashing character in the mind of a rag-mop like Jane--except his lying caught him as he and Jane were at the altar fixin' to get hitched--"Whoa-eth," saith a stranger when the priest asks if any man, boy, or dog object to the linking of these two..."Stop the weddin', I say, this bastard is already married!"--you see, Charlotte's revealing her sexual fantasy world, a world she had experience in in Belgium trying to steal a woman's husband--and Charlotte/Jane's sexual fantasy world is full of men who though ugly as sin have such seductive charms, like being rich, much more important to young ambitious late-teenish women looking for the "right" man. I know about this first hand. My second wife was 15 when I met her--I was 22--when we married, she was 18 and I was 25!
I met my second wife in the parking lot at DisneyLand in Anaheim, California, way back when my friend, the paperback-book writer (the pbb writer), and I made a cross-country bacchanal "on the road" experience driving from Denton in Texas straight through the middle of the Souhwest out to Glendale, California, first stopping, no kidding, in Glendale, Arizona, where the pbb writer had an aunt--and, coincidentally, it was also another of his aunts who lived in Glendale, California--small world shit and all that--and we drove that almost 2,000 miles in my 1953 cheerleader hot-rod Power Glide Chevrolet--called a cheerleader hot rod because the girl I'd bought it from had been a cheerleader for the Hardin-Simmons University (we called it Hardened Sinners University) Cowboys athletic teams and I had added some Monroe road levelers and a Hollywood glasspack muffler to it--and on the back window of my Chevvy was a college girl (I suppose) dressed in a cowgirl outfit riding a rearing horse and throwing a lasso and around the Hardin-Simmons University seal--and underneath this decal in big letters was "I'm a Cowboys Cheerleader!"--and we drove that cheerleader Chevvy hard and mostly looped, too, on beer and gin and even several bottles of champagne--once when we were in Arizona, we had just passed through Flagstaff, we thought, going on west--really looped because we turned south in Flagstaff--we had to to get to Phoenix (Glendale), and then the ppb writer suggested we see the Grand Canyon. By then we both were I'd estimate at least 3 sheets in the wind, we'd stopped in Winona and gotten gas and tanked ourselves up on Burgermeister beers, and we were actually pretty much had our 4th sheet already flapping in the wind when the pbb writer shouted, "Quick, turn right at this next road, that sign back there said it was the way to the Grand Canyon, man." I whipped that out-of-balance Chevvy a hard right and almost flipped us. We skidded sideways for about 100 yards before the car ended up slammed against a the pile of sand that had been raised on the sides of this road by a recent road grading--"This is a fuckin' dirt road, man, why the hell wouldn't the road to the Grand Canyon be paved?" "Shit, man, it's Arizona, the Wild West, dirt roads, wagons, horses, man, they ain't used to cars! You ever seen John Wayne drive a car?" We drove like a bat outta Gehenna till we came to a gate and an old dude wearing a green uniform stopped us. "You boys dumpin' somethin'?" "Dumpin' somethin'?" I said, "No, we're here to see the Grand Canyon. Where the hell is it?" "This is the Coconino County landfill south of Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon's north of Flagstaff...." "The dump!" the pbb writer screamed, "I swear the sign said 'Grand Canyon next right'." We turned around and headed back to the highway to Flagstaff to where the pbb writer had seen the sign. The damn sign said, "The Grand Canyon Railroad, the Right Way to See the Grand Canyon." By then we'd gained consciousness back and fuck the Grand Canyon we headed on down to Phoenix and Glendale, Arizona, to cop a meal and a night's sleep at the pbb writer's aunt's house before we ventured out across the Mojave Desert to get to the other Aunt's house in Glendale, California.
So after the pbb writer and I got to Glendale, California, and the pbb writer's California aunt's house--the Glendale, California, aunt, of course you should know, had the same name, Aunt Annie, as the Glendale, Arizona, aunt, Aunt Annie, too. "Hey, they ran out of names in my mother's family--my mother's named Carol Anne and everybody calls her Annie."
In Glendale, California, Aunt Annie fed us a pineapple-honey-glazed ham dinner with mashed potatoes and cream spinach and tons of biscuits--with redeye gravy--this Aunt Annie was from Texas originally, a Dust Bowl refugee from the big Dust Storm of the 1930s that drove Arkies, and Okies, Texans, Kansans, New Mexicans out to La-La Land, Lotus Land, sweet home California--John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath is probably the best book every written about these people--it's just a good book anyway--Steinbeck was a good writer--I even found Travels With Charley and interesting book--but definitely Grapes of Wrath is his best book, though Cannery Row is a pretty god-damn good book, too--I learned to appreciate the music of Monteverdi from reading Cannery Row. The only time I've ever been in Monterey, California, Cannery Row was no more. And after we had devoured Aunt Annie's ham dinner--and at least two six-packs of Aunt Annie's beer ("Go'head, it's for the guests," she said after her nephew the had found a case of beer in the refrigerator on her back screen porch--her "utility" refrigerator as she called it), Aunt Annie said, "How would you boys like to go to DisneyLand tomorrow?--it's a swell place--and I've got comps to get in the gate--so if you boys wanna head down to Anaheim...." "Walt Disney! Yes, I'd love to go see Walt and Mickey and Minnie," I shouted with cartoon glee. "Damn right," the pbb writer added. "Hey, Aunt Annie, do they sell beer at DisneyLand?" "Oh, my gosh, lawd no, child. Mr. Disney doesn't allow booze in DisneyLand!"
After Aunt Annie told us, "Remember, take the Golden State down to the Santa Ana Freeway...." The pbb writer said he knew the way so we headed out, first stopping at a convenience store and loadin' up my Chevvy with a case of cheap beer--Lucky Lager maybe. Then we flew south like Dumbo the Elephant flies and soon we were parked in the huge DisneyLand parking lot--there were literally what looked to me like a million people just in the parking lot. We gave our comps away to an old couple who seemed thrilled by our generosity--"I thought that old lady was gonna tongue kiss me, man, " the pbb writer yelped after they'd passed on toward to main gate. Then we started poppin' soldiers and just hangin' there in that parking lot--yep, just hangin', two old Texas playboys drinkin' beer and checkin' out the California babes--and there was a lot of "Whoaaaa, man, look at that one over there!" "Holy shit, look at that body, Jeeeesus." We even played Groucho Marx and slow-trailed a couple of raving beauties hunched over with our eyes batting batting with seductive madness and our erect cigars jutting out of our mouths and our hands behind our backs. Parking lot fun. And on one of our Groucho performances I saw a much newer Chevvy than mine, Jesus, a '60 Chevvy, and I got all whoozie about all of it--we were looped the whole trip--and this new Chevvy had Texas license plates on it. My Lone Star gentility blossomed forth in my poetic soul (I'm writing like Charlotte Bronte). "I'm stayin' here," I announced, and I plopped my butt up on the fender of this Chevvy, slurped down the rest of my beer, and then heaved the can toward the DisneyLand main gate! The pbb writer decided "Why not?" and joined me, bringing over our beer cooler to this Texas car and we began drinking beer and philosophizing and then I looked up from a reverie and there was this Native American-looking dark-raven-haired young beauty with, and yes of course I noticed, very large breasts headin' right toward us--and then she was close enough for me to see she had black eyes--oh black eyes--and I loved black eyes then and she had her hands on her hips and she was saying, "What the hell are you guys doing on our car?" I leapt down off the fender. "My dear, I'm so sorry," I said as charming as a drunken 22-year-old can be, "I was enjoying myself in a cavalier fashion and saw your Texas license plates and I told my friend over here, he's a famous writer, he really is, howdy-do, ding-dong, and I told him, 'I'm gonna check out and see who comes to this Texas car--why, I'll bet it's a beautiful woman!' He took the bet and here we are waitin' to see if I was right--and looks like I was right on the money and then some--you are one beautiful girl, my dear!" With that I leapt off the fender and curtsied in front of her.
And then another girl appeared, a tall rather skinny girl with short black hair, very white complexion, but wearing the tightest shorts and those shorts hosting one truly magnificent...I know, I know, I shouldn't be so sleaze-baggy with my writing--but dammit, I'm sworn to be real about everything I do, even in my rationalizing--"Do you really think and act like your characters think and act--do you really talk the way your characters do?"--yes, I do, because I'm a character in my own fantasy world, which is my real world, though fictitious, just like actors have fictitious names, even songwriters used to change their names, and musicians, and immigrants--name changing is an American pasttime, isn't it? I talk the way my characters, of which I am one, lead me to talk, the situation, and, yes, I talked like I'm talking as a character when I met my second wife, the dark, raven-haired, half-Choctaw-looking, tanned babe, the "Little Queenie" of my Beatnik-imitation life--"There she is a-gan stand'n over by the wre-ckord mah-sheen, lookin' like a model on the cover of a magazine, she's too sweet to be a minute over seventeen...Meanwhile, I'm thinkin'...." And I was thinkin'--and even the new girl had me thinkin', too, because she'd caught my fantasy eye, too--though the pbb writer was gonna have to take her if we did anything with them--I was takin' Queenie.
We got the Texas relationship out of the way and soon the pbb writer and I had sobered up enough that we started hitting on them, finally askin' 'em if they'd like to go out with us--like over to Huntington Beach or Newport Beach--"Sure," the thin girl said, "come on, girl, you've been promising to take me to Newport Beach since I got here." Finally the dark girl caved and we piled into their Chevvy--it belonged to the thin girl who was visiting the dark girl who was from Anaheim and her father was a Baptist preacher at the biggest Baptist church in Anaheim, Right Wing, John Birch Society, Orange County, Fuck All Beatniks and Commies, California, but she wasn't right wingy at all--hated Nixon, hated the government, didn't believe in God--a preacher's daughter who doesn't believe in God--I told her right then and there that I was gonna marry her one day! She laughed and said she might bet me on that one! "Hey, I'll take the bet and then collect it at the altar, baby!" She liked me, I knew she did--and she liked the pbb writer, too, who was soon making out wild with the thin girl while I was left still trying to be a gentleman with the dark girl who I had made up my mind I wanted to marry some day.
We partied into the evening, at Newport Beach the girls got in bathing suits and me and the pbb writer sat in the sand near the pier and watched them swimming--"Damn, look at the ass on my girl!" the pbb writer said. "OK, that's a sweet ass, but look at what I've got with my girl." "Yeah, you bastard, she's young and nice, nice legs, man, and of course those cans! Jesus, I can see her nipples, man, check it out!" Typical male respect for these girls we'd met and were having fun with. We parted back at the DisneyLand parking lot. The dark girl let me kiss her--a nice kiss--she was getting hot, I was using the My Life and Loves--Frank Harris--who couldn't get it up for any woman older than 12--method of testing a girl through the heat of her kisses to see if she's ready for a little shall we say seduction attempt. But when I tried to keep kissing her and tried to feel one of her breasts, she backed off, flustered, dark red faced, and said that was enough, she and her Tejas friend had to get back to her house or her father'd get worried. I took the dark girl's phone number. As I wrote it down, out of nowhere she said, "I'm coming back to Texas to go to college in January--I'm graduating high school this December...." "How old are you?" "No, I'm graduating high school early...." "Early? You're 16!" "Well?" God, I was in love. A smart young chick. A beauty, too, and she really was, an angelic yet purely American face, which means she was advanced in her maturity--I don't consider angels mature--plus she didn't sport wings--I had her face in my mind the rest of our sojourn in California, which wasn't long, and we were back on the highways again the next day after the day after that night. I called the dark girl right before I left and her sister told me she was out of the house but she'd tell her I'd called.
The story of our going back to Texas from Glendale, California, is another story, a long story in itself, a book if you will--I've already mentioned all of this in a past episode, but what the hell, I'm writing because if I stop writing what will I do? Fade away like old soldiers? Be hauled away like old Cadillacs. I can remember when Cadillacs were THE car! Hell, I can remember when a LaSalle was THE car! Hey, I've seen a guy driving a Locomobile! My brother had a 1923 Rolls-Royce when I was 8. And here I go with a history of automobiles again--but then automobiles were so important in my early life. I liked speed. I loved speed. I loved fast cars. The first car I ever drove was a truck. A pick-up truck. A GMC. They called them "Jimmies" because GMC (General Motors Corporation) when said real fast sounded like you were saying "Jimmy." When I was a kid I loved trucks and when we traveled I looked out for trucks, Macks, of course, but in those days there were also Diamond Ts on the road, and REOs, and Whites, and blunt-nose Fords. And my dad when I was 14 got a GMC pick up and that's what I learned to drive in and he'd let me drive it by myself around the dirt roads way out back of my hometown in the hills, actually pretty dangerous old rutted dirty dirt roads though my dad had been driving them since he was as he said knee-high to a grasshopper. And the first time I got to drive a car further than a couple'a miles was when I was 16, I had a Texas driver's license by then, and I drove my grandmother's 1941 Nash coupe from Abilene, Texas, down to Beaumont, Texas, a matter of some miles--like 300 miles or more--and I followed along behind my dad and mom and grandmother riding in dad's big Fleetwood Caddie--and those were days when driving a Caddy meant something, and it was especially important to my dad, who had once been a solid Nash man though he became a Cadillac man after I wrecked his very favorite Nash Custom and he got the big Fleetwood--a most beautiful car, but a matter of vanity with my dad who really couldn't afford to drive big Caddies--but he did for the rest of his life until he retired and sold his last Caddy and he and mother bought a brand new Mercury together--and about a month after they bought the Mercury, they took there first trip in it down to New Orleans to see their new daughter-in-law....
So the pbb writer and I took another On the Road highway experience coming back to Texas from California and then back to more and more time drifting us all apart, the pbb writer heading off to South Texas to give up writing and become a football coach, and I hung around Dallas dating Mark Twain's great-granddaughter, yes, she was a Clemons, and she claimed she was a Samuel Clemons direct descendent but I don't know--she was an awfully pretty woman--her father had invented one of the early electric toothbrushes--and her mother, I loved her mother, introduced me to Cafe Royales--ah that mother!
My life traipsed on. I got a job for Dallas County, working for the juvenile detention home, a good job, and I bought my first Caddy, a 1955 baby blue Sedan de Ville--a big car, already nearly 8 years old when I bought it, for $1100, which I didn't have, and which I borrowed from the Credit Union at my job and which I never could pay back--they called me into the Credit Union and tried to slap the fear of an almighty being in my face but I simply shrugged my shoulders and said, "Search me, I ain't gotta dime, dad; in fact, how 'bout loanin' me another couple'a hundred?" By the way, the Controller of Dallas County in those days, I swear, I may be wrong, but I'm seldom wrong--I do sometimes disguise my facts, but otherwise--but the Controller was named Warren G. Harding. That would be easy enough to check, but I don't have to, I was there, I got chewed out by Warren G. Harding!
As a result of this juvey job, I got to splurging. Besides the baby blue Caddy, I also moved with my old pal from home, Jay Dee-Dee, I'll call him, an interesting yet tragic dude who just slowly faded out of my life, into a really swanky apartment complex on Cole Avenue in Dallas, with Cole Park all nice and spread-out greenly in front of that el swanko place--and what a party hearty apartment complex--oh the life I had there--more books, more stories--like the Polish Jewish girl from Indianapolis who was so god-damn beautiful and BUILT--and one night to impress her--but here I go off on deviations--tangents--I'm so tangential--my god, I'm so not confused, though, my brain is greased and categorized. And one afternoon I loped into Jay Dee-Dee's and my fancy apartment on Cole Park and there are two babes sitting on the living room couch talking to Jay Dee-Dee. "This is la-la-la-la and blahbette-blah-blah, this is my roommate T.G. Wolf." "How-dee-do, ladies, so glad to meet you. (Ding-dong?)" And I was captivated by this one girl. Long black hair cataracting down over her shoulders a Niagara of long lucious hair--large breasts, I noticed those before I noticed her shapely legs in a cool pair of slacks. I even remember her face--stern, as though looking at you but not seeing you--and as it turned out that's exactly what happened--and after these girls left, the other girl I don't even remember--I asked Jay Dee-Dee, "Who the hell was that beautiful black haired one--la-la-la-la--I mean what a woman!" "Beartracks is screwing her up at NTSU." Beartracks was a guy who'd moved in with us for just one summer and that was the summer. His father was a West Texas cattle rancher and Bear T was gonna inherit 10,000 acres--and shit, the land had some producing gas wells on it, too. Quite a man. And so he was screwing that beautiful chick.
And then just the next afternoon, Jay Dee-Dee picked up the phone and I heard him talking friendly like he did when he was talking to a woman--a little phony, yes, but polite, let's put it that way; in fact so polite he was smarmy that way--a smarmy Jay Dee-Dee was really low smarmy--and then he motioned at me to come over to the phone--and when I got there, he said over the phone, "Hold on, here's somebody who wants to talk to you." "Here, take the phone, man, it's la-la-la-la--here's your chance, man." I picked up the phone and started talking to this girl and telling her everything and I mentioned my brother and she flipped--"I've been writing letters to your brother for over a year"--my brother was the editorial page editor of a big Dallas daily and he also had charge of the "Letters to the Editor" and this girl evidently had been a prolific "letters to the editor (my brother)" writer--"Yes, your brother even invited me to have lunch with him when I got back to Dallas from California." "Oh, you lived in California." "Yes, Anaheim. I moved back to Dallas a year ago to finish high school here and then I enrolled at NTSU--that's where I met Beartracks."
Are things clicking in your head now. Things started clicking in my head. "Is your dad a Baptist preacher?" "He was, he's retired now." "And your friend from Texas who came to see you back a couple of years ago--and the two guys you met in the DisneyLand parking lot...." "Oh, my God, you are Wolfie? Oh my God, I heard you introduced as Wolf, but I wasn't wearing my glasses so I couldn't see you at all, you were just a blur 'cause I'm blind as an ordinary bat without my glasses."
Yes, it was HER. And, yes, two years later, I married her. Fuck Beartracks. Stole her away from him before he even knew her. And yes this was that girl--that girl from that DisneyLand parking lot who I said I was going to marry one day--and I did, in the living room of her brother's house in Dallas, with her father the Baptist officiating--my mom and dad were still alive and were there--still driving the big Fleetwood Caddie at that time--and my brother was my best man, and later we had a wedding party that was a knock-down drag-out drunken blast--the girls all getting drunk and some of my old affairs almost jumped out of the party woodwork and spilled the beans on me--like the Jamaican gentleman spilled the beans on old Mr. Rochester as this rascal was fixing to shoot his lust into 19-year-0ld virginal Jane Eyre--"I fie thee, priest, but this scoundrel is already married, and to me sister to boot." And, as it turned out, the first bride had been living just above young Jane's room when she was governess at Thornhill--and a thorny hill it was--and soon Jane, fixed in her strongheadedness, refutes Mr. Rochester's love and goes off on her own--steals off into the early dawn--and thus Charlotte starts writing her best again as Jane first spends all her money on a stage coach ride and then after the coach has departed, she realizes she's left her package of food on the stage and now she's in a small English Yorkshire town without money or food--wearing fancy clothes Mr. Rochester had bought her for the wedding. And soon Jane is sleeping on the moor--and soon Jane is dirty and filthy--and soon it begins to rain and the moor gets damp and the moor is cold and dank and Jane is sleeping still on the moor--starving to death, her vitality draining out of her by the hour, and she awakens one morning on the moor in a horrible rain, getting soaked to her virginal bones and then she sees a light shining out across the moor. So she allows herself to hypnotically follow that light and it leads Jane to a house--
And Charlotte has me hooked again--and I'm rather Evelyn Woods kind'a reading it now but when Charlotte's writing well, it's fun reading, though I still don't understand why it has such a huge reputation. I'm forced to read Wuthering Heights now, Emily's book, which is supposed to be the best written of the Bronte gals's best books.
Ah, don't you love frolicking?
for The Daily Growler
Imagine This With a Cowgirl on the Horse Instead of a Dude on the Back Window of Your Manly Automobile