It’s hard to tell a college-aged guy what to do and not to do, whom to date and not to date. I know I wouldn’t listen to anyone, especially not to my friends. No, I had to learn the hard way, and drive the long way, too.
I lived in the college town of Montevallo, Alabama, twenty-five miles from my home in Bessemer, and fifty miles from Clanton. Clanton isn’t an important town to me, never was. Like Bessemer, it’s just one of those places that you wouldn’t pull off an interstate for, except to wonder how and why its citizens kept themselves going, and there. I never noticed it, at least, until I had to.
Until, that is, I decided I had to date a girl who lived there.
I met her in the lounge of the SUB where she hung out with the commuters on the second floor, drinking soda, just down the hall from the SGA offices where I often had college business.
The canteen was downstairs, and so many times as I was walking up and down those marble-tiled stairs, I’d see her. Reddish hair cut in a shag, wide blue eyes that, indeed, stared my way.
Now I’m not the world’s most masculine man, not the boldest, either, but in those days I was on a streak of getting “Yes’s” to my queries,
“Do you wanna go out one night?”
I had been a high school reject, not the most physical guy dating-wise, and so college for me, like for many, was a chance to start over. So after seeing her seeing me a few times, I walked up to her, asked her her name, and in a soft-spoken voice she said “Kay.”
And when I asked her out for that coming Friday night, she said, simply,
And then, “But I live in Clanton.”
I didn’t know then how far Clanton was from the college (again, fifty miles), nor did I know that to call her, I had to dial long distance. All of this should have discouraged men, and a less passionate guy might have thought better about his next move. I, however, had a date, and no force on earth would stop mixed-up, muddled-up me.