Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Cardboard Box Part II Chapter Diane Ogden

The smell of Nana cooking up some fresh bacon spurned Duke to lickin' my face like I was the frying pan itself.  Stop I told him, but then I too caught the amazing odor floating down the hall and into my princess room like it had its own magic carpet ride directly to my and Duke's noses.  I rolled out of bed, threw some clothes on, and scampered to the kitchen and out the door with Duke so he could relieve himself.   Funny thing was I went so fast I did not notice there was a guest sitting at the table with Grandad.   I stopped dead in my tracks, mussed hair and dog licked face and all!  There sat Billy Connally shooting the shit with my Grandfather.  

"Ah, hey, whoa, Billy."  I said in a mumbled manner whilst trying to pretty much hide my unkempt self.   Duke, he was all over Billy.  And Grandad not really being all that excited about an animal being in his house, not to mention in his kitchen getting nearer and nearer his china eating plate.  Adding to the fact, said animal was alive.  The only animals allowed in Granddaddy's house were the ones mounted on the walls with the glass eyes.  But he maintained his cool.  I think he liked Billy which accounted for his patience with Duke.  Me, I was feeling notsomuch for Billy at that moment.  I would have appreciated a phone call.  And how did he find us anyway?  I didn't recall giving him the phone number, or had I in a weak moment?

"Might I excuse myself to get cleaned up Grandfather?"   I said.

He responded with, "Oh come on over and have a sit down darlin.  You were born beautiful and still are.  This young man has traveled a ways to make your acquaintance, now have a seat."

I said, 'Ah, Granddaddy, he traveled maybe three miles for real." 

Just then Nana came walking to the table with a platter of scrambled eggs, bacon, sliced oranges, and another platter of her home made sweet whole wheat toast.  Oh, and grits on the side.  Duke was dying over in the corner.  He just knew he'd better hang lose until he was given what was left at the end of the meal.  Somehow Granddaddy just had a way of sending out a very clear message to even a dog. 

And so it was.  We all sat at the table eating with silver utensils, china plates, and drinking from the finest glassware.  Not that Billy wasn't used to the same.  Heck it was me that wasn't used to any of the nifty things big money could buy.  But I faked it well.  My beautiful pink Cadillac and my looks saved me many a time.  This had been one of those times. 

It took a bit, but I finally got up the nerve and said, "So Billy, what brings you here so early today."

I about fell off my beautiful chair when he responded to my less than subtle comment by saying.....

"Julianna Rowe, I was not going to take even one chance you might leave the city before meeting my parents and doing the sights of Austin with Duke and I.  It will be my life's goal to make sure you never leave my side again." 

After I gathered myself enough to close my open mouth, I shot a look at Grandad who was grinning ear to ear, and then back to Nana whose head was down pretending she was eating, yet I could see a slight grin, and then to Billy who had a look of pure pride on his face that also said, "Look what I just did, I am so damn on top of this one!  But little did he know, he was not! 

I did not wish to be rude, but where I came from that was rude.  He was brown nosing my Grands like a dog lapping up gravy.  Calling them Sir and Ma'am and all I wanted to do was flee the scene.
Why?  I just felt Billy overstepped his boundaries with me.   He was there before I even showered or had time to truly wake up.  He was basically saying he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. I think.  I just wanted to grab Duke and do a long run up to the shopping center and down and around by the church and back.  Not that my adrenalin wasn't already pumping.  And then there was poor Duke who could always tell when I was upset.  His head was turning all over the place.  Looking at Grandad, and then me, then Billy, then me and so on.  He was going to need a Dramamine if this didn't stop pretty soon.  I remained calm on the outside and for the sake of my Grandfather who  held manners to the utmost degree, I stayed seated and quiet.  I ignored Billy's bold statement and managed to even make a few jokes.  When Nana stood up to clear the table I was Johnnie on the spot to play getaway and help her do the dishes. That is when she said in her strong southern drawl.

"Oh honey, you just sit on back down and enjoy your guest." 

Wrong answer Nana.  But it was what it was and I sat back down and visited politely for another hour. That is when Grandad invited Billy out to his ranch.  A guy thing that had worked out very well for me I thought until Billy piped in with, " I'll be back for you beautiful, at 7:30.  I mean to escort you to the Grand opening of the new convention center here in Austin.  My parents are the guests of honor as we will also be. Formal attire.  If you need me to take you shopping, no sweat. Oh I know, Julie, stuffy stuffy."

Just then Granddaddy popped in saying no need to take her shopping, Pat and I will handle that. To which Billy tipped his perfect off white cowboy hat in appreciation.  God these southern gentlemen were eating me alive.

And then Billy added regarding the stuffy comment, "But I promise not too much of that stuffy stuffins pretty lady!"

Okay, my brain was rockin.  It was dyin'.  It was screamin' Billy stop with stuffy stuffins." But I refrained my inner voice from loosing its cool. 

Then he added, "I have taken the liberty of renting a mo-ped for us to take into the hills and all around Lake Travis tomorrow.  I hope to show you a wonderful day." 

My dander was up now.  My Wisconsin woman was oozing out every pore in my body.  I wanted to jump that boy and tell him what was what, but I couldn't and I think he knew it.  He had sold my Granddaddy lock, stock, and barrel.  The ranch was all but his even though he didn't need it. Me, he done forgot to sell me.  Oh there is no question I was taken by the cowboy no doubt.... but his little show that day had killed a bit of my love Billy at first sight.

He and Granddaddy spent a while at the ranch and then it was shopping time.  Nana and I had time to ready ourselves for this next adventure.  Nana was used to the finer stores about town.   In fact she taught me all about the finest face creams at $35.00 for a mere small jar.  I about had a cow at those prices.  I didn't need those sorts of creams yet.  Why I was just barely out of life's teenager phase or so.

Sometimes at night when it was quiet I would wonder if Harper ever thought about me.  And if the school principle ever remembered the nights he snuck across the backyards with his dang shoes off into my house for some extra marital sex.  Did I ever feel guilty. No not back then because it wasn't my problem.  "It" was my solution.  I needed love and even if it was wrong, it felt right.  Oh Lord, that sounds like a good ole country song.  Okay stop with the thinking.  And thank God or my dead father . Just then I heard Nana summon me as they were ready for the shopping trip.

I took Duke out, gave him some fresh water, a treat, and closed the door to the living room so he couldn't even think about relieving himself in there.  He wouldn't anyway, I didn't think.  

We hit Dillards with a force.  Granddaddy instructed the sales ladies regarding the event I was attending  and they all scattered like cockroaches when the lights come on.  The Grand Opening of the such and such with the Governor.  That'd to it! 

I chose the most beautiful pale pink gown I ever even dared dream I would touch in my life.  I felt like Grace Kelly the day she married Prince Ranier.  When I was a child I dreamed of being a princess like most little girls.  But this day I really was.  Maybe Billy had sold me after all. 

Granddaddy gave me a few pointers before the limo arrived.  This sure was a far cry from the last limo ride I took with Roger's father outside Tulsa.  Actually I had to stop thinking about that or I would have started laughing until the tears ruined all the makeup Nana paid a zip zillion dollars for.  I silently told myself to shut my face, no shut my mind off and now!  I always had to be careful not to ruin a good moment.  My sense of humor sometimes got in between high society and fun.  Oh I wouldn't do anything like streaking, but I did like a laugh and sometimes I couldn't determine when to and when not to.  Oh God stop me please..... here comes the limo.  And it's the Governor of Texas Julianna.  You can dig it. Your cool.  Think big.  Hang Lose.  Play the part for today.

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