The late spring of 1964, when I was a tender, but lustful, sixteen, my buddy Thomas -- he didn't like being called "Tommy" -- up and joined the Navy. Thomas was a year older, seventeen, not much of a scholar, and since Vietnam was heating up, he figured he'd rather sit on a battleship offshore than slogging around in the rice paddies.
Thomas was dating Milly, who was fifteen and quite the hottie, and they decided that, soon as he got through basic training and whatnot, he would come home and they would get married.
Yeah, yeah, I know, but it was Louisiana, and at least she wasn't his sister ...
So, he gave her an engagement ring, and off to the Navy he went.
Six weeks or so, I got a call from Thomas, who was in San Diego. He got word, he said, from somebody who said that Milly was going out on him. Did I know anything about that?
Nope, I hadn't seen her since he'd left. Her school was across town from mine, we didn't run in the same circles. Milly was fifteen, an aforementioned hottie, and so maybe it shouldn't have been such a surprise, what with Thomas being two thousand miles away and the warm summer nights being long and not so exciting to sit at home alone.
So, what did he want me to do?
Go and get my ring back.
Me? Why me?
You're my friend, right?
Attend here, class, the lesson. There are two choices when it comes to stepping in between your friend and his girl in such instances:
1) Run away, and do not consider the idea.
2) Run away, and do not consider the idea.
There is, perhaps, a third choice:
3) Run away, and do not consider the idea.
But I was sixteen, I had but a little experience with the Grand Game of Romance and its various rules and regulations. I didn't know any better. Ignorance is not bliss -- it is tragedy waiting to happen.
Okay, I said.
So I called Milly up. I need to talk to you, I said.
Sure. Come by Friday night?
I arrived at Milly's house. The door opened and there was Milly, dressed to go out, hotter than an Arizona Fourth of July, you could bounce quarters off her she was so tight. Let's go, she said.
Go? Go where?
We can't talk here. My mother is here.
Yeah, well, okay, I could understand that. It made sense.
So we piled into my '59 Chevy and took off. That car had a bench front seat, and Milly sat about fifteen feet away, by the passenger door, which is where she was supposed to sit. Until we cleared the first corner at which point she slid across the expanse of Detroit cushion, latched onto me, and stuck her tongue into my ear.
Now, let us be completely honest here. My first reaction was not, Oh, my Gawd, what are you doing?! Get away from me!
I was sixteen. I could get an erection putting my socks on. I was a biological switchblade -- hit a button, and sproing! Anything female and willing was alluring.
Having a hot -- did I mention she was hot? -- teenage girl nibbling my ear lobe and breathing heavily onto my neck set constantly-simmering hormones raging to a boil a helluva lot faster than putting my socks on. So, I admit, I kinda leaned into it ...
But only for a minute, really. We got to a traffic light, I moved away. Look, this is not a good idea. What about Thomas?
She said, and I quote: Thomas is an old shithead!
Yeah, I kinda agreed with that, if for no other reason than he had sent me to see Milly to get his fucking ring back, but I shook my head. Listen, he wants his ring back, I managed to say, though I had to lean to one side to be able to see her for the, ah, obstruction blocking my vision and clouding my mind. (I wax hyperbolic, but you get the idea.)
Piss on him. If he wants it back, he can ask me for it in person.
The conversation was essentially over, and not wanting to be any bigger a bastard than I already was, I said, Fine. I'm taking you home. Which I did.
I consider this latter action one of my finest and bravest accomplishments as a man. Because, still dealing in truth here, I would much rather have gone to the submarine races and discussed that old shithead Thomas at length with Milly upon that nice, big car seat, which she was obviously ready and willing to do. Did I mention that I was a sixteen-year-old advertisement for erectile function in the American teenager? And that she was hot?
I couldn't call Thomas, because telephones weren't handy for him, so I had to wait for a few days until he called me.
Did you get my ring back?
Well, no. She said if you want it, you have to ask for it in person.
What else did she say?
Here the next part of the lesson, students. When asked such a question, the wrong answer, the absolutely wrong answer is: Well, she called you an old shithead. And she, uh, made a move on me.
That hoor! he exclaimed outragedly. That bitch! That -- that --- hoor -- !
He spewed on like that for a while, and I nodded and said Uh huh, yeah, you're right, I'm sorry, and when he ran down, that was that.
But of course, that's not the end of the story.
Fast forward a few weeks. Thomas -- no longer quite so enamored with the idea of the Navy -- came home on leave. Went to, by fucking God, to see Milly, to get his ring back!
I wasn't there. I didn't hear the conversation, but in my mind, while it might have begun with I want my ring back, you hoor! it almost certainly moved to tongue-in-somebody's-ear, and further use of that big Detroit front seat in a real hurry.
A seventeen-year-old seaman -- insert obvious pun here -- was not so old that his juices had dried up, either. And did I mention she was hot?
So Thomas and Milly smoothed things over. All was well.
Except -- coming to the point now -- guess who the villain became in this piece? Anyone? You there, laughing your ass off, go ahead, tell the class:
Who was it called Thomas a shithead? Who was said his fiancee was a hoor? Yep, that is correct. Not them. No, it was that lying-scum-backstabbing other guy, what's-his-name ... ?
Things were never the same twixt Thomas and me. He and Milly did get married, a year later, sneaked off to Mississippi to do it, where the age of consent is what? Nine?
I wasn't invited.
Thomas and Milly had a couple of kids, the marriage lasted almost three years, then they split up. (Thomas, who later became a serious heroin addict, was tossed out of the Navy a few months after he joined up, a medical discharge, whatever the Navy's equivalent was of a Section Eight, i.e. he was bonkers. Milly was married twice more, with four or five more kids before I lost track of her. Louisiana white-trash, probably living in a trailer, if she's still alive, and no longer in any way, shape, or especially form, hot.
Far as I can tell, neither of them lived happily ever after.
Thus endeth the lesson ...