I've Always Wondered What Made 'Rebels' Like Rick Tick
THIS GUY, SITTING DOWN, WAS WHAT RICK LOOKED LIKE
SEE THIS BATHING BEAUTY
This is tough, my friends. Not kidding around. Tough as getting an abscess tooth pulled. But whomever said life was fair. Right?
Eyes half-closed most times. Shirt tail out. Sneakers dirty and untied. Walking with 'that' certain swagger in and out of classrooms. Shooting vulgar jokes and profane words at will. Rick Taylor, (not his real last name) had it all. I mean, all. The whole ball of wax. Everything a young guy in the year of 1965 would ever want. The looks. The hair. The sure-of-himself aura that went ahead of him. Talk about being a grade-school idol. Rick was it. Always, and I do mean always, speaking to the "slow" guys. Winking at all the "fast" girls. Rick, in those days, "had it going on."
The first time I met Rick was in his grandpa's country store. "Taylor's" store. (not the real name). He was posed atop an RC drink box, the horizontal ones, with his feet clad in white, low-cut sneakers, laces untied, dangling in the air for me and the free world to see. Rick didn't care. He just loved being different. And loved to swig the latest drink, Mountain Dew. He had it made by way of snacks before and after school. His grandpa, "Bob," not his real name, owned the store. Rick would drink and eat to his heart's content. And if he ran up a noticeable bill, his dad, "Ted," not his real name, paid for it without question. Or complaint. Rick was an only child. I see now in my latter years why.
"Hey, bud," Rick, the swinging love god of 1965 said out of the left corner of his mouth. "you live 'round here?" he asked.
"Up the road apiece," I said hoping he would get off the drink box so I could buy myself an RC Cola.
"My name's Rick. What's yours?" he asked with his sudden, first-strike manner. I told him my name. He let 'that' sneer appear on his careless face. Then jumped off the drink box in his best athletic fashion I guess to impress "the new kid" in the country.
I guess it worked for from then on, Rick and I would get together each afternoon after school and do pre-teen guy things such as: (just) talk about girls and sex; early rock music legends as The Standells who had a hit, "Dirty Water," and other things guys like. Except in my case, it was just talk. In Rick's case, he boasted of having casual sex with some girl named "Gloria," certainly not her real name. You talk about impressed. I was impressed. And ignorant about such the mechanics of sex and how Rick explained it. I never asked any questions. Not with Rick. Or he would make you a public spectacle and laugh at you with his friends. Not a fun-filled hay ride, I can tell you.
Rick attended Shiloh Community School near his home. I attended Hamilton Grammar School in Hamilton, Alabama. I rode bus number 14. I never knew Rick's bus number. And soon grew to not care. About him. His antics. Or wind bag lifestyle. That's all it was. Wind baggery at its finest level. Even an art form. Rick could make even the most-proficient "liar" and bag of wind, no matter the size or age, back down at his eloquent style of boasting that captivated your imagination. Kept your attention like welded steel. He would have easily made a professional politician.
My mom, who worked at a "sweat shop" in this year of survival for me, 1965, called Detroit Slacks, which was nothing short of a Chinese POW camp for willing workers who wanted to earn a less-than-fair wage for sewing slacks for the military while the owner of the pants factory, a Mr. Coy Glenn, his real name, "made out like a bandit," with huge profits that led to new cars, homes, and several visits from the I.R.S. Funny. Glenn is nowhere to be found today.
Mom didn't care much for Rick. Although she was nice to him because of her obligatory Christian duty, she didn't care about how he talked tough for his age. Acted adult when he was only a punk. I found out later in life that many shared my mom's opinion of Rick. Even his blood sister told me in 1997, that she didn't correspond with Rick anymore due to his irresponsible attitude. "he just goes from town to town--getting non-thinking girls pregnant and leaves town after a while," she explained. I was laughing inside at her story of Rick, whom we all thought would be a senator. Maybe the lieutenant governor someday. She went on to tell me that at last count, Rick had five kids. That he knew of. And the girls he left all had the authorities chasing him for back child support. Yesss!
Now Rick, don't get me wrong. Could manage a rough-hewn song on his new electric guitar that his dad bought for him just for asking. Rick, with his eyes half-closed, a sure-sign that he was "hip," "in," and very popular would do a few licks of "Dirty Water," because it had the "F" word in the lyrics. He would sing that verse. Laugh. And throw his guitar on the bed and ask me to go outside to push him on his go-cart. Did you catch that? Push "him"? Did I ever get to be pushed by Rick? What do you think?
One time I recall, one time among many times I was "screwed" by Rick was when he and I were asked by an elderly neighbor named, "Mr. Hamp," his real name by the way, if we two would mow his grass for pay. Sure. What were two healthy guys of '65 supposed to say? I did my part. Rick didn't. I saw him make about two passes with Mr. Hamp's walk-behind mower from Western Auto. Get this. For "our" pay, which was supposedly to be of equal proportions, because Mr. Hamp was a member of our local Masonic Lodge, Rick got $2.50 cash. I only got a 10-cent Coca Cola and a dollar. Who was fair in this? Not Mr. Hamp. And certainly not Rick who took his easy reward and blew it on Black Cat firecrackers. I remember attempting to ask Mr. Hamp why the obvious slanted cut in pay. Mr. Hamp just winked. And carried his slumped-over frame back into his house. Nothing was ever said about this again.
One final dastardly episode about Rick and I promise to close. One fall evening after school, Rick and his best bud, Alan Cole, his real name, for at this point I don't really care, got up a game of tag football and wouldn't you know it, in Rick's grandpa's cow pasture directly behind the store. What great day for a football game. Since there were only the three of us, "I" was playing against Alan and Rick quarterbacked for both sides--yeah and Judas, the one who betrayed Christ became a pope. Rick was no more fair than satan in his various sparkling temptations. I actually thought Rick had a fair bone in his body. I was wrong. Dead wrong.
It was Alan's ball. First and ten. Rick took the snap, faded back, and let go a perfect spiral toward the waiting hands of Alan who was sprinting along the pasture fence ready to score a certain six points. But fate inter veined. I was like Green Bay Packers All-Pro safety, Herb Adderly as I leaped in front of Alan seizing the pigskin in my hands going back the other way until the next thing I knew I was getting up from being broad-sided by Rick, sending me into this cow patty. A fresh cow patty. "you aren't to do Alan's tagging for him, Rick," I protested. He only laughed. And didn't say a word. I saw him wink at Alan. What a set-up. I never forgot that.
I did learn one priceless thing from my cow patty incident. A cow patty smeared in your school jeans are not easily explained to a hard-working, fair-minded mom, who asked me sharply, "how could this cow patty on your jeans? Answer me!" And I did. Mom politely marched herself down the short gravel road to Rick's house to where she called Rick's mother outside in the yard. And Rick too, who was trying to cover his fear behind his mom's pretty dress. It didn't work. That was the only time I saw my Christian mom come-near purgatory with her angry words, but not profanity. She didn't need any profanity to get Mrs. "Taylor," Rick's mom to see how sorry and low-down her son could really be.
That ended our hanging-out. From then on. I was on an early "lock down," at home until my parents got home from their jobs. Actually I was kinda glad to being a prisoner in my own home.
One evening I happened to walk by the open curtains in our kitchen and saw, down the way, a very dejected, depressed and lonely Rick moping around like a hound dog who had been expelled from the pack. From the looks of him, he was hurting for a friend. In need of a "patsy" to make fun of to give him a laugh.
Not that time. I gently closed the curtains. Poured myself another frosty glass of RC Cola and continued to watch The Popeye Show on Birmingham (Alabama's) Channel 13.
Without another thought of Rick.