was always this special breed of girls who annoy me.
In general, they are
athletic, rather pretty dirty blonds with short hair. They have skinny lips and
their mouths are always moving every so minusculely as they chew a half of a stick
of Dentyne gum.
Mostly you see them at bowling alleys and roller skating
So I ask you, what’s this with chewing a half of a stick of Dentyne
gum? Isn’t it already small enough?
Kevin Frye was somewhat younger than
I, but growing up he and his family had lived nearby and all of us were active
members of Trinity Church.
One time, for complicated reasons not worthy
of enumerating here, it was to Kevin’s and my best interest if we double dated
to a formal affair at the Artillery Club. Both of our dates lived down by the
7-mile Road. I didn’t know either of them.
I went by to pick up Kevin.
I went early because it was around Christmas time, and the Galveston
fog was quickly setting in. I knew we’d have to feel our way down the old S Road.
honked and out came Kevin in full formal dress – the same stuff English men wear
to a prince’s wedding. It was the cape, long coat with tails, waistcoat, black
patent leather shoes, white gloves, top hat and cane.
Did I mention the
gold pocket watch on the chain that looped across his front?
a full beard and moustache. All of that accented his regular over the top eccentricities.
this point, there was no turning back for me, so he got in my car and we started
our trip to the 7 Mile Road. Of course all of the small talk that came out of
Kevin on the way was in his adaptation of a British accent.
He used “a
tall” for “at all” as often as he could. Everyone knows that’s very British.
we got close to the 7 Mile Road it was obvious we were early by at least a half
hour, so Kevin insisted that we stop at an S Road beer joint for “an ale.”
couldn’t change his mind. I envisioned we would enter a bar full of tough guys
looking for a fight.
We walked in, Kevin with his top hat and cape, and
using his cane. Some tough guy in blue jeans and denim shirt at the bar said,
“What is that!” when he saw Kevin.
“My good man,” Kevin began in his phony
accent, “You are in the presence of two gentlemen who have stopped in for an ale
before they secure their two ladies, who live nearby, for an evening of frivolity.”
By now, the other fellows were turned toward us and had listened in disbelief
to Kevin’s British soliloquy. One guy picked up his beer mug. I was sure it was
getting ready to sail across the room aimed at Kevin. But instead, the fellow
put it to his lips and took a swig.
The bartender was one of those dirty
blond haired athletic women chewing on her half-stick of Dentyne gum that I was
telling you about.
With “I’ve seen it all” eyes nonchalantly at half-staff
she said, “What will you two gentlemen from across the pond have?
my dear woman, that you have a fine Burton Pale Ale like Worthington White Shield,”
Kevin said, then continuing before the half-stick Dentyne chewer could respond,
“We’ll have two, at a tepid temperature, of course.”
I’m seeing getting
beat to a pulp and thrown chairs and tables and beer bottles coming closer and
closer into our future.
The bartender answered, still with her half-staff
eye lids and her teeth chewing on the half-stick of Dentyne, “Two Lone Stars coming
up!” The whole place went up in a raucous laughter.
Kevin picked a table
for two in the center of the floor. Of course he took off his gloves and theatrically
put them, his top hat, his cape and his cane on a nearby table top, then threw
his coat tails back as he sat down.
The two Lone Stars were delivered,
but by then it was within minutes of when we would have to be on our way to pick
up our dates.
Rising and facing Miss Dentyne and the men at the bar, Kevin
said in his British accent, “I propose a toast to us all.” Then he raised his
Lone Star bottle. Surprisingly, the others did, too.
“We are all of us in the gutter. But some of us are looking at the stars. Cheers!”
After a few swallows, Kevin, gathered his formal attire props off of the
adjacent table, put them on and then followed his cane to the bar.
held out his hand to the half-stick Dentyne chewer. When she gave him hers, he
bent down and ceremoniously kissed it – just like they do in the movies.
And then he went from that end of the bar to the other, shaking each man’s hand.
As we started out of the door, they all came to their feet, and gave Kevin
a standing ovation – cheers, between the teeth whistles, and all.