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My Prom Date's Name Was Bubba
By Romie Angelich

Depressing But Funny is the genre I call home. I would prefer to live in the neighborhood of Funny Ha Ha, but life's realtor assures me Depressing But Funny is the place for me.

I grew up in Austin, Texas, and as you might expect, I went to the prom with a guy named Bubba. His real name was Alfred Paul Curcoe the Fourth, which, believe me, is just as Texan a name as Bubba. Saying and hearing the name Bubba makes people smile. One believes that a Bubba is someone you already know: a simple person who might laugh at fart jokes or racist humor. But my Bubba, as if you can own one, didn't make racist jokes. His humor was more John Belushi meets Monty Python, and he had a smile that rivaled Dennis Quaid's. He and his sidekick, Matt Belew, alternated from speaking in mock country accents to high falutin ones. They liked to show up at parties with cans of generic beer and parody the Coors commercials that were popular at the time. "It ain't city beer. Heck it's not even country beer. It's just beer."

Bubba was handsome, charming and athletic. He was the kind of guy who didn't study but did well on tests anyway. He could also on occasion be brooding and intense. His father Alfred Paul Curcoe the Third, died of a brain aneurism when Bubba was eleven. Complaining to him about the behavior of my living, breathing parents never lasted long.

He had a loving mom, a sweet sister, and a step-dad who taught him how to rebuild classic cars. Bubba's first vehicle was more an elaborate model car kit than a mode of transportation. He worked on it for years before he ever drove it. It was a vintage 1960 Jaguar XJS sedan, silver with red leather interior, with a push button ignition. The kind of car you'd want to stop in traffic and ask, "Pardon me. Do ya'll have any Grey Poupon?" If I recall correctly, Bubba kept a jar of mustard in the car for just such occasions, because I gave him one.

Bubba Curcoe was not only my prom date, but he was the only person besides my husband with whom I was ever in love. Not that Bubba was ever in love with me. He liked me a lot. We bonded in junior high over pinball at our friendly neighborhood 7-Eleven. We made each other laugh, and he loved that I grew up in a house with a pool, a hot tub, and beer on tap. To be fair, he didn't hang out with me for just those things. There was also unlimited food and a big screen TV.

By the time my brother Leon and I, the youngest of our family of six kids, had become teens, my parents had pretty much retired from parenting. They just wanted to be "friends," and thought giving us cool stuff they bought on credit made up for the fact they didn't attend school functions, or go to our sporting events. It worked on certain levels.

In junior high and high school, I toured the classrooms at Back to School Nights with my friends and their parents. Bubba's mom Lynda and his step-dad Del always gave me extra attention, seeing I toured alone. Lynda and Del never seemed to miss any school-related event for Bubba or his sister, Kerry.

It didn't bother Bubba in the least my family couldn't afford the six-bedroom house we lived in. In a way, that made it cooler. Enron didn't invent the idea of pretending to have money that wasn't there. Texan families like mine had been doing it for generations. My alone time with my dad was often spent going to the manager's station at the Safeway Grocery Store on late Friday afternoons, where he wrote checks to Cash. I would squirm with embarrassment knowing our mission was to rush the money to the bank to float the next set of bills. If we timed it just right, the check he'd given to Safeway wouldn't go to the bank 'til Monday and wouldn't be processed until late the next week, when we could go back to Safeway and cash another check. That Del, Bubba's step-dad, was the manager at Safeway, it seemed to me the whole world knew my family lived on the edge.

For Bubba's sixteenth birthday, I sprung for a kid's birthday party for our crowd of friends at the McDonald's on the corner of Barton Springs Road and South Lamar. A Ronald McDonald impersonator in white make-up, clown nose and giant red shoes led a small brigade of smart-ass teenagers, as we held hands and did the kitchen tour where we Oohed and Aahed as we saw the fries, burgers and shakes being made. We tossed beanbags shaped like burgers into the mouth/hole of a cardboard HamBurgler and laughed like we were so brilliant for being teenagers having a children's party.

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