Prom Date's Name Was Bubba
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
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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