Prom Date's Name Was Bubba
pay for things like the McDonald's party and to have money of my
own, I worked an after school job. Bubba occasionally picked me
up on his motorcycle. More than once we skidded on wet pavement.
Sliding underneath the back of a car and staring up at its exhaust
pipe with Bubba on top of me, my life flashed before my eyes. It
was as close to sex as we ever got.
Bubba was in love with another girl. That didn't stop him from coming
to my house and drinking beer and, occasionally, making out with
me, as if it was a "mistake" each time. (It was the Natural
Light talking.) His obsession was (someone I'll call) Ann Nameless.
She was two grades older than Bubba, and one grade older than me.
His birthday was September 23rd and mine was June 7th. I was only
109 days older than he was. Ann was 473 days older. Not that I cared
that much. Helping Bubba pick out jewelry for Ann and listening
to the poem he wrote for her on Valentine's Day were really only
small blips in my adolescent angst. Being the designated driver
in my father's van, while the two of them made out in the back on
the way home from a party at the Lake, listening to them moan, whisper
and laugh, is hardly worth remembering.
After Ann Nameless went off to college, Bubba and I would swim,
drink too much beer and sit on my parents' screened-in porch off
the house that bill collectors built. He would often say such romantic
things to me as, "Why don't you take your top off?"
I'd reply, "Why do you want me to take my top off?"
for, "Because I love you."
Bubba would offer up, "Somethin' to do."
just wasn't enough.
I was raised Catholic. Plus, my oldest sister Zeta got pregnant
when I was in the 8th grade. I had been changing diapers and babysitting
for free for far too long to fall for "Somethin' to do."
Bubba and I went to the Austin High Class of '82 Prom together.
Ever the feminist, I invited him. My mother managed an expensive
dress shop, which loaned me a $5,000 sequined gown. Del lent us
an emerald green Jaguar that looked amazing with my dress. We got
food to go from an Italian restaurant and set up a table and chairs
on the grassy median where Austin's First Street Bridge meets up
with Cesar Chavez. Everyone going to the prom passed us on the way
to the Hyatt. The only photo I have from Prom night was of Bubba
and me, with a homeless guy, who came out from under the First Street
Bridge to drink beer with us.
was class president and helped run the prom. I was dealing with
school business when the room I rented with friends at the Hyatt
was taken over by Bubba and the rest of the football team. They
managed to get us kicked out of the rooms I had helped pay for.
With no place to go for the night, I dropped off the immaculate
$5,000 dress at home. I changed into jeans and drove an hour and
a half away (sans Bubba) to eat breakfast in historic San Antonio
with close friends from my graduating class.
an awkward third wheel to the prom couples who still wore their
formal wear while eating Huevos Rancheros and Migas.
Bubba and I drifted apart when I moved on to the University of Texas
and started doing stand up. I wanted him to meet my comedy friends
and, most specifically, my husband Pete, but he stopped returning
calls. I missed the transition when my friend crossed over from
being a fun-loving party guy to someone with major drug and alcohol
problems. I hadn't heard that drug and alcohol abuse were ways to
cope with symptoms of schizophrenia, and that Bubba had been diagnosed
with it and was in a really bad way. I didn't know how bad things
were until years later I learned he'd killed himself. After I heard,
I called his mother and told her how sad I was, and that Bubba had
been one of my favorite people in life. We laughed and cried about
a lot of things and promised to keep in touch. I have made it a
habit to call Lynda every year on September 23rd, because I know
Bubba's birthday must be so hard for her.
Just a few days ago, I called. Bubba's stepfather Del answered and
said he and Lynda had me on their minds a lot lately. They'd adopted
"a sweet little girl who's part German Shepherd and somethin'
else with big feet," and they named her Romie. They hoped I
wouldn't be offended, and I'm not. I was like a puppy dog following
their son. Naming one after me is right up there with the way the
name Bubba makes people smile.
I live at the corner of Depressing But Funny, right down the street
from "Somethin' To Do".
mom Lynda with the puppy named Romie
version for easy reading
material is copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission|