Sometimes it can be fun for me to reminisce about “the old days” (You know, 10 years ago, when I was in high school!) For the most part, I hated high school. But there are fond memories wrapped up in there too and those are the fun times to reflect on. This is not one of them.
I moved to South Carolina as a super-skinny, awkward 13-year-old who brought definition to the phrase “all elbows and knees”. I found my home among friends I met in the youth group at my church and I fell into a “good crowd”. Among those, however, I was always known as the country one. Hailing from Georgia, my accent definitely stood out among those of my peers. It gave me a solid grouping with “the rednecks” at school as I spoke their language, oftentimes more fluently than they.
As I moved into high school, I remember being very aware of my status as “redneck”, but this was okay, as “redneck” in our school had two groupings: The Moncks Corner rednecks, who were ‘disgusting’ and the Lebanon rednecks who were … not as disgusting. For some reason. And this mentality seems very backwards to me looking back on it (as Lebanon is not a wealthy neighborhood, and it’s definitely WAY FAR OUT THERE in location), but I actually remember having conversations with friends about this, and it was decidedly so. I was NOT a Moncks Corner redneck, despite the fact that I did live in Moncks Corner. Whatever. Moving along.
I’ll bring you up to January, 1997. I’m a high school freshman. I work at a day care center. I am single. I am not concerned about this, as boys are as foreign and disgusting to me as … well, as Moncks Corner rednecks. I was spending a Saturday with my friend Carrie. I don’t rightly recall what we were doing, but I remember wearing a pair of brown corduroy overalls. (Oh, this memory is getting ugly!)
As we were leaving Carrie’s house, she was called across the street by her neighbor, Michael. Michael and his buddies (the “classy” Lebanon rednecks) were doing what “classy” rednecks do on a Saturday: washing their trucks. We walked across the street for a few minutes, long enough for Carrie to exchange a pleasant greeting with Michael. And then we were off.
At some point during the following week, Carrie said, “Is it ok for me to give your phone number out? Robert Lee wants it.” YES!!! HIS NAME WAS ROBERT LEE!!! His truck (a hunter green 1996 Dodge Ram… why do I remember this??!!) had a tag on the front that said “The General”. And he was a Junior. And he saw me that day in Michael’s front yard and he LIKED ME!!! Hallelujah! I had arrived!
I spent a few weeks ignoring his advances. Finally, by February, we were “talking” and he asked me out for Valentine’s Day. This was a big deal because it would be my first date. A group date which included Carrie and her boyfriend, our friend Courtney and her boyfriend, and Robert and me. Three girls and our “classy redneck” boyfriends. (If you’re wondering, I bought him a Clint Black CD. This one.)
Anyway. It was a short-lived episode in my history, but was not without a certain level of teenage drama. But that was that, and we tried to be friends when it was all over and done with, but it didn’t really work out.
Years have passed since then. And I’ve only seen him once in recent memory. This was as I was walking out of the grocery store and nearly ran him over with my grocery cart. I was apologizing profusely when our eyes met and I stopped mid-sentence and we both just kept walking. It was weird.
And now … Now Robert’s living next door. As in right next door. We share a property line. A fence. And some overgrown shrubbery.
I wonder if, after he saw me in the yard for the first time, he ran in and hit himself in the head with the palm of his hand and said, “WHY didn’t I find out who the neighbors were FIRST?!”