A Wild, Ill-tempered, Bowlegged Woman
by Delo White
Part 1 appeared in issue 124.
“So, you’re a jock, a nerd, and a rocker,” she said most condescendingly. “That’s quite a combination. Do you have any plans for when you grow up?”
I managed to smile back at her as I shook inside with anger.
“I’ll probably study music in college and work professionally in the field.”
She looked blankly at me, obviously unimpressed. She then reverted to her intelligentsia, speaking about either going into medicine or engineering. I felt like such a loser as she spoke about her family’s accomplishments: her father, two older brothers, an uncle and a cousin were all doctors; other family members were successful scientists.
She crossed the line when she snobbishly said, “I’m sure you enjoy music and being a stud, Brad. But eventually you’re going to have to grow up and get into a real profession that will afford you all of this.” She proudly swept the room with her arm, demonstrating that only the right job could afford the elegance of such a stately manor.
I then did the unthinkable by staring at her legs.
“Are you staring at my legs?” Turning to Peter she furiously said, “You better get your friend out of here now!”
I then crossed the line by laughing and maniacally said, “Phleugerhosen!”
She swiftly jumped to her feet, claws extended, as Peter tried to intervene. She then suddenly stopped and chuckled.
“You’re going bald!”
My head was lowered and at just the right angle to allow her a perfect view of my bald spot. I then released a barrage of words that both dazzled and confused them.
“You bowlegged Phleugerhosen! You can whoffle snarzen, and dillem kaputzken with a pickle kerblitzken!”
Both of them stood with open mouths and a look of disbelief and wonderment. It had been awhile since I’d used those words that if said intelligibly would’ve really meant something and shocked them.
Shoving Peter aside, Anna advanced on me. A strange look swept over her face. Instead of murder she displayed adoration and love. It also helped to see that she’d retracted her claws.
Smiling most becomingly, she said, “You really are gorgeous, you know? I had you all wrong, Brad. You aren’t the stereotypical, egotistical, brain-dead jock I had you pegged for. My God! You’re actually everything I could wish for in a boyfriend: balding and with a most seductive speech impediment.”
That was the moment that hostilities ended and our very weird relationship began. We were two screwed-up people, turned on by the other’s flaws. That’s when we should’ve first sought professional help.
We soon became inseparable as I came to accept the strange things she appreciated as she enjoyed my musical endeavors. I invited her to band rehearsals and actively sought her advice. She suggested switching from Led Zeppelin to Pink Floyd.
Shortly she left her black period and entered her beige period where she became less Gothic. The one thing she refused to give up was her specialized brand of cigarettes, prescribed by the organization of deep thinking, Gothic, pseudo-intellectuals of America.
It was when Anna joined us at gigs that there was trouble. Very protective of me, she accepted the joint roles of groupie and bodyguard. Though only five-three, she was a natural born killer.
Once when a club owner tried stiffing us, Anna cornered him inside a stall in the men’s room and threatened to do enough bodily harm that he would qualify to use the women’s restroom. He then made the mistake of commenting about her unusual legs. When we saw the man next, there were tears rolling down his face as he shook with fear. He then quickly forked over the money.
“You can’t go around threatening people, Anna,” I tried reasoning with her. “You’re going to get us all thrown in jail if you’re not careful.” But no real man would ever file charges against my lovely little bodyguard.
One night as I gently caressed her legs as she patted my head (part of our courting ritual), a clump of thinning hair came out in her hand.
“I’ll just put these in a scrapbook, honey,” she said.
I remarked, “Why don’t you just take before and after pictures so that I can reflectively cry over them?” So she did.
After graduating from high school, we went our separate ways. I decided to major in music at North Texas State University (NTSU), now called UNT, while Anna studied chemical engineering at Texas A & M. Fortunately, Peter and Jessie were nearby at SMU, which allowed us to continue the band. Our new drummer, Paul Blazer, was a fellow music major at NTSU and fit in quite well as we now called ourselves the Larks.
Somehow, while away from Anna, my stomach enlarged. I don’t know. It could’ve been all that indulgence in food and beer. Anyway, when not in class, I ate and drank and as part of a rock band, played and partied like there was no tomorrow. The Larks were playing steadily at the most popular club for students and consuming as much beer as the patrons.
I tried dating but nobody could melt my butter like Anna M. Phleugerhosen (the M stood for Marmalade). By the time I saw her at spring break my weight was bordering three hundred pounds.
All my fears vanished the moment I saw her eyes widen as a huge smile crossed her face. We agreed to meet at the student union building where I hoped I wouldn’t stand out so much. As she ran towards me I noticed that she’d become more bowlegged.
As she struggled to get her arms around me she whispered, “I really love you, Brad. There’s nothing as attractive as a bald, speech impaired, great, big-bellied man.”
We spent spring break relaxing on Padre Island, a popular place for spring breakers. As scantily clad women frolicked about, I found myself in heaven. I lovingly caressed Anna’s legs as she stroked by belly, patted my head, and chewed gum, all at the same time. God, was she gifted! She then had me recite the words I couldn’t pronounce.
In my junior year at NTSU, the band, now calling ourselves the Sound Effect, had not only become the most popular band on campus but in all the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Our popularity and venues grew after we won the Battle of the Bands. We only had one original song called, “Mushroom Gravy and Flies,” penned by Jessie. It was a good rocker but very silly.
Feeling that we weren’t being taken seriously as musicians, Peter said irritably, “We need to write more serious songs, guys.”
“Hey! It’s the only original song we have,” Jessie responded, peeved that a colleague would criticize his masterpiece. “Why don’t you write one?”
So, Peter wrote a sad ballad called, “My Tears In Torment Hurt Me, So I Stopped Crying In Order To Hurt You.” Seriously stupid.
Right into graduation the Sound Effect was rocking and rolling along, gaining popularity and looking for a record deal. Then disco struck.
One day Jessie came into practice all excited about this hot, new music that was sweeping the country. “Man, it’s wild! People can really get down and funky and dance to it.”
He played us a song by a group calling itself K.C. and the Sunshine Band. While lively and upbeat, I wasn’t all that enthusiastic. It just wasn’t my cup of meat. Jessie got all upset and called me an old fogy, stuck in rock ‘n’ roll.
“I’m telling you, Brad,” he continued selling me. “This is the music of the future. People will be listening to disco for years to come. We better get onboard fast!”
The rest of the guys were equally hesitant but were intelligent businessmen who understood the market. So, we listened to a lot of Donna Summers and the Commodores and quickly learned their songs.
Peter and Jessie collaborated on our single, “The Funky Bunch Goes to Disco College,” another piece of masterful silliness.
We purchased outrageous, twinkling, purple jumpsuits and grew massive Afros. Since I was nearly bald, I rented a wig from a specialty wig store and foolishly glued it to my head. When I finally got it off, the remainder of my hair came with it.
When Anna saw me she laughed and said, “You better invest heavily in wig stock.”
After graduating from Texas A & M in 1976, Anna took a well-paying job as a chemical engineer with a prestigious firm in Dallas. Graduating the same year, I didn’t take a well-paying job teaching music at a prestigious school but decided to invest my future playing disco.
During her years at Texas A & M, Anna had been in charge of mostly male cadets who grew to fear my beloved, petite hellion. I’d noticed a change in her personality. She’d become more fierce and authoritarian. So, when she learned what plans I had for the future, she really laid down the law in her own special way.
“You listen to me, mister! You either make this music thing happen fast or get a real job. No fiancé of mine is going to be a bum. And suck in that belly!”
I felt no pressure as I pushed the guys to perform better and to write more serious songs. I truly think that there was something inherent in us that made it impossible to write serious songs. Our list of songs went like this: “The Platypus Sings At Dusk,” “My Love Got Run Over Last Night By a Mad Kangaroo,” “Leave the Last Tea Leaf In the Broken Cup of Buttermilk,” and “Steamroller Keep Rolling and Steaming With Much Roller.” It didn’t help that we’d changed our names to the inane Johnny John and the Stupes, and finally to the more acceptable O-Pinions.
In 1977 Anna and I moved into a luxurious apartment in Irving, a suburb of Dallas. I was conscious of her growing erratic behavior. One moment she was peaceful and loving, demonstrated by patting my head and rubbing my belly; the next moment she was explosive, tyrannical and domineering. I think in part it was being conscious of her increasingly bowed legs.
For the past year her relationship with the men at work had gradually deteriorated. She constantly griped about how she did most of the work, received lower pay, and felt that they were making fun of her.
“Those twerps cower in fear of me,” she said while puffing on her specialized cigarette. “They know that I’m onto them. Why, I even threatened Frank the other day. I told him that if he took any more credit for my work I’d catch him in the parking lot and beat the snot out of him.”
On top of everything Anna began suffering from a mysterious ailment that caused her hair to behave strangely. After cutting it short, her hair started shooting out in all directions as if she’d stuck her finger in a light socket. No amount of spraying and brushing would keep it down. A doctor thought that it was a rare genetic follicular disease and prescribed a medicated shampoo. At first it seemed to work, at least until Halloween.
We’d decided to host trick-or-treaters, buying pumpkins and candy and dressing in costumes. Anna had cut her hair even shorter, believing that her hair would finally cooperate.
Looking back at me as she answered the door, she asked, “You think I’m okay?”
I gave her the thumbs-up.
I don’t know what happened for it was so sudden. The moment she touched the doorknob her hair came alive, shooting out in all directions. The poor kids stared at her in horror before racing down the hall, screaming for their lives.
The next day she got a military-style crew cut, leaving no doubt that this incident would ever reoccur. I tried pacifying her by telling her that it was her electric personality. I do believe that it was related to static electricity plus it was Halloween.
Disco officially died for the O-Pinions during a performance in Memphis. While jumping around the stage, doing all kinds of acrobatics, I got tangled up in guitar and microphone cords. As I twisted about, trying to free myself, my wig mysteriously came loose and slipped over my eyes. At the same time my extra large pants ripped and fell to my knees. Blinded and panicking, I fought hands trying to free me. Finally I lost my balance and took a header into the audience.
For a brief period I quit the band and made Anna happy by taking a job at a local community college teaching music. Each morning I appeared before students wearing no hair and casual clothing. It wasn’t a bad gig. I got to talk about different types of music and received a nice check.
Then one day, as I performed “Mushroom Gravy and Flies” acoustically, I noticed Mandy Cummings whispering something to another student.
After I’d finished she raised her arm and asked, “Aren’t you that fat guy who wore an Afro, lost his hair and pants in Memphis, and took a header into the audience?”
I cringed in shame as the entire class broke into laughter. I have no idea how she knew about this. Suddenly everyone knew my past. It didn’t hurt so much hearing jokes about me coming from the students. It was the ones made by the faculty that really stung.
One evening I answered the door and found three guys with spiked hair, wearing leather, body piercings, nose and eyebrow rings, and sporting really bad, macho attitudes. They looked familiar but I wasn’t sure.
To be concluded...
Copyright © 2004 by Delo White