Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Old Timer

Last weekend I was at the radio station doing some random manual labor. I happened to be at the station at the same time as "The Old Timer." He's an eighty-something young man that has a weekly show. He plays the country classics like Hank Williams, Jumpin' Bill Carlisle, Grandpa Jones, Roger Miller, Little Jimmy Dickens, or anyone else that was on the Grand Ole Opry stage from 1964 to 1967. It's the sort of stuff I remember from all the Hee Haw episodes I watched as as a kid. My favorite part of the show was the series of one-liners folks like Archie Campbell and Buck Owens told each other out in the cornfields. Seems ironic now that I live in the cornfields, which I don't think is funny at all.

The Old Timer hollers into the microphone at 80 dB introducing every set and telling stories about how he met Johnny Cash or explaining how Minne Pearl is from Grinder's Switch, TN. He punctuates almost all his sentences with "By Golly!" or "Everything like that." Down at the station last weekend, the Old Timer and I got to talking a bit. After some joking and laughing, he asked me to help him sub his show from time to time. He said, "I need a day off." He said, "You'd make a good hillbilly radio DJ. You could be my cousin from Gobbler's Knob."

He called me last Wednesday to ask me to help him with the show. We met today and he began with, "I don't think your name sounds like you are from Gobbler's Knob. I think we should call you Cousin Tawnee Bunbucket from Gobbler's Knob." So I was Cousin Tawnee and he was the Old Timer and we made up stories back and forth about my hometown. It was big fun for me. Off the air, we'd chat about other stuff. I'd talk about my family back home. He'd talk about his kids and his ex-wives that would "horn in on everybody's business." About twenty minutes into the show, he said the following off the air,

You seem to me like kind of a loner, but you have such a good personality, and you are as cute as a button. I mean, forgive me for being so bold, but you seem like the kind of person that anybody'd like to have as a friend.

And then,

I think that you are more effected by your parents divorce than you let on. I think you sell yourself short, and that you are afraid to be in any kind of relationship because you don't want to be like your mom.

And then,

I think you are afraid to get close to anybody but deep down you want somebody to care about you the way that you care about people.

This was after just two days of knowing the guy. When I told him that he was completely right and asked him how he'd figured that all out in so little time, he was modest, but replied, "I used to work on a crisis line many years back from 11 to 7 because I was always home. I got pretty good at analyzing people, I guess."

I was amazed that he'd hit the nail on the head so hard that tears about came to my eyes. Later in the evening we went to the county fair which is in town this week. We ate porkchop sandwiches at "Miss Piggy's Pork Palace" and watched the demolition derby. I told him he was "my hot date" and he giggled. I helped him walk to his car, and he dropped me off at my house. He drove his Oldsmobile Alero away into the night, I was glad to have a new friend and everything like that.


awu said...

I'd like to meet this Cousin Tawnee one day.

I sometimes wonder if, crisis-trained specialists aside, (qualified we) folks who grew up amidst divorce, death, or parental illness can see that *aternal strain in other kids that grew up that way.

The secret club of mark-ed youths.

Maybe familial familiarity just breeds better pattern matching.

It's funny but I sometimes think, too, that someone isn't real until I see their pain pour out half-controllably.

shannon said...

Wow...what an amazing person. He sounds like exactly what you needed when you needed it. I hope he will call Cousin Tawnee again to help with his show.