Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Homecoming (Of Sorts)

This Saturday, September 27, The Project will be traveling to the town of Nettleton, Mississippi, for the Town Creek Festival. If you've never heard of it, there's a reason: this is the first time for any festival in Nettleton that I know of, and I've been in the area most of my life!

Nettleton is your typical small town, USA. Everyone knows everyone else, and no one has any secrets (because everyone knows your business). There is not a lot of excitement, the sidewalks are rolled up at 9:00, etc., and the town has changed very little over the years. Most of the same families still call Nettleton their home, most of the same businesses owned by the same people, and they still have the same "unforgettable characters" walking around town (What's up, Big Bird!). My friend, Paul Thorn, is from Nettleton. I'm from Nettleton, too.

This Saturday will mark the first time in a little over 25 years I have taken the stage in Nettleton. The first time I ever played in Nettleton was the first time I ever played in public, but I've told you that story already (Junior at Nettleton High School, yada yada, Dean Hudson screaming "Roy Orbison", yada yada). The difference between then and now is I have the Project with me this weekend, and I DARE Dean to say something this time!

I'm really excited to get to play in my hometown after all these years. I'm looking forward to seeing old friends I haven't seen in "a coon's age" (that's a popular saying around Nettleton and means "a really long time" if you don't already know). Some, I have bumped into in recent years and have reconnected with them through social media, and some I haven't seen since our 20 year reunion in 2010, and still SOME I haven't seen since the day we graduated, but I can remember then names of every one of the 68 classmates I graduated with in 1990. Oh, you don't believe me? I can prove it, but I won't let you pull me into that pissing contest. ;-)

I remember fifth grade science class with Mrs. Gillespie. Trey Schlicht and I were the "teacher's pets" in this class and our desks were beside her desk, you know, like minions. Mrs. Gillespie would lean or sit on the front of her desk when giving tests, to watch the class. Trey and I were positioned to her side, slightly behind her, with the answer key (that was in her hand) in plain view, meaning we never failed a test. There was one test, though, that was apparently too easy, because everyone in the class aced it. Mrs. Gillespie was sure the class somehow cheated and kept the ENTIRE class in at recess to take a different test. Everyone, that is, except Trey and I. "They would never cheat on a test," was her response, and Trey and I were allowed to enjoyed recess that day. Chad Humble was pissed!

Or the time in eighth grade I broke BOTH of my arms trying to lift weights at a friend's house. This happened the Friday we got out of school for Spring Break and I guess I got a 2-for-1. Anyway, I had both arms in casts during Achievement Tests (do they even still give those?) and finals and couldn't hold a pen to take them with. Ms. McBrayer took my test for me and would look at me funny until I answered correctly. Danny Bacon got ticked at me at recess one day and punched me in the eye, leaving a strawberry-type mark on my eyelid. But, in Mr. Luckett's math class, when the spot was noticed, Mr. Luckett's question of "What kind of "man" would hit a guy with two broke arms? I mean, how low must that person feel?" was enough to have Danny in the floor almost to the point of crying. I never ratted on him, though.

Matt Gard and I were instant friends when he moved to Nettleton in the ninth grade.

Robby Patterson and I built an Ultralight frame, but it never made its virgin flight.

Mrs. Brasswell accused me and a few friends of being "devil worshippers" because of our tastes in music.

Mrs. Hill and Mrs. Welford made me think, whether I wanted to or not.

And Michael Oliver asking Mrs. Hill, "Honey, do you love as good as you look?" was the funniest thing that happened all that school year.

I almost got suspended the day before finals my Junior year, but I opted to "look the tiger in the eyes" while that same tiger took large bites out of my @$$!

Or the time the whole junior and senior class walked off campus in protest of the new rules against the length of a male student's hair.

Lot's of memories of Nettleton, both good and bad, but all worth remembering. Hell, at least they will make good stories the next time I go fishing for something to write about.

Remind me, sometime, to tell you the story of Dusty Snelson.