The kids today think this internet thing is fast.

 The kids today think this internet thing is fast. They mull over instant text messages, tweets and, boy howdy, they can miraculously show you the face of the person they are reportedly talking to right there on their 4G network iphone. They don’t know nothing about lightening quick communication……

            When I was in the seventh grade Coach Campbell lined us up one day in PE for a square dance. Are you kidding me! It was physical education for goodness sakes! We were supposed to be playing softball, running laps around the field house, smashing someone in the face with a dodge ball or at the very least, unlimbering with a few calisthenics. I was almighty young, but I was fairly certain the high school gym wasn’t the proper place for the Virginia Reel.

            This was a joint conspiracy as the girls’ class had joined with us for the activity. I drew Pat Stone. Listen, I grew to love Pat, but it wouldn’t have mattered at the moment if it had been Rita Hayworth, Sandra Dee or Elizabeth Taylor all rolled into one. I wasn’t going to dance with no girl!

            Coach Campbell only asked me one extra time…..and then he whipped me pretty hard. I sure remember thinking the crime didn’t fit the punishment at all here. But this was back in the days when you didn’t protest to a grownup no matter which one of you was right.

            This beating took place fourth period. I didn’t speak to nobody and mostly minded my own business as I raced home after school. Mother was standing on the porch with a switch in her hand. She whipped me longer and harder than Coach Campbell did! In between licks, she was lecturing on Pat Stone’s feelings, embarrassing the family and disobedience like this is exactly what led to a life of crime. I kept thinking, how did she find out? This train wreck just happened a couple of periods ago!

            You think emails are quick. Daddy got out of the cab of that old 1947 International that afternoon taking his belt off. I would have cut and run but I was too astonished that he somehow knew, there was no way…… He’d hauled a load of hogs to Tupelo. By himself! He’d been gone all day. There were no mobile phones, CB’s or any possible way he could have known! He didn’t give me no lecture at all. But he did make those few licks Coach Campbell gave me at school feel like a walk in the park.

            I went to bed that night pondering on that “life ain’t fair” thing and wondering what kinetic energy or cosmos fields lined up to deliver a message of such dire consequences so rapidly. I also prayed that I could somehow turn from my wicked ways and avoid future jail time. 

            A couple of years later, I was seeing life a little bit differently. At the end of a church hayride, on an extra dark night when no one was looking I kissed Charlotte Melton right on the mouth. I’m not sure it was true love but it was our little secret. I was getting in bed an hour later when Leon peers over me, “How was it?”

            “How was what?” I tried to act as cool as a cucumber.   

            “The kiss, dummy……I want to hear all about it.”

             Buddy Wiggleton greeted me at school the next day, “Kes, are you and Charlotte going together?” Suzie Cozart didn’t say a word, but she giggled all through first period, lunch and Miss Clark’s English class. Mrs. Ingram, the librarian for goodness sakes, sidled over to our table during study hall and asked right out loud if Charlotte and I were an item now. I’m telling you, there was some kind of tom toms, electro magnetic force or Windtalkers running rampant through the whole school! 

            When Leon and Nicky Joe “borrowed” the red light off the police car and hooked it up to the jukebox out at Frank’s Dairy Bar… went across the wires immediately. No tweet, pager, instant text or shouting it out the window could have been any quicker. Aaron Pinson, our dedicated police chief, didn’t even consider anyone else. I’m not so sure here if it was good detective work or Lon and Nick’s reputations preceding them. I know it was pretty cool to push B-18 and have Johnny Horton come on singing “North to Alaska” as the red spiraling light flashed across the forty cent hamburger sign. I grabbed Pat Stone and we did the “Eskimo hop” all around the room.

            Of course, there was another side to this coin in our wonderful little town. If someone was injured, hurt or sick, neighbors showed up immediately. With food, bandages, castor oil or whatever else might be needed. There were no sirens, sophisticated early warning satellite systems or emergency management flashes. The whole town just knew. If your hay wasn’t cut, folks showed up with tractors and bailers. If your barn had burned during the night, they were there before sunup with planks, beams, hammers and nails. If your Uncle Irby passed away suddenly, they came with their hats in their hands, a word of sincere sympathy on their lips and a funny story about Uncle Irby.        

              Don’t try to sell me on some brand spanking new fast, faster, fastest communication plan. I grew up with the real deal.