The night I met Jim (Thompson – see my previous post –https://tenaciousbitch.com/2014/08/04/about-james-thompson-author-of-snow-angels-my-ex-husband-who-died-last-weekend/,
I was waiting tables at the Monarch Cafe in Huntington, West Virginia, when I was going to Marshall University in 1985. I was carrying a tray full of cocktails and a pitcher of beer when a man behind me called out, “Yo, babe with the legs, would you bring me a beer?”
I turned around to see Jim sitting along a row of benches in the pool room with a couple of his friends (who exactly, I don’t remember). He had this big, goofy grin widening across his face, and he was waving at me as if he knew me. Not the quote I would’ve volunteered to my grandchildren about my first encounter with my future husband…:), but I was only 19 years old! He kinda had me at YO BABE (ugh my feminist alter ego YELLS).
I went over and took their order. Later, I caught sight of a couple 8 x 10 black and white photographs on the table. As I walked over to see if he and his friends wanted another round of beer, I noticed one of the photos was of a quarry from a rather high altitude. I recognized it, but I wasn’t sure why.
“You like the photo?” Jim asked, those bedroom blue eyes twinkling.
“Yeah, and it looks really familiar,” I replied. “Where is that?”
“It’s in Ashland by the refinery,” he answered. “Ever been there?”
“Many times,” I said, smiling. “My Dad works at Ashland Oil.”
“Really? So do I. What’s your Dad’s name?”
I told him, and then I asked, “Do you work in the plant?”
“No, I’m a photographer. My Dad was a photographer there too, and he got me the job.”
“Oh, cool. So, how’d you get that picture? Did you go up in one of the towers?” I asked, meaning one of the cooling towers in Ashland’s refinery (where they make gasoline and other petroleum products).
“No, I didn’t like the angle from the cooling towers, so I went up in the company helicopter.”
“That sounds like fun. And it must’ve been challenging to get the photo since the only window surrounds the pilot.”
“The propellers obstructed my view from the co-pilot’s seat, so I laid down on the floor and had Troy hold my ankles as I hung out of the helicopter for a minute or two while I snapped away.”
“Oh, my God!” I shrieked laughing. “Who’s Troy?”
“An intern in the PR department. Should’ve seen his face when I was done, white as a damned sheet,” Jim said laughing.
“No safety harness of any kind?” I asked.
“Now, that would’ve been a good idea, but I didn’t think to ask for one,” Jim said, laughing. “And they probably didn’t have one anyway. I doubt the executives at Ashland Oil would wanna hang out of the helicopter.”
“Probably not. Well, I need to get back to work. You guys need anything else?”
“Just your phone number,” Jim said smiling.
“I’m dating someone,” I said.
“I don’t care,” Jim replied boldly with his most auspicious fuck the world attitude.
I laughed and later I gave him my phone number, and we started going out. Frankie, my boyfriend at the time, was out of town at a music festival with a couple of his friends, and things weren’t going well between us before he left anyway.
On our third date, Jim told me loved me, and we were inseparable for the next 3 years…except for the night Frankie returned.
With tears in my eyes, I broke up with Frankie, who said. “I don’t blame you” because we had a lot of serious issues in our relationship (like the fact we’d been dating for 6 months and had never had sex, but that’s another post itself). Frankie’s lack of anger and such made me feel all the worse. And he moved out that night.
That said, for those who knew James David Thompson, Jr, I’m sure you’re not surprised to learn that I fell for a guy who seemed absolutely fearless, and the hanging out of the helicopter incident kinda put him in the realm of Indiana Jones or Tony Stark on a small town scale…
But we were very young, and things didn’t work out. We divorced in 1988, and I’ve been happily remarried to Charlie since 2000. While Charlie hasn’t hung out of any helicopters, he’s been known to impersonate a Tesla Coil on occasion (hence his nickname – SPARKY), and he’s an Olympic cutter, who could cut himself in a room full of cotton! 🙂 And he’s always there when I need him…:)
~Tenacious Bitch and her band of truth-spouting hippies
Tenacious Bitch © 2014