It’s a good title. Sadly, I cannot claim to have created it.
I have just published my first book, the aforementioned Tree Farm Girl. I am already overwhelmed with the response. When thinking about writing a story about our love story, a title evaded me. And a title matters. It is that first point of contact.
And then I remembered the sun-chicken.
I was living in Waterford after I had failed out of college. My knee was on the mend and I was cruising around with one of the greatest friends a guy could have, the one and only JR. When I first crash landed back in town, I had no money, no license, no wheels. It was JR who got me out of the house. Brought me to church every Sunday. We would go out late to the Steak and Shake by the Summit Place Mall. It was opened 24 hours then, and we would hang out with all the twenty-somethings coming off their benders.
I want to paint a picture in your mind. JR is like Gimli son of Gloin crossed with Shakespeare crossed with the sweetest 8 year old you ever met. He looks like a dwarf. There is no getting around it. He is built short and stout, with shoulders that square up with a good sized bull. He was very smart, and excelled academically. And he was just a really nice guy.
He also had a terrible car. I mean a real piece of crap. One time, we got all four wheels off the ground. When we crashed back to the earth one of the rear shock towers punched through the trunk. He took down a stop, shaped it, and welded it into place to fix it.
One day, we were in that car just driving down the road. We were both preparing to go back to school, and I was thinking aloud about Angie. I was already beginning to fall. And that’s when JR took a potshot. It wasn’t mean. It’s just what boys do. We jive each other. We talk trash. We poke the bear and laugh when it roars.
We were pulling out of McDonalds and I had just divided up the food. He was munching on some fries, I was polishing off some nuggets.
“I’m telling you man. She is wicked smart.”
JR scoffed. “How smart could she be man? She grew up in the sticks.”
I pushed onward. “I’m telling you. She is well read. She is well spoken. And she is able to hang no matter how varied the conversation.”
”I think you’ve been out in the country too long. I mean, how cool could some tree farm girl be?”
JR put some more fries into his mouth. I was furious. He had insulted the awesomeness of a girl I was crushing on. This would not stand! I reached over, took his fries off his lap, and threw them out my open window.
The look of hurt on his face makes me laugh to this day. He watched those fries leave the window like a clingy child being left at daycare. It was a look of longing and desire. And it was followed by a look of great wounded ness.
“What’d you do that for.”
“I like her dude. And I won’t allow you to talk bad about her.”
”I was just joking man.” He looked down to his lap where the fries had once been. “Those were good fries man.”
I reached into the McDonad’s bag and tried one of mine. “You’re right dude. They are.”
It was that scene I found deep in my memory that gave my story a title. It was a good turn of phrase. Thanks JR for busting my chops. It wasn’t wasted.