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Truck Stop Virgin (A Comedy of E.R.A.’s)
         by Carolyn Wolfe
In terms of the currency of town opinion, Brandy Sadler wasn’t worth a poor man’s dime. First of all, she was a newcomer in a town with mighty set ways. Then, she had this awful habit of breaking town rules straight away. To be fair, she had a few strikes against her that weren’t exactly her fault. After all, she was a fairly young woman, not yet thirty anyway, but she lived alone, undistressed by a hardworking, hard drinking man, nor children of any shape or size. This didn’t count for much with the woman folk around there, seeing as how marriage came way before thirty and kids came early in the marriage.
Brandy was also quite a looker, the nearest thing to a sin in an unmarried woman, at least the women think so. Men are a bit more forgiving about that particular fault.  Even so, everyone could tell just by looking at Brandy that this gal was trouble!

This much she proved right away. Brandy had a habit of hanging out at a particular restaurant located at the edge of town. This was our truck stop/Sunday breakfast restaurant, that was strictly off limits to the female persuasion on every day and evening, except Sunday. Sunday morning it’s a man’s duty, so women keep reminding us, to take the family out for breakfast. Brandy ignored all our local traditions  by frequenting the restaurant anytime she wanted, day or evening, whether for a morning coffee or worse, a Saturday night beer! She would just come in Saturday evening, and walk over to the jukebox like she owned it, and drink beer until closing time.

Well, seeing that she was new in town, at first we did the polite thing by giving her the cold shoulder and the “git goin'’ stare that runs most people off in short order. The problem with that plan was that Brandy never seemed to take any notice of our efforts. She’d just walk in and smile at us like we was all the best of friends. She drove us all nuts within the first week.
Never mind that she didn’t try to pick anyone up or even socialize with us at all, no sir, what she DIDN’T DO wasn’t the itch. What she did was play havoc with our very strict social traditions.

Every man from here to Florida knows that no woman should be hanging out at a truck stop, where a working man comes to get his grits and gristle. Now, on occasion it must be said that a truck driving WOMAN will come to our stop. That there is the only exception to the rule. After all, fair is fair and we aren’t backward enough to throw a truck driver out just because they are the wrong gender. Now, Brandy didn’t even drive a station wagon, never mind a truck, rules is rules.

We decided to get a woman to talk to Brandy. We chose Julie Lou, a young newlywed who knew as well as any of us what was expected of women in this town. We figured after all, women listen to a woman long before they listen to a man, and we were sure that once Brandy knew she was doing wrong, she’d stop.
We were taking the chance of embarrassing Brandy, and we felt real bad about that, but we were forgiving by nature and would never bring it up nor hold it against her after she’d changed her ways. The very next afternoon, Julie Lou went over to Brandy’s apartment to set her straight.

And then things got downright ugly around here.
Julie Lou went over to Brandy’s apartment a little after noon and found the girl sitting and sipping a beer and listening to the radio. Well, it was real easy to see that Brandy had more than one bad habit, seeing as how women in our town never drank before sundown. Even then they didn’t drink much, what with having the dinner to get and the dishes to do and the kids to care for and all. Well, Julie Lou knew that she had her work cut out for her, let me tell you, but she managed a smile and started chit-chatting with Brandy, trying hard not to scold her too much for her drinking problem.

For all of Brandy not understanding town rules, she was by no means dull-witted, and it didn’t take her too long to see what Julie Lou was trying to get at in her conversation. Brandy told Julie Lou point blank that our town and its rules were straight out of the 19th century and didn’t Julie Lou think it was time for a change and by the way, would Julie Lou like a beer? She asked Julie Lou if she wanted a beer, and it wasn’t a bit past one o’clock in the afternoon! Well, at first Julie Lou had to say no thank you, but she kept watching Brandy sitting, sipping and laughing at town traditions and soon she just up and said yes to corruption and had herself an AFTERNOON BEER!

Now, I have to interrupt myself at this point to make one thing clear. No one would have minded if Julie Lou had failed in her mission to persuade Brandy to follow our town rules. After all, wicked is wicked and wrong-headed is wrong-headed, and no one can make another person do what’s right if they are hell bent on wrong doing, but she should never have had that afternoon beer with that woman.
And then things got uglier.

Well, Brandy ended up leading the conversation with Julie Lou, and she talked up a storm. Julie Lou came dragging home after her fourth beer, and made no never mind that it was past dinner time and Billy was already home, looking at his starkly bare kitchen instead of a hot meal. Julie Lou ignored all that and just chatted Billy up about the amount of oil spillage in the oceans, and wasn’t it just a cryin’ shame about the percentage of rainforest being destroyed each day, and that recycling sure seemed to be an awfully good way for common folk to pitch in to help out the environment.

Well, I don’t know what all else she said because Billy high-tailed it out of his own house and came down to the truck stop to tell us all of this new disaster! Well, I can’t tell you how much it saddened us to hear what the Brandy had done to our own Julie Lou. We all knew that we had a regular fight on our hands now, and we had no intention of letting some dark eyed little truck stop virgin destroy our town’s moral fiber. We all had quite a few drinks to celebrate our decision to counter-attack Brandy’s influence, and Billy got himself roaring drunk over his wife’s terrible betrayal in drinking that afternoon beer!

The next morning Julie Lou told Billy that she decided to wait awhile before having any kids. She figured they needed more than a year behind them before they took so tremendous a step as parenting. Before Billy could speak up, Julie Lou was on the phone calling up a little meeting of the town’s wives.
And then things took a turn for the worst.

The wives got together and had a welcoming party for Brandy Sadler that very weekend. The next Saturday some of the wives got the older children in the neighborhood to sit with their kids while they went out with Brandy and Julie Lou to, you guessed it, our own truck stop for a SATURDAY NIGHT OUTING.
Well, we fought back by getting the preacher to drum up some fire and brimstone sermons every Sunday for a month about women’s place and the hazards of alcohol, but it didn’t stop those women at all. It didn’t even slow them down. They all started trailing after Brandy and Julie Lou, and Brandy started smiling like a new dime a-sparklin’ in the sun.

It was anarchy.

Well, the end result is…we no longer have a truck stop here anymore. It’s now a Family restaurant and LOUNGE. We also have a new Recycling Center, Children’s Pre-School Center, and Planned Parenting Clinic. Oh, yes, and we have a whole lot less than we had before…less freedom, less authority with the women, not to mention less GRITS AND GRISTLE.
Here’s my advice to you, friend: if a dark eyed woman comes wandering into your truck stop early on Saturday evening, and sips a beer while listening all quiet-like to the jukebox…GO AHEAD AND SHOOT HER!

Carolyn Wolfe is a freelance writer and poet, whose work has appeared in various Literary,  Arts and Entertainment Magazines, such as "Mind Candy", "Orphic Lute" and "Prophetic Voices". Her short stories have also appeared on-line at Fan Fiction and Poetry websites. Her poetry book, When The Moon Speaks, was published in 2007 and is available locally and online. This book was listed in the Montserrat Review as one of the Best Poetry Books for Spring 2009. Please visit her website at whenthemoonspeaks.com.