“I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now.” – Bob Dylan.
“Come ON Roger! Dammit!
We’ve got to GO!”
These delicately emphasized instructions landed like thunder on 1970 Southern-Baptist-raised freshman ears that were still trying to accommodate Rhett Butler’s curtain line.
The assault continued; “Get in the car! Sit on Dixie’s lap! She’ll explain. Have you got your sign?”
The sheer number of questions generated thus far was daunting, but offered a promising seating arrangement for the adventure (though he would have preferred to be providing the lap), Rodge opted for eschewing quizzing the leader (upper-classman of the Theatre Department, Barker) of this expedition and pursuing Dixie’s expertise in the seeking of understanding the intentions of the enterprise and perhaps the eventual attentions of Dixie herself.
In the car for the next three blocks…
Dixie draped a shirt card with strings attached around my neck. It read; “Broad Form Deed.”
She elaborated; “That’s who you’re playing. We’re protesting against the Peabody Coal Company recruiting today on campus. Barker’s playing the Appalachian farm owner – you’ll see his sign –. When he asks you; ‘What do I get if I sign?’ you smile real big, maybe wiggle some jazz hands behind ears and say; ‘One hundred dollars!’”
“Wait. I’m playing an inanimate object?”
“What’s a broad form deed, anyway?”
“A slimy legal thing.”
“What’s my motivation?”
“Don’t get arrested. If you see anyone in a uniform, lose the sign and disappear into the crowd…if there is one. Oh, and if Barker likes you and remembers, he may be the student director of next fall’s show. Could help in auditions. We’re here.”
“Here” was in front of Kennedy’s Book Store at the corner of Limestone and Avenue of Champions. We tumbled out and stumbled about in front of 10-12 mildly befuddled students. I shouted; “One hundred dollars!” We reloaded the car and proceeded to a restaurant named Alfalfa’s, three other campus sites, and a witness-less finale at the courthouse in downtown Lexington (several miles from campus and half a state from the Peabody Coal Company).
From there we dissipated.
I had long lost my sign.
I hoofed it back to my campus apartment.
I had a performance experience that never appeared on my resumé.
I never saw Dixie again.
My arrest record remained pristine.
A couple years later, John Prine’s Muhlenburg County. Resonated immediately with me.
All-in-all……I suppose I was made better by the afternoon. But…………Dixie was pretty cute.