Disclaimer – The characters in this story are fictional and do not represent real people, dead or alive.
Bobby Wilson has been my best buddy since our first day of school, and we have shared our lives and secrets through the best and worst times. So, when Bobby called a few days ago to say he had something important to tell me, I could hardly wait to see him. We met at a favorite restaurant and after dinner, he told me his story which I relate here in all of its important details.
I (Bobby Wilson) was cruising down the sidewalk when the honk of a car horn caused me to brake my bike so hard that I went flying over the handlebars. A lady pulled up to the curb and jumped out of a sleek blue convertible.
She said, “I’m so sorry, are you hurt?”
“No, mam, just a scratch or two.” I had seen the pretty lady a few times, and she had stuck in my mind because her face reminded me of the lady movie stars in the picture shows I had seen. I remembered her pale blue eyes and blond hair that she wore in a ponytail. I know now that the lady was 19 years old at the time and that she was home for the summer after her first year at GSCW in Milledgeville. The lady was Joni Jamison, and If I recall correctly, she married a man whom she met in Milledgeville and moved away many years ago.”
I noticed that Joni was wearing shorts and a top that matched the color of her eyes and her blue convertible. I could smell her perfume, and her being close like that made me feel sort of uneasy.
She said, “I have seen you a few times, and was wondering who you are; I mean about your family.”
“My daddy’s name is Robert Wilson”, and my mama’s name is Mable Wilson, but she was a Mason before she married my daddy.”
She said, “Oh, I’ve met your mother. My mother used to work with her at the peach cannery in Haddock.”
“Oh, I think I know your mama; is her name Mrs. Nina Jamison?”
She said, “yes, and my name is Joni.”
I said,” my name is Bobby.”
She said, “nice to meet you, Bobby”. She looked me over and said, “are you sure you’re okay? That was a nasty fall “
I said, “yes mam, I’m okay.”
She said, “I would like to make up for causing your spill. If you would like I’ll buy you a milk shake at the drug store.”
I said, “I love chocolate milk shakes, mam, but mama expects me to be home for supper in a few minutes.”
She said, “How old are you, Bobby?”
I said, “I’m seven years old and I just graduated from the first grade in May.”
She said, “You look older – I mean a little more mature, You see, I need someone to do some odd jobs around the house, and I think maybe you could take care of what I have in mind. Are you interested? It would be a way for you to earn a little spending money “
“Yes, mam, I sure am interested, but you’ll have to ask my mama.”
She said, “okay, I’ll drop by your house tomorrow and talk to your mother.”
I said, “okay, I got to get home for supper now.” As I pedaled away, I looked back, and she smiled and waved.
Joni came by our house the next day, and after she had explained to mama the things she had for me to do, she told mama ,“I’ll pick Bobby up at 9:00 every morning, give him lunch, and bring him home by 5.00PM”. She paused and said, “and I will pay him $3.00 a day.”
Mama said, that sounds like a rather good deal. What do you think Bobby?”
“Yes mam, it sure does.”
Mama said, “Okay, Joni, you can pick Bobby up tomorrow.
After the lady left, mama said, “Bobby, I want you to promise me you’ll mind the lady and do what she tells you. Okay?”
“Yes, mam, I promise; I think it will be fun because the lady is so nice, and she sure is pretty.”
Mama said, “yes she is.”
It took a while to go to sleep that night because I was so excited about helping the pretty lady, and knowing that I would get some spending money made me feel good all over. I couldn’t wait to see what chores she had for me, but I told myself I was man enough to handle anything she expected of me.”
Joni was right on time to pick me up next the morning, and mama went out with went with me to meet her.
Mama said, “Joni, if Bobby gives you any trouble you let him know you are the boss.”
Joni said, “I don’t think Bobby will give me any trouble. He seems like a nice young man.” That made me feel good – coming from the pretty lady. The ride to her house was fun because she had the convertible top down, and I thought how pretty she was with her ponytail blowing in the wind.
Joni lived in a big colonial-era house set back off the road a ways with two large pecans trees in front.”
I asked her if her folks were home, and she said, “no, they are on vacation at Tybee Beach for a week or two, and I have the whole place to myself.”
I said, “it sure is a pretty house, Joni,” and she smiled and didn’t seem to notice I had called her by her first name.”
She said, “the first thing I want you to do is feed the chickens and gather the eggs, and then sweep all the concrete walkways and the porches. The things you need for those chores are in the garage.“ If there’s time before lunch, you can sweep out the garage.” As the pretty lady walked up the back-porch steps, she looked back and said, “if you need me for anything, just call me.”
“Yes, mam, I sure will.”
Just before noon, I looked up from sweeping the garage and there stood Joni.
She said, “I hope you’ve worked up an appetite, because I’ve prepared a hardy meal. You can wash up on the porch and go on into the house.”
“Yes man, I sure have worked up an appetite, and I’ll be right there.”
On the kitchen table was an assortment of food, including big juicy hamburger patties, some with cheese; smoked sausage; and several different types of sliced meats and cheeses. There was also two pitchers, one full of iced tea and the other full of lemonade. On the counter was a variety of breads and other things to make sandwiches.
Joni said, “you can say a blessing if you wish, Bobby.”
I said, “thank you Lord for all this food and God bless Miss. Jamison – Amen!”
I made myself a cheeseburger and added tomatoes and piled other stuff on, and then I made a sausage sandwich with ketchup, mustard, and onions.
Joni said she had already eaten and went about her chores in the kitchen.
When I finished eating, Joni said, “do you think you need a little rest before you go back to your chores?”
“Thank you mam, I sure could use a rest.”
Joni sat down at the table across from me and said, “would you like some ice cream for desert?”
“No mam, maybe later.”
She said, “do you like fruit?”
“Yes, mam, and bananas are my favorite.”
She said, “mine too, and I think I’ll have one. Would you like one?”
“No mam, I’m way too full.”
Joni went to the refrigerator and came back with a banana in her hand.
She said, “Bobby, I’m going to show you a way to eat a banana that makes it much more fun and delicious.”
I said, “I don’t think I could ever know a better way”
She said, “you may be surprised how much better a banana will taste if you do what I show you.”
I said, “Yes, Mam.”
She said, “first, Bobby. You must remember to handle the banana carefully, so as not to bruise it”, as she peeled the banana.”
Bobby described in meticulous detail everything Joni showed him about how to prepare and eat a banana the new way, and he said she seemed to enjoy the whole thing. She told him she wanted him to understand what she was doing, so that he could repeat it in precisely the same way. Bobby said he sat mesmerized, watching her every movement and hung on her every word. He told me Joni seemed enthralled with what she was doing and said when she finished eating that she winked and said, “Bobby, and that is the way to really make eating a banana fun.”
Bobby said he told her, “yes, mam. I can hardly wait to try what you just showed me the next time I I get my hands on a banana.” He told me he did not understand the feeling he had for her at the time, but he realized later that he had a crush on her.
Joni suddenly jumped up from the table and said, “I just remembered that I have a dental appointment at two o’clock. I’m so sorry, Bobby, but I have to drive you home now, Okay?”
“Yes, mam, it’s okay with me.”
On the drive back to my house, Joni said, “Bobby, what I showed you today with the banana is our little secret, so promise me you won’t tell anybody.”
I said. “I promise.”
Bobby told me that when they arrived at his house, Joni handed him three one-dollar bills, and said, “see you tomorrow, Bobby.”
I said thank you, I’ll be ready.”
That night after supper, mama asked me about my day with Joni.
I said, “the chores were easy, and the lady made me a real good lunch.
Mama said, “is that all you have to say about your first day at the pretty lady’s house?”
Bobby told me he remembered his promise to Joni not to tell their secret and that made him hesitate.
Mama said, “are you sure nothing else happened that you would like to tell me.?”
I said,” yes mam, there is one other thing. She showed me a different way to eat a banana that looked like it will be fun, and I can’t wait to try it out. You know how much I love bananas.”
Mama said, “ I sure do, Bobby, and I’d like to know what the lady showed you.”
I said, “I can’t tell you, mama.”
Mama said, “why?”
I said “because she said it was our secret, and I promised her I wouldn’t tell anybody.”
Bobby told me that he thought awhile and decided it was more important tell his mother than to keep his promise to Joni.
Bobby said, “when Miss. Jamison was peeling the banana she said to always handle the banana carefully so as not to bruise it.”
Mama said, “that’s enough; I don’t need to hear any more. Now, promise me you will never tell anyone what Joni showed you including your daddy and your best buddies.
I said, “I promise, but I wish you would tell me why.”
Mama said, “for the same reason the lady told you to keep it a secret. you’ll understand in time, but for now you don’t need to know. Now, get ready for bed.”
Bobby told me that not long after he was in bed he heard his mother making a phone call, and that he figured out later that she was calling Joni.
He said, “I was heartbroken because I was fond of the pretty lady, and I know now I had a crush on her, and I didn’t understand why Joni never came back to our house. I moped around several days, but then school started back, and my hurt feeling sort of faded into the background.”
Bobby told me that when he was twenty five years old, he sat down to tell his mother what happened that day at Joni’s house.
I said, “mama, listen while I tell you the secret that I promised Joni Jamison when I was seven years old that I would not tell.”
Mama said, “Bobby, I don’t need the details. I knew you would understand what she was showing you when you got older.”
I said, “mama, I understood then what she was showing me.”
Mama said, “at your age, you could not have understood, but it was still wrong for her to show you.”
I said, “mama, but I did understand, and I wanted to try it for myself.”
Mama said, ” then I was right in stopping you from seeing her.”
I said, “no, mama, you acted because you inferred the worst and acted on that inference.
Mama said, “what do you mean?”
I said, “what Joni showed me that day was how to make a banana split.”
Mama said, ” oh, my god, what a terrible mistake I made? I’m so sorry; can you ever forgive me?”
I said, “yes, but you might ask Joni the same question. I heard she is back in the area. I think I heard she was living with her daughter at the old home place.”
Mama told me later that she spoke to Joni and that Joni was gracious in her response, saying that she understood mama’s concern at the time.
Mama said, “Joni told me she was partly to blame because she had told you not to tell anybody; but then Joni explained that she had only done that to make you feel special.”
I said, “mama and I sure did feel special sharing a secret with that pretty lady.”
Bobby told me that was the last time that he and his mother talked about the subject.
I said, “have you seen Joni since she’s been back? I understand she’s a widow and is living with her daughter at the old home place.”
Bobby said, “yeah, I saw her at the mall last week, and she’s still a pretty lady at the age of forty five.”
I said: “sound like you’re still fond of Joni.”
Bobby said, “maybe I am, and maybe it’s okay if I have the hots for her.”
I said, “why don’t you just ask her out?”
Bobby said, “I’ve been trying to get up the nerve.”
I said, “well, you better get your butt in gear because she sounds like my kind of lady, and I’m eligible and still looking.”
Bobby said, “thanks, buddy, talk to you later.”
I said, “no problem. buddy and thanks for dinner.”