Read parts 1 and 2 as one page.
I will admit right off, I am a curmudgeon when it comes to romance. Flowers and candy are wasted on me–later I’ll tell you how wasted they are. My adult life has been spent, some would say misspent, this way.
As a young girl I nursed romantic fantasies, but when I hit about 17 they seemed to vanish. How I came to have a romantic husband is a mystery to me.
Bill and I met when I was 18, nearly 19. We were both stationed at Mountain Home Air Force base in southern Idaho. He was assigned to take me around on the flightline until I had a line badge–picture ID–and could go in restricted areas alone. It took sometime for my security clearance to come through, and he had to preside over me being stopped by the MPs, and even held at gunpoint once or twice. (Those signs around military facilities that say, “Deadly force is authorized. Trespassers will be shot.” are not just for looks.)
Anyway, he was my guardian angel and helped me steer clear of guys who loved to torture women sent into the male-dominated career of aircraft maintenance, and he tried to actually teach me the craft. (This we know now was a fruitless endeavor as I have a sort of dyslexia when it comes to tools and mechanical equipment. Just because a person can pass a written test with high marks doesn’t mean they are suited for a particular vocation. But when the military has been ordered by the government to boost the numbers of women in certain areas, theory becomes fact and voila! Equal opportunity!)
As I recall, we had been working together for a few weeks, and one night we were towing a plane from what was called the trim pad–where the engines are adjusted, or “trimmed” after being rebuilt–to the wash rack at the other end of the flightline. This could take an hour or so as the vehicle towing the aircraft only moves at about 5 MPH.
When towing the particular aircraft we work on, F111As, it takes three people. The tow vehicle driver has a special license to drive the tow vehicle so he’s much in demand. Our two driver was named Barry. He was an unattractive man, inside and out. He thought Bill an easy mark because he’s and so was always doing him favors and then wanting payback at odd times.We won’t go into my first date with Bill, on which Barry insinuated himself. (Eeww.) Bill was the ? and was there to see that the wings could clear any obstacles and carry the technical orders–checklist. I was the brake rider. This is the job of the least experienced person you can find. In theory, if something desperate happens, like the tow vehicle overrides its 5 mph governor and careens out of control, the person in the cockpit can mash on the breaks and keep the plane from also careening out of control. That’s the theory anyway.
It was a beautiful early summer evening. Mountain Home is high desert and the sunsets can be magnificent. That night was one of those nights. For some unremembered reason we were stopped half-way to the wash rack. Bill chocked the wheels and the three of us were talking. Out of the clear blue, purple, and pink sky, Barry says Bill wants to take me to the upcoming section picnic.
I think Bill looked so shocked not because it wasn’t true, but that he had not expected Barry to rat him out. Why I don’t know. Barry had rat DNA, spilling confidences was, and probably is, something he does with some regularity.
So, did Bill really want to take me to the picnic? Did I say yes? Am I really married to Barry and just making all this up?
Click HERE for Part 2 of Romance vs. Love
Take care–Susan Kaye