Little Boy ‘The Jack’

You Don't Know The Jack | August 27th, 2008

I was born in San Francisco in 1966, but raised in Montana. My father skipped out on us when I was very little, and a few years later my mother married a cowboy. His brother owned a ranch outside of Bozeman, in a small valley way up in the mountains. It was there where I got my first taste of rock and roll.

I was a small, skinny kid — more like a little girl than a little boy (The Cowboy made me wear panty-hose as punishment for being such a little wuss). Oh, he wasn’t all that bad for a second dad. He never touched me inappropriately or beat me all that much; he had more fun abusing my mother). Most of my childhood buddies were the little girls in the neighborhoods I lived in. I had three of them.

The first home of my memory was a rickety old tar speckled shack, surrounded by other dismal houses in a run down tract near the closed-down copper mines. It was a dirty place with only dim memories of my delinquent father. But one clear recollection of that time centers around little Jenny*: I was four years old when she showed me what her parents did under the covers, when I got my first boner. (Oh, I didn’t understand the how’s and why’s of it all until I was a teenager. Back then I had no idea what fun a boner could be! And I ran home scared out of my wits!)

Christy was my summer camp sweetheart, a little blond girl who liked to explore the world around her. She wanted to know everything, like if I could stuff myself into an old locker that was leaning up against an out-building (I think that that camp had been an old military base). I still have the scars all over my body from when the locker fell over with me inside of it. Otherwise, Christy and I were inseparable, and we won the prestigious “Hershey Bar Award” every year for being the cutest couple.

When we moved to a different house in a different part of Butte, the first person I met was Maryann, a cute brown eyed Hispanic girl from a large family. Details about our days together are hard to come by now, but I remember a happiness and bliss like nothing I’ve experienced since, and I know to this day that if my family hadn’t left Montana, she and I would have just celebrated a 20th anniversary with our large family, instead of me sitting here typing this memoir in my dirty underwear.

I did have some male friends too: There was Zane who liked practical jokes; Carl who like to play G.I. Joe’s in the bathtub; and Malcom, who was one of the few black kids in town, and who’s dad sometimes watched us while my folks did grown-up things.

I was a little older when my mother married the Cowboy. He moved our little family of three boys and one girl to Deer Lodge, to a life of horses, rodeos and boring summer days spent in a one slide park with too may mud puddles and no other interesting children to play with.

But one summer was spent at that ranch that I typed about in the beginning, a time where I started discovering my creative self. (I would build complex cities for my toy cars in a barren pocket of dirt, with roads scraped from lumber scraps, milk-carton buildings with crayon-colored blue windows, broken stems for trees, and the vivid memory of a huge black insect that kept trying to eat me.) My only other entertainment was the religious radio station in the kitchen and a broken television which mocked us kids with it’s big dead eye, so when I was drafted one rainy morning to borrow something from the neighbors, I jumped at the chance!

In that small valley, just over a small ridge… a low slung house… an old, rusted out bus with crudely rendered paintings in bright colors… sitting on jacks with a pair of slim legs sticking out from underneath… a radio in the ground next to her blaring some music that I had never heard in my life! But it was the long haired man tending a high fenced garden who saw me first.

Once inside their ramshackle home, I was drawn to their electric guitars and strobe lights. The long haired man and the girl from under the bus played their guitars, and we all sang and danced until the late afternoon. I remember those home rolled cigarettes they smoked which made me feel funny and a bit ill (I’ve never liked marijuana since).

pages: 1 2

Leave a Comment