I go through phases with men. Football players. Cowboys. Cowboy-football players. But once there was this wild man….
His name was T-Paul Broussard. For those of you who don’t know, in my neck of the woods the practice of putting a T in front of names is fairly standard. It’s a Cajun mama’s way of saying Little Tommy or Little Sam. Hence, I was dating Little Paul, but Little Paul wasn’t so little – if you know what I mean. Sorta like Beau LeBlanc, T-Paul’s family owned a wild-life park, particularly an alligator farm very near the Atchafalaya Basin in South Louisiana. It’s a surprise to some people to find out that the largest swamp in the United States is not the Everglades in Florida but the Atchafalaya. My granddad always told me that many people had ventured into that overgrown, wet wilderness – never to be seen again. I believed him.
Dating T-Paul was not like dating anyone else. I’ve been taken on movie dates, fine dining experiences, beach parties, quaint b&b getaways – you name it – but a night out on the town with T-Paul was something else entirely. Occasionally, if he was feeling civilized we would go to Mulate’s and eat crawfish and listen to some fiddle music but that was reserved for special dates – usually when T-Paul had been bitten by an alligator or a snake and wasn’t feeling as sporting as normal.
I could write a book about this – and I might do it – but there were swimming dates off party barges, fast-moving zipping picnics through the swamp on an air-boat, a sweet ride into the countryside while we rescued a rogue alligator under a neighbor’s dog trot home – even excursions to the beach to go crabbing. If he was really feeling romantic, he’d take me out to check his hog traps, that was a rare and sweet experience. Ha! You laugh – but there’s just something about a strong man conquering nature. Plus, T-Paul had a playful streak. He liked to tease me. Once he was standing with some other guys looking down into a high-sided trailer. I asked him what they were doing and he said, “Come here, Cher, come see the little piggy.” Of course, Elly Mae Clampett Hunter that I am, I ventured over to oooo and ahhh over the curly-tailed cutie. But when I stood on the fender to gaze over, a five hundred pound boar hog lunged up at me – causing me to fall on my tail and come up fuming. T-Paul would laugh and laugh.
He would also take me mud-hoggin’, which I loved. There was nothing like seeing a bunch of redneck swamp cowboys plowing their 4-wheel drives through pits of thick mud to see whose engines were more powerful and who had the equipment with more ‘thrusting’ power. If you think all of this equates to phallic symbols and Freudian analogies – you would be correct. A time or two he let me drive, spinning through the mud and water, spraying spatters of goo and ooze with the best of them. Yea, I’m a little wild myself.
Sometimes his sense of humor was charming and sometimes it made me so mad that he slept on the couch for several nights. One incident in particular that resulted in me not speaking to him for a spell comes to mind… T-Paul lived in a little cottage in the middle of several hundred acres of wooded swampland. The closest thing he had to a neighbor, wasn’t a neighbor at all – it was a hunting lodge where men would come to bunk down between runs into the Basin for gator or hogs or deer. So there were many nights when there was absolutely no one around for miles, but me and him. And usually that was a good thing.
T-Paul’s house was a typical bachelor pad without a lot of the comforts a woman might add – but he did possess all of the requisite furniture and appliances and I was happy, mainly because T-Paul was as rowdy and enthusiastic in bed as he was out of it. There was one habit he had that unnerved me, and that was bringing animals into the house. Now, I’m not adverse to animals in the house – after all, I used to have a big ole bull that would come waltzing through the French doors if you left them open. Not to mention the myriad dogs, cats, rabbits and birds that I’ve owned. But T-Paul’s taste in pets ran a little more to the exotic – he had coyotes and squirrels and raccoons and fox and armadillos! There’s nothing like going to the bathroom in the middle of the night and having a possum come scurrying out from behind the toilet. The result is that you don’t make it to the potty before you go! But late one night, the straw broke the camel’s back…
I couldn’t sleep. It had been his birthday and we’d had a few friends over for a cookout and I had even sprung for a bakery cake. Not that I couldn’t cook one that tasted better, but one of his friends – T-Joe had insisted I buy T-Paul a sex cake complete with a pair of mounded up icing covered boobs on top. I had to slap them with a dishrag to keep them from diving headfirst into the cake like a pair of two year olds. The whole thing just teed me off, so I didn’t eat very much. So, about two or three o’clock, my tummy got to rumbling and I decided to pad down to the kitchen and eat some cake and have a glass of milk. Since I wasn’t feeling very generous, I let T-Paul sleep. I had worn him out anyway, if you know what I mean…
I have a bad habit of just piddling around the house in the middle of the night in the black dark. I’m not afraid of things that go bump in the night, because I know there are things that go bump in the night – I’ve seen them. The knowledge of what’s there kinda freed me of fear – before I’d ever seen a ghost, I used to jump at every little noise. But now, I just tell them to back-off, I’m coming through. I figure they’ve got just as much right to be in this world as I do. But what I needed to remember – is that there are a lot of things in this world more dangerous than a spook!
Remembering where I put the box with the remains of the cake in it, I stood on tiptoe to pull it off the top of the refrigerator. To my consternation, it wasn’t as close to the edge as I remembered putting it. And I’m short. In fact, as I patted around on the container, it didn’t feel the same. What the crap? Well, I was hungry, so I persisted.
Then I heard a thump. And another thump. Rats! Literally! I had no doubt that some pesky little rodent was trying to make time with my cake and I wasn’t having it! So, I jumped a bit, grabbed the box and pulled it off. You know….some things as they’re happening seem to be in slow motion. As you’re in the very midst of an act, you come to the startling revelation that you’ve made a very bad mistake. When I got my hands on the box and began pulling it – as I was jumping – it occurred to me that this box might not have cake in it after all. It crossed my mind that someone had moved my dessert and deposited something else on top of the refrigerator. The box came, I hit the floor, the box was heavier than I thought – it began to tumble – T-Paul came barreling into the kitchen, flipping on the light and yelling – “Don’t move that box! There’s a rattlesnake in it!”
Chaos. Horror. Wet my pants! A flopping six foot reptile falling from the sky on top of my head! Flailing arms and scrambling feet! Yells! Screams! Vows to kill a crazy fool who would put a freakin’ snake on top of the refrigerator where my midnight snack was supposed to be!
Well, the snake didn’t bite me. But it was a wonder. He slithered off under the couch and I didn’t waste no time. My mama didn’t raise no fool. I grabbed my purse, told T-Paul what a low-down-swamp-rat-air-headed-beady-eyed-rascal he was – and left him alone with his cold-blooded little buddy! I went home! In my crop T-shirt and boy-cut panties!
And I’m not gonna say I didn’t date T-Paul anymore – I did. But the next time, we slept at my place. Ha!