To most observers, Billy Jean would have appeared to be the base slut. She hung out at the Airmen’s and NCO Clubs on the weekends, and sometimes would show up during the week. She was fresh out of high school and learning to be a beautician. She loved life and walked with purpose wherever she went – always in a hurry. She dressed in loud colors and patterns. Her dresses were very short, for the purpose of showing off her long legs. She liked most to show them off on the dance floor, and that is where I first saw her. She looked great, with a dazzling smile full of white teeth, platinum hair, and porcelain skin. She also liked to drink, and she always seemed to have a drink or cigarette in her hand.
I have never been much of a dancer, but I have been a smooth talker, and with my new found confidence, I somehow took her away from the dance floor guys.
However, in the later part of our relationship, when some guy would come to the table and ask her if she wanted to dance, she would look in my direction and I would motion for her to go – go dance!
I could tell it hurt her for me to seem not to care that much about her, and not to show any jealousy, but it was part of my play of indifference. I discovered that the more I pushed her away the more she seemed to care for me. She reminded me of the little dog I used to toss off the couch when I was about three. No matter how many times I threw the dog off into the floor, it jumped right back up waiting for me to give it just a little more attention.
Yes, I am ashamed of how I treated this girl, but I was playing a roll – I was a true Gemini for those last few months. I was an indifferent “cocky” fellow at the Airbase, and a meek and mild follower at home. Two completely different guys in attitude, personality, and purpose, and I knew from the start that Billy Jean would be hurt.
We began by simply talking and soon she looked for me when she came into the club. Guys still looked for her and still asked her to dance, and I showed no emotion one way or the other. I did not know she was seeing someone as a “steady,” but Airman Bruce soon let me know all about it.
Bruce came up to me one night in the Airmen’s Club, with his coal black duck-tailed hair, and two of his friends standing behind him. He just laid it out there on the table; he and Billy Jean were together. I do not know if he really wanted a physical confrontation or not, but I did not move or change expressions. I simply said, “…and you’re telling me this why?”
“I’m just telling you that she belongs to me,” he said shifting his weight to another foot.
“I don’t think Billy Jean belongs to anyone,” I told him. I then turned my back to him and watched the dance floor. I half way expected him to club me from behind, but when I next looked around he was gone.
I found out from Billy Jean that she and Bruce had met at the beauty shop. Bruce was a part-time beautician at a local shop. I hate to stereotype people, but this raised the first flag in my mind. They had begun their relationship by meeting after work to go dancing at the Airmen’s Club.
Billy Jean soon decided she wanted to be with me more than Bruce, and Bruce, being the tough man he was, backed off, but would occasionally give me dirty looks as we passed.
I continued to see Connie on the weekends and Billy Jean during the week. Sometimes I had some Color Guard or marching duties at the base, so I saw Billy Jean on those weekends.
Unfortunately for Billy Jean she fell in love. Me, well, I liked her and wanted her, but I had little respect for her.
She would ask me over to her parents where she fixed me supper on occasion, and sometimes I would leave work and go hit the rack for a nap. Someone would wake me up and tell me she was on the phone downstairs. It would dawn on me that I had missed her supper, but I pretended it did not matter. She would sound broken hearted and tell me she still had it in the oven, keeping it warm.
“Okay, I’ll be over in a little while,” talking while I yawned in a monotone voice.
“Oh…great…I’ll be here,” she would say, all bouncy like that little dog I had.
Later that evening we would sit in the living room and watch TV with her parents. When they went to bed, we made love on the couch. Afterwards, I practically had to pull her off me, first one arm then the other, and then I got up and left.
This went on until about December of ’67. That was about the time Connie asked me to marry her! We made plans to marry in March of ’68, so I knew I had to do something about Billy Jean. I racked my brain for a way to break if off, but being mean to her only made her love me more. It had to be something that did not give me much choice and still leave my dignity in tack.
Like I said, I’m ashamed.