Monday, August 11, 2008

Tennessee Rambling

Before there was email I was an active letter writer. A woman wrote me saying she loved "Quasi at the Quackadero" and wanted to buy a 16mm print. They weren't cheap then-- and this was the 70's. They cost $150. She was thrilled to get it. She was a big fan.

We became pen pals of sorts, because it turned out we both loved collecting old postcards. Her specialty was insane asylums: the best ones were written by inmates. She was married, had kids, and worked as a nurse. She also sang for a jug band.

She told me she was a nymphomaniac, and had written to the sex institute in St. Louis(?) offering to come there and be studied. I didn't encourage the confessions, but she liked to write about it. She often sent me really great old postcards. She had thousands. They weren't just from mental institutions.

At that time Delta Airlines had a great fare plan where you could buy a ticket for around $500 and fly to as many destinations as you wanted in a month. I bought one of these tickets, and included a weekend visit to the nurse nut.

As soon as we met at the airport I just had this gut feeling-- I didn't like her. She was loud, pushy and tricky. But not just that, it was visceral-- sometimes you can't explain why you don't like somebody, but it just hits you that way.

It seemed as if she was always talking to three different people, all different conversations, and repeating to each person what the other two had just said, even if they were all in the same room. Call waiting was designed for her.

Her husband was lanky and soft spoken. They lived in the country. There were so many ticks right outside the door that they kept a special tick jar in the kitchen where you were supposed to drop all the ticks you found on your legs on the way in.

We went to a club where she was singing one night. She had a nice voice. I think she got some nympho action in even while we were all at the club.

I couldn't wait for that weekend to end. (But I did like looking at her postcards.)

Later she asked me to do an album cover for the band's record on spec. The producers didn't like what I did. They hired somebody I know to do it instead.

Her brother tried to get me to do some spec animation for a basketball scoreboard when I first moved to L.A. I wouldn't do it. He was annoyed. (the jerk)

Years later I met her in the cyberworld. We were both bidding on the same postcard. I won it.

This is that card!


mars tokyo said...

And that is a fabulous card, too!!! Definitely meant for you.
What a weird weekend. You were brave to tough it out. What if they were axe murderers??? =:-O

Namowal said...

Whoa! Some weekend!
A tick jar? Were they saving them for a rainy day?
She's not related to the "Miserable Beach Ball" character is she?
I'm surprised you wanted to meet me after your experience with that "big fan."

That is a wonderful postcard.

RHS said...

I really really don't like ticks. Now I feel itchy. :/

I'm curious, did the postcard have a caption? It's very cool.

stray g said...

That is very weird. Never ran into anyone quite like that. We don't claim her! Although I did have a weirdo cyber experience that made me very cautious to this day, and I suppose it's good to be cautious.

Anonymous said...

Sally--you're brave to post this. Tennesseans are nuts. Hope the nurse doesn't read it. Drowning ticks and fleas and Japanese beetles is not unusual---is that what they were up to?---Tennessee Kate

Linda said...

A weekend like this is my worst nightmare. It makes me want to do a collection of "Rules of Life I Have Learned the Hard Way," and ask my friends for contributions. Your post could be Rule No. 1: Never spend the weekend with someone you have never met in person without an uncomplicated means of escape.
Something about that postcard reminds me of this (from the Jim Woodring bk)

Sally said...

The things you do when you're young, right? And Tennessee Kate knows what a tick jar is-- it drowned them when they went in.

There's no caption on the back of the card. Printed in Germany.

I doubt she'll read this-- people usually don't recognize themselves from descriptions anyway-- though it's hard to imagine two people like that in the same state.

Linda, I love the nose picture, and that's a very good rule of life too.

Mean Jean said...

Oh. My. What a story. There are two or three movies in there.

Sally said...

Mean Jean, aren't the knitting needles an odd touch in that card?

Mean Jean said...

I have stared at that image for several minutes trying to determine if there is a subliminal design in the shadow or maybe the shadow and basket with knitting needles is symbolic...

Now I'm just cross-eyed.

Sally said...

I know. Is there something about the snout piece that makes knitting impossible?

And mean jean, we want pictures of the bears once you're inside the house and looking out.