Since I am in “Peanut Mode” tonight, I thought I would post this excerpt from a very ‘early-in-my-blogging days’ post regarding same, in the vain hope some would read the bits in their entirety: Sharking, Campin’, Bow-Fishin’.
Seems to me we sometimes realize far too late the true value of friends had and lost.
There is a scene in “Tombstone” where Wyatt Earp hands a smallish book over to a bed-ridden Doc Holiday, entitled:
“My Friend: Doc Holiday.”
Here is to wishing Peanut could receive same from me.
Alas, he cannot.
Jimmy ‘Peanut’ Piland was a character like none other: Possessing a smallish frame, medium blond hair always askew and asunder, Paul Newman blue eyes, a perpetual boyish ‘possum’ grin, and a wiry build replete with a hard-wired energy. Yet looks can be somewhat deceiving: he was tough as nails and feared nothing, or no one. There was no Brahma bull he wouldn’t attempt to ride, no man he wouldn’t attempt to fight (if provoked—him usually doing the ‘provokin’—“That sonuvabitch done pissed me off…”), no tractor, truck, nor heavy machinery he wouldn’t attempt to operate, instructed or not. Good that he never had access to an airplane, for he would have, no doubt, tried to fly it.
And actually, he did fly, by and by.
He flew through life in a manner most men would never, could never, understand.
Everything about Jimmy was over the top. He embraced life with a lustful, youthful exuberance. If there were a ‘Webster’s God of Definition,’ you would find under ‘Joie de vivre’ a photo of Peanut and the definition would read simply,
“Now Run tell that!”
From the early Seventies until the late Nineties, I called Peanut my ‘Best Friend’ even though there were many years during those years when our paths did not cross, and sometimes when they did, ‘colliding’ would be a better-served word.
I fell slave to my wanderlust and left Honey Grove for many far-off places and adventures. Peanut never once to my knowledge, left HG, save for those three summer months we lived together in La Porte Texas working together in an asphalt factory.
He was the original at ‘Home-Boy’. He loved living in Honey Grove, or in later years, at the end of about eight miles of bad Texas road, safely (for the residents) outside of the town.
Every time I found myself back in HG I felt compelled to look him up. Sometimes he was doing well, sometimes not. We had a talent (mostly thanks to him) of finding adventure in even the most mundane of circumstance. Just the simple act of driving to Ladonia for beer one day in ’93 turned into adventure, as we had to take the back roads because, he simply said, “The laws are out for me.” We crossed many ‘Bois d’Arc’ bridges during that trip and got stuck in the mud more than once, and actually got shot at as well, well…another story…
One Saturday night in The Seventies, I was parked at Jack Self’s service station, talking to some high-school friends when we saw a cop car slowly driving past, lights flashing, and hard following, there was Peanut in one of his ‘La Bomba’ vehicles, with another cop car bringing up the rear, lights also flashing—quite a ‘parade’.
As he slowly passed by, doing about ten miles per hour, Peanut yelled out the window to the assembled group,
“They’re fixin’ to hang my ass!”
Apparently he had some minors with him and some beers and…
That was classic ‘Peanut’. He did not say that with any malice, nor did he say it with any sorrow. He announced the fact just as it was: “They’re fixin’ to hang my ass…”
That was how he lived his life:
“You pay your money and you take your chances, an’ if you don’t, well then, forget you!”
Peanut could ‘talk shit’ with the skill a thespian who after years of training might bring to Hamlet, if lucky. With Peanut, luck had nothing to do with it; he was natural. There was no better ‘shit-talker’ in the world. He could reduce you to laughing jelly with one phrase or even just a goofy look. In our small-town world, talking shit was one of our primary forms of entertainment, and perhaps could even be considered an art. Though most would discount the art form.
Not I. Most of my best ‘shit-talking’ I have stolen from him.
Peanut could be incredibly childish at times. Once during high school, the two of us drove to Houston to attend the FTA (Future Teachers of America) convention. We were members—believe it or not—but only for the chick opportunities…
Since he had never been to Galveston (or Houston for that matter), I decided that I needed to show him around my once and future stomping grounds. We arrived in Galveston the night before the convention in Houston was to begin and I took him down to the beach in front of Seawall Boulevard. Peanut had never seen the ocean (Not even The Gulf—hell—no salt water at all). It was winter-time and not much going on. We got out of my station wagon and started walking down the beach, combing. We came upon some jelly-fish washed upon the shore. Peanut pulled out a knife and proceeded to repeatedly stab the dead creatures, exclaiming as he did, “Da! Da! Da! There ya go! Now what?!”
He was greatly amused.
But then, that was ‘Peanut’.
Other times, he showed a great deal of maturity and worldly wisdom.
Some years later and after a particularly rough night of us drinking and cussing and fighting each other (And me, getting into a bona-fide fist fight with one of his kin), he said to me,
“Many-Feet, you need to get that poison outta your system. Not sure I can help you. Sometimes the old bulls, they just cain’t run in the same pasture no more…”
Indeed Peanut, they cannot.
And if you have come this far….