Pally Thompson

Well, I certainly didn’t think I’d be THIS slow with my posts. I felt sure that I would be posting with a much greater frequency. I’ve been meaning to write for quite some time now with regards to an EXCELLENT book that I read over the summer, “Bobby Rex’s Greatest Hit.” My mom recommended it to me, and, as usual, her recommendation was absolutely sublime. Bobby Rex was one of the best books I’ve ever read, and certainly the highlight over the summer, despite my delving into the quality literature that was required for my literature course. I had to blog about it, including my favorite quotes. You know, the kind of quotes that seize your heart and wrench it a bit, but in a good way, because you know you’ve felt exactly what was described and you understand the feeling that the character is feeling COMPLETELY.

“Bobby Rex’s Greatest Hit” tells the story of Pally Thompson, a small-town Southern girl who has never quite let go of the desire for something more, even though she’s not too keen on departing from the comfortable happiness of the familiar North Carolina hamlet where she resides. Bobby Rex, of the pithy title, is the stereotypical high school hunk who is destined for greater things, namely, stardom in the country-western music world. When Bobby Rex releases a risque chart topper entitled “Pally Thompson”, Pally is instantly plunged back into her memories of high school, introducing us to the good ol’ boy boyfriend and the wild, spirited best friend (with an unusual Southern name, of course), all while building up the suspense about Bobby Rex-why would he write such a song if nothing ever happened between them? Whether the reader is left satisfied or wishing that Pally truly had found something greater in her life, you just can’t help to appreciate the book, for the warmth and pathos that emanate throughout. Everyone can relate to Pally. To quote a recent movie preview for a chick flick that undoubtedly suffered in the box office, “High school is never over!”

One of my favorite parts of the book comes from a conversation that Pally has with her mother. Pally’s father, Speedy, died an tragic, immature death, but Pally’s mother has always allowed him to LIVE in the stories that she shared with her daughter. Here she shares with Pally her sentiments about Orfax (the North Carolina hamlet I mentioned previously) and why she hasn’t left.

“Anyway-” She took a deep breath. “You could hear the train coming for miles: the Southern Crescent. First a low-down rumbling in the earth. The willow trees seemed to stop swishing. The crickets hushed up. The approach of that train was a serious event. The air was black and serious and still. It had a weight to it, then the faintest sort of tremble. When it began to smell sparky, we held our breaths in order to hear the train better. And always Speedy would whisper in my ear: “Hey, girl, let’s hop it.”

Sometimes I knew he wasn’t joking. And the insistence in his voice gave me gooseflesh. “We’d have a big time.” And he’d hug me so tight I’d feel winded.

“Where does the train go?” I recall asking him once.

“Oh, D.C., Baltimore, New York City, Boston-take your pick.”

“What will we do when we get where we’re going, Speedy?” I’d ask him, making a game.

He’d sweep a hand through his dark hair as if the gesture stirred up better thoughts. “Oh,” he’d say, “we’ll find us a first-class hotel and have them send us supper on a tray with lots and lots of pink champagne. Then, after we eat, if you’re not too tired, we’ll go dancing.”

“But if we hop a train tonight, this very minute,” I said, “I won’t have my red high heels, the ones I like best for dancing. You know the shoes I mean.”

Then, he’d consider everything we’d said, for a moment, and say, “Well, then we’ll just have to find us some place that’s got sawdust floors like Woody’s Danceland. You don’t need shoes to dance in sawdust. You don’t even WANT shoes. And there’s bound to be a place like Woody’s in a great big town like New York or Boston. A place where everybody dances barefoot.

“Well,” I’d say, “if we’re going to ride the Southern Crescent all that distance just to scare up a place exactly like Woody’s, why bother? Why not stay right here?”

And Speedy, who was nearly always agreeable, would hug me half to death and say, “Okay, we’ll stay this time. But NEXT time we come to the depot, be sure to wear your red high heels.”

Then the train would roar past like a solid wall of thunder and, in a way, I’d feel we’d barely escaped going. I’d say, “Whew!” and cling to Speedy, because there was something almost too thrilling about the Crescent plowing through all that sleepy farmland, something so full of risk that I felt lucky to have been spared.

Isn’t that just beautiful, somehow? Next time, be sure to wear your red high heels? I love it. And here, another moment, after Bobby Rex finally hits the road and leaves Orfax behind.

I felt like I was in mourning. I sat on the stone-cold radiator in the bathroom and cried my eyes out. Now I knew he was impossible. Now the phone would never ring. Bobby Rex Moseley was one chance gone from my life, and it seemed that as you got older, what you lost, one by one, were chances. People talked about losing your youth, your health, your friends, love. But it all boiled down to losing the chances for those things.

I loved this book, can feel my heart warming as I reread the words…Mom really does know best!!!

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