Big Jim and the Sweetheart by Thomas Gauldin

This was originally posted 7/4/95. Google's current archival link points here: /#!msg/rec.woodworking/ZsT7cffWSMw/sFElYd- HFFUJ
I'm reposting this so current rec.woodworking readers may enjoy this story again. All rights, etc, remain with Thomas Gauldin and his family.
Big Jim and the Sweetheart
Many of you will remember the totally off topic tale I told this last spring about my best friend, who I called "Big Jim," to protect his reputation. The tale was recounted after a fellow asked about the towing capabilities of garden tractors. Today is July 4, and with some time on my hands, I thought you might enjoy another absolutely TRUE tale of Big Jim's misadventures. Since some woodworking tools were actually involved, this story is "kinda" on topic. . . if you tilt your head sideways and wink ;^>
Big Jim was the type of neighbor that every person wants to have. He was the kind of fellow who would come to your house at 4:00 in the morning, if you needed help, would loan you any tool that he had in his shop, would go out with you to help cut firewood and would help you stack it when you got home. His wife and my wife were also best friends. . . with coffee in the mornings or shopping in the afternoon. On weekends, if Big Jim wasn't down at my house helping me do something, I could usually be found up at his house, returning the favor. After ten years of being friends and neighbors, you get to know folks really well- you think!
Big Jim was 6 years older than I was, and was approaching his late 40's. He had married Joan, his high school sweetheart, following his high school graduation and had enjoyed almost 31 years of marriage. The marriage had produced a beautiful daughter, who had just graduated from high school herself. Joan and Big Jim had made a home on the second floor of their house for Joan's mother, who had lived with them for many, many years. Being a kind and good-hearted man, Big Jim thought of Joan's mother as an inseparable part of his own family. Big Jim's own mother still lived on a farm outside of town, and we were always driving out to spend an afternoon at her place.
My wife and I never saw any change in Big Jim, but the onset of middle age had apparently been taking its toll. Big Jim apparently thought he was slowing down a little in his love life at home, and I later heard that Joan had confided to my wife that Big Jim just wasn't the man had had been ten years earlier. Big Jim wasn't the kind of fellow who would give up anything easily, and apparently had decided that he could regenerate things a bit by having some extracurricular activity.
Working at a large factory in town, Big Jim and one of the ladies at the plant decided that they'd meet for a "few drinks" one Saturday afternoon. (I honestly don't think that Big Jim had done anything like this in his 31 years of marrige, but he and the "new sweetheart" decided that they'd have an affair that fateful Saturday afternoon.)
The Saturday arrived and Big Jim told Joan that he had to go into work that aftrnoon to clean up some paperwork- not at all unusual activity for him. Instead, he drove to the appointed motel, where he met "Susy" in the bar. They had 3-4 drinks and then checked into a room. That was where Big Jim made a little mistake.
Do you remember me mentioning earlier that Big Jim and Joan had a beautiful daughter who had just graduated from high school? Well, Big Jim had overlooked the fact that his daughter had just started her new job. . . SHE WAS THE NEW 3:00-11:00 SHIFT ROOM CLERK AT THE MOTEL WHERE BIG JIM HAD JUST CHECKED IN WITH SUSY. Here is where the story gets busy.
Big Jim and "Susy" had just retired to the room when his daughter came on duty. The daughter looked over the check-ins and saw that a person with her own father's name had checked into the motel about a half hour earlier. As a matter of fact, the person had used the same address as her father, had signed the register in the same handwriting as her father and had paid with a credit card with the same number as the one she had in her own purse!
Big Jim was "relaxing" in the room with Susy when there was a knock on the door at about 4:00. He walked to the door with a towel wrapped around him and opened it part way. There, standing in the hallway, was his daughter, his wife, his mother and his mother-in-law. The four ladies then pushed the door all the way open and entered the room to discuss Big Jim's indescretions. There is a saying that, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned," and I guess that Big Jim learned that applied to ALL the women in his life and not just his wife.
The sweetheart sharing the room with Big Jim ran out the patio door wearing no clothes, but grabbing her purse. She got in her own car and drove away, totally naked, but unharmed- leaving poor Big Jim to try to explain to these four women what he had been doing at the motel. ( Everytime I hear the old joke; "Who are you going to believe- your lying eyes or what I tell you?", I think of Big Jim) The police were never called, but it was almost an hour before the four women in Big Jim's life paused long enough for him to even get dressed. Later, my wife told me some of the things Joan said had happened, such as Big Jim's own mother taking away even his towel, so that, "he had nothing to hide behind," and the four women tossing him into the shower to "wash the filth off him," . . . you get the picture. That evening, Joan called my wife to tell her what happened, and that she was throwing Big Jim out. As they were talking, here came Big Jim chuffing into my garage on his Cub Cadet towing his trailer. Big Jim's eyes were puffy, he had a long scrape on his face and he looked like hell. The trailer was absolutely loaded with every power and hand tool that Big Jim could put in it; he wanted to know if it'd be OK to store his tools in my garage. We ended up making 5 more trips up to Big Jim's house that night with both of our tractors/trailers to clean out his closet and workshop of power tools, guns and golf clubs. All the time, the four women in Big Jim's life were there and freely expressing their dissatisfaction with his actions of that afternoon. I was even verbally attacked because I was his best friend and should have known what he was going to do.
For any of you who might be wondering, that was 15 years ago. Big Jim did the appropriate amount of crying, begging and pleading during the following days and by the next weekend, he had moved himself and his tools back into his house. I'm happy to say that while the incident was never forgotten, the pain and anguish eventually diminished.
From the incident, there are several things that I learned and want to share with my fellow woodworkers:
1) If you plan on having extracurricular marital activity, consider portable tools, such as the Delta Contractor's saw and not a Unisaw. It is easier to move them if you get caught
2) Always remember where your daughter is working.
Thomas A. Gauldin Here's to the land of the longleaf pine,
Raleigh, NC The summerland where the sun doth shine,
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