In last week’s chapter our story shifted forward to August, 1974, where we caught up with Jimmy Barnes three years after his best summer ever, the summer of 1971. Not surprisingly, a lot has happened in the interim.
For one thing, Jimmy has finished high school and is now working full-time for minimum wage at the local McDonald’s. To put things in perspective, the minimum wage Jimmy is earning is $2 an hour.
At the time we catch up with him, Jimmy is walking home with his best friend, Tommy, who will be leaving town soon to study journalism at the University of Massachusetts. While Jimmy is happy for Tommy, he’s also concerned he’ll end up alone in a small, boring, town for the rest of his life.
Concerned about his future, Jimmy and Tommy discuss several possible career choices Jimmy might be able to pursue. But none of them are appealing to Jimmy for one reason or another.
We also learned Jimmy had become involved with several girls during his high school years. However, the relationships have apparently never quite worked out to Jimmy’s satisfaction, leaving him sexually frustrated as well. By the time we catch up to him in August, 1974, Jimmy has been without a girlfriend since just before the previous Christmas.
Faced with the prospect of spending his life in a dead-end job in a small, boring, town and barely able to support himself, Jimmy has apparently been trying to cope with life by spending his weekends drinking beer across the border in New York state, where the drinking age is lower, and by smoking pot.
He tries to persuade Tommy to go over to New York with him that evening, but Tommy has a date and the two part. Just before they do, however, Tommy tells Jimmy that Jeff Landry is back in town managing the campaign of the Democrat running for Congress that year. If you’re a Democrat, 1974 is a good year to be running for office with the Nixon Presidency collapsing.
Unable to afford his own apartment or a car, Jimmy finally arrives home where he takes a shower and then makes a halfhearted and unsuccessful effort to get his father to let him borrow the family car for the evening. Shot down, Jimmy steps outside and tries to focus on what he can do on a Friday night in a small, boring, town without a car to get around.
That’s where Chapter 5, which I’ve now posted, picks up tonight. Have fun reading.