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A month before we graduated from high school Dee Dee started dating Bobby Langford. His parents were divorced and living in Connecticut, so they'd sent him north to the wilds, to live with his grandparents, thinking it would be good for Bobby. It was disaster for me. On the morning of our graduation, Dee Dee jumped into the passenger seat of my truck--a 1954 Ford pickup, an inheritance from my Grandpa Thibodeau that had taken me months to restore. On the drive to school, I decided to make my move. I would do it with humor--humor was what Dee Dee loved best. I'd be Woody Allen. I'd tell her, "Listen, I know we've been friends. Hell, we've been Bogey and Bacall. But maybe it's time we were something more. I tell you what. This time, I'll let you be Bogey." But before I could say anything Dee Dee showed me her engagement ring. "It's a secret," she said. "Nobody knows, so don't tell. Okay, Sammy?" I didn't wonder where Bobby got the money for a diamond ring or the Corvette. He was making trips to Co
nnecticut twice a month and a lot of good pot was suddenly going around the streets of Fort Kent, Maine. I looked at the ring. "O Great God Cannabis, thank you for your rewards," I said. I thought it would make her laugh, but it didn't. "Don't believe rumors, Sammy," was all she said. "Talk is cheap in small towns."
The very next day after our high school graduation--and much to the disappointment of her parents and everyone who loved her--Dee Dee packed her suitcase. Then she and Bobby and the sun-colored Corvette sneaked out of Fort Kent during the night. I heard from her two weeks later, when I received a picture postcard of a huge ball of string sitting abovethe words: Visit Jennings, Louisiana, Home of the World's Biggest Ball of Twine. On the back she'd scribbled these words: Dear Samuel Louis Thibodeau. Ain't life a hoot? Love, Dee Dee.
The next we heard she and Bobby Langford had gotten married. Mrs. Estelle Michaud, Dee Dee's mother, crossed the hedge that separated the Michauds' yard from ours and came sadly up the steps and into our kitchen to tell my mom the heartbreaking news. She didn't even bother to stop, as she usually did, to pick up any candy wrappers that might have blown into the yard, or empty pop cans that might have rolled in off the street. She didn't bother to pinch the dead leaves from around the flowers she'd planted in narrow beds along the hedge. Instead, she came directly into my mother's kitchen, the screen door slamming behind her like a bang of reality. "That crazy girl has finally done it, Margaret," I heard her tell my mother. "That crazy girl has gone and ruined her life." I was sitting with one leg up over the side of Dad's easy chair, counting the seconds until my first semester at college would begin and my life could be saved from the most complete and utter boredom ever wished upon an earthling--now that De
e Dee was gone from next door--but this got my full attention. This turned life interesting again, for I knew right away who that crazy girl was. I came to stand in the doorway, leaning in just enough to catch Mrs. Michaud's words, and that's how I learned that the love of my life, Diana Catherine Michaud, voted Biggest Class Flirt and Prettiest Girl for four years straight, had married the man behind the wheel of that golden chariot of a Corvette. "She's just a baby," Mrs. Michaud said, wringing her hands and looking generally miserable. A week later I got a second postcard, this time from Mankins, Texas. On the front was a picture of an enormous shoe: Home of the World's Largest Cowboy Boot, the heading read. On the back she'd written: Dear Sammy. I'm so glad to be out of school and finally learning things about the world. Love, Dee Dee. I pinned the postcard to the wall over the desk in my bedroom, next to the first one she'd sent, the ball-of-twine wonder. Then I took out the acceptan
ce letter I'd received earlier that year from the University of Maine at Fort Kent, the small college in my hometown, and I reread all the words carefully. Some folks love to travel, it's true, but I knew then, a short time after graduating as valedictorian of Fort Kent High School's Class of 1982, that I would stay in my own town to finish college, aiming for a degree in science and biology. Then I would go off to vet school in Boston--as close to home as possible--for the four years it would take to complete a doctorate of veterinary medicine. But I would come home to my roots, and open a small animal practice in Fort Kent, where there was none. Like a lot of New England males I've known in my life, I'm the kind of man who stays close to hearth and kin. There's something in this northern Maine soil that has held me firmly to it. I should have known back then what this meant: A crazy girl who is wild as the wind wants a boy who is just as wild. Yet the unfairness of it all overwhelmed me. I couldn't compete
with Bobby Langford by driving around in Grandpa Thibodeau's truck. A 1954 pickup against a new Corvette? What woman besides Grammie Thibodeau would turn down the 'vette? Bobby Langford wasn't much at all without that car, but cars have a lot of power. Let's face it. Who would remember James Dean if he had died in a rusting, dented Volkswagen Rabbit? That silver Spider Porsche did it. My eyes filling with warm tears I never wanted anyone to see, I looked up at the two postcards again: Ain't life a hoot? Dee Dee had asked me. I tried to imagine her sitting atop the world's biggest ball of twine, or lying flat out on the toe of the largest cowboy boot, but the images wouldn't come. My only regret in life up to that short point of eighteen years had been that Dee Dee Michaud never slowed down long enough for me to tell her that she was the love of my life. I looked back down at the acceptance letter, and the catalogue newly arrived from Boston's School of Veterinary Medicine. I touched the tip of m
y index finger to each one. "There's the rest of your life, Sammy Thibodeau," I said aloud. "Get used to it." How could I have known then about life's tricks, about those smoky mirrors and false doors, one of which would bring Dee Dee Michaud home to Fort Kent and back into my life again? I couldn't. Just as Dee Dee couldn't know that her shaky marriage to Bobby Langford wouldn't last. In 1987, one year after I would graduate summa cum laude from the University of Maine at Fort Kent, word went around town that Dee Dee had opened some kind of crafts shop in Wyoming--which sounded like the other end of the universe from northern Maine. The world spun on.
In February of the following year, Dee Dee's father died of a heart attack. I didn't come home from Boston for his funeral. I had an exam that week and vet school was tough. But Mother phoned to say that Dee Dee hadn't changed much. Now that Mr. Michaud was gone, Mrs. Michaud was making plans to move in with her widowed sister. She would rent out the house at 204 Bay Street. Mother would miss her old neighbor of so many years. So would I. Somehow, the notion of Dee Dee's folks still next door to mine had kept her memory alive for me. Before she hung up my mother said, "Oh, Sammy, I almost forgot. Dee Dee's eight months pregnant."
A month later, in March of 1988, two full years before I moved back to Fort Kent and opened my own practice, Mother wrote that Dee Dee Michaud had had her baby, a son she named Martin. No one seemed to know if Bobby Langford was passing out cigars. The news of the birth was followed months later by news that Bobby had gotten a good job working on the Alaskan pipeline. I imagined that he and his gold Corvette had headed north together, toward the Land of the Midnight Sun. After that, no one seemed to know anything about Dee Dee Michaud anymore. Months passed, and I woke up one day to realize that I'd heard nothing from her, or about her. The ties that bind seem to have been finally severed. I imagined that the gossips were busy back in our hometown, digging for details of her life. But I was busy, too. I had my final and hardest year of vet school yet to live through. And, oh yes, I had asked a vet student named Lydia Newhart to marry me.
Ain't life a hoot?
To this day I have never bought an automobile from General Motors. It's just a matter of principle.
Posted July 5, 2006
I absolutley loved this book. McKinnon does a great job of depicting first love between Dee Dee and Sam, in tiny Fort Kent, ME. The story has quite an interesting ending, and I loved it. Much like the Notebook, it shows love lives forever.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 18, 2004
Sometimes words are just on the paper - this was a real heart felt book. I could relate for the mother, her school friends and everyone involved. Just amazing! A good quick read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 26, 2002
I first discovered this book last summer and have read it a number of times since, and enjoyed it just as much each time =) This story is about friendship, first love, and is humorous and heartwarming, and by far one of my favorites.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 7, 2001
Fort Kent, ME, a small town on the Canadian border, is the home of Sam Thibodeaux and his wife, Lydia, both veterinarians. The book opens with Sam and Lydia building towards their personal and professional dreams. Dee Dee Michaud, Sam's high school sweetheart, arrives back in town with her nine-year-old son. Sam remembers back to those long ago days when he had special interests in Dee Dee..... and he finds himself more than a bit curious all these years later. Dee Dee, the now single mom has a secret to tell and with this revelation, lives change. Just when I thought here is another story of a man losing interest in his wife for a long, lost love, the turn of events made me not put the book down until every last word had been read and absorbed. Ahhhhh. This was my first read by this author, but not the last. I have read others by her now, and her remaining books are on my shelf waiting their turns. Character building was a very positive part of this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 10, 2000
This is the first book I read by Mckinnon. I just saw it at the library and picked it up. What a beautiful book. I loved the drawings that went along with the story as well.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.