Searcy, Arkansas is a small, quiet hamlet with fewer than 14,000 folks. The town sits northeast of Little Rock, just off Hwy. 67. The chief industry in Searcy is Harding University, a university affiliated with the Churches of Christ.
In the spring of 1967, I found myself in attendance at Harding. My social life was about as uneventful then as it is today. I’m about as exciting as a mud hen sitting in clear water.
There was little to do in Searcy except attend church and catch an occasional movie at the town picture show. Automobiles were not encouraged, so walking a date off campus to the theater was the only option.
However, there were a few places coveted by the students. Beautifully white-painted swing benches were located in front of the girls’ dormitory. The benches were surrounded on three sides by an abundance of honey-suckle cut short enough to expose any misconduct that might occur on the swing. Couples were reminded to never display any kind of affection while engaged in the art of swinging.
In fact, couples were not allowed to touch, hold hands, or kiss under penalty of immediate dismissal from the university. Harding University in the 1960s would make Bob Jones University look like Sin City.
Fortunately, I had persuaded a young lady named Kathy to accompany me to the movie. Afterward, we would hurry back to the campus with hopes of getting one of the highly prized swing benches.
After the movie, we sprinted back up toward the campus. Out of breath, we arrived at a swing. We sat there watching the sunset, smelling the fragrance of the yellow blossoms, lost in the friendly buzz of busy bees. We discussed the movie and life’s philosophy. I had to impress Kathy with my vast knowledge of the world, using many of my sophisticated techniques gleaned from the cotton fields of west Texas.
I placed my arm around her, hoping my Old Spice Aftershave would take wind and pester her passions with my smell. For a moment, the evening air did stir, and with that rose my expectations.
Just as I moved in closer, to become more attentive to Kathy and to present her with my well-rehearsed lines of romance, she screamed loudly and jumped straight into the air, landing in front of the swing. She commenced to yell, “He bit me, he bit me on the leg.” Then she began to do a little dance, resembling a type of can-can movement.
Now, I don’t have to tell you what the Church of Christ thinks about dancing.
Again she screamed, “He bit me, it bit me on the leg.” By now a small group of students had gathered around to watch the events unfold.
Kathy began to cry as she pulled her ankle-length dress up past her knees. In a hushed voice, through clenched teeth, her horror and pain were evident as she said, “Something bit me on the thigh.” She pulled her dress higher as I dropped to my knees for a close look.
Sure enough, there was a round, robust bee sting on her right thigh. But just as I was getting close enough to examine the wound in a more professional manner, a strong authoritative voice boomed from the crowd.
“Young man,” stated the matronly voice from Miss Buttkess, the girls’ dorm supervisor, “Get out from under that young lady’s dress.”
As they took Kathy away, the honeysuckle did not smell quite as good, and my after-shave was being wasted on the expressions and gentle laughter from the crowd. The next morning, the Dean of Men heard my story. He wasn’t too pleased with my attempt at rescue. I was told the emotional distress had caused Miss Buttkess to take to her sick bed, and that Kathy had decided to leave for home early. The Dean said in no uncertain terms to stay away from the white swings, and to never become involved in any more embarrassing incidents.
Several weeks passed, and I had not dared to go anywhere near the girls’ dorm. Then one evening at the library I saw the most beautiful girl. Her name was Jeanne. We chatted and things seemed to be going well. I introduced myself and asked her if she would like to go to the movie.
Jeanne said, “Oh, now I remember. You are the guy who bit Kathy on the thigh. Sure, I’d love to go.”
Well, after this little episode, I had learned my lesson. Even today, I stay away from honeysuckle, bees and girls with inviting thighs.