Huffman column Heading to the store for mixers

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Keith Gaskill lives in Madison, a small town about 30 miles north of Greensboro. I met Keith while working at a weekly newspaper in Madison in the early 1980s. It was my first stop out of college.
I was in the Madison-Mayodan Jaycees with Keith and ó while I wouldn’t ever acknowledge as much to him, of course ó I liked him a great deal. Keith had a good sense of humor. He could make me laugh.
Our Jaycee chapter was small, only 10 or 12 members. We did typical Jaycee things ó holding car washes and staging Fourth of July celebrations. We were responsible for the Christmas parade, too.
We held monthly meetings at the local country club and met Wednesday afternoons at Pine Hall Golf Course to play Joe Ayers’ course.
Every summer, we staged a party for members and their wives/significant others at the country club.
Through it all, we had a good time. We were young and somewhat headstrong and didn’t realize it wouldn’t always be that way.
One summer evening, following our annual blowout at the country club, Keith’s wife, Amy, drove the two of them home. That was back in our drinking days, and Keith had imbibed a hair too much to be behind the wheel.
Amy later relayed the story of what transpired following the party.
The Gaskills shared a driveway with their next-door neighbors. It was midnight or later when they got home, Amy said, and Keith ó apparently not ready to let the evening’s fun end ó immediately bailed out of the car and pounded on his next-door neighbor’s back door.
“Get out here!” Keith demanded. “We’re going to drink some liquor!”
Amy had had enough of such nonsense and retreated inside to bed. Since it was summer, the windows to the house were open. Amy said she lay in bed for an hour or two and listened to the conversation that took place between her husband and their next-door neighbor.
The two of them sat on the hood of a car, Amy said, drinking. She listened while Keith told stories in which he greatly embellished achievements from his high school athletic career.
Amy said it was sometime around 3 a.m. when the pair ran out of mixers. They still had liquor, Amy said, just nothing to mix it with.
This apparently concerned them both.
Keith and his neighbor, Amy said, each realized they’d had too much to drink to drive a car the mile or so to the local convenience store.
But this didn’t slow Keith for long. Amy said he soon announced he’d drive his riding lawn mower to the store for more necessities.
This seemed like a brilliant idea to both young men, Amy said, and Keith went so far as to fire his mower to life and drive it from the garage. He told his friend to sit on the front of the mower while he drove.
Amy said the pair was about to take off down the driveway when she’d had all she could stand.
She bolted from her bed and out the back door.
“Keith Gaskill!” she screamed. “Get your butt (actually, she used another word for that part of the anatomy, but we’re not allowed to do so here) in here and get to bed! You are 30 years old! You are not 13!”
Keith told me later that Amy’s outburst sobered him like nothing else could have.
I chuckled when I heard the story and reminded Keith that he missed his opportunity for fame.
The story of two men arrested for drunk driving while motoring aboard a riding lawn mower at 3 a.m. would surely have made the front page of our newspaper.
The last time I spoke to Keith, he had daughters who were in college and he’d matured considerably, which is, I suppose, a good thing.
But I still laugh when I recall the night that Keith and a friend were ready to go motoring to the store aboard a riding mower.
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When not busy tuning his riding lawn mower, Steve Huffman writes for the Salisbury Post. Contact him at 704-797-4222 or shuffman@