Saturday, January 09, 2010

When the Weather Turns Cold

As a young geologist working for Texas Oil & Gas, I generated many prospects and experienced the late seventies oil boom first hand. One prospect a week was the company mantra. We drilled mostly developmental wells – those close to existing production. Texas Oil & Gas was the king of corner shooters, drillers that edged as close as possible to the wells of other operators. Although much reviled, we found lots of oil and gas.

I can’t remember exactly how many geologists we had at the old Midland Center in downtown Oklahoma City, but it is safe to say we had a dozen or so. During this time, Texas Oil & Gas was drilling more wells than any company in the country was. The Oklahoma City office of TXO was drilling the most wells of any TXO office, and I was generating the most wells in the Oklahoma City office.

It worked this way: I would drag into work about nine-fifteen on Monday. After a few cups of coffee, I would stare at a color-coded production map until I focused on a potential prospect. I would then map the geology, or trash the idea and start on another. By Friday, I would have a viable drilling prospect that I would show at the weekly meeting.

About a dozen people sat in on every Friday meeting, chief engineers, geologists and landmen. If they liked my prospect, they would approve it and put it on the drilling agenda. When I left the meeting, I would go to lunch. I rarely returned.

There was a bar in Oklahoma City at the time called Clementine’s. It was located in the basement of the Penn Square Mall. You could walk down a flight of stairs, or slide down via a sliding board. Once there, you felt as if you were in another world. Bill, a salesperson for one of the electric logging companies, would always be at Clementine’s after work on Fridays.

Mixed drinks were three for one at the bar and Bill had a standing tab for TXO geologists. I was always there, as were my fellow geologists, and many of the land, engineering and geological secretaries. After one very hectic week, my good friend and fellow TXO geologist Dave and I parked outside, entered the darkened doorway of Clementine’s and slid down the slide to the loud nightclub. It was a cold winter night.

Dave had curly dark hippie hair with a beard and moustache to match. His lips were always smiling and his dark eyes had a twinkle that somehow masked an ache in his heart he never explained to me.

Clementine’s had a parquet dance floor with a revolving disco ball overhead and vents for mists of steam that arose during every song. The bodies, both male and female, quickly became hot and steamy, and the crowd resembled pagans dancing in a misty Scottish moor. During the days before AIDS, casual sex was rampant, first names often disregarded, last names never discussed. Considering only the moment, we never thought about tomorrow.

How I survived my two years at TXO I will never know. That night, Dave melded into the darkness with some luscious honey he had met on the dance floor. After more Wild Turkey’s than I could count, I was ready to fall on my face. In the days before the cell phone, I somehow managed to find a pay phone and call my geologic secretary Gayle, asking her to join me. Gayle had two young sons - ages five and seven. It was her weekend to keep them.

Gayle was as tall as I am, with black hair that draped to her shoulders. Her dark hair and eyes contrasted with her light complexion. She looked like a goddess but had the gentle touch of a trusted friend.

“Stay there,” she said. “I’ll be there as fast as I can.”

I wasn’t going anywhere. I couldn’t climb the stairs by myself without falling on my face. I was leaning against the wall when Gayle found me through the crowd. Putting her arms around me, she walked me up the stairs, and then to her car where her two sons awaited.

My ex-wife Gail and I still owned a house that we were trying to sell. Gayle dropped me off, bestowing a wonderful kiss before she and her two boys drove away, leaving me alone in the darkness. She and I soon became a number.

Gayle and I dated for the best part of the next two years. My mother loved her and she kept telling me to marry her. I also loved Gayle and I think she loved me, but it was not to be. Too insecure in my own sexuality, I was too busy pursuing yet another one-night-stand to hook up with just one woman, no matter how gorgeous and intelligent she might be.

Years later, I still remember the go-go years at Texas Oil & Gas. I can’t remember the countless obscure faces of my many drunken one-night-stands, but I do remember Disco Dave and my other fellow geologic toilers, and when the weather is cold, like it is tonight, I remember lovely Miss Gayle.


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