CAMDEN A fictional serial in three parts
I don’t feel I was unlike other teenage girls in the fifties…especially my freshman year in high school. I enjoyed many sun filled days with gentle breezes, but I also endured dark days with heavy clouds and storms. Yet looking back as an adult, it is the anticipation and dreaming of thrilling events l remember most.
Television, though a new concept in our lives, was very important when I was fourteen. The Anderson, Nelson, and Cleaver families reigned on our small black and white screens. They portrayed family perfection. Parents were in love and divorce was never mentioned. Mothers usually stayed home and wore crisp aprons while doing housework. Fathers dressed in suit and tie came home carrying briefcases, unruffled and unstressed. In 1957 the American Dream was there for the taking, and we were eager to grasp it.
The most popular boy in school, Morgan Dixon, was the current object of my dreams and fit nicely into my future plans.
I fantasized how he’d walk up to me someday in study hall or the cafeteria, declare his love, and sweep me away amidst a sea of envious feminine faces. Regardless of my scenarios, there was always an audience to witness my triumph. By daylight, I sought ways to watch him unaware. By night, I composed interesting dialogue to draw his interest. He was the main subject of my diary entries and I was always waiting for that special moment to arrive.
On this particular April morning Sherry and I met, as usual, in the rest room. We were both darkening the “Barely Pink” lipstick we’d worn from home with her prized tube of Coty’s “Dangerous Red.” After blotting our lips, we re-combed our pony tails into more perfect inverted question marks and studied our reflections.
Next came the daily “petticoat count.” I won today, wearing six to her five beneath my flared felt skirt.
Sherry was my closest friend. We shared everything from boyfriend secrets to her contraband lipstick and, on rare occasions, her mom’s little red box of mascara. Only once had our friendship grown tenuous and that was last November when I learned of her developing crush on Morgan.
He had joined the basketball team and I noticed her wistful eyes following his sleek body as it glided up and down the court.
After a few weeks of growing tension between us, she moved on to Paul Harper and there was a tearful reunion between the two of us beside my locker. She asked my forgiveness and vowed never to let her thoughts stray to my Morgan again. I accepted the apology and her vow held to the best of my knowledge.
As Sherry and I left for class, we ran into a group of older kids gathered near the library. Cindy Clark (who’d recently begun spelling her name with an “i” instead of a “y” because she thought it was cuter) broke away from the group and tugged Sherry’s sleeve.
Cindi/Cindy spoke in her usual voice, heavily accented by exclamation points.
“Hey there! We’re planning a wiener roast Saturday night out at the Rogers’ pond! Would you two like to come?” Before we could answer, she shot a meaningful glance and added, “Morgan will be helping Clay and Roy with the bonfire.”
Sherry and I exchanged quick glances and my heart began to pound. A party? A boy-girl party…on a Saturday night, no less! It was a first!! Neither of us stopped to think of any possible obstacle that could interrupt the plans such as the world coming to an end or fatal illness or anything.
Cindi/Cindy was a sophomore and several juniors were in the group. Sherry and I—two lowly freshmen—had just been invited to an upperclassmen party. With the most popular people in school attending…at night…in the dark if you didn’t count the bonfire. TOO COOL!!
We quickly nodded “yes.” Then with a bounce of her blonde pony tail, Cindi/Cindy, exclaimed,
“Great!! I’ll let you know about time and things later!” and, with a flash of dimples, she turned back to her friends. Just as we were about to enter the science room, we heard her call out,
“Oh yeah! Sharon, you’ll be hot dogs; and, Sherry, you’ll be buns!” Her tinkling voice echoing down the hallway for all to hear.
“Buns??!! I’m buns????” Sherry growled beneath her breath while rolling her wide eyes toward the ceiling. “I wish I had a pair of scissors! I could hit those perky little dimples from here!”
The following days crept like turtles until it was finally Friday afternoon.
We’d just finished girls’ P.E. and I left the dressing room to sit on a lower bleacher to wait for Sherry. I was wearing my new brown “tight” skirt (made so by doubling up on slips) and my “sissy” blouse with its ruffles down the front. It was a look I’d chosen from Terry on “Make Room for Daddy” along with her ‘kiss-me’ curls. These, unfortunately, had fallen due to the gym’s humidity.
Minutes later, the boys’ basketball team took the floor. Aware of Morgan’s presence, I prayed Sherry would hurry and give me a graceful escape.
Finally, female chatter erupted below the bleachers and I stood to leave just as I heard Morgan’s voice,
“Hey, Sharon! I hear you’ll be at the Rogers’ tomorrow night. Save me a bite of your hot dog–okay?”
I turned to face him and nervously wiggled my fingers in recognition of the offer. He was running backward down the court and grinning at me while I fled the gym. Saturday night! He knew I’d been invited! He’d asked. He cared!! To be continued…
(Brenda Miles is an award-winning columnist and author living in Hot Springs Village. She responds to all e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)