Friday, July 31, 2009

The Crush. Innocence to Experience. Short story by E. A. Monroe

When I went to spend the summer of ’66 with my best friend and walked into her bedroom, she jumped up and down and said, “I’m in love!”
Photos clipped from the latest teen magazines of all her favorite guys — John, Paul, George, Ringo, and a new group I had never heard of, Paul Revere and the Raiders — plastered the whitewashed bedroom walls.
“The Raiders are the coolest guys on Planet Earth — next to the Beatles, of course! Fang is absolutely the cutest! I adore him!”
The contagion of my best friend’s excitement swept over me. Forget the Man from Uncle. Forget Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuriyakin. They were kid’s stuff, history. Curious, I stared at the faces, my first encounter with an collage of guy's pictures cut from magazines, taped and tacked to my friend’s bedroom wall; she introduced me to the new guys — Drake Levin, Phil “Fang” Volk, Smitty Smith, Mark Lindsay and Paul Revere. “I’m in love with Fang! Oh, don’t you absolutely love Mark! Tell me you love him!” How could I not? One look into those soulful newsprint eyes left me gazing into a mirror. I was Mark Lindsay’s younger twin; surely his long lost, teenage girl soul mate! My friend and I cast aside dull ordinary her and dull ordinary me, and during the summer of ’66, she became Salty Smith and I donned the guise of Silky Revere. After I returned home, Salty and Silky kept in touch, writing adventurous letters in which we described our antics as Smitty Smith’s and Paul Revere’s kid sisters and those of our loves — as much as any small town, naive fifteen-year-olds could know about such things. We reinvented ourselves and the fantasies we spun from teenage imagination sustained me through the trenches of teenhood, family moves to new towns and new high schools, separations from childhood friends, graduation, and growing up. I look back upon those halcyon days of summer and the homemade, ice cream flavor of first love, innocence, and time spent with a dear friend who has remained true, despite separation as we each tread our life paths and the distance between the towns where she and I lived.
High school social activities sucked us into busy lives, and one day Salty Smith’s letters stopped arriving in the mailbox.
During the middle of my junior year, my family moved from our small Oklahoma town to a larger town and a larger high school than the smaller towns where we had always lived and the smaller schools that I had attended, where the kids were related to each other and most of the teachers had taught the parents, if not the grandparents of their students.
One hot July, during the drudgery of cleaning the garage, I boldly announced to my mom, “I am going to marry Mark Lindsay!”She laughed!I was crushed.But, the truly desperate never give up trying to meet their teenage heartthrobs! I had read how one could send a fan letter with a stamped, self-addressed envelope to a favorite celebrity. Okay, I could do that. Better yet, what if I sent an entire box of stationery and at least half of the envelopes stamped and addressed to me? Brilliant!
I bought a box of white stationery laced with a delicate edge. I wrote my adoring fan letter to Mark Lindsay, tucked the letter into the box of stationery and the stamped, self-addressed envelopes, and sent the package to an address I had found in a teen magazine.

As hard as it was, I went on with my life, until one day I received one of my return envelopes in the mailbox. I held the envelope to my nose and inhaled — California, sand, surf and a whiff of cologne, Sandalwood — the scent I imagined him wearing. I savored that envelope. I wanted to lick its sweetness. The letter had come from him; he had touched it! Mark Allen Lindsay! Wow!
I tore open the envelope, more excited than I could remember ever feeling — even more exciting than Christmas, birthdays, and the Fourth of July. A photo fell from the opened envelope. No letter; only a photo — a wallet-sized, black and white glossy autographed photo.I suppose that was my first disappointment, but I put his photo in my wallet and carried it everywhere. I lost count of the times I pulled out the photo and marvel at how wonderful and beautiful he was in the black and white glossy photo. Any day, I expected the arrival of another stamped, self-addressed envelope, a personal letter written on lacy white stationary and tucked inside.
The days slid into weeks, and the weeks disappeared into months.
My mom pressured me to date. I was in high school, but I was not interested in boys or dating. After all, I was in love and I was going to marry him! Whenever a boy called, I always said, “Sorry, I can’t,” or “I have to go to my Grandmother’s house this weekend.” My mom was furious when she discovered what I had done; mothers in small towns talk to other mothers.

Eventually, I dated; I even went on-and-off steady with a boy from my high school and I went to all the teen hops and movies. The feelings weren’t the same though, for I could never love anyone else as much as I already loved him. But, like youth and summer, love fades when the expected letters never arrive in the mailbox. Life drifts into tomorrow, and a teenage girl sets her gaze upon the horizon where the final year of high school and college looms. She grows up.One Saturday night, after cruising the Boulevard, I sat in the passenger’s seat of a car with my girl friends at the PowWow Drive-In. All the kids parked their cars and hung out at the PowWow, because eventually all the high school kids, and kids from nearby towns, who were cruising the Boulevard that night would make the rounds.Music crackled through buzzing speakers tucked beneath the PowWow’s tin awning that covered the parked cars — Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay. Otis Redding crooned the mood I felt that night as I watched the cars packed with teenagers circle the PowWow, and listened to boys and girls shouting to each other, their laughter raucous and carefree, car hops delivering orders, the slam of car doors, the blare of a car horn, wheels peeling out on gravel.
Sitting there, feeling the future rolling toward me upon a wave of departing summer, I knew I was never going to meet Mark Lindsay, much less marry him. I was a teenager headed toward graduation and college.
Somewhere, beyond the PowWow Drive-In, my future waited and my future wasn’t a black and white glossy photo that I carried around in my wallet.I don’t know why I did it. Maybe I needed the liberation. I took his photo from my wallet, pinched its edge between my fingers, and gazed at his face, an unchanging face captured in time.A warm breeze, smelling of cheeseburgers and limeade sodas and whistling the late-sixties music of the PowWow Drive-In, floated through the open car windows. I leaned my arm out the window, lifted his photo to the breeze, and opened my fingers. Mark Lindsay fluttered away upon a summer wind.
“Hey! Look! A photo of Mark Lindsay!” a girl screamed to her friends. Debby. I remember her name was Debby, one of the popular girls, and I remember the joyous rapture that brightened her face when she held up the black and white glossy photo of my long-lost soul mate.And I smiled.I have often wondered whatever became of the photo. Perhaps Debbie carried him around in her wallet, and from time to time, she took out the photo, looked at him, and remembered how she found the photograph blowing across the gravel beneath the awning of the PowWow Drive-In. Did she ever wonder where the photo had come from? Someday, I may ask her.On that sweet summer’s night, I let go and never looked back.


Ivan sez:

Well, how am I going to top that for quality?

Just gonna add an awkward vignette of my own:

It is Sunday. I had decided to do nothing at all, keeping the Sabbath sort-of, even though I am not a Seventh Day Adventist...Met one in the rain forest one day. "My name is M. Dennie Mark. Very well educated. I am a Seventh Day Adventist."...Didn't know if he was going to eat me or greet me. Gave me an education. I became a candidate for MD of the rain forest. Shake, rattle and roll.
In any event, though it might be Sunday and I am idle, I hate being idle. Makes me nervous. "Keep busy or go mad," says Voltaire. I must work on a vignette.

Do you ever talk to your plants?
There is one humoungous tomato plant in my garden. It is an underachiever. Though the others are bearing fruit like crazy, it just sits there and throws fake yellow flowers, but no tomatoes. "Gimme some fruit, or you get pulled," I admonish.
I am about to pull the tall plant out, when it seems to yell
"Uncle" and shows me a little polyp just under the flower. "Aha. You're making tomatoes. Spared for a day. I won't do a bad-tempered Jesus on you."
Next come the flowers.
Marigolds fer to keep out the aphids.
And a few poppies and a little hemp I keep around for arcane purposes.
Shasta daisies which don't like to grow in late August.
My savage garden. "Grow, you bastards. Produce, or you get pulled." The daisies dance. We're doing all right, Jack. How about you?
Well, not so good. There is a full moon coming on, good for my plants, but bad for my mood. If a full moon can rais a volcano, think of what it's doing to your head?
Strange sense of impending doom, over nothing at all. Just a guy talking to his plants on a full moon. That's normal, no?


A tulip that I called Blanche.
Suddenly whispered, "Avalanche."

I knew the plants were trying to tell me something.
A tulip saved my life today.



29 comments: said...

Durn, Liz,

I get a crush just looking at your picture when you were sixteen!

Harmless old coot here.

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...


This was a wonderful story. I loved the line, "...homemade ice cream", it made the piece scream of the 60's and given I don't know much of that year because well, I was born in 66, I could still feel it. This is a wonderful piece and you are a talented writer.


Charles Gramlich said...

Interesting to see the world from a different perspective. This was quite a bit foreign to my upbringing.

ivan said...

Having had sisters and later a daughter, I can sort of dig this.
I can recall nights in the back yard with the fire going,the 78's and 45's on the portable stereo, Roy Orbison turned up loud, "It's only Make Believe", and the young girls toking and swooning-- and outside, the cars with their eight-track tapes, going "Who Put the Meat in the Meteor."
Or was it "Who put the bop in the bob-she-bob-she-bop"?
Dunno. The early Sixties were a blur.

ea monroe said...

Thanks, Ivan. Who can remember the 60s?! If anyone can remember the 60s they probably weren't stoned enough.

Oh, I hate that old yearbook photo, Ivan! ;-)

Early 60s I was busy being too much of a juvenile delinquent, along with my cousins. I was such a bad influence! ha.

Thanks, T and Charles. said...

A well-crafted reminiscene, Liz,
I know one "Treeware" publisher almost took it.
Well, we took it and we're proud of it. said...

That should be reminiscence.


the walking man said...

'66 My first car was year away from being built and I was three years away from having it. '67 Dodge Charger last year of the fast back. Red with 4 bucket seats and a big block 383 Carter 4 on top. Screamin' and smoking hot. Looked fast and when driven right never went home ashamed on a Saturday night.

I didn't hang any crushes on the bedroom wall but I had Motown music and The Who to fire up the passions of those teen age years.

The only thing I opened up and let go when I had my hand out the window was a roach because I was about to be pulled over for racing on Telegraph.

But beyond the speed believe me the kids in the big city did that same cruisn' thing. Here to there and speed in between. It was not a bad time to be a teenage alien from the planet Teenagier. said...

NIce bit of Nostalgia, Mark.
I had a '54 Buick that ran like the wind. Beat everything except me,who one winter. I finally did grow up, but was stupid all the same. While storing the car when attending university one winter, I stupidly forgot to put in antifreeze; the frost plugs popped. And that was not all. I had blown the head gasket probably from too much revving and taking off on a green light in low low, beating everything in sight.
Remember that song,
"She had twin pots and a clumsy clutch
And a speed no other car could touch
And for you folks that don't dig the jive,
That's two carburetors and an overdrive.

Oh Mabylline

Your steetracing career reminds my of that chase scene out of "Brewster McLoud". Not a car movie, but Shelley Duval drove a '70(?) Road Runner with the hydraulic scoop in the hood. The car was featured quite a bit....

Everybody thought Brewster McCloud was just another legendary Icarus movie, but I thought it rocked on about three levels. Especially the Road Runner.
Cheers. said...


Did I just post that?
I meant to hit PREVIEW.

Gotta edit more. Gigog!

Mona said...

I love both the stories! :)

I thought the tulip would say 'Wake up!'

Are all Cancerian guys this affected by the moon?

I have two Cancer men in my life ( hubby & sonny)to contend with...of course with the full moon... said...

All Cancers are stone crazy. And randy.

benjibopper said...

Great little story, E.A. Took me to another world, another time. And another gender. said...


Does take your to a parallel world,doesn't it.

Donnetta Lee said...

Ah, I remember this well! Shucks, I didn't get to marry Fang like we thought I would! Those were the good old days with my bestus friend who is a bestus writer as well. D said...

Well, somebody got to marry "Fang", but that was a few years earlier...Phyllis Diller...Remember her?
... And she still looks good with her facelift. said...

PS to Donnetta,

You are still getting comments on your Lavedder Skirt story just down from this one.

Erik Donald France said...

That was pretty cool, both vignettes. The first reminded me of my oldest sister, the second one reminded me to thank the neighbor for keeping my cereus alive for the past ten days.

Ever been to Findhorn?

ivan said...


Thanks so much. I know Liz will be pleased at the response to her performance..

As for me, the closest I have been to something like the Findhorn Foudation was the Instituto Allende, at San Migueel de Allende, Mexico... Artist's and writers' colony.
It was weird enough. So weird, I soppose that the University of California withdrew its accreditation and I had to end up getting Mexican university paper...I was doing my M.A.

Creative writing colonies! Some weird people there, myself not the least weird, I supppose. I must have somehow fit, because they promoted me to professor, after the U. of C. staff quit over a row with the owner of the school.
Not quite a tree hugging colony but an artists' colony, San Miguel.
Well, I certainly got to write there. And teach again. And doing a lot of drinking, snogging and thinking.
Came back with two goats, a novel and a mistress.
Freaked out my family... Ah, TMI.
I don't think I'll live like a hippie again.

Good neighbour indeed to keep your cereous flying.

We writers, after a certain age have to, along with good old Eric Blair-George Orwell-- have to keep our aspidistras flying. Othes used to help, but now it's a solo act. Keeping our aspidistra, the project-- flying while we work at anything we can to survive.

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