Bittersweet memories that last a lifetime.
November 18, 2013
A young teenager’s bittersweet tale of new-girl-it-is, as she arrives transplanted to the Dallas area during the era of the Kennedy Assassination. This four-part story will replace my Monday mystery blog, temporarily.
NERD ON CLOUD NINE
The ads that peppered television programming got as much of my attention as some of the shows. Fizzies plopped and fizzed across the TV screen and were the newest thing in kiddie refreshments. They were effervescent tablets to put in a glass of water and they came in flavors like root beer, cherry, and grape. TV ads begged children to have their own “happy Fizzies party,” every single day.
Many things that ended in “i-e-s” were popular, including, Spool-ies. They were small rubber hair curlers that you turned wrong-side-out to fasten and unfasten. Little boys had attached Varoom engines to their bikes and trikes and were now popping “wheelies” on same. You could see them peddling up and down the streets wearing boat-necked knit striped tee shirts or madras plaids over jeans that no longer had to be just blue.
I thought the Jax Beer commercials were hilarious. Jax was bottled in New Orleans but seemed to have a big following in the area. I sang along to many of the jingles. “OJ’s, OJ’s, OJ’s Beauty Lotion, the quick and easy way to beauty!” OJ’s was a concoction bottled across the state line in Louisiana, Shreveport, or Shreve City as some of the natives often called it. It was the same state line that Bonnie and Clyde had raced over to try to avoid capture, and it was the same Bonnie and Clyde that had robbed the bank in our little town.
That was the summer that troll dolls and elephant jokes really took off, and ladies bought curler caps to wear over their brush rollers, and bonnet hairdryers for home hair sets.
As the summer days moseyed by, I worked and worked on my anti-nerd program. I bought some make-up at Sanger Harris, Natural Wonder and Sheer Genius in a tube. I was convinced it helped. I invested in an eyelash curler. At least once a week there was a dreadful eyelash curling accident, when my fingers slipped and my eyelid was turned wrong-side-out. I bought Dippity Do and the blue liquid spray, Get Set, and rolled my hair on the huge brush rollers and slept on them every night, with a curler cap, naturally. I began teasing my hair. I was still a nerd, no matter what I tried. Again I begged for contact lenses. My pleas fell on deaf, and probably wise ears.
I also listened to KLIF 1190 broadcast from Dallas. It was another Gordon McLledon station and there was a talk show I was becoming obsessed with. The moderator was Chuck Boyles and he had hot topics like UFOs and the JFK assassination. I once heard someone I thought I recognized as a neighbor of mine call in and say he had been taken up in a flying saucer. It was not a hoax call, he was actually convinced he had. “Would ya like to come in and look around?” This is the question the aliens had posed to him.
I was amazed at all of the locals who called in about the assassination that had personal stories to tell about the event or swore they had “seen stuff.” Then there was an abrasive lady who called in frequently and tried to antagonize the moderator with her bigoted remarks. She went by the moniker of Dixie L. Sometimes he just cut her off, taking advantage of a seven second delay. There was always drama of some kind on the Chuck Boyles show that would entertain a teenage girl.
One night when I was engrossed in this radio program the phone rang. It was my friend, Darrell Joe. We chatted for a few minutes over not much of anything, mostly laughing and giggling quite a bit. Then he asked me if I would like to go with him to our community’s little theatre production. I was so dumbfounded I think I said “okay” and hung up the phone. He called right back, laughing and said he would pick me up Friday night and that he was kind of getting a little bit dressed up.
“Mama, Darrell Joe asked me out!” I squealed this information as I ran into the den. I had not even known if such things as real dates were permitted by my parents. It was not an option a nerd really needed worry about, much. It would be the first time I would go out somewhere at night without being dropped off and picked up by a parent.
“Why don’t you wear the dress you wore to your brother’s wedding?” My mother suggested. “It is slightly dressy, but not overly so, and you look nice in it.”
I tried hard to make myself look presentable-plus for my date with Darrell Joe. It was a challenge. I spent the day on my hair and nails, and had my dress and all the accessories lined up in a row on the bed.
Darrell Joe came to pick me up at the appointed time. My mother had lectured me on not appearing eager, and to not come out of my room until Darrell Joe had made some small talk with them. As he aced their interview with his boyish charm, I tried to remember all the things she told me. When I first came down the hall, there was Darrell Joe, tall and dark and handsome. He could have his pick of anyone. Why had he asked me out? He had on a coat and tie and there was a hint of Jade East about him. I told myself I looked acceptable in my sleeveless, pale mint green dress. It had eyelet embroidery at the hem and on the matching overskirt, and around the slightly scooped neckline. It required a can-can which rustled. I had on my Natural Wonder make-up, my eyelashes were curled, my hair was teased out wide, but tamed-down as much as I capable of doing, with a big cheek curl at each side, compliments of Spool-ies. I could do nothing about the eyeglasses, but I was proud of my golden tan; that was something, anyway.
To be continued… the final episode will appear next Monday.
Please click the book cover image to read more about Sara Marie Hogg and her novels.