Friday, 29 June 2012
Passing Through Puberty
By Terry Hamburg of Baby Boomer Daily
Hormones are hormones but kids in the 1950s traveled through puberty more like a tortoise than a hare. My first glimpse of bare knee outside the boardwalk came in high school, that moment seared forever in my adolescent brain.
Walking upstairs to shop class, I passed Inki Renaldi. She was “bad” and getting “badder” fast. The breath taker wore a bright pink poodle skirt above the knee - the first girl who dared to cross the Rubicon.
Approaching from below enhanced the thrill. She flaunted a thin silk blouse, collar-up “hood” style, the top two buttons undone, no bra and I could glimmer the silhouette of nipples. Dark mascara eyes peered out like a hungry fox. Outlined lips pouted cherry red. Her attitude was classic teen queen: detached, you can’t have me but maybe if you’re the starting quarterback and beg.
The guy ahead of me stumbled at the sight and I bumped into him causing a chain reaction of rear-enders and flying books. She strolled elegantly through the chaos, smirking like a rock ‘n' roll princess.
Inki had an affair with a geography teacher and the joke going around was that he showed her places she had never been before. Inki got pregnant, he got fired. The femme fatale dropped out of high school, worked as a waitress and then settled down with a truck driver at the local Caterpillar factory.
I recognized Inki at a reunion 20 years later only after someone pointed her out. Alcohol, four children and a hundred pounds had dulled her glow but those hungry eyes still raced your heart and she sported the shortest skirt in sight.
A sophomore in high school, I had never beheld bare breasts except in National Geographic which doesn’t count. Dad kept his medical encyclopedia in the attic with plenty of nude photos but they were gruesome.
My friends suffered the same innocence so we surreptitiously purchased a 8mm stag film entitled Bambi At Play on the Beach promising “racy thrills and revealing action beyond your wildest dreams.”
It represented a true group effort: Bernie discovered the ad in one his Dad’s girlie magazines, Harlan came up with the projector, Steve had the film sent to his house in “plain brown wrapping” and I provided the theatre – our garage – as well as a pack of Dad's Chesterfields and a bottle of Gordon’s gin not good enough to make our locked liquor cabinet.
Hearts were racing for the “racy thrills.” What we got an aging Mae West character wearing a tent-like bathing suit perched on hills of sand tossing beach balls in a dimly lit studio. On cue she glanced at the camera and threw kisses.
It wouldn’t have taken much to satisfy a bunch of pubescent horny toads. In a ritual of purgation we set the film on fire.
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