I saw those movies at a dif­fer­ent dri­ve-in on anoth­er night when I joined Kevin and his sis­ter Cindy on a night out with their par­ents lat­er that sum­mer. On the trip back from the con­ces­sion stand we caught their par­ents mak­ing out in the front seat of their spa­cious white Buick. They looked like two love-crazed teenagers going at it. Pre­oc­cu­pied as they were, they didn’t see us. Kevin had a flash­light and beamed it at them, say­ing in the low­est voice he could muster, “What’s going on in there?” Mrs. Fer­ring screamed a blood-cur­dler that blend­ed in sync with the oth­er sounds of car­nage up on the screen. Mr. Ferring’s head hit the roof when he popped up. He gave us a look that would have nor­mal­ly killed as sure as a Moth­ra death ray, but with his disheveled red hair and the smeared red lip­stick around his mouth, he looked like Bozo.

Why don’t you kids get the sleep­ing bags and watch the movies in the park up front there”, he pant­ed.

That wasn’t a request; it was an order.

Yes, good idea, hon­ey. Have fun kids…” Mrs. Fer­ring agreed quick­ly while she adjust­ed the rear view mir­ror to apply a fresh lay­er of lip­stick and combed her fin­gers through her hair.

Kevin car­ried the three bags while Cindy and I brought the pop­corn and orange soda. We unrolled the bags and sat in the grass with our backs to the fence. Speak­ers we pulled over from a near­by post dan­gled above us as we craned our necks to watch the gar­gan­tu­an mutant dinosaur fry King Kong with his atom­ic breath. I stood up at one point to stretch and looked back at the Buick. I couldn’t see Mr. & Mrs. Fer­ring. The win­dows were steamed up.

Kevin’s sis­ter, Cindy, like her dad, had red hair, bright orange like Lucy Ricar­do. And like Kevin, was cov­ered with freck­les. Her freck­les and scars didn’t obscure the fact she was real­ly cute. Every time I looked over at Cindy, she smiled back. It was dri­ving me nuts.

I secret­ly liked her and want­ed to kiss her so bad my stom­ach ached. This wasn’t pup­py love; I want­ed to lap her face like a dog. I’d seen enough Frankie and Annette make-out scenes in those stu­pid beach movies that I fig­ured I was ready to give it a go. You just kind of puck­ered up and mashed your lips togeth­er until you ran out of air. I was dying to try it out on Cindy. But it didn’t seem like the right time for romance at a Godzil­la movie. Any­way, I would, could, nev­er do it with Kevin there. But as luck would have it, he had to make a run to the restroom. I scoot­ed over next to Cindy, on Kevin’s sleep­ing bag, and nod­ded awk­ward­ly at her as I tried to think of some­thing roman­tic to say. She stared back at me as she sipped her soda. My eyes moved down and were sud­den­ly glued to her lips around the straw.

Can, can I have a sip…of your soda? Mine ran out,” I said.

Uh, real roman­tic, I thought, as Godzil­la screeched above us. She hand­ed me her soda and I took a sip from the straw her lips had just touched. I was about to chick­en-out, when I blurt­ed, “ Bet your lips taste like Orange Crush too.”

She blinked and looked at me, then smiled.

Prob­a­bly…” she said.

I leaned over and closed my eyes (that’s what they did in the movies) and kissed her, miss­ing her lips entire­ly and instead laid a wet-one on her chin. She kind­ly adjust­ed and our lips locked. A warm tingly sen­sa­tion ric­o­cheted around in my gut, down to my toes and back up again. No won­der Frankie was all over Annette, this was great! Cindy tast­ed like Orange Crush: zesty and deli­cious. I didn’t know what to do after I came up for air so I just said, “Thanks!”
“You’re wel­come,” she said and smiled that beau­ti­ful freck­led smile again.
“Can I have my soda back?”

That was my first real kiss. Every time I taste an Orange soda I can’t help but think about Cindy…and damn it, Godzil­la too.

Fight Club

My per­son­al time shared with the Adams clan was pri­mar­i­ly in the house or when we went out as a fam­i­ly unit to church or the zoo. We paint­ed a por­trait of civil­i­ty when we were out in pub­lic. At home it was like Picasso’s paint­ing… Guer­ni­ca. When our par­ents were out or my mom was pre-occu­pied on the oth­er side of the house, may­hem ruled.

There were days we were so bored we decid­ed to fight for the fun of it. A seem­ing­ly inno­cent wrestling match or pil­low fight would esca­late into an all out brawl after some­one got pissed. One of us always man­aged to get hurt. Not seri­ous­ly, but squeal­ing-pig-hurt, I guess. An ill-aimed karate chop, a poked eye, or say, an acci­den­tal bite might occur in the fra­cas. More than once, someone’s skull bounced off a hard­wood floor. I’d do the Three Stooges hit-my-fist-rou­tine, where you hold it out — some­one hits the top of your fist — cre­at­ing a quick oppo­site and not so equal reac­tion and you’d nail the dupe on the nog­gin with a swing­ing ver­ti­cal round­house ham­mer-blow. Some­times, you kind of missed the tar­get and deliv­ered a painful blow to a nose or a ten­der ear. Then you’d near­ly smoth­er the squeal­ing sib­ling by clamp­ing their chops shut to muf­fle the cry­ing. If that didn’t work, the injured par­ty would be ditched and left bawl­ing wher­ev­er the inci­dent occurred. Fin­gers were point­ed, denials made, and if my mom remem­bered lat­er, pos­si­ble ret­ri­bu­tion await­ed the offend­ing par­ty when Dad got home.

I guess it was cru­el, in ret­ro­spect, but it was def­i­nite­ly enter­tain­ing and fun­ny as hell when we forced my sis­ter Lau­ra and broth­er John to fight each oth­er. Karen was nev­er includ­ed in these events because she would have told on us or been a killjoy and put a stop to the fes­tiv­i­ties before they began. John was four, Lau­ra six and a half, both were thin and wiry with sun-bleached dirty blond hair and always game for the bat­tle. We had rules, not Mar­quess of Queens­bury eti­quette per say, but the com­pe­ti­tion had a sem­blance of civil­i­ty to it. Fight­ers could be dis­qual­i­fied for inten­tion­al face punch­ing or groin kicks. Hair pulling was tol­er­at­ed as long as it remained attached to the scalp, inad­ver­tent face rakes were ignored and grunt­ing was per­mit­ted. No yelling, scream­ing out in pain, and def­i­nite­ly no cry­ing!

We encir­cled them as they faced off like roost­ers in a cock­fight. Rounds last­ed a few min­utes with a minute break in between as the fight­ers caught their breath and were coached for the next go-round. My broth­er, John, I’d describe as a grap­pler. He would dri­ve for­ward, his hands pro­tect­ing his head as he went in low for a leg-take-down. As he did so he received a vicious pum­mel­ing from Lau­ra, a box­er, who employed a wind­mill fight­ing tech­nique of churn­ing arms and fists. John would retreat under a rain of blows until he found an open­ing. Lau­ra kept him at bay or would quick­ly squirm free if she were tak­en down. If John curled up in the assault, Lau­ra would vault on top of his back and beat him around the head and neck. The next sec­ond, she’d be flipped on her back in a rever­sal and be sub­dued in a choke-hold/crab-leg-lock com­bi­na­tion. Back and forth it went, the rest of us cheer­ing as they beat the crap out of each oth­er.