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.
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.