Once upon a time in a land far away lived a young girl who in today's world would be called a geek, but then was just known as a creep. She was tall, very tall, seemingly taller than everyone else in her ninth grade class. This was not actually a fact, given the truth of pubescent growth spurts which were just now hitting a few boys in her class. But it's the way she felt and that, after all, is what counts the most when you're fourteen.
She was, our young heroine, a girl who lived a lot in her imagination. One consequence of this--and of the fact that she was known as a creep--was that she had never been on a date. No boy had held her hand or kissed her cheek, and as far as anything else went--well, this was a land far away when such things were unheard of until you were seventeen or eighteen at least. This did not, however, mean that she had not lusted in her heart, as far as her heart knew how to lust. In fact, she had seen the movie Gidget eight times. This was not, you must remember, a time of video tapes or CD-ROMS. To see the movie Gidget eight times, our heroine had to go to eight different showings on eight different days. But such was her love for James Darren, the Moondoggie of this Gidget that she eagerly spent hours alone in a darkened movie theatre imagining that it was she and not Sandra Dee that Moondoggie was kissing. There may have been some part of this where she actually wanted to be Sandra Dee, that is, petite and blonde and Protestant, but that is what happens when you give a young girl an imagination that knows no bounds.
Now it happened that in the summer before her freshman year of high school, she spent some time in Atlantic City, staying with her mother in a rooming house owned by the mother of her father's brother's daughter's husband (this detail is only of interest to those who would like to know that said husband eventually ran NBC, but then, he was just a lowly lawyer whose mother ran what was called a cochalein. This is Yiddish for a rooming house where the ice box (yes, ice box) was shared by a number of different women, each of whom had their section of a particular shelf.
Our heroine, who we shall call for expediencies sake, J., never knew why this was one of the few she things she remembered from that summer. Another was that her mother shoe polished her white Keds, which you all must know was, is and will always be a fate worse than death. And the last thing J remembered from that time was--Fabian.
He was appearing at a concert in Atlantic City and somehow J. was going. She can't remember who with, although she thinks there might have been a fix up there by her mother and another woman at the cochalein. She has vague memories of some faceless young man who was, it seemed, the reason why J's mother applied the white shoe polish to J's Keds. But more than that is lost to time, gone with the wind, as it were. What J. remembers about the concert is screaming. She clearly sees herself standing in a mass of other young girls and screaming. She doesn't know if she screamed at the sight of Fabian or at the sound of his voice, but she opened her mouth wide and screamed. It was a primal response. After the evening was over, she was returned to the cochalein a somewhat changed girl, not the least of which was her raspy throat, and life as she knew it would never be the same.
(To Be Continued....)