by D. J. Herda
Summer, 1966, Miami Beach. Rich, sultry, hot. I had no business being there. If I’d had half a brain, I’d have been home in Chicago, listening to my mother trying to pound some sense into my eighteen-year-old, I’ve-seen-everything-without-blinking-an-eye, I-know-it-all-what-do-you-think-I-am-an-idiot-who’s-been-living-in-a-cave-the-past-18-years-or-what? head about how much wiser and more mature I’d be not to succumb to the whims and fantasies of a lifestyle that can lure a young girl—one young girl in particular I can’t help but think she was implying—into the most outrageous, the most deplorable, the most heinous of lifestyles.
Young girls, she’d said, are not like young boys. Young boys can take care of themselves. They can, you know, do that. Young girls are, well—pausing—vulnerable. They’re more easily swayed, talked into doing things they really shouldn’t be doing. Things they really don’t want to be doing. Wiping the sweat from a wrinkled brow that looked to me older, more dinosaur-like by the second, Things they’ll regret the rest of their lives.
I stared at her incredulously. Oh, mummm. Poor mummm. Papa’s locked you in the closet and you’re sounding so dummm. I couldn’t believe she was laying this on me. I mean, was this it finally? The birds and the bees thing?
As if at the age of 18 I hadn’t already had plenty of time to figure it out for myself. Not firsthand, of course, like probably half the girls in my graduating class had already done, and this in a Catholic high school where chastity was a virtue and promiscuity, well, simply didn’t, you know, exist. Nonetheless.
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