Mr.Jekyl and Mr. Moore
My father went a little strange when we girls were betwen the ages of 14 and marriage. I wondered what all the fuss was about and I really didn't understand until I had a 12 year-old granddaughter spend the night with me recently. We played a sort of dress-up where I fashioned a big chignone (sp)at the back of her head and then did a fancy (I thought) makeup job. Wow! It hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks, and a feeling rushed through me like flooding river. Of course I already knew she was pretty, but this girl--only 12 years old--was gorgeous. I had ugly thoughts of doing bodily harm to any male that spent more than a nano second looking her way. I was beginning understand my dad.
Dad always whistled from the pantry window for us to come in to dinner in the evening. By putting his thumb and index finger between his lips and blowing he could be heard way down at Spears Confectionary two block away. But, usually we were right there in the back alley playing Kick-the-can with the neighborhood kids. Six families on our block produced 19 children, and all of them were good kids as far as I could tell.. Father would not have been in perfect agreement.
My dad had more friends than anyone I have ever known. He really enjoyed people, from the youngest to the oldest, except for the years my sister and I were between the ages of 14 and marriage. During that interval his personality changed, but only toward a small group of the local population; all the boys between the ages of 14 and marriage. A Mr.Hyde miasma took hold of Dad. Day after day, in his opinion, these dropped lower and lower on the food chain until amoebas towered over them. They were microscopic worms, and yet, paradoxically, capable of eye-bulging plans and horrendous actions.
I was never given any specifics as to any personal peril, but some instinct told me Father must have been exaggerating at least a little when he muttered, "Gangsters! Degenerates!" And, it became worse. The muttering became almost like a second language. If a boy was in sight you can be sure we were getting the garbled, under-the-breath tirade, "Punks...no good...amount...hill of beans...MY daughters." It was a mystery to me; for quite a few years anyway.
In spite of the glitch in Dad's otherwise gentle nature, all of his worrying in those years was for nothing I was merely, "one of the boys" myself. None of my buddies were drawn into undying love at the sight of my scabbed-over knees or spiky, scarecrow coiffure. There wasn't a one who tried to hold my calloused hand or put an arm around my sweaty shoulders. If anyone HAD committed such a faux pas he would have been duct taped to the old chestnut tree and left for crazy.
Romances, boy-girl stuff and interest in my appearance hadn't yet wriggled out of the main part of my brain. It was still-more-or-less- a sleeping giant. However, there was one girl who caused me to suffer bursting cannon balls of contradicting thoughts every time I saw her. She was eighteen, gorgeous by anybody's standards, and her name was Mardell. I was cross-eyed with confusion.
When my boy pals hung around Mardell, all looking like Dopey of the seven dwarves, I would have applauded her instant extinction. I mean, they were so uncool with their jaws down on their chests. It was a different story however, when she invited me in and I watched as she did her hair or painted her nails. There were moments when I would have traded genetic
codes with her and never looked back.
codes with her and never looked back.
Alas and alack, I was tan, freckled and tall. Mardell was petite, golden and delicate. She always made me think of the fairy tale about the princess and the pea. The test of true royalty was whether or not one could feel the tiny green sphere through 10 or 20 mattresses. I didn't know if anyone had ever cluttered up Dream Girls bedding with any vegetables, but I was sure of one thing. Very few frogs would she have to kiss before the prince found her.
Gradually, I experienced my own metamorphosis and, while I couldn't claim "butterfly hood" I wasn't a bad looking moth.
Dad did his best to prevent us girls from falling for boys that would probably be very mucyh like he was...a male, and he knew all about that gender. But we did, we do, and we will, because we just like the opposite sex.
And that, "Daddy" who first picked us up out of our cradles is at the top of the list.