I don't know what it was like going through puberty where you grew
up, but it was pretty unsettling in my hometown. It made us a little
crazy. Sex attracted us and scared us at the same time, and we got it
mixed up with all sorts of things, even candy bars.
It's 1948 and I'm 14 years old and I don't know how to pronounce
Nestle with an accent mark over the last e. I'm in the drugstore and I
just found out last week in eighth grade boys gym class that they sell
condoms under the counter here. That's what I'm thinking aboutnot
that I'd ever want to buy onewhile I'm sitting at the soda fountain
being waited on by Elsie May or Elva Kay Schumann.
They're identical twins and they're 17 and about the prettiest
girls in town and I can't tell them apart. They're also fast, if you
know what I mean. I'm not sure what that means, but it maybe has
something to do with their not being Baptist and their mother being
divorced and a smoker and a drinker and being named Belle. It probably
has something to do with their being identically pretty and probably
sleeping in the same bed and wearing each other's clothes and maybe even
each other's underwear. And it certainly has something to do with the
way they lean over when they're dipping ice cream so you can see that
they have what we call real knockers pooching against their blouses that
are maybe open too far at the top and you're pretty sure they know you
can see and you think probably they don't care.
And it must have something to do with the way they talk and look at
you when you give them your order. Like last week when I heard Elsie
Mayor Elva Kaylaugh a little to herself when Billy Don Hofferber
said "I want a Baby Ruth." Then she said "Hey, bud, my name isn't
Ruth," and she laughed a little more, not loud, just a little to
herself, and Billy Don is only 12 so he didn't get it. "Huh?" he said.
"I got a nickel and I'd like a Baby Ruth please." So Elva Kayor Elsie
Maysmiled like she knew something he didn't and gave him the candy bar.
I was there and I heard it. I thought about it and that night
decided it was kind of funny in an un-Baptist sort of way. And later on
I got to thinking about what one or the other of the twins might say if
you asked them for a Bit O'Honey or a Milky Way or a Butterfinger or a
Tootsie Roll. So we talked about it in eighth grade boys gym class and
after that we all stopped eating Cherry Mashes because we were afraid of
what the twins might say when we ordered one.
The Truth, Mainly
And I wasn't there but I heard from Norman Steggers that when Bob
Sturgeon, the quarterback on the football team, said he wanted an Oh
Henry, Elsie Mayor Elva Kayjust rolled her eyes and said real soft
and slow, "Oooooh Henry!" And Carlyle Bobson said that when Greg Jason,
who was 19 years old and home on leave from the army, told one of the
twins he wanted a Hershey Bar, she said "Do you want that plain or with
nuts?" She knew Carlyle was listening too.
So I should know better than to ask for a Nestle candy bar when I
don't know how to pronounce it, but I'm still wondering about those
condoms under the counternot that I'd ever buy one.
"Hey, bud, what can I get you?" she asks me from the other side of
the soda fountain.
I look at the candy bar display.
"I wanna Nestle," I say, pronouncing it like "wrestle" instead of
like the candy bar.
She laughs a little to herself and says, "Well, come on back here."
"What?" I say.
"Come on back here," she says. "You wanna nestle?"
Then I understand that she is making the same kind of joke she'd
made with Billy Don, except I can figure out what she means. I feel my
face get hot and I look at myself in the big mirror behind the counter
and I can see that I am red and I never get red and I can see her back
side in the mirror at the same time I can see her front side facing me
and from behind I see her skirt nipping in at the waist and something
full and firm moving below and from the front I see what we call
knockers pooching out against her blouse and so I get off my stool and
out the door without my candy bar.
Except I nearly trip on my way out when I step on my own shoestring.
Satterfield is a college professor and writes as a means of discovery.