By A.H. Watson
I mentioned Roberta briefly the other day and wanted to give her full due. And honestly, I am neither sure how to go about it, nor if I can do the girl proper justice.
Just remember that those were simpler times. Looking back we were far simpler people. We were a far fairer minded and forgiving nation. Liberalism, and our weak response, has taken most freedoms that were once considered basic to the American culture and thrown them asunder - meaningless to the demands of the State.
I don't think our small area of Atlanta, hard by the Emory University campus, even had a word for girls that would grow up to 'like other girls.' They were looked upon, at least as mentioned to us should we ask, as "different," "lonely," -or mostly as - "Just not having found themselves, yet."
As noted, we were a more open and unsophisticated society. For example: my uncle, with whom my mother and I lived for several years, was the third ranking man in a power company that covered several states. Beyond that, he was President of the "The Edison Institute" and a confidant of many CEO's he persuaded to come south for cheap power, better labor, and the pleasure of southern living.
My uncle had no habits ? other than updating electrical textbooks (for free). He neither fished, hunted, played bridge, bowled, or chased women - thereby wasting none of his adequate salary.
Yet, he saved every penny not wasted, to help others. He always lived in the smallest house or apartment that could hold his wife and his new parental charge.
Uncle Ben and my Aunt had married later that most due to the depression and his need to support his mother. In those far off days, you could not just turn them over to the government and move to Florida or California.
They had no children thus making me the most loved and semi- spoiled child, this side of the average young twits today. But theirs was a tough love as well.
"Just Sit there young man, until you finish your dinner?. Well, John Jr. can GROW moss on his rear - even if he IS waiting on you to go to the creek!"
"Son, I built that stile over the fence just so you and John would stop bending the wire in the fence 'every which'a way' ? NOW USE IT !"
My uncle's roots sprang from a hard scrabble farm to Engineering School with a foot in the First World War - then the depth of the Depression. His new responsibilities thus tied him to the power company. I never knew if his dreams had envisioned such a limited choice. But I did know from his many charts and discussions, with me, that he had the rare ability of only both the truly intelligent - and humble.
Ben had the ability to converse with a child as though he were an adult, thereby gaining the best from both. He further showed me that Roosevelt and all his illegal give away agencies - were not the acts that broke the Depression and saved the country from the "greed of business interest."
"Bidness" broke the Depression, Henry, not Blue Eagles," "NRA," or closing all the banks." He always ended with that statement as if wishing me, were I to forget all else, to remember to see that others knew those facts, before I followed him. Followed him - hoping to find at least some peace in our problematical eternity.
My uncle instilled in me my sense of religious temperature; somewhere between 32 and forty degrees Fahrenheit as he put it. "If they tell you the trains aren't running the bridge is out, given the choice, sit on the rail car not in the station. You know that damn station isn't going to move!" Or as he put it most succinctly, that is sufficient to keep you from freezing your butt OR getting hot flashes on Judgement Day.
The salvation of America's economy came from the horrible business of war, not from some dubious government agency that operated with the economic strength of a Salmon swimming up a roaring river to give birth and die. A war our country was not in yet supplied the horrible methods of death.
You see Democrats have never worried about taking blood money for supplying a war ? only about being shot at themselves. They have come by it naturally. Their forefathers hired Poles, Swedes, Italians and Greeks, at $500 dollars a head, to go die for them in the mud and stink of the trenches at Gettysburg, Antietam and all the other cold, dark streams and farms of Virginia, Pennsylvania and Georgia.
To my knowledge no Southerner EVER paid a Negro to go to certain death in his place ?unlike New Yorkers and other big city poseurs - simply because they had neither guts nor honor to fight for their "so called" American Constitution.
So this young boy had never heard the word "Lesbian," nor had my family, or those of our milling herd of acquaintances. It would be years before this bundle of nerve ends ever heard the word used in a conversation?and damn it ? it was directed at ME!
Back during the Jurassic period, Davidson men dated primarily at three schools. All were close together.
Sweetbrier ? A sweet little school, about one third Yankee, but all the students were round-heeled. If you got there late there was always a teacher with the similar affliction - mostly Swedes, so take a fly swatter and a dog lead, in case you need go out.
There was Hollins - by far the best of the three, both in students and men they drew to the, 'what would be known later by husbands,' as "the punji trap." (as in Viet-Cong)
The girls actually took courses in how to swap pussy for tangible goods - with your date, or later, your husband!They also had a course at the time called "Torment" and would have graduates come to class and tell about their "successes."
Then there was Randolph-Macon - wad of young ladies stranded upon their own little island of Lesbos, waiting their own fay fellow to wash up amongst them, much as the long dead Narcissus did at Lesbos.
The Randolph girls showed their individuality by dressing the same. Black pleated skirts, white Peter Pan blouses (now there is a misnomer), dark cordovan Bass weejuns or black ballet slippers otherwise carried around the neck to show the girl was into serious art. Over it all was a simple black cashmere sweater draped not worn over the shoulders. Black horn rim glasses framed the picture of serious dedication to study and the frugal, emotion free life of the "complete" woman.
Even on a date, one most likely forced by family, you would see them at ball games, an open book and note pad, reading then looking into space - as if in thought.
This gave the semblance of brains and the school another reputation that left male college students as far from campus as a rational thought. Dick had brought the information home the weekend he had been forced by his father to attend the annual Randolph-Macon Maypole Dance of the Vestal, as well as lifetime, Virgins. The threat had been short and effective:
"Dick this is your dad ? remember me? Your mother tells me you don't plan on escorting Judy to the dance? Tell me I heard her wrong."
"Bubba, your 'feelings' are not even in the glide path of this great event. As you already have the hundred bucks your mother hit me up for flowers, get with the program or be prepared to tell all your creditors that your well just started pumping water. Ask to sweep the floor for pocket money."
"No - not a word?."
"You get your ass on the phone to Judy today. Her father is not only a friend but also a good client of the firm."
"And Son, don't pin the hundred bucks of flowers too close to her chin ? she might have a tendency to graze."
From a restaurant booth behind my head, one spring day later in life, I heard a story that would make your own pecker try to hide! Least it did mine !
This gal, mounded in fur and diamonds, was telling the others at the table about a trip her husband and she had taken to the Boca Raton Club company meeting. As her husband was President and CEO of a major banking group, he spent most of the day on the golf course or meetings.
Bored, as usual, she would find the prized 'new boy' who was on the fast track up the ladder. The young man, usually with a masters degree, would be the one in the center of her husbands' plans for training ? especially in corporate culture. During the day she would arrange to get the young fellow up to the hotel room by hook or crook ?.
"Young man I am so tired - do you think you could carry these things to the room for this tired old lady?"
Once in the room she would ask him to fix her a drink and while he stumbled around at the bar she would sit and take off shoes and jewelry?. Then, as he returned, her outer jacket.
The group of young female buzzards laughed, as the woman described the poor young man's face when he returned!
She sad it was like a swirling light breeze, on an otherwise still pond? first there was panic! Then some small degrees of light lust ?then panic again!
Next she asked him to go to the bedroom and fetch her housecoat as her dress was way too tight, then said, "as if you hadn't noticed" - that it also was the way her husband liked them. Then, with a low moan, she said he arose and slowly entered the bedroom.
When he returned slowly with the wrap, she stood, seductively removed her half-slip, then requested him to put the gown around her shoulders.
Giggling, she told the other women that the poor boy was shifting his weight from one foot to the other rapidly. That the poor boy's collar was so wet you could make out the skin through both layers!
The woman had then turned her back to boy wonder and asked him once again to slip the gown over her shoulder, if he pleased.
As his hands moved around her waist toward the front. She had taken both and hoarsely whispered, "I thought you felt something for me, when you winked at the cocktail party."
She then took both his hands and put them on her finely mounded breasts, grinding them into his palms.
His hands pulled quickly away from her body.
For a brief moment she was mad ?no, actually, more disappointed than mad. Then she heard the thump! Super Boy had passed flat out, his head hitting the sofa arm as well as the oak side table! Quickly she placed his feet on the sofa, removed his shoes, socks, slacks and tie and placed a dying scotch on the coffee table near the tie on the floor. Then naked under her lightly tied gown, she added an hour to the large bar clock as well as Junior's wristwatch, and waited.
When the young man awoke he looked around dazed and began to mutter, "Lord what have I done?"
"Me," the woman responded blithely, "and you were great!" I must admit though, was a first for me."
Oh Lord, a virgin TOO! "I'm so sorry, what ca?.."
"Not a virgin silly boy - The first time a lover took off his shoes and socks but kept his sports coat on !"
That night when the woman reported to her husband the CEO, she told him.
"Bert, you should have seen your pick of the litter! He left here barefoot - holding his shoes and socks - with his pants unzipped and a hard-on that would scare a female bridge club to death!"
"Well Honey, He is smart as a whip and if it works as well as last time maybe we can train him to "stay" when faced with a bunch of "Quail."
I have told him - and told him, not to chase pussy in the office typing pool or even among the executive secretaries. Not only would he know every company secret in a week, I am damn tired of the people I pay coming in to work looking like they were "put up wet" the night before."
Every time he walks by the office typing pool they all break out giggling and you can see more pink nipples than at a Lesbian camp out.
"He is ready for the "don't crap in our own plate" speech you give with such eloquence, sweetheart. I give you my word it will take like rubbers at an AIDS convention."
If not, fire his fanny this week. If you don't, it will mean grief for you down the line and you won't see it coming."
"And Bert, honey, lose that droll Lesbian joke."
We were going to discuss Roberta. No need to chew over the long past except to note, again, nobody in Hennyville had ever heard of or discussed women that did other women. In fact, I doubt that anyone would have believed it, if told it happened.
Roberta was a good friend. She had all the good traits. She could throw harder, faster, and further, than most of the boys you had to choose in pick-up ball games. Hell, she was a better friend to you than most other boys. The same few kids that could beat the crap out of me could do the same to everyone in my crowd except John.
John, who could have handled most of them, was too busy chasing girls and learning to drive his daddy's big old '41 Buick with a straight 12 block and those fancy chrome holes down each side. The word was that they were so big and so heavy you couldn't get them to the shop. You had to get someone to come out and torpedo the damned thing.
"Yeah Harry, I think if you put a couple of fish in the port side, it will slide right on to the bottom."
Well, Roberta didn't truck with running away or making excuses to the one or two bullies that had accidentally found their way to the school of your average god; that being me and the original crowd that started school together in the first grade.
In a graduating class of 94 young souls, some forty had started the first grade together and most of the remainder had arrived well before the seventh year.
Roberta never backed off or tried to ameliorate differences with the big stiffs. She would start with a rapid punch to the unsuspecting jaw of the thug in question, then kick him? in those things she had more of than we did. If the bully was still feeling frisky she would grab a hand full of that fine playground sand that works its way out of the clay, and throw THAT in his face as well.
To be a friend of Roberta's was to lead a playground life with the contentment of a cow in lush clover. We never had to watch our backs. But when school was out and Roberta gone - it was every man for himself. We would be soon giving milk, if caught, to the same thugs she could handle so easily.
The best way to describe Roberta's looks during the early years would be to suggest you place a queen of diamonds flat on the table?then add two arms and legs. There you have our friend as savior. A young girl with no discernable waist, but whose skin was so perfect in color and smoothness that you felt you could step into her skin much as into deep cool pool.
The first inklings that Roberta may march to drummers with whom we were not familiar came about the time we began to go on hayrides. We were too young to drive, yet, with a yearning to be alone with a girl for reasons we had still to be taught - by those very same girls.
While most of the girls looked for special spots on the back of the open truck; spots that would give them a bit of privacy with their latest crush, Roberta would be up front.
Roberta always sat in the front of the truck. She was such a fixture the driver at times would let her shift the floor lever from one gear to another. We always knew when she was doing the shifting - as there would be a small clank or roar of overturning gear when "the six on the floor" was being sorely misused by our shortstop or 'strong forward.'
My sojourn, first in Jonesboro, later at a pubescent military prison far from my beloved Hennyville High, caused me to lose contact with our own short, squat, square, woman of manly talents. Sometimes, during my first week back at Hennyville my senior year, I asked Earl or John where was the "leaping lizard" Roberta. At Bolles School for the wayward the year before, I learned there was a name for Roberta's affliction, but I never could get the name just right.
"Hell, Hen, you goose," Earl giggled, "She sits right behind you in Homeroom."
I looked at John. He smiled and said, "I wondered when you would notice the changes ? you never did."
"You can't shit a smart military man fellows. Stop pulling my leg. I haven't been gone THAT long!"
I evidently had ?and it was!
Roberta had plumb skipped the larva and molting stage. In in my year without broads, Roberta had blossomed ? corny though the word is ? it is the only one that gives the proper context. Ripened would have worked in most cases, but I thought it best not to suggest either fruit or the possibility of some male ever eating it.
Other than to say the girl behind me? was a woman; golden skin, green eyes that wrapped around your soul giving the feeling she understood your deepest worries, and a twenty-inch waist, impossible to support the infrastructure above. Think Elizabeth Taylor as a young virgin?. 'National Velvet' and all that!
If there is still no clapper in your bell, simply go to Saks or any place on Rodeo Drive and watch the beautiful kittens coming for their daily ration of food.
Don't know even today what made me think her needs were just a habit (also known as the saveable whore syndrome) but I do know I would have walked hot coals to get her naked.
You probably have noted that our school group was closer, or at least a larger group that stayed in touch throughout the years. It is the only explanation for what happened to Roberta some fifteen years after we graduated.
By that time Roberta owned a successful health spa. One day, while doing her sets, her banker stopped by for a long discussion.
He warned her that the large corporations were moving into the health-training field. Small single businesses simply could not keep up.
He further stated that he had in hand a offer that would let Roberta sell and take in excess of a million dollars in profit - an amount far in excess of the money she could make if she did push-ups until she were eighty!
"But what can I do with all the extra time? I think I best pass."
"Hear me out Roberta, there is plenty to do and help me at the same time. I need this Sugar Pie, even if you find you must get out of the contract later."
He went on to make Roberta an offer she eagerly accepted.
Her friend's banks were being bought by a larger Florida banking group solely to gain his services as the Chief Operating Officer. The one dust bunny he faced was the fact he was nominally gay while the major stockholders were foot washing Baptists and sometimes snake-handlers from the hinterlands of upper Florida.
As he told Roberta, a friend of some thirty five years, he needed a cover, a stake goat?.. a wife!
He showed her that there were no down sides for her, She would be wealthy, protected, with a friend, and able to continue her proclivities as long as it was out of town ? preferably!
They were married and soon left for their New World. Roberta was of immense help to her husband, and even loved. Once she defended one of the snake crowd at a town meeting. Shaming the thugs on the council by telling them all people should be treated the same and appreciated for their best qualities. She gained instant 'love among the ruins.' She left the mayor and his rubber stamp council! She asked the Mayor why his car was behind the clinic after it closed at five p.m., you just knew the fight had leaked out the bottom of his pants.
By now you have figured that Roberta was married to Bert. She was the one that melted and scared the be-jeebers out of the bank's new hire. The boy thought women were free for the grazing.
There is one small thing, however, you might wish to know.
Bert and Roberta stayed married. After a few years Bert would get a stir in the britches and some particular warm feeling for her. Usually it was something she did for him or the bank. He would kiss her on top of the head and lead her to the bedroom feeling she must secretly like it as she never complained and actually was aroused. Roberta, feeling somewhat strange, would receive him. She thought he must desire her, and hell, it wasn't like she was breaking an old valuable vase.
And so it went, each sacrificing, yet each receiving some satisfaction not only from helping their friend, but also from the physical proximity. The heat, the perspiration, and in the end, a body driven mindless in a rush to a momentary oneness - then a smile and a hug.
So different than marriage among the present youth, they start with heat and closeness?.. even before marriage.
Roberta's and Bert's early marriage was distant and apart and unlike today's youth ended with mutual respect and and even love.
All future relationships will be strained through the fine mesh of the failed marriage. A marriage that hurt all - but provided no light or understanding of one's self.
John Donne was correct?. It often tolls for thee.
©2008 A.H. Watson, all rights reserved.