WHILE trying to figure out the Hite Report the other day, I ran smack into an old friend of mine from high school. Cheryl Stern seemed to my bulged eyes a new woman When last I had admired her comely self she had been a sweet kid in puffy sleeves with pastel flannel figures of Babar the Elephant and his wife Celeste sewn on as a running motif across the apron of her party dress. Now, svelte and shiny in her silk fishnet dress with a fishnet choker and fishnet stockings, she was quite a different item. She looked like a captive eel at the Fulton Fish Market.
She batted big lashes at me. Could this be, I wondered, the same pasteurized number who had never been involved with anything seamier than hatching tadpoles in Richter's biology lab? Who had never shown more knee than the Brobdingnagianized safety-pin on her scotch-kilts would allow? Who had never pressed more flesh than when doing the Virginia Reel at Lucy Karambelas's Holy Communion Ball?
"Why doncha come on up and check out my digs?" she wheedled.
Telling her archaeological surveillances weren't my cup of Java I graciously began my slow crawl away.
"No ya big hunk of dope! I mean c'mon see my apartment!"
Brazen! Only once before had she impressed me so: in Advanced Intermediate French she had hypnotized tous with a stunning ninety-minute discourse (du langue propre) on the preparation of Escargots avec les Fraises Flambaux which concluded with a blast the likes of which no one had seen since the Sal DiConcio family firebombed the Esso Refinery Plant in Secaucus in 1969.
"Why doncha come up for a short one toots?" she whispered huskily, raising her knee to light a Strike-Anywhere that got tangled in the netting.
Too aghast to be offended at her estimation of my potential I remarked that she wasn't the same girl whose hot snails I'd admired in the oh-so-recent past and lit her stumpy Gauloise. She snorted and beckoned me on.
Her apartment looked out on fashionable Central Park West. It was in the famous Dakota. Of course the Dakota in Hohokus, New Jersey isn't as hard to get into as the one in New York City but we were happy there. When we got inside she tried her little best at casual chatter, pointed out the local Grand Union, the Hohokus City Hall and the beautiful road the French built after World War I to help pay of war debts--the famous "HohoChemin." She also sang the town anthem, "Hoho kus Santy's Comin' Soon." We had a good laugh over that. Ah so light, so gay, so witty this one! While I rollicked with mirth she triple-padlocked the door.
Bop-eyed, I looked for means of escape. I clawed at the door like the dog I was and suddenly found myself chained with nary a stitch but my Mr. Slim plaid boxers to keep her from discovering my religion. A wild fire crossed her face, singeing her moustache. Faint moisture glistened on her quivering upper lip and she swung toward me.
I screamed and struggled, though there seemed no escape from the grinning eminence I beheld. But soft! A look of confusion began to cross her scrambled features. Henry Jekyll once more! A little breathy murmur crossed her confused lips. "What say?" I called out, yearning to catch her drift. "Don't use that dumb hippie expression with me!" she roared, the phlegm rumbling in her throat. "I forgot what to do next! I forgot the next move!" She began lumbering around the room knocking over bookcases and smashing her rare collection of African fertility statuettes which bore an eerie resemblance to the little baseball players with bobbing round heads you can pick up at highway restaurants. After she had smashed the Willie Mays and Fred Lynn figures she hurled her awesome ire blazing in my direction.
"Where is it! Where's my book!" She was hopping up and down on Don Drysdale.
"What book, dear?" I asked as pleasantly as I could, trying not to rattle my metal links and shackles.
"The Gael Greene book, vantz!" she rasped. "The Gael Greene book! It's my guide! My road map!" She began to heave up and down like the crazed Harpo Marx, baring her canines and incisors and crossing her eyes. Moving toward the wall she commenced chewing he wallpaper. "Mm, roses! I love roses!" chortled this human vegematic as she chomped on a particularly dainty pattern. Then she steamed, pirouetted thrice, keeled and passed out hissing. Exhausted by the afternoon's trifles, I too shuddered, convulsed and in a moment had made like a light.