Bermuda Shorts—1968

The best part of me lives for the rhythms of summer, in the neon glow of youth where the songs on the jukebox never change. That old gold music reminds me to dance, for the memory of dancing all night, with a pretty stranger, both her and you growing prettier the longer the night lasted.  Finally giving up, sleeping entwined for an hour, between sweaty, sandy, sheets. Waking up suddenly, with a surge of adrenaline from dancing, with from watching her dance, with her rear-end in Bermuda shorts, both of you having a few Crown and 7’s, and a black beauty apiece if you could find some.  Getting blapped up and talking and dancing.  And sipping for hours on double milkshake cup of Crown Royal and crushed ice.  Let the ice melt, and put some more in.  By the time you get to the bottom of the cup, it’s mostly water, adding a dash of sobriety to the abandoned state of shag dancing on speed with a girl who was okay to run to Fort Lauderdale and back. Some who would do that were from very good families, but feminism was coming on then, and these were nice girls beginning to run hot on birth control pills. Still wasn’t going to you in her pants.

Watching her shoulders and lower back breath with all the life and unborn babies that were in her.  You wondered, if  you made a child with her, what would happen, because if she took her pants off, it wouldn’t be until after all the promises were proven, all that could be proven, until she took’em off, and the two of  you went on to roll the dice about babies.

Because to ravage her, you had to love her, or else lie to her that you loved her, and have her believe it.  Until then, you could only rub and touch certain parts in certain ways.  Some times she would let you experience quite a lot.  And if she was wearing a tight girdle, which girls did, like their mothers, it was about as safe as any chastity belt, and she might get frisky with you, because she could, have her way with you, and you were astonished if that’s what she wanted. But she wouldn’t go all the way.

You couldn’t make her.  So you make promises.

The truth, in memory, is a single fleeting image of yourself as your father, or God, about to make a baby. Because she is so gorgeous on the dance floor in those shorts, and now she is still in her clothes.  And her clothes fit when she was dancing, so as to imprint on your memory the perfection of the back pockets on the rear side of a college girl’s Bermuda shorts in 1968.  And there she is curled up under your protection, sleeping.  And how she looks, and the way she breathes under the sheets, reaches all the way through the same light trousers you danced in all night, that have been pressed between her legs in the belly roll.  Both of you are still sweating.  The air conditioner half works.  Maybe you will watch the sun come up with her, still under your arm, through a veil of years and memories, forty years from tonight. It goes through your mind, and if you let it, it comes out of your mouth so truly it is true for the moment you say it, and maybe for the next forty years, that touch stone stands.  Or maybe the sun comes up, and last night was the only one.

And the story goes like this:

In the July heat, we ran up and down the road chasing dollar bills and beauty.  Some of us caught up with enough, others too much to carry.  The beauty died young but it rose again and boogie walked.  Trust me, I’ll tell you the whole truth and nothing but, from here to the far side of the Jim Crow Rope.