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Archive for July 26th, 2006

Collard Greens and the Boston Monkey

“Oh, my gosh! Would you look at this?” Lisa giggled as she handed the book to me.

“The Boston Monkey?” The old black-and-white photograph showed a group of teenagers contorting themselves in a most unnatural fashion. I started laughing.

“What’s so funny?”

“What do you think about when you think of Boston?”

“I dunno. Something really prim and prissy, I guess.”

“Uh-huh. And what do you think about when you think of Henry Jacobs?”

Lisa started making that snorting noise that always comes out when she’s trying not to laugh too loud, and we both exploded into furious laughter. She grabbed my arm and pulled me out of the library before the ancient librarian got a chance to tell us off for making so much noise.

It was 1976. Albany, Georgia. Henry Jacobs was the prim and prissy son of a local undertaker, and I found him utterly irresistible. Okay, so maybe he wasn’t all that prim and prissy, but he always walked like he had a rod up his butt that extended to his head, holding his body in perfect alignment. I pretended to hate him hoping that no one would know how I felt, but I wasn’t particularly successful.

For the rest of that year, Lisa and I whispered and giggled about the “Boston Monkey” whenever we talked about Henry, or whenever he was near.

Henry retaliated in his own unique fashion.

“Okay, I’ll call Carey, and he’ll call Henry,” Lisa planned.

“And I’ll call Tony and he’ll call Bubba.”

You probably remember how that went. Get a friend to get a friend to call the object of your crush. Said F-O-A-F would casually drop your name into the conversation to find out if you had any chance with your crush. Why do kids do that? It never ends well.

I called Tony, who called Bubba, who did indeed have the hots for Lisa. I eagerly called her to spread the good news. “Lise, it’s me.”

She said hello, but sounded subdued. My stomach sank to my toes. “What did he say?”

“Well, I guess Carey wasn’t the best choice. He didn’t hint around. He just called Henry and and asked what he thought of you.”

“And he hates me,” I said dully. Why did I do this? I’m so stupid!

“Well, he didn’t say that.” Lisa hesitated, obviously trying to find the most delicate way to tell me Henry’s true feelings.

Oh no! Henry likes Lisa, and Lisa doesn’t want to tell me! That’s not fair! Lisa already has Bubba! What does she need with Henry? She’s the worst friend ever! I’m never talking to her again! “So what did he say?”

“Well, he said that you smell like–” Lisa’s voice trailed off.

“What? What do I smell like? Just tell me already!” I was relieved that at least Henry wasn’t drooling over Lisa.

“Collard greens.”

I sat there completely stunned. If I had known the expression back then, it would have been a WTF moment. “Collard greens?”

“Yeah.”

“Guys stink, don’t they?”

“Yeah, they sure do,” Lisa sympathized.

I didn’t want to tell her about Bubba, but I decided that would be mean of me. “Well, at least Bubba likes you.”

“He does?” Lisa yelped. “You’re kidding! Tell me you’re kidding!”

“Nope. Not kidding. Honest injun.” We could say stuff like that, in the days before political correctness.

Lisa didn’t say anything for a minute. “You know, I saw Bubba picking his nose in history class yesterday. He had his head behind a book, and didn’t think anybody saw him.”

I laughed. “Really?”

“Really. Guys stink.”

“They sure do,” I agreed. I realized again what a good friend Lisa was.

“Wanna go look at that book again tomorrow? I bet we can find a good name for Bubba.”

Girlfriends. There’s nothing like ’em.

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