By Hilary Shepard
regally, we trooped into the bathroom for the finishing touches.
No Bonnie Bell kid make-up for us girls, we were after the real
stuff -- Mary Quant wet-look-lip-slickers, Maybelline midnight-blue
mascara, and gobs of extra-hold Aqua Net hair spray. Our technique
was not to enhance the natural beauty that might be lurking somewhere
just below the surface, but to paint it on thick and pasty, like
a magician's assistant, just in case it wasn't. Amy looked in the
mirror and shook her head vigorously, hoping the spotty, sad-eyed
face gazing back at her was really not her reflection and therefore
wouldn't shake back. It did. She sighed and applied some more peach
blush. Marcy squinted her tiny eyes at the blur in the mirror and
hoped for the best. With her glasses off, she couldn't really tell
if she was beautiful or not, so she pragmatically decided she was.
Cara, on the other hand, was thinking Cat Woman, and had given herself
a new black beauty mark, thick black cat-rimmed eyes, and a full
red mouth. She smiled at herself suggestively, turning proudly to
me, then drew in her breath, slightly startled as she eyed my reflection
with a newfound suspicion.
"Hey!" she blurted out, "You're kind of pretty. I
never noticed it before."
heads turned to me accusingly. Confused, I checked out my reflection,
bending in closer to see myself as I, too, had taken off my thick
tortoise-shell specs, and could hardly see. Having had a beautiful
blonde sister who was three years older than I, who'd shown me the
real way to apply makeup, had inadvertently stirred up something
that had been heretofore invisible to the naked eye. Sure, I was
a walking cliché, which many a boy had cruelly reminded me
of, lest it slip my ever-occupied mind. I was tall, painfully thin,
had glasses, braces, freckles and long, dangling arms that brought
to mind one word -- orangutan. But luckily for me a strange new
realization was beginning to take hold in my slightly expanding
consciousness; I just might be another cliché -- the ugly
duckling turned, well, if not swan, then at least regular duckling.
I felt a slight flutter in my heart as a tinge of excitement shot
through my skinny limbs -- maybe I was going to be 'okay' looking
after all! It was this very thought, this hope, that caused my entire
universe as I knew it to warp. I could sense at that exact moment
a whole new dimension of possibilities open up to me like the promise
of a big unopened present, beautifully wrapped.
come the brides!" I sang out with my newfound zest for life.
only slightly aware of the effect this had on Marcy, for it was
another thinly-veiled Bobby Sherman reference, as he was on a hit
TV show with the exact same name. Marcy chose to ignore the affront
and ran after us girls, who had all forgotten the queenly manor
in which brides were supposed to conduct themselves, and were now
heading helter-skelter, limbs and hair a-flyin' into Marcy's postage
stamp sized yard.
gathered haphazardly under the gold cherub fountain, which towered
proudly over the manicured lawn that seemed to cower under this
suburban rococo monstrosity, submissive and afraid. To us, who were
still childishly attracted to all that glitters, it was the most
beautiful fountain we had ever seen. It was precisely why Marcy
was chosen time and time again to host the backyard nuptials, as
it afforded the perfect setting for a wedding between four imaginary
pop stars and their underage brides.
practice kissing first," Cara suggested.
Italian, she had a slight edge up on these things, as she was already
starting to sprout one tiny bump that would soon grow into a full-fledged
breast. Unfortunately, the other one would be slow to follow, which
would cause many hours of worry on her part, and many yards of Kleenex,
stuffed in her one cup to even them out, until the other one caught
up. Cara was born on the verge of puberty. Even as a baby she was
dark and musty. Her upper lip was tinged with a slight mustache
and her eyebrow was just that -- one, not two. She'd begun to carry
herself a little differently than the others, since her recent discovery
of her dad's stash of Playboy magazines under the rec room
couch. Within the next year, way before the other late-bloomers,
she would start her rigorous run around the bases, offering her
one breast up to anyone who'd show the slightest interest. Cara
had a lotta livin' to do, and right now, kissing practice was her
number one priority.
She perused boys with a critical eye, and began to figure out exactly
what it was that they would expect from her, and had recently concluded
that she was definitely ready to comply with the first step -- kissing.
She suspected rightly that no one would want to kiss her for a long
while, and chose the defensive tact. Marcy looked intrigued, while
I decided to take the initiative, grabbing a nearby lounge chair
pillow, writhing wildly around with it on the grass. The others
quickly followed suit, with Cara getting a little too carried away.
That synthetic foam-filled pillow was really ravaging her, and just
when she was in danger of becoming the first girl to become pregnant
by a cushion, a sober Amy snapped us love-drunk girls into attention
by threatening to turn on the lawn sprinklers.
guys! Save something for the honeymoon!" she whined, more out
of boredom than a sense of morality. "Marcy, you may start
who had elected herself rabbi and had already directed the conversion
of the Monkees to Judaism at a prior play date where they were fed
bagels and taught to say "Oy!", was determined to make
this a proper Jewish wedding. So she insisted on placing four Frisbees
on the imaginary groom's heads for yarmulkes. Pausing for effect,
she lifted the arm of her official Monkees record player, and the
haunting strains of "I'm a Believer" filled the air.
lined up, breathless with anticipation. As I covered my face with
the makeshift veil, I began to feel a strange tingle through a part
of my body I'd never really felt before. Somewhere dark and deep
and secret; the first tickle of sex beginning to stir. As I bride-walked
slowly down to the fountain, step-together-step, I could hear Marcy's
voice echoing in the distance, as if in a languid dream.
you, Hilary Shapiro, take Davy Jones to be your awful wedded husband,
'til death do you part?"
do," I answered, and it resonated from that same secret place
inside me, so special and sacred.
now pronounce you men with wives."
Davy Jones, I am Mrs. Davy Jones. Hilary Shapiro Jones." The
words filled my head like a magic spell.
may now kiss the bride." And I saw my husband lifting my veil,
slowly, seductively as I offered my eager face upwards, his sapphire
eyes twinkling like jewels, and he was kissing me, my one true love
his hot sweet breath all over my face, and all my love-lust burned
through my tiny chest, searing me with such intensity, it marked
me for life. It would be a long time before a man would make me
that blissfully, unconditionally and unequivocally happy.
hapless observer who might have glanced into the Steins' tiny piece
of backyard heaven would have witnessed a strange sight indeed.
For there we were, four girls with our heads tilted up towards the
sun, our tiny lips moving sensuously as we kissed the air and basked
in the warm glow of imaginary love, our hearts so full of the hope
that one can only feel when you're that young and that untouched
and that open.
later years, there would be crushing betrayals, ugly divorces and
broken hearts. But then, it was 1968, we were nine years old, miracles
occurred on a daily basis, love was a beautiful thing, and anything
could happen if you were a believer.
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