Editor’s Note: It’s a “stagnant” summer in Diamond Bar in 1975 and Darlene and her friend Deanna are headed to the club to check out the cute lifeguard Steve. Read Part One here.
“Let’s head to the club now,” Deanna continues after a long slurp. “I think that new lifeguard Steve likes me. I wanna stare into his cinnamon eyes.”
Leave it to Deanna to seamlessly shift the conversation from one guy to another. If Deanna had five boyfriends, she’d be looking for her sixth. And I’m pretty sure Steve’s eyes are blue, but what do I know. “Cinnamon” sounds romantic anyway.
We hike the hilly half-block to the club that belongs to the people who live in our tract. It has a bitchen Olympic-size pool, tennis courts, a bumper pool table, a ping-pong table, and a snack bar. Everyone hangs out there. It’s fun to spend all day hopping in and out of the pool, even with the water turning Deanna’s hair green from all the chlorine they dump in every few hours.
The club has to do it to combat all the pee and the occasional poo left by the little kids too lazy to get out and go to the bathroom. We wave our ID pins at the crabby receptionist Mary Ann, perched by the window in the club office. She buzzes open the wrought iron gate.
It must be over 90 degrees already, so the club’s a’hoppin’. We weave our way through a maze of wet kids and old folks drinking cocktails, and snag a couple of lounge chairs with a good view of the lifeguards’ station. Steve isn’t there yet. We strip down to our suits, slather on baby oil, and sink into the snappy plastic straps of the pale blue chairs. The hot midday sun immediately penetrates our skin, and we set to work on tanning ourselves like two strips of bacon in our striped bikinis.
The sun’s glare is making my eyes heavy. I close them and check out how everything’s red under my eyelids. I’m semi-falling asleep when Deanna smacks my shoulder.
I squint my eyes to see Steve settling down into his chair. He has shaggy blond hair, mirrored sunglasses, a strip of zinc on his blistery nose, a fuzzy reddish start of a moustache, a tan hairless chest and red shorts hanging off his hipbones. Cute, but I don’t like those Robert Redford types. They’re for the mindless herd.
“Go say ‘hi’,” I urge her. “I’ll watch your stuff.”
“Okay.” Deanna’s already halfway up and running her fingers through her hair when she stops. “Crap!”
I see the problem. “Oh, god, Frizz-Ball and Friend.”
These girls are possibly the most annoying people ever. We don’t even know their real names, and we don’t want to. But we love to spy on them. They show up every day without fail and think they’re hot and sexy. They think they’re really gettin’ it on with the lifeguards, but they’re not.
Frizz-Ball’s as flat as a surfboard with a big wad of frizzy squirrel hair bushing out of her head. Today’s she’s wearing a new hot pink string bikini. Her bottoms are about 12 sizes too small and the top’s 80 sizes too big. It’s like a 48 triple D or something, and she has it all stuffed, with what I don’t know. I guess she figures she’s turning everyone on. Right now, she just planted her scrawny butt down on Steve’s lap. She’s playing with the non-existent hair on his chest. God, I can’t stand her. Who does she think she is!
The only reason any guy even talks to Frizz and doesn’t just drop her in the pool is because of her friend, Friend. Friend’s measurements are like 48-24-38 or something. Today she’s wearing an electric blue bikini and looks like Raquel Welch. Steve’s craning around Frizz’s huge head to get a better look at Friend. Friend is sucking on an Otter Pop and dancing to Paper Lace or some piece of crap being piped in over the club speakers. She waves at Steve, and you can tell that Steve just wants to die with Frizz-Ball pinning him down in that chair.
Deanna collapses back on the chaise. “Well, this sucks. I’m never gonna get my chance….Oh, no! Now the Flirto Twins are here too.”
The Flirto Twins are like these weird little parasites that are always two steps behind Frizz and Friend. I don’t know where they came from, but they’re a few years younger than the rest of us. They carefully study Frizz-Ball’s “art” of picking up guys in awe.
I had an idea. “Hey, jump off the board and start flailing near Steve like you have a cramp or something. Maybe he’ll jump in to save you even if he knows you’re faking it. Frizz-Ball’s just sweating him up over there.”
“Good idea.” Deanna gets up and strolls nonchalantly to the end of a line of gross runny-nosed kids waiting to jump off the high dive. She finally gets her chance. She makes a cool jack-knife into the pool, picks up a penny off the floor of the deep end, and then skims along the floor until she pops up near Steve’s chair. She starts lamely thrashing around.
“Ow. Ow. Ow!” she calls out flatly. Deanna’s not a very good actress.
Nobody notices. All kinds of freaky kids are splashing around and yelling even more than Deanna is, and Friend is captivating Steve by showing him her tan line. Deanna looks over at me. We exchange disgusted sneers.
By a stroke of luck, FM (Frizz-Ball’s Mom) suddenly calls out: “Girls! Come on! We’ve got to go-oh!” She always calls out this exact same way. FM is everything Frizz is not: tall and curvy, wearing a kicky macramé pantsuit, and with spun bleached-blonde hair like a huge cotton candy stuck to the top of her head. She sucks on a cigarette and taps her sandaled toe impatiently.
“Right now?” Frizz-Ball whines. “I’m TALKING!”
“NOW,” FM booms as she turns to head for the gate.
Frizz, Friend and the Flirtos slump and head for the gate after her. Friend gives Steve a little extra wave. Steve looks sad.
Meanwhile, Deanna’s already pulling herself out of the pool. Before Steve can even see her coming, she’s right by his side. This should be good.
“Hi,” she says.
Surprised, Steve slightly jumps in his chair. I study his face and body language, but I can’t make anything out.
“Hi,” he says.
Deanna stares at him, locking her eyes on his mirrored sunglasses.
“Hi,” she says.
“Hi,” he says.
They stare at each other. I count the time. One-thousand one… one-thousand two… one-thousand three seconds— BRRRRRRRRING! The club clock has struck 1:00, and the big bell sounds for everyone to clear out of the pool for the chlorine break.
Steve hoists his megaphone. “Everyone out of the pool for fifteen minutes! That means EVERYONE.”
All the kids groan, and the “Marcos” and “Polos” trickle away. Steve mutters something to Deanna and leaves to go get his jugs of chlorine.
Deanna victoriously walks back to me, her feet slapping wet prints along the way. She sits down on the lounge with a rubbery squeak.
“We’re in love.”
“Really?” I have doubts. “How can you tell?”
“We don’t talk. We don’t need to talk. That’s the purest form of love.”
I give this concept the half-second of thought that I feel it deserves. “I don’t know about that….”
“It’s something beautiful,” Deanna answers dreamily. “You can’t understand.”
This I am willing to contemplate. I’ve always figured that love is something deep. Isn’t that what they always scream about in songs? But maybe falling in love with the surface of someone is a good way to start. I guess Deanna just treats guys like candy bars at the 7-11… she buys ‘em for the wrappers, peels ‘em back, takes a bite, and if she doesn’t like them, she tosses them. If she does likes them, she goes back for more… and hopes that nobody else has gotten there first.
I bite into my Whiz bar and let the sun’s rays soak in.
Maybe she was right. Maybe she was wrong. Well, we have the whole summer to find out.
Copyright © 2013 Darlene Lacey
Darlene Lacey is also the author of Classic Candy:
Whether classics like Hershey’s, Mars and M&Ms or trend-setters like PEZ and Atomic Fireballs, candy has a special place in the hearts and memories of most Americans, who to this day consume more than 600 billion pounds of it each year. In this illustrated guide, Darlene Lacey examines the colorful history of candy and the American experience: from movie candy, drugstore and dime store candy, holiday candy, endorsements from athletes, rock bands, TV and movie stars, along with urban legends, candy scandals, and long-gone trends and fads. She looks back at barnstorming pilots dropping candy bars from planes, Bubble Yum’s reputation of being made from spider eggs, the rise and fall of candy cigarettes, and why some of America’s favorite candies eventually vanished from the shelves, along with so many cherished sights and stops on the American scene. This mouth-watering, sugar-fueled trip down memory lane features 80 images of candy from this period, all of which come from Lacey’s Candy Wrapper Museum.
Classic Candy: America’s Favorite Sweets, 1950-80, (Shire Books, 2013) available in paperback, Kindle Edition, and Nook Book eBook. It can be ordered at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, and many other online retailers.
About the Author
Darlene Lacey began collecting candy wrappers as a Southern Californian teenager in the 1970s. Her goal was to create the Candy Wrapper Museum, where wrappers could be enjoyed as art, nostalgia, and humor. Over the decades, she has collected one of the most complete and significant collections of American candy, some of which can be seen at www.candywrappermuseum.com. The site has drawn hundreds of thousands of visitors, and her collection and insights into American candy have been featured on the Food Network’s Unwrapped, the Chicago Tribune,and Smithsonian Magazine among others. Select pieces from her museum were also exhibited in a fine art show sponsored by Scion. A freelance writer and editor, Lacey also writes about candy and culture in a column for thelosangelesbeat.com. The author lives in the suburbs of Los Angeles, CA.
Darlene at the LA Beat: TheLosAngelesBeat.com/author/darlene-lacey
The Candy Wrapper Museum, which showcases many favorite items in the collection: CandyWrapperMuseum.com
The Candy Wrapper Museum on Facebook: Facebook.com/CandyWrapperMuseum
Darlene Lacey on Twitter: Twitter.com/DarleneLacey75
Darlene Lacey on Goodreads: Goodreads.com/author/show/6478008.Darlene_Lacey
Shire Books: Shirebooks.co.uk/home
Darlene Lacey on YouTube: YouTube.com/user/meandarlene1