NO PANTIES LEFT BEHIND
When Dad was a teenager he had been popular with the girls at Beverly Hills High School - everything I heard from people he had known during that era made that clear. And as a young man he had been quite the catch, as photos of him in his pilot's uniform show. Imagine a handsome young fellow with foxy good looks, sparkling eyes, and a very intelligent face, and there you have it: poster boy for the war against the Nazis.
He must have broken many hearts while stationed in England.
When he left the RCAF at war's end and returned stateside he went back to Berkeley for a while, but eventually broke off studying and went to sea. At that time he had a beard - reddish and scraggly - but was still trim and boyish. On shore leave at one point he was introduced to a woman who would eventually marry him.
She took one look at his beard, and sneered: "Are you a poet?!?"
Well, it was the early-fifties. Not many people had beards at that time. And my mother was an English major, so she had probably been exposed to way too many poetasters. Elegant bearded bohemians, heavily into 'literature', writers manqué, serious(!) and sensitive(!).
She despised the type.
Fortunately my dad was not a poet.
Several years later they married.
By that time the beard had disappeared - it had been a discordant hue anyway.
SEVERAL YEARS LATER AND SOMEWHERE ELSE
When I was a teenager, he was still a dashed handsome fellow - militarily trim and erect, wiry.
I remember several times at the local shops, when the young ladies behind the counter would bat their eyes at him. One time a particularly foxy little miss leaned over the counter at me, and ruined my day by whispering "is HE your handsomer older brother?"
It was keenly disappointing - she was delicious looking. A lovely girl, probably fifteen years old. Just what the doctor ordered.
The one of us who stood a chance was not on the market, the one on the market did not stand a chance.
I was not as self-assured as him, and certainly not as well-built. Large gatherings made me nervous (they still do), and I often felt out of place among my peers.
Nor did I seek out the company of the opposite gender - women were a disquieting foreign field.
Yes, I keenly lusted after many of the young ladies of my ken ..... .....
The Netherlands, during my teenage years, was as good as a monastery, albeit one with a splendid view of temptations beyond my reach. Given that we lived in the centre of town, the eye-feast on the street in front of the house every day was incredible.
I lived in perpetual frustration.
When my father went on a trip to London for two weeks, leaving me in charge of the house, he probably expected me to seize the opportunity.
There would be time, there would be privacy. My brother would be away in Tilburg at school, the house was otherwise empty, Dad had given me a generous purse for necessary expenses, and the liquor cabinet was fully stocked and unlocked.
No red-blooded eighteen year old could have asked for more.
If he considered me a potential rake or roué, he would be disappointed. The extent of high living during his absence was twice the amount of pipe tobacco and coffee as normal, and fresh sautéed mushrooms at every meal.
Sheer heaven. Ten whole days.
Instead of the house reeking of shenanigans when he came back, it stank of strong tobacco.
No stockings hanging from the chandelier. No empty panties between the sofa cushions.
No abandoned little brassiere draped over a lamp-shade.
No ribald message scrawled in crimson lipstick on the bathroom mirror.
Not even the faintest trace of feminine fragrance.
He must have thought me somewhat dense. But he hid it well.