Clubius Contained Part 18 – Saugatuck (August 1963)

“Cooper, wake up”, dad whispered, and I felt something shaking my foot under my covers, “Molly’s here and it’s time for your big trip.” I had trouble opening my eyes and figuring out what was going on. Everything was dark, but then I remembered they would be here super early to pick me up.

“Is he awake?” I heard Molly’s voice whispering.

“Getting there”, dad whispered, “I just don’t want to wake up David, he gets so jealous when Coop gets to go somewhere without him.”

“Well”, whispered Molly, “If I was in charge he’d get to go too!” Dad nodded his head and laughed quietly through his nose.

I sat up to see if it was really Molly in my room before it was even light out, and it really was, she was standing in the doorway to the hall. She was wearing a Detroit Tigers baseball cap and a dark blue Michigan sweatshirt.

“His suitcase is out by the front door with everything in it”, dad whispered, “He just needs a minute to put his clothes on and then he’ll be ready to go.” Molly nodded, but kept standing there.

I threw back my covers and swung my legs out over the side of my bed, getting ready to jump down like I always did.

“DON’T JUMP”, dad whispered sharply, “You might wake up your brother.” I nodded and rolled over on my tummy and kind of slid off the bed, I felt dad’s hands grab my waist as I slid down so my feet were on the floor.

“There ya go”, dad whispered, “Here are your pants and shirt.” I was wearing just a t-shirt and underwear because my pajamas were packed in the suitcase. “Molly, maybe you can wait out in the living room so Coop can have some privacy putting on his clothes.” She pushed her lips together and wrinkled her nose thinking.

“No that’s okay”, I whispered to dad. Molly looked at me in my underwear and smiled as she watched me put on my pants and my shirt. I remembered when we had gotten naked together up in her bedroom in their old house across the street when we were still little. I figured she remembered too. I wondered if she looked the same now as she did then.

“You should wear your Michigan sweatshirt and Tiger baseball cap too”, she whispered. I nodded and looked at dad.

“Uhh”, he said, “Your sweatshirt is already in your suitcase. I’ll get it for you. And your Tiger’s cap…”

“I’ve got it”, she whispered, holding the cap up in the air and waving it.

Dad laughed through his nose again and went out in the living room, bringing back my sweatshirt. I put it on while Molly watched, still smiling. When I pulled it over my head she stepped towards me and put the hat on my head.

“Perfect”, she whispered.

“Out in the living room you two”, dad said, “Before we wake up your brother.” He gently put a hand on each of our shoulders and pushed just a little bit towards the door. I reached down and grabbed my sneakers.

“No socks?” he asked. I shook my head. “Well there are socks in your suitcase if you need them”, he said.

Carrying my suitcase, dad walked with Molly and me out to the street where Molly’s mom and step dad were by their station wagon. They put my suitcase in the middle seat with their suitcases and other stuff.

“Have a great time Coop”, dad said, patting my shoulder, “Maybe you’ll tell us all about it when you get back.”

Molly’s stepdad opened the back part so Molly and I could climb in our favorite “way back” seat, and then shut us in our cozy little place. Dad talked to them for a minute by the front of the car, and I could hear him say, “Thank you, this means a lot, we owe you one.” I wondered what he meant by that.

“You’re very welcome Eric”, said Molly’s mom, “Molly is so excited that Cooper will be joining us.”

Then her stepdad started the car and drove down the street towards Stadium Boulevard. Looking out the back window, I saw dad waving to us, and Molly and I waved back.

It was really neat in the “way back” seat, because all the suitcases and stuff filled up the middle seat, between Molly and I in the back and her mom and dad in the front of their station wagon. It felt like we were in our own separate car, but we were going backwards instead of forwards, seeing where we were leaving rather than where we were going. It was still dark outside and the streetlights flashed by us on either side of us on the big empty street. Molly’s mom and stepdad sounded far away way up in the front talking about the numbers and directions of the highways we were going to go on to get there. Twenty three north, sixteen west, and eleven south.

Molly got the blanket next to her and threw it over my head and then went under it herself so we were both under there. I felt her shoulder against mine, bit I couldn’t really see her at all except when we went by a streetlight and a tiny bit of light got through the blanket to make her face look like a ghost.

“We’re in our secret cave now”, she whispered, “If we’re really quiet we can do whatever we want.” Then she asked, “What do you want to do?”

“I don’t know”, I whispered, but it was really exciting to start thinking about that.

“It’s our secret cave”, she whispered, “We need to do something that’s secret?”

I remembered back in January when Mary kissed me on the cheek in Wurster Park, and then in April, after Joey told on me, and how Mary was always mad at me for the rest of school and wouldn’t talk to me or even look at me at all. I liked Mary, but I liked Molly even more. She was my best friend. It felt like we had been friends forever. Mary was just a girl that I liked, or at least used to like. Molly was a girl too that I liked a lot, but she was different.

But she WAS a girl, and not a boy, and older boys and girls kissed each other. Margie said so, and I’d even seen them do it hiding in the lilac bushes when they were “making out”. And we were getting older now too, though Molly had only finished second grade, even though she was older than me. I wondered if Molly wanted to kiss ME. I wondered if Molly would think I was bad if I kissed her, but then I thought that I wouldn’t think SHE was bad if she kissed ME. So wasn’t that kind of like that “Golden Rule” thing that mom had talked about, treat others like you want to be treated. I wanted to do it but I wasn’t sure.

The streetlight made her ghost face appear again in front of mine. Her eyes looked at mine and she whispered, “I can see you thinking about something secret.” I nodded.

“I am”, I whispered, “But I don’t know if you’ll like it.”

“I promise I’ll like it”, she whispered.

“You really promise?” I asked. She nodded and kept nodding, so I leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. Then without even thinking she just kissed me on the cheek back. Her ghost face appeared and we just looked at each other.

The car suddenly stopped.

“Uh oh”, Molly whispered, “Pretend like we didn’t do that.” She pulled the blanket down from over her head so she could peek out. “What’s wrong?” she asked in her regular voice.

“Oh nothing really, young lady”, said her stepdad, “That blankety blank car in front of us changed lanes right in front of us without signaling and then stopped. Go back to sleeping or whatever it was you two were doing back there in, what do you call it, the…”

“The WAY BACK”, said Molly. Molly’s stepdad laughed.

“Great name”, he said, “I’ll have to tell my colleagues.” He and Molly’s mom went back to talking about other stuff. Molly pulled the blanket back over her head so we were back in our secret cave.

“What’s ‘blankety blank’?” I asked her, whispering again because we were back in the cave.

“He says that instead of using a swear word like ‘damn’”, Molly whispered. I did a quiet nose laugh. I liked doing that now when grownups said or did silly things, because that was what they always did to us kids.

Molly didn’t say anything for a minute and then whispered, “You seem different.”

“I don’t know”, I whispered, “Maybe.” She seemed kind of different too, but not in a bad way.

“I think I’m different too”, she whispered, “So it’s okay I guess, since we both are.” I nodded. Our shoulders still touching, I felt her head leaning toward mine, so I leaned mine towards hers and the sides of our heads touched and I heard just the tiniest sliding sound from her hair rubbing against mine.


I guess I had fallen asleep, because I woke up and our heads and shoulders were still touching and Molly was making a sleeping noise next to me. The blanket was still over our heads but there was a lot more light coming through it. The car felt like it was moving really slowly and doing a lot of turning. Then it stopped and I heard the front doors of the car open. Then a much louder noise as the back part of the car clanked open and the cooler outside air pushed through the blanket into our warm cozy cave.

“Knock knock”, said Molly’s stepdad, “Anybody home in there? Asleep in your cozy little lair?”

I pulled the blanket down off our heads and the light was so bright my eyes hurt and I could barely see anything at first except the outline of her stepdad.

“Oh my god Joan”, he said, “These two are SO CUTE with their matching Michigan sweatshirts and baseball caps. What does that olde English ‘D’ on the caps stand for?”

“Detroit Tigers”, said Molly, opening her eyes and then squeezing them together and putting her hands over her eyes because it was so bright.

“Of course”, he said, laughing through his nose, “I should know better by now. My work comrades would be aghast at my continuing ignorance of American sport.”

“Pit stop, ladies and gentlemen”, he said, “Gas for the wagon, bathroom for the humans, a quick breakfast including some nice hot caffeine juiced café for the grownups and maybe a Cola for the youngsters.”

“I don’t know Larry”, said Molly’s mom, coming around next to him to look at us, “Maybe better just an orange juice or a Seven Up for these two.”

“Oh”, he said, “But we’re all on vacation darling. We should treat ourselves for all the hard work we do the other fifty one weeks of the year!”

Molly’s mom sighed. “Well okay, maybe just this once.” Molly’s stepdad winked at us.

So after we got gas in the car we walked across the highway to a little “coffee shop” place. It had those neat “booths” with a table between shiny puffy couch things. Each booth had one of those little “juke boxes” on the table against the wall. I’d already used those at that Miller’s ice cream place on Main street and Dog n’ Suds way out on Packard. You’d put in a nickel and then you could push the buttons to pick a song to play. They were really neat. This machine had round openings for a nickel for one song, a dime for two, and a quarter for six, so you got an extra one.

Both Molly and I really liked that little juke box so we sat on either side of it. Molly’s stepdad sat next to me and her mom next to her.

“Ah, modern musical appliances”, said her stepdad. He seemed to like to say silly stuff like that. Even though the words sounded real and complicated, I could tell he was trying to be silly by the way he said it. I looked at him and made a silly face like I KNEW he was being silly and he laughed quietly through his nose and winked at me again.

“Well”, said her mom, “I imagine we have a range of musical tastes at this table. Your stepdad likes Jazz and Blues, I prefer either Classical or Folk Music, and god only knows what you young people like these days, rock and roll?”

“Let’s try this”, she said, “I’ll put in two dimes which means we have four choices. You kids can each choose one, then your stepdad and I.”

“Magnificent idea lady”, said Molly’s stepdad, which I knew meant great, I might say “super good”. I figured he was still saying those really big words because I liked him being silly. Some grownups tried to be funny or silly so kids would like them more.

He pointed his hand at Molly and asked, “Ladies first? If that’s still the protocol these days.”

Molly wrinkled her nose and then said, “Let Coop go first, but no one watch what he picks so it’ll be a surprise.” She closed her eyes and put her hands over them. Her mom and stepdad did that too.

I looked at the thing with the metal pages under the glass with names of songs and who sings them. I moved the little metal levers that stuck out above the glass part to change pages. There was a Beach Boys song, “Little Surfer Girl”, but I had never heard it. But then I saw that song “Heat Wave” I’d been hearing on CKLW. It had a “C4” next to it. I pushed the “C” button and then the “4” button.

“Okay”, I said, “I picked mine.”

Then the rest of us closed our eyes while Molly picked hers. Then Molly’s mom did hers and then her stepdad. The song that had been playing finally ended and then the “Heat Wave” song came on. It started with that clangy music part. Molly looked at me surprised.

“That’s MY song”, she said, “What happened to yours?”

“I picked that song too”, I said.

“Really?” she asked. And then she looked at me in a way I couldn’t remember her looking at me before, like maybe we really WERE the same and she never knew that. When we were little we talked about being the same, even though I was a boy and she was a girl. But then she moved away and we were in different grades in different schools, played in different parks, and we figured we had to be different, though we were still best friends.

The main older girl in the song started singing and the other girls sang back sometimes after her and sometimes before her…

Whenever I’m with him (Ooo-ooo ooo ooo, ooo)
Something inside (Inside)
Starts to burnin’ (Ooo-ooo ooo ooo, ooo)
And I’m filled with desire

The song was complicated. It had a lot of stuff in it, and each time I heard it on the radio I figured out more of what it was about. This time it was that “desire” word, which I had read in books and heard grownups say before. It was something you really really wanted.

(Ahh) Could it be the devil in me
(Ahh) Or is this the way love’s supposed to be
It’s like a heat wave
Burnin’ in my heart (It’s like a heatwave)
Can’t keep from cryin’ (It’s like a heatwave)
It’s tearing me apart

When older boys and girls got all kissyface with each other I had figured they were really happy, but “tearing me apart” didn’t sound happy.

Whenever he calls my name (Ahh)
So slow, sweet and plain (Yeah yeah yeah yeah)
I feel, yeah, yeah, well I feel that burnin’ flame (Yeah yeah yeah)
(Ahh) Has high blood pressure got a hold on me
(Ahh) Or is this the way love’s supposed to be

I guess she couldn’t figure out what “love” was. It didn’t seem to make her happy. It just made her more crazy.

After that second verse there was a music part, first all high and clangy and then low and croaky, and just the other girls were singing…

(Ooo-ooo ooo ooo, ooo, heat wave)
(Ooo-ooo ooo ooo, ooo, heat wave)

And then the main girl sang the third verse, and the other girls sounded like they were singing other stuff but I couldn’t figure out the words they were saying…

Sometimes I stare in space
Tears all over my face
I can’t explain it, don’t understand it
I ain’t never felt like this before
Now that funny feeling has me amazed
Don’t know what to do, my head’s in a haze
It’s like a heat wave (heat wave)

I looked at Molly and wondered if she wanted us to get all worried like this or just be good friends that were happy to be together. But then the main girl got really excited and crazy, and the other girls sang to the main girl that it was alright to feel like that and it was okay to have a “true romance” with the boy she liked…

Yeah yeah yeah yeah (but it’s alright girl)
Oh yeah (go ahead girl)
Yeah yeah yeah yeah (well it’s alright girl)
Oh (Ain’t nothin’ but love girl)
I feel it burnin’ (don’t pass up this chance)
Right here in my heart (it sounds like a true romance)
Don’t you know it’s like a heat wave

Finally the song finished and it was quiet for a minute.

“Well”, said Molly’s stepdad, “It’s quite notable that you both picked that song. And I quite enjoyed it, it has some Gospel, Blues and Jazz elements to it. Who’s the artist?”

“Artist?” Molly asked, wrinkling her nose, “It’s a song.”

“Right”, he said, “What I meant was who sings it?” Molly lifted her shoulders and made a face like she didn’t know, then looked at me.

I couldn’t remember either but I did knew something about it. “It’s Motown”, I said. The song started playing again, because Molly had picked it too.

“Do you two even know what the song is about?” Molly’s mom asked. We both nodded.

“But mom”, Molly said, “It’s too embarrassing to talk about!” Her mom and stepdad looked like they were starting to laugh and then her mom put her hand on her stepdad’s hand and they didn’t and just nodded. I never liked it that grownups always seemed to want to laugh at kids, I guess because they thought we were “cute” or something.

“That’s fair”, said her mom, nodding her head.

The second time we heard that “Heat Wave” song, I really liked that part where the main girl singing said “Yeah, yeah, yeah” all loud and excited. I wondered if all girls got excited about being “in love”. And I wondered if boys could feel all those things too if they really liked a girl. I mean, I said I’d pull down my pants for Mary and I had done that with Molly when we were little, but I don’t think my heart was “burning”.

After the song finished a second time, the song Molly’s mom picked came on. It was a guy’s quiet voice and there wasn’t much music, mostly his singing, with no one else singing too…

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?

I couldn’t really figure out what he was talking about, and why he was asking those questions, but I looked at Molly’s mom and she listened like it was really important.

Yes, and how many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they’re forever banned?

Sounded like he was talking about wars, but I didn’t know what the word “banned” meant.

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

And that didn’t make sense to me AT ALL, but it looked like it made sense to Molly’s mom, who looked kind of sad.

“That’s my kind of music”, she said, “A compelling young voice with a guitar, challenging capitalism and the military-industrial complex.”

“The WHAT?” asked Molly.

Her mom sighed and asked, “Ah dear Molly, where do I begin?” I figured she should begin by answering the question.

“Big business interests making money”, she said, “From building guns and tanks and bombs and forcing our young men to fight their wars for profit.”

“Your mom’s on her soapbox”, her stepdad said. That made no sense, she was sitting in a booth.

“So I am”, said her mom, “So I am. It needs to be said. We don’t want dear Cooper here to have to grow up and be caught up in the war machine.” All us boys did play soldiers in the park, and talk about war stuff a lot thinking someday we would have to fight in wars like our dad’s did. I had to think about all that some more.

Before the song ended that guy sang…

Yes, and how many deaths will it take ’til he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

The song stopped and we were all quiet. Then the song Molly’s stepdad picked came on. The music started all screechy and honky, more like that “Heat Wave” song than the “Blowing Wind” one.

“Ray Charles”, said Molly’s stepdad, “Great blues with a nice jazz twist.” The guy singing sounded like a grownup who was really sad and worried…

Yeah, my bills are all due and the baby needs shoes but I’m busted
Cotton is down to a quarter a pound but I’m busted right now
I got a cow that went dry and a hen that won’t lay
A big stack of bills that gets bigger each day
The county’s gonna haul my belongings away ’cause I’m busted right now
Oh, yes I am

I thought of mom and those “bills” she was always worrying about and figuring out how to pay.

Y’all know I’m broke
I ain’t got no money
I’m talkin’ ’bout empty pockets
Ah, forget it
Ah, to hell with it

Definitely a grownup, I thought, because he did swearing.

We ate our breakfast. Molly and I had pancakes and orange juice. The syrup tasted really good.


We got to that Saugatuck place and it was really different than Ann Arbor where we lived. It was more like that Dexter place that we drove through to go to Silver Lake. The buildings and stores were small, and there were some houses, but not very many. There were these buildings called “hotels” where people could pay money to have a room to sleep in when they were “on vacation”. Other ones were called “motels”, though I wasn’t sure what made them different, except they didn’t have any upstairs parts to the buildings.

We drove to this little house called a “cottage” that was across the street from a little lake called “Kalamazoo Lake”. The front of the cottage had three steps that went up to this screen door that didn’t have a regular door right behind it. It went into this really neat room that didn’t have regular walls or windows, but had walls made out of screens that you could see through, so it felt like you were outside when you were inside it. It had a couch that looked like it was made out of big strings all stuck together. Then on the other side of the room from the screen door was a regular door with a window in it that went into the kitchen part of the house.

The kitchen had the regular kitchen stuff and a round table with four wooden chairs. It also had three doors and each went into a different room. I ran after Molly as she ran into each one to explore. First a bathroom that had a toilet and a sink but no bathtub. It just had one of those “shower” things instead in a tiny little white place you could just stand up in and had a white plastic curtain to close it. I had seen one in one of my friends’ houses, but I’d never used one. Second, a little room with a bunk bed and a small dresser, but no other furniture. Third, another room with a bigger bed, like the one in mom and dad’s room, with those little tables on either side of the bed by where the pillows were, and another little dresser. Each of the four rooms in the regular house part had one window. It all seemed pretty neat to me, though I liked that screen room the best.

“Usually boys and girls sleep in different rooms”, said Molly’s mom, looking in the room with the bunk beds, “Usually just grownup women and men sleep in the same room or the same bed, like your stepdad and I.”

Molly looked worried about that, then said to her mom, “But Coop and I can sleep in the same room because we’re best friends, right?”

“Well”, her mom said, “Ideally you’d sleep in different rooms, but…”

“Why’s that, mom?” Molly asked, sounding a little bit mad and worried.

Her mom looked worried like she was trying to figure out what to say. “Boys and girls are supposed to sleep in separate rooms so they have privacy when they are sleeping or changing their clothes.”

“But why do boys and girls need privacy when grownups don’t?” Molly asked.

“That’s a very good question young lady”, her mom said, “And I’m struggling to give you a good answer.” She looked at Molly’s stepdad. “Larry, any words of wisdom from the university professor to clarify this quandary?”

“None”, he said, rolling his eyes, “Other than the show of force approach… ‘We’re the grownups so we make the rules’, but that’s probably not what you’re looking for here.”

“No… it’s not” she said slowly, sounding just a little bit mad, but then laughing a little through her nose and shaking her head.

“We promise we won’t do any kissyface stuff”, Molly said, shaking her head and looking at me. I had never talked to a grownup about kissyface stuff and never seen any other kid talk about it to a grownup either. I didn’t know whether to nod like I promised too, or shake my head like I wouldn’t do that stuff, but I figured if Molly was shaking her head I would too, to show that we both thought the same thing.

“Oh dear”, said her mom, blowing air out of her mouth, “This conversation is going down a rabbit hole!” She sat down in one of those chairs in the kitchen. I had no idea what she was talking about and Molly didn’t either.

“What’s that mean?” Molly asked.

“My god”, Molly’s mom said, putting her hand on her forehead, “It’s when something you are doing or talking about gets way more complicated and messy than you want it to.” I could tell Molly was thinking about that.

“How about this”, her mom said, “You and Cooper can both sleep in the room, in different beds of course, but we’ll keep your bedroom door open during the night. And when you need to change clothes, in or out of your pajamas or your bathing suits, you’ll do it in the bathroom.”

Molly wrinkled her nose, thinking, then pushed her lips together. “Do you guys get to sleep with your door closed?” Molly’s mom looked like she was about to say something but just blew out air instead.

“Your stepdad and I are married”, she said, “That gives us certain privileges. Someday when you’re married, to each other or other people, you’ll have those privileges too.”

“That seems reasonable to me”, said her stepdad.

Molly’s face was still all squished together when she looked at me and her eyes got big like she was asking me if I thought it was okay. I tilted my head, raised my shoulder and looked up at the ceiling.

“Okay”, she said, letting her face be regular again, “I guess so.”

Molly’s mom sighed and clapped her hands together once and said, “Okay, good. I’m glad we could come to an agreement.” Then she looked at both of us and smiled. “Let’s bring in all our stuff and get settled. Okay?” We both nodded, and Molly ran out of the house back to the car, with me behind her.

Molly and I brought our suitcases into the bedroom. Since we both liked the top bunk best, we decided we would take turns sleeping on the top and the bottom bunk. Molly’s mom said we were, “So grown up!”


It was interesting, that when I had to go to school, I always remembered what day of the week it was and how many school days left until it would be the weekend, so each day felt different. Monday felt bad because I had four more days of school before the weekend. By Thursday I only had one more day of school so it felt better. Sunday was pretty good, because I didn’t have to go to school, but I had to go to school the next day, so I would be worrying about that. Friday was good, because even though I had to go to school, once it was done, I had two days when I didn’t. Saturday was the best, because it was the only day I didn’t have to go to school that day, and I didn’t have to go to school the next day either.

But during the summer, I only had to remember what day it was so I knew when to go to my Little League practices on Tuesday and Thursday, and my games on Saturday. Which day of the week it was was for things that grownups were in charge of, like school and Little League. And now that it was August and Little League was over, I didn’t have to remember what day it was at all, like here in Saugatuck, which was really neat.

Molly’s mom and stepdad did say that we had to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with them each day, and we could only go across the river to where the beaches were with them. But everything else we could decide for ourselves what to do and where to go as long as we ate with them and came back to the cottage when the streetlights came on.

So Molly and I did all kinds of stuff together. We made our own map of the “town”. That’s what everybody called it because it wasn’t big enough to be a “city”. Our map was really neat and we marked down all the places we had been to – restaurants, ice cream places, book store, post office, playground. We even explored the outside of a school, looking in the windows and trying to figure out what grade each classroom was.

We found this one ice cream place we really liked called “Round the Corner”, on this little street, Mason street, and after we found it we went there every morning. It was up the Lake street that our cottage was on, which turned into Culver street which went into the town part with buildings instead of houses. You could either walk all the way to Mason street, or you could take the “short” ways by turning on Griffith or Butler street before you got to Mason. The place was kind of like the Washtenaw Dairy in Ann Arbor, which was the first ice cream place Molly and I ever went to ourselves, back when we were little.

After we found it and put it on our map we went there every morning. But we decided that each time we went we would get something different, different than the other times we went and different from each other. Then we’d eat half of what we got then trade and the other person would eat the other half. We had money because every morning at breakfast Molly’s stepdad gave Molly and me some to buy stuff. When he did he would say, “Don’t spend it all in one place”, but we could tell he was just being silly, and we spent most of it at that ice cream place.

He and Molly’s mom drove us to the beach pretty much every afternoon except for the one day that it rained. The beach was on this place on the other side of the “Kalamazoo” lake that was across the road from our cottage. It was funny, because it was just a tiny lake with a river going out each side that went into the giant “Michigan” lake on the other side of the island, which looked like the ocean to me.

They would sit on a big blanket with their hats and sunglasses on and rub this “lotion” stuff on their arms and legs. Molly and I would go out in the water. We could go pretty far before it got too deep and we’d let the waves lift us up and back down again. Molly was a better swimmer than I was and when a bigger wave came towards us she could swim towards the beach really hard and when the wave came it would kind of carry her body like she was flying on it. I tried it a couple times but I couldn’t do it. Molly said it was called “body surfing”, and I remembered that Beach Boys “Surfin USA” record with the picture of that guy on that “surfboard” thing with that giant wave behind him. I wondered if this Michigan lake ever had giant waves like that. Usually the water was okay to swim in, except that one day when it was really windy and the water got super cold.

One time I got really scared because I was out pretty far though I could still touch the bottom. But when I started to walk through the water to the beach there was a deeper part and after swimming a little, when my feet tried to stand I went completely under water instead, and forgot to do my swimming, and a wave went over me too when I tried to breath and I swallowed some water. For just a second I thought I was going to drown, like the giant lake was going to eat me up. I finally did enough swimming with my arms and kicking with my feet until my feet touched the bottom again and I had to cough for a while to get the water out from inside me before I was okay. After that, the big lake and thinking about the ocean was always scary for me. I didn’t tell Molly about it or anyone else, specially my mom and dad. I didn’t want anyone to think I was a sissy or something.

Then when we stopped playing in the water we would build sand cities on the beach with long roads between them. We had to build them down by where the sand was kind of wet so you could make houses and walls with your hands in the sand and they stuck together. Sometimes the waves would then come farther up and start washing some of the cities away that were closer to the water. Molly and I would pretend that all the people in that city would be scared and have to quickly go on the road to the next city that was still okay and build new houses for themselves there.


That one day when it rained in the afternoon, we didn’t go to the beach and Molly’s mom and stepdad went out to the store and Molly and I stayed in the house on the porch with the screen walls while it rained. It was pretty neat to watch everything outside get really wet and the cars driving down the street making a whooshing noise. Since we were on the porch we didn’t get wet but we could smell the wet air and were all dry and cozy. We sat next to each other on that “wicker” couch thing with the shiny pillows that squeaked when you sat on them. It was the first time we’d been alone together in the cottage.

“That Heat Wave song is really neat”, said Molly. We had heard it again today when we went with her mom and stepdad to this restaurant for lunch. The place had one of those “Jukebox” things, though this one was a really big one, and not a bunch of little ones at each booth. Molly and I went over to it and put a quarter in and got six songs. We chose Heat Wave four times and Surfin USA two times. The guy that worked there thought maybe the Jukebox was broken because it was playing the same song over and over.

“I like the part at the end where that main girl sings ‘yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah’ a bunch of times”, I said, “And the other girls tell her that it’s ‘alright’ and ‘go ahead’, like they’re telling her it’s okay to feel that way and do what she wants.”

“Yeah, I like that too”, said Molly, then she looked at me, thinking. “But my heart isn’t burning when I’m with you, and you’re my best friend”, she said, “Is your heart burning?”

I shook my head. I wondered if we didn’t like each other as much as the girl and boy in the song. But they probably were a lot older. “Maybe when we’re older we’ll be like that”, I said, “You know, burning.” Molly nodded, thinking again.

“What about when you kissed me on the cheek under the blanket in the car, were you burning then?” she asked.

“Hmm”, I said, thinking, “Remember you said you wanted me to do something ‘secret’. So I figured we were getting older, and older boys and girls who really like each other sometimes kiss each other when they’re in a secret place like the lilac bushes in the park, and that’s something I would only do if it was secret.”

She thought about that and said, “That makes sense, but were you burning when you kissed me?” I kind of thought maybe I was a little bit.

“You kissed me back”, I said, “Were YOU burning?”

“I don’t know”, she said, “After you did it I just really wanted to do it to you too.” I nodded.

“When grownups kiss”, she said, “They kiss each other on the lips at the same time.”

“I know”, I said, “That seems really…” I didn’t know what to say.

“Different”, she said, “I know.”

“I know”, I said.

“Should we try kissing like that?” she asked, “Pretend we want to be kissyface with each other, just to see what it’s like?” I nodded.

Her head slowly moved towards mine, so I moved my head towards her. She pushed out her lips so I pushed out mine. They finally touched. It felt strange, like we weren’t two different people anymore. We just were there with our lips touching, I didn’t dare move them around. Finally she moved away.

“Hmm”, she said, “That was weird.” I nodded.

“It WAS weird”, I said.

“But not bad weird”, she said.

“Right”, I said nodding. Then shaking my head, “Not bad weird.”

“Good weird?” she asked. I’d never thought of something being good and weird at the same time.

“Can something BE good weird?” I asked.

“I don’t know”, she said, raising her shoulders and dropping them again, “Maybe.”

“Remember when we took all our clothes off and were naked together up in my old room?” she asked, “Was THAT weird?” I shook my head.

“That was the best thing ever”, I said, before I could even think about if that was a good thing to say and that maybe she’d think I was bad for thinking that.

“I know”, she said, and her eyes got bigger and sparkled, but then got worried and thinking, “But I don’t think people are supposed to do that kind of stuff, even grownups.”

“But what about when they get kissyface an do that ‘makeout’ stuff?” I asked.

“One time I heard funny noises from my mom and dad’s room, before they got divorced”, she said, “And I sneaked open their door a little bit and spied on them and they were under the covers of the bed and dad was on top of mom and moving around. But it looked like they had their pajamas on, at least the top parts that I could see. I couldn’t figure out what they were doing, but now I wonder if they were ‘making out’.” I nodded.

“Maybe they were doing that thing in the Roy Rogers joke”, I said, “He was putting his pistol in her holster.”

“You mean his thing down there in her thing down there?” she asked, and I nodded. “Eww, yucky”, she said, shaking her head and making a face like something smelled bad.

Then I remembered what Ricky told me. “Ricky’s friend’s older brother said that that’s how you make babies. He sticks a tiny baby inside her and it grows in her stomach.” Molly made that face again.

“I don’t think that’s how it works”, she said, “If mom and dad were doing that then why didn’t they make a baby?”

“I don’t know”, I said, “Margie says that older boys and girls sometimes ‘make out’ too, even though they’re not supposed to, but I didn’t dare ask her if they did that kind of stuff that Ricky was talking about, because she might think I was really bad.”

“I know”, she said, “There’s this older girl Monica who’s MY babysitter, who said when older boys and girls ‘make out’ they go to ‘first base’ or ‘second base’, but never to ‘third base’ or do a ‘home run’, because that’s really bad unless your married. When I asked her what the different bases meant, she said if I didn’t know already, she couldn’t tell me because she could get in big trouble and not be able to babysit anymore.”

“Then why did she talk about bases at all?” I asked, “If she wouldn’t tell you what they were?”

“I don’t know”, Molly said, “Maybe she just wanted to show me how much she knew about stuff.”

“How do you ever find this stuff out?” I asked. Molly just raised and lowered her shoulder and made her eyes really big.

“I wish I knew”, she said.


It was finally time to go back home. It had been a whole week. Molly and I hadn’t spent so much time together since when she lived across the street before we had to go to regular school. We had slept at each other’s houses back then a couple of times, but not every night for a WHOLE WEEK.

I had never been away from my mom and dad and my brother for so long, but I still didn’t want to go back home. That’s because I’d be starting school again next week, fourth grade. Mom and dad would want me to go every day and I’d have a new teacher who’d be in charge of me all the time I was there, except maybe at recess. I’d see all my school friends, but Mary would still probably think I was a “pervert” and hate me. We WOULD get to play in that BIG playground across the street from the regular playground, so that might be neat. I wondered if I would have to do school FOREVER.

When we got back to my house, Molly’s mom and stepdad all talked to mom and dad in the front yard for a while. Molly came inside with me and we went down in the basement. David was down there and had all the toys set up. When he saw us he looked mad.

“It’s no fair”, he said, “I didn’t getes to go with you.”

“Your brother and I are big kids”, Molly said to him, “You’re still a little kid. We did big kid stuff.” Molly looked at me and smiled.

David was still mad and went back to playing with the toys like we weren’t even there.

Still looking at me, Molly got fierce and said, “You better not tell anybody what we did, not even your friends! Okay?” I nodded.

David turned his head again to look at us. “What did you do?” he asked.

“None of your business”, said Molly, “Maybe when you’re eight like we are we’ll tell you.”

“That will be almost forever” he said, still mad, and then pretending we weren’t there again and going back to playing. Molly laughed through her nose.

Then she looked at me all fierce and sang, “It’s like a heat wave…”

And I sang back, “Burnin’ in my heart.”

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