Tuesday, March 26, 2024

My Peeps

I went to kindergarten with a girl named Lisa.  I would sometimes go to her house after school while my mom was off running errands.  I had never hung out with a girl up 'til then, and approached this new terrain with caution - lest I catch cooties.  

We'd have milk and cookies on their formica top table in the kitchen, then head to the den where there was a color TV in a wooden console.  We'd watch syndicated shows on UHF.  I liked "Ultraman", she liked "Kimba", and we both liked "Speed Racer".   We'd draw and color - she had a pristine Crayola 64 set with a sharpener in back - so lush, compared my bucket of broken crayons at home.  We'd also watch "Winky Dink" - the first interactive cartoon where you would draw on the TV screen with crayons.  Per Winky's instruction, we drew a life saving parachute for him, unaware that you were supposed to place a special sheet of acetate over the screen first.  After her dad saw what we had done to his gorgeous Zenith,  we never saved Winky again.  

As it turned out, Lisa didn't really have cooties and I actually had fun with her - until her girl cousins would come over and want to play house.  

Late one afternoon, as Easter rolled around,  Mom called me to come downstairs.  

"You've got a visitor!"  she said.  

There, in the vestibule, stood Lisa and her mom.  

Mom sang, "Lisa's got a present for you!"

I stood cautiously, like this was some sort of trap.  Lisa shyly held out a small box of marshmallow Peeps, which I accepted as one would a ticking time bomb.  I backed away slowly, saying "Thank you." after Mom's prodding.   The two moms were fit to burst over the cuteness of this scene, their cloying grins driving the awkardness off the charts.  At last, Lisa and her mom said good-bye and mercifully left.

"What was all that?" Dad asked from the TV room.

Mom gushed, "Stevie's got a girlfriend!"  

Thus began a relentless barrage of teasing from Mom, Dad, and two merciless older brothers, that would stretch on through Mother's Day.  Mom told that story to friends, relatives, and any stranger who stood still long enough.  She reveled in laying down this golden yarn while I'd turn beet red with embarrassment.  Sure, our country was about to put men on the Moon, but in our town, the big story was "STEVIE'S GOT A GIRLFRIEND!!".

Mom would have laughed to see that, 55 years later,  I'M the one telling the story, sharing my bright yellow marshmallow shame with the World Wide Web.  

As for Lisa, that was never going to work.  I'm just not a Peeps guy.   


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