8 year-old John Tinseth had seen pictures of a woman’s breasts before, but this was his first view further south, and he wasn’t sure what he saw was all that great.
The naked woman in the chocolate milk carton looked up at me from between my legs. Shoulder length brown hair bounced off her shoulders in perky flips. Dark eyes lined in powder blue eye liner matched the neglige laying at her knees. Long finger nails lacquered in silver polish and one hand with spread fingers across, “Gross!” said Victor, a fellow 4th grader at St Thomas More Catholic School.
Naked pictures of women were passed around in milk cartons under the table at lunch. Sister Jane and Sister Rose patrolled the boy-girl segregated tables in what was a lunch room/auditorium/ gym. Sister Rose, elderly and sweet, was the soft touch but Sister Jane, the school principal, was as mean as her habit. On a very hot day, I saw her without the coif and black veil. Her short shock of black hair reminds me of ’80s punk but, it was 1966 and another shock of hair had my attention.
“That’s disgusting,” I told Victor. “I mean…is that for real?” I had seen pictures of breasts before but this was the first look south and it just didn’t seem possible and certainly not natural. Alan Fox, in hipster black framed glasses too large for his face, leans toward me from across the lunch table, “You know those Hell’s Angel guys…? I heard they actually… lick it.” A chorus of disgust rises from what looks like a convention of nine year old photo copier salesmen in short sleeve white shirts and navy clip on ties. The camaraderie of shared nausea momentarily lowers our vigilance as I shake my head wildly while mouthing, “Nooooo Waaaayyyyy” and only stop when I feel an unfriendly hand on my shoulder.
My IBM comrades bury heads into lunch trays of fish sticks and mashed potatoes. The hand squeezes. I hunch my shoulders and wince, more out of theatrics than pain—my father did the same pinch but his was far more painful thanks to a childhood injury. He lost the feeling in his right hand and could put cigarettes out on his palm and not feel a thing.
It was Sister Jane… Why God? Why couldn’t it have been Sister Rose? Sister Jane reaches between my legs and removes the milk carton and then me from the lunch table. Actually, I remember it as more of a jerk. If there was any punishment, I don’t remember it and while Sister Jane and I would continue to have future clashes, this one, at least for me, is the most memorable. I’ll always wonder how many of us at that lunch table became Hell’s Angels.
Also read My First Playboy by John Tinseth
Photo— mauren veras/Flickr