My name is Twonkette McGillicuddy. I’m telling my story. I don’t need an alias. I’m telling the truth.
I can be rebellious. Had to be. On account of the way I was born—a white middle child, in a middle class home, in the middle of suburbia, in the middle of the 1960s. But wait, it gets worse….
A Strange Question
I received a visit from a California Highway Patrol Officer yesterday. He asked me the weirdest question I have ever been asked in my life—next to the time when I was a freshman in high school and my phys ed teacher hauled me into her office and asked me: “Was that your baby we found in the girls bathroom after the Friday night dance?”
My adolescent brain raced. I calculated:
1. Never went to the dance. Dances make me nervous. Nervous conditions cause skin problems. I’d rather have clear skin than dancing skills.
2. Even though I don’t go to dances, I know it takes two to tango. And I don’t tango.
I added 1 and 2 together and came up with 3: “You mean a real baby?”
“Of course a real baby!” Miss Honeycutt snorted. “You’re a smart girl. You know how babies are made, don’t you?”
The brain pondered again.
I’m smart but my knowledge of baby-making was theoretical—not practical. Was there something I didn’t know about? Were these questions really a pop quiz I hadn’t studied for?
I tried to remember if I had used my Ban roll-on that morning—which would not be a good thing if I hadn’t. My brother had been hogging the bathroom. (I could never figure out what took him so long in there—until much later, that is.)
“Well, Mc—Gill—i—cud—dy…” She pro—nounced my name weirdly. Cuz Ol’ Honeycutt was a weirdo. My pals and I called her ‘HoneyNut.’ When she wore her gym shorts too tight (often), we called her ‘Miss HoneyButt’ —as in how can you miss that butt there is such a humongous honey pot back there even Pooh couldn’t get his face caught in it.
“…is that baby yours?!”
My head snapped to. I straightened my shoulders. I glared at HoneyNut like Clint Eastwood in the cemetery scene from “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”
“NO!” I said with a tone I hoped had conveyed disgust and outrage.
“Didn’t think so,” HoneySmut said. “You don’t look like a mother.”
I wondered how many fourteen-year-old mothers HoneyPutz had seen.
With a black Magic-Marker (covered in chew marks) she crossed my name off a list she had fastened to a clipboard.
“Get outta here, McGillicuddy. And send in Patsy.”
Okey-dokey, I thought, opening the door. No need to mention to HoneyMutt that Patsy’s mom was a germ freak like Howard Hughes and she didn’t allow Patsy to use public restrooms. She’d find out soon enough.
Everyone knew about the Dingles bathroom rule. (No drinking fountains either.) It’s why they never took family vacations. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.
My mom stopped planning summer vacations after we three kids refused to get in the car with her when we saw suitcases. Many times we ended up in the middle of nowhere, locked inside a Pontiac Bonneville Safari station wagon (called creative babysitting back then)—while the queen mum sat in a dark cool bar, wetting her whistle as she called it.
One time it was the Mojave Desert. We managed to roll down the windows, crawl out, and run around exploring the desert until we got so thirsty we slumped back to the car and fell asleep. We figured no need to drive hundreds of miles to nap. So no more ‘safaris.’
My mom was not like Patsy’s mom. She wouldn’t have cared if we pulled down our pants and peed in the sand. Which my brother and I did. Our sister wouldn’t—too prissy. She had to hold it in until we made it to a regular toilet. Boy did she squirm in the back seat!
A crowd of girls milled around outside HoneyGut’s office. I told Patsy she was next. She looked scared. She always looked a little scared. Maybe it was the constant fear of germs.
I winked at her. “No biggee,” I said.
Neither Miss Honeycutt nor the school principal nor the janitor, nurse, police or anyone else was ever able to determine whose baby it was. A rumor went around that one of the teachers adopted it—a little girl. I hoped she had a wonderful life—inversely proportional to how she was born.
The baby-in-the-trash-receptacle story became part of our school lore. But by the time I graduated it had already started to fade away. Kids cared more about beating Grove, where the cool parties were, who was going steady with whom.
The incident left a lasting impression on me. To this day I can never leave a bathroom without first looking in the trash can.