Tuesday, March 4, 2008

My Hall of Shame: Part Deux (or is it trois?)

We've all had embarassing moments and some readers may be familiar with My Hall of Shame post. The other day, I saw something that triggered this memory. In the summer between 9th and 10th grade, I worked on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, NJ. I loved my job as a waitress at one of the most popular eateries, which was Taylor Pork Roll. Located between Steel Pier and the Amusement Pier, it was my first 'real job' and one at which I truly excelled. I remember telling fascinated visitors exactly how pork roll was made (I had memorized the sign in the store). At least I think they were fascinated. Most of them spoke English, and all of them left tips.
I remember feeling so grown up taking the bus from Somers Point into work every day. I smoked cigarettes in the back with the cool kids, as we were all riding to our jobs Down The Shore. It was the days before the casinos had arrived, after the glory years of the Boardwalk itself, and Atlantic City had acquired a somewhat seedy reputation. But it was the old days still, and Atlantic City was exciting to me. The Diving Horses on the Steel Pier were still an attraction but the Marine Ballroom (where I competed as a squaredancer in 7th grade) had burned down the year before.
I made a lot of friends that summer and I'd walk to visit them on my breaks. One friend worked the rides at the Amusement Pier, others worked in the restaurant business, some were lifeguards and a couple of new girlfriends worked at shops along the way. It was great. Heck, I was even dating the Planters Peanut Man (who was really just a boy in a peanut suit that I'd taken a liking to). Don't judge me. He was cute.
I just felt so grown up being in high school and spending the entire day on my own at work. Songs about The Shore always bring back memories of the two summers I worked on the Boardalk in Atlantic City.
But the title of this story should really be My Mother's Hall of Shame, because that's what it truly is.
In late August of that year, I got very sick at work. My father had to drive to the city to come collect me. My stomach was killing me, it was really acute and I ended up quietly suffering through a horrible night. I think around 3 in the morning, my mother checked on me and ended up calling the hospital, where she worked as a telephone operator, and explained my symptoms and they said to bring me in right away.
Before we go any further, I just want to say that my parents, like everyone at that time, were very patriotic people. Having lived through two wars, and gone through the Great Depression, well it was just a different era. Then the 70's came, and all hell broke loose. Young people were wearing (gasp) things with the image of the AMERICAN FLAG on them. My mother was appalled. She thought it was just so rude and well, disrespectful. I just want to point this fact out. You'll need to remember it later.
We arrived early in the morning at the emergency room at Shore Memorial Hospital, and because she worked there, my mom was permitted to come in with me. I gingerly climbed onto an examination table and my shorts were pulled down and little and my top was pulled up, and one of the nurses commented on my cute underpants. Oh yeah, I'd forgotten I'd worn that pair, I remember thinking. I could see my mother talking to one of the nurses over in the corner of the room. A doctor asked me if it hurt when he pushed in places, and as he gently pushed on my right side, I screamed. God, did that hurt! And my mother came running, and to her horror, she saw that I was wearing bikini underpants with our nation's stars and stripes emblazoned all over them. "Oh, for the love of God, Katy!" she said, "Where in Heavens Name did you get those underpants?"
Now it was bad enough wearing the flag on your outer garments, but one look at this article of clothing, well it set my mother off. She didn't say anything else, but I could tell that she thought I was pretty tacky wearing it. But all I remember feeling was really sick, and now felt like crying because I had embarassed her in front of her co-workers. Luckily, the nurses came to my aid and quickly ushered my mother from the room, telling her I needed emergency surgery. I'd been diagnosed with acute appendicitis. I came out of the whole thing just fine, in the end, and to my mother's chagrin, was known during my stay at the hospital as the girl with the flag underwear, you know, CHARLOTTE'S DAUGHTER.
I liked to think of myself as the girl with the itsy bitsy teeny weeny red, white and blue bikini. Yeah, that was me. And my mother wasn't really that upset. I mean, it was just a pair of underpants.
I was just sorry that I had embarassed her.


Jo said...

What a wonderful story! Where did you get the bikini panties with the stars and stripes on them? I remember my mother always used to tell me to be sure my underwear was clean,"just in case I got hit by a car or something". Well, of course!

I just can't imagine bikini panties with the Canadian flag on them, but I'm sure they do exist - somewhere.

Country Girl said...

My mother told me the same thing! Little did I know she'd actually be in the same room when doctors and nurses were seeing my underpants.

Probably bought them at one of the trendy little shops in Atlantic City. I just don't remember anymore. They were a favorite of mine, though!

Anonymous said...

Why in the H#*&& would you have to make sure your underpants were clean, if you were in a major accident, unconcious, broken bones, internal bleeding...do you think your underpants are going to be a concern. I always hated that expression.

I remember you going to the hospital Kate and a small tinkling in the back of my brain about the underware. I'm surprised you turned out as wonderful as you did with the (pardon the expression), Crap you had to deal with.

Love Fave Babe

Oh, P.S. I never liked the planters peanut guy and I just ordered a large chunk of Taylor Pork Roll from my favorite and only place you can get a decent cheesesteak around here, called Philly's Best. They import everything, including the rolls from Philly and man it is nummy. How wierd that you would tell this story today of all days.

Love ya

Anonymous said...

I remember chasing that goofy mr. peanut (boy) that you liked down the boardwalk. Me and my friends would kick him and then run like heck. It was funny to turn and watch this peanut chasing us. He couldn't run very fast with that suit on. I remember him taking the bus over to somers point to see you one day and mom (and you and I) drove him back to the bus stop. I don't remember those panties though but I'm sure I blocked alot from our childhood.


Mary said...

OMG, my mother always said the same thing about having clean underwear!

Taylor ham, eh? Would you believe I never had it till I got married? My kids would eat it every day if I let them...

Great story, Kate!

Laura B. said...

Truly an awesome story. One of the things that kept me from getting into too much trouble as a kid was that I was absolutely terrified of disappointing or embarrassing my parents. It's amazing how much more that impacts you than to be yelled at or spanked.

brneyedgal967 said...

I don't know what's funnier - you in your patriotic undies or a visual of your seestah chasing a planter's peanut boy down the boardwalk. Bwahahaha

Anonymous said...

brneyedgal, it was REALLY FUNNY to see that poor kid in the peanut suit waddle down the boardwalk after us. This was not just a cloth suit either, well, the tights were, but the rest was a hard shelled costume that was pretty tall and it had a screen in it where he could (sort of) see out of. He probably couldn't see his feet though. It was a very ungainly outfit and I was glad NOT to have a job where I had to wear a suit like that!!


Country Girl said...

Judy, I can't believe you did that. This is the first I've heard of it. How could you be so mean? You knew he couldn't run in that costume! Now I'm going to think of this every time I see a jar of Planter's peanuts.


Anonymous said...

I did a lot of things not worth bragging about but hey, he was an easy mark and I can't remember but he might've been a wise guy so.............the devil made me do it, what can I say?
coulda been worse, I coulda hid like my panties or somethin from Mom, egad!!

Anonymous said...

ROFLOLOLOL Loved the story!!!