I’ll be honest. The picture I’ve chosen for this has nothing to do with the story itself. But it is one of the few scanned shots I have of my Momma and I at roughly the age we were when these events unfolded. When I look at it, I am surprised I still have a head full of healthy hair. Those 1980-something years of Aquanet should have caused it to harden and turn to stone, for sure.
In addition to Aquanet, the 80’s were my time (and perhaps yours too, if we’re close in age) for parachute pants, high-top Nikes, skin-tight Jordache, shirts with poofy sleeves, rock band t-shirts, and warming my black eyeliner with a lighter before applying it, so I’d have a line of black goo under each eye like Joan Jett.
They were also a time for Porky’s.
Do you remember those movies? Who can forget Mz. Ballbreaker lining the boys up to identify the tallywacker that poked its way through the hole in the women’s room wall? Or poor Pee-Wee’s valiant efforts to get laid? For us 80’s kids, it was our American Pie.
Then of course, there was the Woogie-Boogie scene. One of the guys is dressed up like a zombie and hanging out in the cemetary, sent there to scare the hell out of someone (the exact storyline has slipped away – I guess I need to watch Porky’s again). But he gets a little drunk waiting around for whoever it is he’s supposed to scare, and ends up just popping up out of his fake grave and bopping around like an idiot, chanting “Woogie-boogie, Woogie-boogie, Woogie-boogie!” and passing back out every now and then. He ends up woogie-boogying a cop.
When it becomes clear that his scare tactics aren’t working so well with the policeman, he turns it into a confused question.
One my best girlfriends lived across the street from me, and was a year younger. Her older brother was a year my senior, and became a lifelong friend as well. During our teenage years, he was the one who kept me laughing until my sides ached.
One of his antics was to stroll up into my front yard and “Woogie-boogie” in the window until I came outside. He and another friend of ours would occasionally moon me in the window too, but that’s another story.
Between my obsession with the movie and my woogying friend, Momma caught on to the craze. How could she not?
The summer I was 15 or 16, we went to the beach for a week. We stayed in a gorgeous bayside condominium. I brought along a girlfriend, who just happened to be she of the woogie-boogying older brother. We spent a wonderful week lying in the sun, swimming in the surf, walking on the beach, going to the arcades and amusement parks, and stuffing ourselves on boardwalk food. I can still smell the french fries doused in vinegar.
The week passed way too quickly, and before we knew it the morning we were to pack up and go home had rolled around. I was seriously bummed. With sullen faces, my girlfriend and I helped to pack up the condo and lug everything down to our truck.
Momma never wanted to leave the beach any more than I did. I get my love of the ocean from her. Whether through example or genetics, like her I am never more at peace than when I’m sitting in a chair by the surf, letting waves lap my toes and sun warm my face. Mom was working then, and so I’m sure she woke up that morning dreading the return to the drudgery and thinking about all the laundry she’d have to do when we got home from our weeklong adventure. She surely understood our glum faces.
So maybe she was trying to cheer us up when she did what she did.
We were all hustling and bustling, packing and carrying things downstairs and getting last glimpses of the gorgeous bayview from our balcony. We lost track of each other’s whereabouts. For some reason, Mom assumed that my friend and I were in our bedroom gathering up the last of our things. Our bedroom had a window with a not-so-glam view of the parking lot. On one of her return trips from somewhere, Momma went to the window, peered in, made a freaky zombie-like face, and let it loose.
Someone turned around and looked at her, shock on her face. It was not me or my friend. Momma had misjudged where she was by doorway or two, and was standing outside the wrong condo unit. Instead of us, she had woogied a lady old enough to be her own momma. Luckily, she had a healthy heart, and didn’t pass out at the sight of some strange woman woogying in her bedroom window.
How we laughed until tears ran down our faces! I don’t recall exactly what happened after that. No, we didn’t go apologize to the woogied woman. Better to let her have a tale to tell her own family. These are the stories that become legend. But we were in high spirits all the way home, a lot less bummed about the vacation coming to an end. I think Mom might have been just a wee bit glad it was our departure day, actually. Running into that lady in the parking lot or the condo hallway would have been … interesting.
When you’ve just made a memory like that, how can you be glum?
Note: I wanted to post this for my mom’s birthday, which was June 4th. I’m a day late, and I’m always a dollar short. But she’s at the beach (ironic, huh) and not online much this weekend, so she wouldn’t have read it on her birthday anyway. Hope she’s not woogie-boogying anyone without me.