Skinny girls were an anathema in America's buxom 50s. The overt sexuality of Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, and Brigitte Bardot created a resilient male obsession for full-figured women. Their curvaceous silhouettes cursed millions of patriotic men with a taste for masturbation. Their cinematic dominance had exiled ingenues, method actresses, and slender showgirls from the box-office bonanza throughout the Eisenhower years and the early 60s promised more of the same until the breastless Twiggy was elected the fashion iconette of Swinging London and New York's Andy Warhol responded to the trans-Atlantic style phenomena by selflessly promoting an anorexic heiress Edie Sedgwick as his Factory's Girl of the Year reincarnation of his downtown Factory.
New was new and old was out.
An elegant Audrey Hepburn attained universal stardom playing a mercurially vulnerable Holly Golightly in the film version of Truman Capote's BREAKFAST AT TIFFANYS, Julie Chrystie symbolized sleek beauty in DARLING, and shooting up a bank regained it's sexuality with the blonde goddess Faye Dunaway in BONNIE AND CLYDE.
Thin was in and Frank Sinatra mainstreamed the trend with marriage to the strikingly boyish Mia Farrow. I resisted the flow by remaining true to my hometown most beautiful cheerleader. We had met at a CYO dance. Julie Stanton attended the town high school and I went to a Catholic all-boys high school. The stacked seventeen year-old brunette dragged me to church every Sunday. My attendance was considered mandatory by my parents. They had no inkling that I was an atheist.
The 60s were the 60s only in New York and California. Boston's devotion to religion was based on another century during which heretics had been burned at the stake. Declaring my lack of faith would have incurred the current version of that awful punishment.
Worst would have Julie's shunning me. She read good books, danced like a Shindig go-go girl, and was built more like a Playboy centerfold than a Vogue model. Her divorced mother dated a foreign-born musician and their evenings outlasted well past midnight. Julie and I had the run of the house for hours. Our relationship was the envy of our respective classmates.
That summer we listened to the Velvet Underground and Boston's own Ultimate Spinach on the living room couch. Our making out was well advanced beyond Second Base, but not close to Third Base. Sex without stripping naked was an physical impossibility.
I was committed for the duration. Teenage lungs were built for endurance. We rarely broke surface for air. Her hands explored my body without fear. I offered no resistance to her limited exploration, like a dog in heat. Something more had to happen and one warm April night Julie spread her legs as an invitation to another level. I had no idea how to proceed.
"Let me show you." Julie led my hand between her thighs. A primeval instinct guided my caresses. Her beatified sigh signaled my success in helping her attain bliss. A Neanderthal gene demanded my humping her thigh like a greyhound. I fought off the urge, thinking 'ladies first'.
After I bought her over the edge for the tenth time, my finger dipped below her rosebud. Julie pushed my body off hers and said the most devastating words that a young man could hear from his girlfriend.
"I'm saving it for my wedding night."
"Your wedding night?"
I was no Albert de Salvo. No meant no, unless a girl's date was the Boston Strangler.
"A church wedding means a lot to me." She loved Jesus.
This winter she had entered our names for a weekend retreat dedicated to inspiring young people to seek a life serving God. My best friend rescued my soul from eternal salvation by playing Led Zeppelin's first LP on a portable stereo. I packed my bag for an early departure. Several other boys joined my exodus. Julie was disappointed by my defection. She had been enraptured by a vision of her as a nun and me as a priest. One listen to GOOD TIMES BAD TIMES cost Julie her avocation. She had yet to forgive for that introduction to apostasy.
"Plenty of non-virgins get married in churches." Her plans were to get married after the 3rd year of college. 1973 was four years away from 1969. I was good at math. Our wedding bells were 1460 days away in the future. Tonight's frustration would be repeated on hundreds of other occasions
"I won't be one of them." Julie slipped off the couch and re-arranged her clothing to regain the illusion of unsullied innocence. The blush of a defended virginity suited her skin color.
"I respect your wish." I stuck my hands in my pockets. They trembled with caveman desire.
"And that's why I love you." She kissed me with bruised lips and the many nights I walked the three miles to my parents' house in a maelstrom of untapped lust. I was doomed by circumstances beyond my control. Our parish priest extolled the purity of my future bride. He had never seen the quiver of her bare breasts. My parents considered the athletic cheerleader their 3rd daughter. She prayed to Sweet Jesus in a state of passion. Our friends called us Mr. And Mrs. I didn't think it funny, mostly because I loved Julie. She would make some man the ideal wife.
That night I went to sleep a free man.
In the morning I rode the T into Boston for my weekly visit to Skippy White's in Cambridge. I flipped through the LPs by alphabet starting with A . My fingers stopped shuffling in the Bs. I picked up Blind Faith's debut release on Atco. Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker of Cream had joined with Stevie Winwood of Traffic and the bassist Ric Gresch from Family to form rock's first supergroup. I didn't bother to look at the list of songs on the back, for I had suffered a mesmerized demi-coma upon seeing the album's front cover.
A simple glance at the bare-breasted nymphette with the wavy blonde hair converted my preference from Jayne Mansfield to Mia Farrow. The sleek steel model airplane in the angel's hands translated into my flesh. I had to have her, but this obsession didn't blind me to reality. She was in England and I stood in a record store outside of Harvard Square. I was trading one impossibility for another.
I paid the long-haired clerk with ten-dollar bill. The staff at Skippy White's breathed music as a religion and every genre of rock flowed in their veins. The clerk handed over my change and hesitated before putting the record into the store's paper bag.
"How old are you, kid?"
"17." None of the Combat Zone XXX shops checked my age. "Is there a problem?
"Not really, just that some do-gooders complained about the nudity."
"Seems harmless to me." Other than turning around my world.
"She is a little young. 12 years old."
"My youngest sister is 12." We had bathed together as children. 6 kids from 10 to 2 splashing in a tub. It was like the Garden of Eden.
"Your sister looked like this girl."
"She has dark hair." I studied the photo with an unbiased eye. My younger sister was a beauty, but I told the hippie clerk, "My sister is a Catholic schoolgirl."
"Nothing wrong with uniforms on a girl." He smiled with a sinister grin and tapped the flat belly of the girl in the photo. "Don't worry, I'm into girls my age. Not like this 12 year-old Lolita."
"She have a name?"
"Not that I know of. The band wanted a girl full of youth. Someone sported her sister on the Tube. That's what they call the T in London. She was dressed like your sister. A schoolgirl. 14. He asked if she wanted to be on an album cover for Eric Clapton. Supposedly she asked if it required nudity."
"Does Clapton like young girls?" Slowhand was a problem. He had stolen George Harrison's wife. No woman was safe around him.
"Who doesn't." The clerk slipped the record into the bag. "Don't let your mother see this. Sammy doesn't like trouble."
"So this isn't the 14 year-old schoolgirl?"
"Aren't you listening?" The hippie clerk was losing in peace and love feeling. "The sister wasn't home, so they used the young sister. The record company was scared about e controversy, but Clapton is God and the girl got 40 pounds."
"Which is how much?" I had about 500 dollars in my college savings.
"Maybe a hundred dollars. Why? You thinking about flying over to London to meet her."
"I already have a girlfriend." School opened in less than 3 weeks. Julie was good to me. She had her heart set on her being named Prom Queen in the Spring. I could last until then and thanked the clerk for his help.
"No sweat. Have a good listen."
I brought the record home and hid it under my mattress. It stayed there for several months. I only looked at it on special occasion. Each time I thought about Frank Sinatra wi Mia Farrow. A old man with a woman that young was enough to turn my stomach. I remained true to Julie until the Spring and then I did something stupid.
I refused her invitation to the Senior Prom. My older brother thought that I was an asshole. My parents called Julie's mother to apologize for my behavior. Julie was escorted to the prom by the quarterback. They were named King and Queen, A month later I heard that she was pregnant with his baby. They had a church wedding.
I kept my distance and finally opened the Blind Faith LP.
It was good, but nothing special.
The special was the girl and she changed my life.
A miracle is no small thing.
Not like that girl's breasts.
They were non-existent and existential at the same time.
Neither here nor there.
Lost in eternity and found in Blind Faith.