First Love, First Job (1960s)

Get a Job 

When I was a senior in High School I started to date. In fact, I only seriously dated one girl, M., a buxom blond who was about 1 ½” taller than I was and who was always locked in a day to day battle with her weight. We were attracted to each other, getting along well because we were both intelligent, were both in the National Honor Society and both worked together on the High School Yearbook.

She and her mother lived alone, as her mother had been divorced. That by itself was something of a rarity, because in the 1960s nobody but Hollywood film stars  divorced, with divorce denoting significant social stigma for ordinary citizens. In retrospect then, Hollywood did not suffer stigmata all and actually set the trend for disposable marriages.

In any event, when I would go to their apartment to pick her up, I always got the idea that I her mother didn’t like me very much as she repeatedly hinted that her daughter should be with a much larger man. She started every conversation by pointing out the difference in our respective heights and sizes, as though embarrassed by her daughter being seen with me. She would then usually go on to make a comment about her ex-husband’s robust build, only to finish up by describing herself and her daughter just being “big boned.”

This great old wives tale, which I heard repeatedly in clinical practice, has more do with an excuse for largesse than with scientific anthropology.

Or maybe there really are remnants of the Cro-Magnon gene floating around in the human chromosome pool which neither most genetic scientists nor I seem to be acutely aware of. Anyway being “big boned”, makes people feel better about their weight problems and travels with the fifty other excuses to be offered for plain old-fashioned unfortunate genetics, or more likely for overeating or gluttony.

  • Your weight is still up. You know this is bad for your health
  • That’s because it’s Thanksgiving, it’s Christmas, it’s New Years, it’s Valentines, it’s vacation, it’s summer barbeque, it’s depression, it’s my low sugar, it’s loneliness, it’s the annoying kids, we went on a cruise, it’s something, it’s everything, it’s nothing. And after all I’m big boned too, so calories just stick to me like glue.

Or perhaps on the absolutely abstruse, mundanely vulgar level, in a bizarre attempt at being protective on her daughter’s behalf, M’s mother was just being proactive. Maybe she was simply thinking in her mind that a man with petit hands and petit feet might also be one day be “small boning” her daughter with a relatively diminutive and rather disappointing petit genital meat.

Whatever the case, the bottom line was that like an innocent and totally mother dependent newborn duckling, I had irrevocably and forever become imprinted on the terry cloth human model known as the tall, sexy, busty blond.

meredith

(She slouched and I wore lifts)

 

Most of the time, our dating was innocent and it was not until late in our senior school year that we mutually lost our virginity. It was an awkward fumbling tangle of clothes and limbs in the back seat of a car and something that did not in any way go down the way my black friends suggested it should in their original tutorial scenarios. It was also something that did not quite meet any preconceived romantic illusion I may have had in my mind about what actually was going on; and soon to be compounded by overwhelming feelings of guilt, fear of an unwanted pregnancy, and then followed up in a grand finale of maudlin mutual vows of eternal love and commitment.

Months before this happened we were in the habit of going to a local soda fountain with two other couples, spending any free after school time talking and drinking egg creams, but little knowing then how the adjective describing this particular drink would soon come back to haunt me.

These forays to the soda fountain would be on the days there were no other club or athletic activities and came shortly after I had received my junior driver’s license: a.k.a. Provisional Permission Slip for Back-seat Sex.

I was in the habit of asking my mother for five dollars or so several days a week which at first she seemed brightly nonchalant about forking over.This went on for a short while until one day when I was racing out of the house to meet my friends, as I waylaid my mother for the usual milk money, she abruptly turned to me and simply stated; “NO.”

I said to her: “and what do you mean by NO, to which she replied once again with the tiresome clarification about just what part of NO don’t you understand?

She went on to say that from that day forward the answer would always be NO, and that it was about time I stopped frittering away both my time and her money.

This was followed by the diatribe about my not really knowing the real value of money and that although she and my father fully intended to pay for my college education, I would be hereafter forever be personally responsible for any money needed for personal and/or recreational activities. She told me to:

  • Get a job.

When I answered: “Just how am I supposed to do that,” she declined to answer other that to say I was smart enough to figure it out for myself. Lacking any sympathy whatsoever on the subject by also deflecting any further attempts to help me pursue her demand, I was left on my own to navigate the world of the newly unemployed welfare recipient.

Getting a part time job while still having to study, play sports and go on dates was no small task to accomplish. Unlike my first two casual jobs at clamming or caddying it was beginning to look like this next one had the potential of being longer term and requiring some added personal responsibility. I perused the newspapers or the school bulletin boards but all to no avail, just about to lose all hope, when my father came home one day to say he had heard of a local egg farmer who was looking for some help.

It was not actually a farm, but the man had a retail egg delivery business in which he would buy fresh eggs in raw bulk from upstate poultry farms, then re-sort them, candle them, grade them and finally box them by the dozen for a widely dispersed, personally delivered home route. He had established a large clientele of people who did not trust supermarket eggs and who wanted their eggs put straight on their doorsteps, freshly sourced straight from the farm chicken itself.

Basically, this was a home business whose only overhead was a small cobweb decorated cold-cellar bunker, located on the property, which contained an egg candle, egg boxes, a tin can for bulk wastage, then only a car or a truck for pick up and delivery. It was often the case that we would even recycle the egg boxes if they were not too dirty or had too much old dried yolk on them, just like recycled milk bottles, but without the sanitizing. It didn’t matter. The egg is safe inside its thin little shell and is impervious to germs unless it is cracked.

My job was to take a bulk case of unsorted eggs, put them in front of a candle to check for quality, cracks, condition of the air cell, blood spots, meat spots or embryos, and then after being sure about their size being correct, to then find the appropriate dozen box and fill it up. I would then make a second large bulk case containing 24 dozen boxes, which was the final product. The pay was by piecework at 70 cents per case, such that after I could proficiently roll four eggs at a time in front of the light, I could handle four cases an hour for a rate of $2.80 per hour.

That was not really bad at the time because I was paid in “cash-no-tax.”

The only time I slowed down was when I broke my wrist in gym and had to wear a cast for six weeks. This juggling trick resulted in a small loss of inventory as well as income for both me as well as the farmer.

My mother was right. I was beginning to make money for myself and was learning what it meant that there really is no “money-tree” out there. I was saving for college expenses but still had some left over for dates and egg creams; the great irony of this being that these drinks do not even contain eggs at all. But I was certainly drinking fewer and fewer as I really began to count my pennies.

Egg candling is an art unto itself, and a great responsibility, as the name of the game is quality. No customer would ever want to crack one open only to see a big brown or red blotch on the yolk or, worse case scenario, wind up frying a very tiny embryonic chicken. Beside the other conditions to look for, one must also keep the sizing and grading in mind, as the six size ranges in eggs pretty much plays out the same way as the wrestling weight classes, ranging all the way from Peewee to Jumbo. Every once in a while a Jumbo will have a double yolk, which then commands a premium price, and much gluttonous hysterical clamoring on the part of the customers when they hear of the sparse availability. In the case of double yolk eggs: “Me first” prevails.

The yolks also have to be graded in a range in the three classes: AA, A, and B, a system predicated on how compact the both the egg and its yolk will be when plopped on a pan.

Grade B eggs will flatten out listlessly while a grade AA will sit up and practically beg. This is all linked to freshness, which forces the B category down a pathway that ended at the commercial slaughterhouse known as the “local bakery.” Because bakeries only go by egg weight in their recipes, all these rejected eggs were then broken and dumped into a large refrigerated can, which once full of disgusting egg-soup slop, was then delivered to the bakery shop where they finally made their way into today’s fresh bread or Danish pastries.

Occasionally I would have to stick my hand in this mess to fish out some stray unwanted shells and although the name of the bakery-shop will remain anonymous, it wouldn’t make any difference anyway, as this was an industry-wide way of doing business. Beside that, the Salmonella germ, E. Coli and the Hepatitis Virus are usually killed by heat.

The job had some interesting side benefits too. First of all, the egg house was so cold it forced me to become acclimated. To this day I hate excessive heat in the house during winter, which keeps the heating bill down.

It also served as a great venue for ventilating personal frustrations as anyone I had taken issue with on that particular day, such as a mean spirited teacher or the gym coach, could be made into a Voodoo egg that I could then take outside to throw against a tree. With the little egg persona splattering on the tree bark, I would accompany the act with an appropriate curse that would wish my enemy the worst. This insanity was probably caused by the working conditions. It also and gave me great appreciation later in life for people who have to work in sensory deprived environments like corporate cubicles as an explanation for why they sometimes suddenly snap and go postal.

But the best part of the job was meeting the farmer’s daughter, D. and then perhaps two years or so after  developing a friendship, the friendship blossomed into a dating relationship.

By that time I was already in College with M. who had rather romantically decided to go to the same school with me so that we could be together “forever and ever.”  But she soon outgrew me as she went on to the greener pastures of the more sophisticated older upper class Fraternity “men.” We had a parting of the spirit when she got into a Sorority and I became an independent Hippie; at which time D. had no problem stepping into her vacated shoes.

D. was a wonderful woman of both inner and outer beauty, but I was too young at that time to know its value. I can still remember the day she walked out after giving me her final ultimatum, then went on to marry someone else.

She told me that true love is a rare gift, that I would be lucky to ever find a woman who loved me as much as she did and gave me one last chance to change my min before she left for good. I told her I wasn’t ready for marriage and turned her down. She said I was making a mistake. As it turned out, she may have been right, because I heard form her sister that she is still happily married after nearly forty years.

 

D 3

 

She was only sixteen

Only sixteen

Oh, but I loved her so, oh.

But she was too young

To fall in love

And I was too young to know. 

(Sam Cooke)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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