When you are young and don’t know any better and people are just people, you look for clues to make sense out of the world. Your parents and grandparents, aunts uncles, neighbors are older and bigger than you, so they must know something and you don’t know if it’s bad or good , what they do, they just do it and nobody says they can’t.
Auntie had this friend, Wilsie, she called her, short for Wilhelmina, named after a Dutch queen, of all people. She was a good tennis player and archer. She would smoke a Havana cigar from time to time and drank her bourbon neat. Auntie would smile a lot when she came around. Sometimes they would travel, usually with a “Church” group. The Women’s Missionary Guild. The Guild didn’t know about Wilsie’s cigars and bourbon. The ladies in The Guild went to Chicago or Savannah or to Cypress Gardens to watch the water skiers. There must have been a lot of heathen water skiers because they went there often.
Then one day, I was over Auntie’s house to clean her swimming pool, and learn from Auntie how to use the cotton candy machine she bought to keep my younger cousins entertained when they came on the Fourth of July. What I remember is that it was hot. Wilsie had come over, made some “lemonade” that I couldn’t have, but she and Auntie seemed to enjoy. A lot. They placated my sugar lust with a bottle of Nehi Strawberry soda pop and a Nutty Buddy they got from the ice cream man when he came by in his truck, clanging the bell like it was Doomsday,
So they were sipping the “lemonade”, sitting on the back porch, I was sitting on the top step, looking up at them. I noticed Auntie ran her foot along Wilsie’s shinbone. And Wilsie didn’t seem to mind. And then Wilsie leaned in and kissed Auntie, kinda like the way Daddy did to Mama when he thought we kids weren’t looking.
“Bobbie,” Auntie said, “How about walking down to the drug store, get some calamine lotion and buy yourself a Snickers with the change.”
Nobody had poison oak or mosquito bites, so I wondered why she needed calamine lotion, but having a Snickers all to my self, put my curiosity to sleep, at least for a while.
Walking back, it was getting hotter, and my Snickers was melting and since I wanted to save it anyway, I walked up the back steps to the kitchen, was ready to just let the screen door slam behind me, but I didn’t. When I walked into the kitchen something told me to keep quiet. I put the candy bar in the ice box and heard over the whirr of the fans, some soft, moany sort of noises. I saw that Auntie’s bedroom door was almost completely open, because it was so hot and her fan was on too. It must have been hot, ’cause she was naked and Wilsie was too. They were rubbing up against each other and moaning louder and louder, I just wondered how they were going to cool off doing that.
It was then I knew I better look away, creep on back to the porch and act like noting happened. After a while, they came out dressed and “freshened” up. And that day I learned just a little bit more how grown-ups were.