Look at That!

Thanks to Bruce Atchison for inspiring this post. On his blog a couple of weeks ago, he wrote about his favorite novelty songs and included links to videos containing these songs. I thought of my favorite novelty song and the memories associated with it.

The year was 1974. I was twelve years old, and my brother Andy was five. Every morning, we heard on the radio’s police report about men being arrested for running around town naked late at night. We found this intriguing and did some streaking of our own in the house.

Andy ran around nude in the yard, but I didn’t want to go that far. At that time, Ray Stevens “The Streak” was popular. I don’t know if the fad inspired the song or vise versa, but we often yelled, “Don’t look, Ethel!” as we tore through the living room, showing off our physiques.

            At about the same time, Andy developed an interest in law enforcement as a career. One night, a policeman appeared at our door, much to Andy’s delight. Mother was teaching English at the college, and the cop was one of her students. Believe it or not, his name was William Henry Harrison. He missed her class that day because of work and stopped by to find out what the assignment was for the next class. After his first visit, he came by frequently.

            One night when he came, I was in my room, getting ready to take a bath. For some reason, I didn’t have a bathrobe. To get to the bathroom, I had to cross the living room where Officer Harrison sat in uniform with gun and handcuffs ready. In the bathroom, warm water was filling the tub. If it overflowed, so be it. I wasn’t about to be mentioned on the radio as having been arrested for indecent exposure.

            Fortunately, he didn’t stay long. Before he left, he gave Andy a fake badge. The minute the policeman was out the door, I dashed across the living room in the buff. “Freeze!” yelled Andy, eager to make his first arrest now that he had an official badge. Luckily, Mother intervened, and I made it to the bathroom without ending up in the slammer.

            As we grew older, we lost interest in streaking until my senior year in high school. One of Mother’s duties at the college was to call out the names of each graduate, as diplomas were distributed. That year, a group of students dashed across the stage during the ceremony, wearing nothing but sacks over their heads. Although Andy and I weren’t there, our interest in this activity was piqued. I considered organizing a similar activity during my graduation, but when I heard the students were arrested, I thought better of it. Andy and I did the next best thing.

            By that time, we’d moved into a two-story house, and the bathroom was down the hall from my room with no living room in between. One night, Andy cut holes in two sacks so we could see, and we re-enacted the event at the college, much to the delight of our parents who were watching television in the living room. Afterward, Andy ran out the front door, but I hurried back upstairs.

            After that, I refrained from exhibitionism but not Andy. A year later, Mother received an anonymous letter from one of our neighbors, claiming it wasn’t safe to raise little girls with my brother running around in the buff. When he was in high school, during a speech meet, he mooned out of a bus and was suspended.

Now, he has kids of his own. A couple of years ago as a birthday present, he sent me a recording of David Sedaris reading his essay collection, Naked. In the title piece, the author talks about his experience at a nudist colony. That might be a fun place to go. Who knows? Maybe Andy will accompany me sometime.

 

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and how to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

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