We were kings of the world.


Bold.  Free.  Unstoppable.  Young.


Life seizers.  Game changers.   Boy chasers.  


We were 19 and legal to buy beer, wine and liquor thank-you-very-much, and an invisible line divided those who drank Budweiser and those who chugged PBR.  Michelob was high class.  Cassie and I would drink one, resort to calling a single "beers" and we thought it was cute.   I doubt anyone else did.


End of freshman year, nine months had given birth to best friends forever and this was our Summer farewell.  Seven days of sun, sand and surf and then we'd say good-bye til August.  Parting was sorrow for the kindred conjoined. 


Beachwear, my favorite suit was two-pieces and not much at that, amethyst lycra with a thin sea foam ruffle across the top of both pieces.  I thought the bandeau top made my breasts look bigger–an important selling point for those whose are just out of "training".  I made a size switch in the Anderson Belk dressing room to find a top and bottom that fit.  Even though I faulted the cashier that day for not checking, I've always felt bad about that.


Teen girls traveled in packs, confidence grown in numbers.  A terrycloth rainbow marked our spot on the beach.  Out we'd stretch, skin shiny-slick with Hawaiian Tropic, coconut's aroma clinging like luscious fruit to vine.  It was Summer's inhale, a wonderous scent-memory, and if I smell it today and close my eyes, I'm 19 again.  We'd find the "good" station on someone's transistor radio, and dutifully obey when the DJ reminded, "Time to turn so you don't burn."  We listened to music together, not alone with earbuds….


On this day we were strolling the beach and people watching when we happened upon a mobile shack, the kind that sells beer and dogs and other salty stuff to make you buy more beer. We were thirsty but no one had any money on them–bikinis don't have pockets.  Instead we resorted to our womanly wiles, batting eyelashes and drawling Southern, sure we'd score 16 ounces of cold draft something and we'd be on our way.


We miscalculated the testosterone.


This guy saw us coming a mile away; he probably saw dozens of girls like us every day and he was there to make money not score a date.  He could've been daddy to any of us.


He wasn't very nice, either.  We realized too late he had a razor for a tongue and no interest in serving complimentary beverages; but that wasn't before each of us tried our best to get something for nothin' more than sugar-coated flirty words. Frat boys would've tripped over themselves to give us a drink.


I don't remember what he said to anyone else that day but I've never forgotten what he said to me after I p r o m i s e d I was 19 years old and legal to buy a beer–


"You mean to tell me," he started as he leaned over the counter and leered at my chest, "that you've been growin' for 19 years and that's all you've got to show for it?"


Slinking away rattled and shamed, cheeks and temper burning, the best I could mutter was "Yeah, well, I am…."  


If I was inclined to people-hatin', he'd be at the top of my list.  


For over 25 years I've tried to come up with a line to match his; for over 25 years I've come up short–

"Dynamite comes in small packages."  {Waaaay too suggestive and provocative for me back then, plus it's much too common and cliche.}

"Well, my mama died from breast cancer so I'm thankful to have anything at all!"  {Really?  Like he'd care???}


(So was my short-lived season of "wild"…tame by today's standards.)


So, snarky, smart people of the internets, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE SAID to put him in his place?  I'm sure I'll "know" the perfect comeback when I hear it–even if it's decades late–and I'm equally sure it will make me feel better imaginarily hurling it at this ghost from my past (ummm, PG-language, please…kids read my blog).


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