…Murph’s head spun with memories as he drove. He remarked to himself in the midst of it that this was why he didn’t travel here often. Nathan hated Husky pants. He hated his son wearing them. Nathan hated taking him to Robert Hall and out toward the Island to Klein’s and Abraham and Strauss, two other stores that carried Huskies.
Jesus, Murph thought as memories bombarded him from numerous directions. He remembered the ripped coat and was thinking about it when he came upon the block Georgewood Florist used to be on. He wasn’t sure this was the exact block anymore because the entire area was Korean and all the businesses had changed. But the bicycle store was still there, its signs in Korean, and the brick church was on the block before it—that was Korean now too.
His thoughts became more like flashes here because too many landmark-recollections were in this space. “Hello Georgewood,” was first, the sound of his aunt’s voice in his ears as she answered the phone with those same words every time. That church was where he and one group of his teenage friends used to go cruising for girls at church dances when he was in high school. They traveled in a pack, cruised for girls, looked for and picked fights. The old Roosevelt movie theater was next, on the other side of the street. He’d felt up ugly Mary there and made out with her because his friend Alan’s girlfriend wasn’t allowed to go out unless it was a double-date. So he and Mary got to be partners of sorts, an arrangement. Mostly they went to the RKO Palace on Main Street in Flushing because Alan’s father owned a share in it and Alan always had free passes, but the old Roosevelt was the usual standby. It wasn’t a theater anymore. Now it was a banquet hall and catering center. The RKO wasn’t a theater anymore either. It was an indoor flea market.
Murph had also made out with Mary Lamb at the Roosevelt. Mary Lamb—that was her real name—had a tongue made of sugar, the sweetest tongue Murph had ever tasted in his whole life. If he could still hear his aunt’s voice in his ears, he could still taste that tongue, and when he allowed himself this pleasure, he could picture her face and remember the first time he’d put his hand under her skirt and felt her up over her panties. She’d told him to stop, but she hadn’t meant it. He knew that because he stopped when she told him to and then she asked him why he stopped. So he continued. That was the first time he’d ever found his way inside a girl’s panties. It was his first look inside a girl’s mind too.
Lots of girls were named Mary back then, especially the Catholic girls, and Murph mostly found himself with Catholic girls because most of the friends he hung out with, who were really Alan’s friends, were Catholic. That was why it was church dances, garage parties, beer and fights. Alan came from a mixed family, Jewish father, non-Jewish mother. Technically he wasn’t Jewish, and actually he wasn’t religious at all. In the scope of things it didn’t matter other than it led Murph to being where he might not have ordinarily been, but then they were kids and kids did what kids did, different back then than it was now…