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  • The 1959 Chevy was black and white, daring fins arcing in back above the taillights that looked like cat eyes, heading north to Lake Ontario where sand dunes and breaking waves were waiting. The kids, were in the backseat, five of us on the broad bench – there were no seat belts. The windows were open - there was no air conditioning. A hot wind blew through my ponytail.

    We were neighbors in a treeless postwar subdivision north of Syracuse on Leroy Road. The Moseys next door had a split-level, a house that was much more interesting than our own little pink ranch. The backyards on the block all ran together; there were no fences, no gardens, just an expanse of grass where we played tag and mother-may-I and statues. There were children in every house. In the evenings the parents would gather in one house for a grown-up ritual of “cocktails” and we would be banished to the backyards to chase lightening bugs and play our games.

    On this trip our mothers owned the front seat. Mom was driving, steering with one hand, waving a cigarette in the other. Her fingernails were long and red, a vivid Chinese red, the red of her lipstick, the red of her bathing suit. Her hair was thick, densely brown, waved into loose ridges by the pin curls she slept in every night (wrapping the hair around a lacquered fingernail before securing it with a bobby pin). Coila Mosey was blonde, a “bottle blonde” Mom told me once but I was not sure what that meant. I was blonde and I didn’t do anything with a bottle. Coila’s hair was long and loose and it blew around her face as she drank from a brown beer bottle.

    Then Coila began to sing. “Cigarettes and whiskey and wild, wild women, will drive you crazy, will drive you insane….” She and Mom laughed and passed the beer bottle back and forth. I saw a secret about being a grown-up woman – that it was about cigarettes, red lips and nails, pincurls and “bottled” blonde hair and beer. I was in the presence of Wild Wild Women. I wanted to be one of them.
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