June 1963 a bright summer day in Michigan. A great day to head out to Lake Lansing Amusement park. Rudy and his cousin spent some time in the rec hall, had some lunch and decided to stroll along the beach strip on the lake. Rudy had recently acquired a straw hat which he was fond of wearing. As they walked along the beach they passed a pair of attractive young girls who caught Rudy’s attention, As
they passed he heard them giggle and one of them said top the other “No, you wouldn’t!” With that, One of them snatched the hat off of Rudy’s head stopping him in his tracks. Rudy turned around and he beheld his hat perched on the head of one of the girls who struck a pose, smiled and said “Hi, I’m Mary, And this is my friend Penny, But that’s not important.” Which caused her friend Penny to frown, Well, thought Rudy, This could prove interesting! “So nice to make your acquaintance,” said Rudy “What do I need to do to get my hat back?” The girls turned to each other and Penny whispered something into Mary’s Ear. Rudy stood puzzled ignorant of the fact that the girls had just sealed his fate. Little did Rudy suspect that Mary and Penny had a long history together. The girls had the same taste in boys and had clashed often over the years. They had finally settled on a pact that defined their amorous affairs. Once one staked her claim, the other took a strictly hands off position. Mary had just staked her claim!
Mary turned to Rudy and said “Meet us at the Drive-In tonight and we will discuss it.” She then planted a kiss on his cheek and the girls walked off. Rudy just stared after them shaking his head.
That afternoon he called Mary Alice and let her know hw would not be seeing her that night At the time they had no idea that this was the beginning of the end of their relationship.
Later that evening, Rudy arrived at the drive in fearful of a no show. But was pleasantly surprised by a tap on his shoulder. Turning around to the sight of Mary Ann and Penny, he broke into a grin. “Hello handsome.” said Mary. She was wearing his straw hat, smiling she took it off and perched it on his head. Both girls were positively glowing as they broke out into a chorus of “He’s so fine” by the Chiffons. .As the evening wore on, he got to know both girls better. Penny had a bubbly personality that reminded him of Connie Stevens on Surfside 6. MaryAnn was much more intense and spent most of their time together dancing with him to the Jukebox. One of the songs that came on was Johnny Mathis singing “What will my Mary Say”. The gave Rudy a momentary twinge of conscience, but he quickly shook it off as he fell under Maryanne’s spell.(Remember I told you Rudy was something of a Dick!).By the time the movie was over, (none of them would be able to recall what had been on the screen) Maryanne had escalated from little pecks on the check to full on passionate kisses on the lips. As the night drew to a close, they exchanged phone numbers and Mary gave Rudy her address and invited him to come see her the next day. (Author’s note: Mary never went by the name Maryanne, but it is being used hear to differentiate between Mary Ann and Mary Alice. Poetic license and all that.) That Saturday, as luck would have it, Johnny was going to visit his girlfriend Louisa who, happily, lived on the next street from Maryanne. so Rudy was able to catch a ride It was an eye opener for Rudy as he discovered it was a seven mile ride. It occurred to him that if he got serious he would have to walk that distance in order to visit.
Mary answered the door as Johnny drove away and pulled Rudy inside. She introduced him to her younger sister Linda who looked very much like Mary. Mary informed Rudy they would be walking to Penny’s house. She explained that Penny had access to a basement rec room and she entertained their little group there. Upon their arrival after a one mile walk, Penny greeted them enthusiastically. There was a guy sitting on the couch and Penny introduced him as Junior Guerrero. “Yeah” said Rudy, “we’re acquainted. In fact, the Guerrero’s and the Vallentine’s had a bit of a rivalry going on. Upon hearing this, Mary Anne pumped Junior for all the information she could get about Rudy. Upon getting all the skinny on Mary Alice, she turned to Rudy and said “So when are you going to tell your mousy girlfriend about us?” Penny looked on with sympathy as she heard this exchange. Rudy was able to get to talk to Junior about the girls. “You dating Penny.” Rudy asked? “No”, replied Junior “we’ve gone out a few times, but nothing serious. But you should hear how she talks about you when Mary is not around.”. It was the first that Rudy had heard about Penny’s interest in him. Junior then proceeded to fill him in about the dating pact between Penny and Mary.. “Watch out for that one.” Junior said “Should Mary drop out of the picture, she will pounce.” Rudy thought there was little chance of that, but he still had to deal with the problem of the two Mary’s.
Over the next week, he split his time between Mary Alice and Mary Ann. until the fateful Friday night at the Drive-in. As he walked into the concession stand he felt like that poor fellow in the 4 preps song “Down by the Station”, for there before his eyes were his girlfriend Mary 1 and Mary 2. As soon as Mary Ann saw Rudy, her face lit up with an evil grin. She walked up to Rudy and planted a passionate kiss on his lips. Mary Alice looked on with a stricken look on her face. “Rudy,” said Mary Alice, “It seems pretty clear that we are thru.” At which point she turned and walked out of the concession stand. “Well that’s that.” said Maryanne. Behind her Penny whispered under her breath “Bitch”.
All thru the month of July Maryanne and Rudy were inseparable. Rudy could not help but notice that Mary had a devilish streak to her, but he was intoxicated by her. Mary loved to dance in the Dirty Dancing style, and she loved passionate kisses. Penny continued to watch the too of them together. Rudy noticed that she loved to play the tunes “One Fine Day” by the Chiffons and “She’s a Fool” by Lesley Gore, while Mary loved to Dance to “Are you Lonesome Tonight” and “It’s up to you” by Ricky Nelson.. Many evenings they would hang out on the corner by the local Quick Stop, and harmonize to “Swinging on a Star” with Rudy singing the Big Dee Irwin part while Penny and Mary sang the Little Eva Lines. Rudy and Mary spent most of their time at Penny’s clubhouse as they liked to refer to it. Penny enjoyed their company, but Rudy noticed she was not as bubbly as she had been. Mary and Rudy also spent many hours at the Roller Skating Rink and at the local dances. Rudy no longer heard anything at the dances about his choice of partners..
But the good days were fated to come to and end and one night at the Drive-in it happened. Rudy was not feeling particularly well that evening and Mary was feeling mischievous and particularly devilish. One thing led to another and finally Rudy turned to Mary and said “Leave me the fuck alone will you.”. Mary looked at Rudy in shock and crossed her arms and scooted away from him. On the way home, prophetically. Rudy heard the Shirelles song “Don’t Say Goodnight and mean Goodbye” for the very first time. It would forever remind him of that night.
The next day when he called Mary, she answered the phone said “Besa mi culo!” and hung up the phone. Rudy knew that Mary did not know any Spanish so he realized Junior Guerrro had taught her how to say “Kiss my Ass” in Spanish. For the next week every time he called Mary, Linda would answer the phone and Mary would shout “Tell him I’m Not Home”
It was about this time that Rudy’s (Leon’s) parents decided to come and bring him home to Brooklyn. Rudy paid one last visit to Penny. As he entered the room he could hear her playing her two favorite songs. She smiled a Rudy and said “I knew this day would come.” and she put her arms around him and gave him a passionate kiss. Just as Junior had predicted, Penny was determined to fill the vacuum Mary had left. Poor Rudy .was too heart broken over Mary to respond to Penny as he would have liked.
The next day he called Penny and told her he was going back to Brooklyn. After a moments silence she responded “You son of a bitch, you know how much I wanted to be with you. I Hate you” and hung up the phone.
Rudy left the next day.
Rudy was to meet up with Mary Anne Harmon a year later when he flew up to Lansing on a thanksgiving four day pass. He learned that Penny was now pregnant. Mary called Penny to tell him that Rudy was there and “Looked good enough to eat in his uniform.” She then handed Rudy the phone. He offered to come down and see her to which she replied “NO, I don’t want you to see me like this. I want you to remember me as I was when I last saw you.” They talked a little longer and then hung up. That was when he noticed Mary was wearing her Evil grin. Was that revenge? thought Rudy.
Rudy was never to see or hear from Mary Ann or Penny again. Mary Ann passed away sometime around 2014
Mary Harmon as portrayed by Mahindra Delfino
Junior Guerrero enlisted in the Army at around the same time as Rudy. He never returned from his tour of duty in Vietnam…..
This chapter is a total rewrite of the article written sometime in 2011..
A companion Spotify playlist is available at https://open.spotify.com/playlist/006P0uIlcfCVbUiLQiCANl?si=PbspzGJaRX-S8b5NQdZRXw
Author’s note: This article is heavily laced with refences to songs from the period. Music has played a very prominent role in both Rudy’s and Leon’s lives.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this offering.