Caution: May Contain Peanuts — uh, Breasts. (Reader discretion is advised.)

They’ve been talking about hula hoops on the radio these days. They’ve even planned a big event in town for hula hoop fans to enjoy. I didn’t get to go, but I would have liked to see it. Kids played with them when I was young, but I was never able to do it successfully. Can you? They provide great exercise and I have a dear friend who uses one for that purpose. She can do it very well and I’m impressed. However, a hula hoop is not the only thing I never mastered.

Most children can do it, but I couldn't

Most children can do it, but I couldn’t

Some young people have admirable aspirations. They want to be astronauts, artists or writers. Some aspire to making changes in the world for the benefit of all mankind, like finding a cure for a terrible disease. But, there are also people like the beautiful Esther who was in my exercise class — and me.

Who would have thought that when the oh-so sophisticated Esther was young, this soft-spoken, attractive woman would have desperately wanted to learn how to juggle. She confessed that although she practiced

Beautiful Esther always wanted to be able to juggle

Beautiful Esther always wanted to be able to juggle

again and again, much to  her despair, she never became proficient at it. I found it somewhat amusing that she would have spent so much time and energy wanting to learn how to juggle. What’s so special about that, I wondered — until I remembered my own fruitless efforts with the tassel thing.

Two of us had traveled from Montreal, where we lived, to Syracuse, N.Y., to spend a weekend with a friend whose family had recently moved there. Our friend arranged dates for us for Saturday night and we all went out together. The young men thought it would be fun to take the visiting Canadian innocents to a strip-tease show. I was only 17, but they didn’t know that — I liked to think I looked older.

I had never seen anything like it in my life, nor have I seen one since. Strip shows probably existed in the Montreal of my youth, but no one I knew ever went to one — or if they did, they never told me. You can imagine how intrigued I was with the goings-on onstage. I stared. I gawked. I was stunned. The young man who was my “date” was thoroughly amused and spent more time watching me than watching the show.

The very famous Gypsy Rose Lee. Even I had heard of her

The very famous Gypsy Rose Lee. Even I had heard of her

Stripper Evita Mansfield,  tassels and all

Stripper Evita Mansfield, tassels and all

 

“You can close your mouth now,” I recall him telling me with a satisfied grin on his face. It was true. My chin had dropped of its own volition; I wasn’t even aware of it. Nor did I care. The


three young men were just delighted. They felt they had come up with a winner for the

evening — and they had. For them it was a hoot, and I was too amazed at what I was seeing to care that they were laughing at me. Besides, they were good-humoured about it and not insulting.

It wasn’t the strippers dancing and taking off some clothes that fascinated me so much — I thought anybody with rhythm could do that. Also, they didn’t really take everything off anyway. It was the gal with the tassels. The tassels were attached to her pasties (Now, how in the world do those stay on?) and she made the tassels turn in the same direction in time to the music, and then in the opposite direction. To my astonishment, that wasn’t all, she was also able to make the tassels turn in different directions at the same time! Can you do that?

We could hardly wait to give it a try. As soon as the two of us got back to our hotel room, we tore our clothes off, threw them wherever they fell — to see if we could. What a sight! We stood bare-chested in front of the floor-to-ceiling mirror, and tried — and tried and tried again. Well, I’m here to tell you it isn’t that easy!

We worked hard. We wiggled, we jiggled, and manipulated our shoulders. We tried bending this way and that, then bent right over thinking maybe that’s how to begin to learn how. We stood there like two idiots turning every which way without success. Can you just picture it? It was so hilarious and we looked so ridiculously silly, we could not help but howl with laughter.

Illustration of successful twirling of tassels?

Illustration of successful twirling of tassels?

Watching ourselves was uproariously funny.

It was well after midnight, but we were young and having so much fun, we didn’t pay attention to the time. We made so much noise with our giggling and laughter, we disturbed our poor neighbors. Someone in the room below started banging on the ceiling in an attempt to get us to quieten down. It was difficult to stifle our laughter, but we had to reluctantly give up and crawl into bed — still giggling, two absolute failures. Perhaps if we had persisted…..

Although I never saw another strip-tease show, through the years I have tried again now and then to do the tassel thing — always without success. It is one of the great disappointments of my life.

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7 thoughts on “Caution: May Contain Peanuts — uh, Breasts. (Reader discretion is advised.)

  1. If more people would approach life with innocence, they would get so much more joy out of life. I am trying to act more like a 12 year old, with that pure intellect and joy and inclusiveness, unencumbered by the Grinch. 🙂

  2. Muriel, you are hilarious! Alas, there is no guy equivalent for tassel twirling. Or if there is, I don’t want to know about it. cheers, arthur

  3. I have never been to strip tease show but I did see pole dancers once in old age when I was desperate to use a bathroom and went into an unusual hotel. I am relieved that you, who are able to do so many things, including telephone Cary Grant, cannot manage a hula hoop. I feared that I was the only one. How do they all do it?? Let’s speculate over lunch. Nora.

  4. I found your article exceedingly funny. Thank you for the courage to write it. I wonder how many others have done things about which they would find embarrassing at the time and slowly progress (maybe) toward acceptaanve

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