Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Kookie crumbs and 'possums

Nooooooooo. Some fool on the radio was playing a cut from the theme song to the old television show, 77 Sunset Strip. Now I’ll have an ear worm running through my head for days. I’ll be at the grocery store, singing, “Kookie, Kookie, lend me you comb.”

I have to confess that I’ve got a history with Kookie. Edd Byrnes was a young actor who played a character named Kookie in the old TV series, 77 Sunset Strip. I think he parked cars and worked as a special assistant to the main characters who were private detectives. Kookie was so cute and he had the best hair. He had a slight bad boy demeanor, but his heart was pure. I thought that Kookie was the utmost. Utmost was Kookie’s favorite word so it became my favorite word too.

And now I have to confess the most humiliating thing I ever did in my childhood. Sometime around 1960 I became the founder and president of the Edd “Kookie” Byrnes fan club. I gathered my friends Barbie and Patty and other pre-teen girls in the neighborhood and we had fan club meetings in our own club house. Note that the club house was a dug-out storage area under my family’s screened-in porch. It was mostly a low-ceiling enclosed area with piles of dirt and a clay floor and a door. We moved aside the shovels and rakes and put up photos of Kookie and a large sign that said: International Edd “Kookie” Byrnes Fan Club. We glued a bunch of Valentine hearts on the sign. And we even had our own special Kookie fan club song--we sang the show's theme song, "Kookie, Kookie, lend me your comb," but we sang it in pig latin so it came out "Ookiekay, Ookiekay, endlay, emay, ouryay ombkay." Weren't we the utmost?

But the opossums ruined the club house. It seems a mother opossum must have liked Kookie too, because she moved into the club house and delivered a litter of babies. My mother, nine months pregnant at the time, was ironing in the basement one evening. She began screaming and I ran downstairs to see what was wrong. She was standing on a wobbly red stool, screeching and pointing to a red-eyed critter that was crawling into the subflooring above her. The mother opossum had come into our house. My brothers stood at the top of the basement stairs, claiming to be fearless, but refusing to come to the basement. So I grabbed a broom and chased the teeth-bared, snarling, hissing opossum out of the basement. The next day our next-door neighbor, Conrad Lydon, went into the club house with a rifle and killed a mother opossum and a batch of babies.

That was the end of the International Edd “Kookie” Byrnes Fan Club. Our hearts just weren’t in it any more.

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