4 – Blog 09 – ‘Gator and the Triplets

We rush back to the Hyland Ave house. My sisters have a decent stereo in their room, so we look for songs we can do on Friday night.
“Have ya performed before,” I politely ask.
“Just Church, in the choir.”
“Oh, Choir Girls?” I josh. “How nice. You won’t mind if I kid you ‘bout that?”
“Why would you do that?
“Oh, jist, ya know what they say ‘bout choir boys. It’s the same but worse for choir girls.”
“Well, we ain’t boys.”
“I did notice that, y’all.”
“You’re so funny. You act like you know us and we should know you.”
“Maybe ‘cause yer twins. You don’t know me but for some reason I’ jist trusts both y’all.”
Amy giggles, but Angela looks skeptical.
“What if I say I had already met you both, in a dream?”
Their mouths drop and they let out a little “eek.”
“Ya know I took the bus here, right?”
They nod.
“For a week, before that, I didn’t know where I’s going, just hitchin’ ‘round Georgia and ‘Bama. I’s sleepin’ outside. I dream I decides to see Mom. In the dream I’s havin’ trouble gittin’ rides ‘cause I’s a-talkin’ to myself. I git to Iowa and I’s sittin’ aside the road, cryin’ and not knowin’ whats to do. Y’all stops and tries ta help me. Y’all believe I ain’t crazy seeing my dead friend and his dog.”
“That’s who you were talkin’ to.”
“Yup. All four of us and Max, the dog, sitting around and huggin’. Then you drove me here. Mom believes me, too. Said she can see Jace. Then I wake up and decides ta come here.”
Amy is staring at Angela who looks pained, trying to decide whether to believe me or not. She nods to Amy. Then both hug me again.
It is nice, sitting on their bedroom floor hugging. Finally, we sit up and start looking through their record collection for songs we can do. I find a Kinks album with ‘Apeman’ on it.

‘I think I’m so sophisticated
‘Cause I’m living my life like a good homosapien
But all around me, everybody’s multiplying
And they’re walking round like flies, man
So I’m no better than the animals
sitting in their cages in the zoo man
Because compared to the flowers and the birds in the trees
I am an Apeman
I think I’m so educated and I’m so civilized
‘Cause I’m a strict vegetarian
But with the over-population and inflation and starvation
And the crazy politicians
I don’t feel safe in this world no more
I don’t want to die in a nuclear war
I want to sail away to a distant shore
And make like an Apeman

I’m an Apeman, I’m an Ape Apeman
No, I’m an Apeman
Well, I’m a King Kong man, I’m a Voo-Doo man
No, I’m an Apeman
‘Cause compared to the sun that sits in the sky
Compared to the clouds as they roll by
Compared to the bugs and the spiders and flies
I am an Apeman….

I’m an Apeman, I’m an Ape Apeman
No, I’m an Apeman
Well, I’m a King Kong man, I’m a Voo-Doo man
No, I’m an Apeman
I don’t feel safe in this world no more
I don’t want to die in a nuclear war
I want to sail away to a distant shore
And make like an Apeman’

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Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

We jump up, doing the monkey dance before the song is over.

“We gots ta do that song for Friday,” I exclaim, as we keep jumping around long after the song is over.
I grab an acoustic guitar and start playing ‘Barefoot Boy.’

‘Barefooted boy
Makes a stand
To take his joy
Going hand to hand

Flying out free
Branch to branch
Through the trees
Reckless chance.”

“Free to be
A monkey like me

Ha ha ha
He he he
Haw haw haw
Chee chee chee’

I play the chorus over and over, then give Amy the guitar and watch Jace teach her the chord changes while I keep singing the chorus to set the beat. Amy sings the verses, then hands the guitar to Angela and jumps out to jungle dance with me. Jace keeps Angela repeating the chorus until she gets it down. Then it is three of us all singing as we dance. I look over at the stairs and see the moms staring at us. I instantly collapse to the floor, followed by the twins. Staring straight up at the ceiling, I announce, “How’s we gonna have sex if y’all keep watchin’ us.”
“Busted,” Amy responds.
The moms come up the rest of the stairs, blithering and blathering that they were not spying on us.
Angela rescues them. “Come sit over here, moms. We’ll show you what we’re plannin’ to play at the café Friday night.”

I put the Kinks record back on and pick up the acoustic guitar. I sing the Ray Davies verses, Then the girls come in on the chorus and Amy sings the sorrowful verse solo:

‘I don’t feel safe in this world no more
I don’t want to die in a nuclear war
I want to sail away to a distant shore
And make like an Apeman…’

Instead of doing the dada dada dada dada dada dada dada….dut da boom, I go right into Barefoot Boy on guitar while Amy sings the verses. I hand her the guitar and sing as she takes over the guitar playing:

“Free to be
A monkey like me”

I step out doing the monkey moves,  as the girls sing the chorus:

“Ha ha ha
He he he
Haw haw haw
Chee chee chee”

Amy hands the guitar to Angela who keeps repeating the chorus while Amy joins me jungle dancing.  For a choir girl, she is surprisingly good at it.

“If’n that don’t a’gits ‘em dancing I don’t knows wot will. Y’all shure ya learnt to sing in Church Choir?” I ask the twins.
The moms are speechless, which is the whole point.
Finally Molly speaks up, “Where did you learn that obscene dancing?”
“That’s how the Black kids dance in Miami.”
“I highly recommend you tone down the dancing,” Mom asserts.
“That’s perfect. Banned by Moms.”
“Timothy Castle, you get over here,” says my irate Mom.
Suddenly I am floating with Jace as Max enters my body.
“Watch how Max handles your mom,” Jace suggests.
I see myself give Mom the most pitiful, broken eyes,  looking up at her while scrunching up.

“Oh, Timmy. I just don’t understand how kids dance anymore.”
Max sniffs and leans my body into a hug from Mom.
“My goodness, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings,” as she hugs me.
Angela comes to my rescue. “It’s not a dance like the Twist was in your day. It’s the music that makes us dance like that. Once you get the beat, you can do all the usual dance steps.”
“The music teacher, Miss Hull, asked us to perform downtown. We wanna get everyone dancing.’ I had returned to my body apparently.
I stand up and sing a Capella to Angela, ‘Do you love me.”

‘You broke my heart
‘Cause I couldn’t dance
You didn’t even want me around
And now I’m back, to let you know
I can really shake ’em down’

Written By Berry Gordy

The Moms know that one and frowns turn to grins, as we get them up to dance with us.

“Whatcha think?” I ask as we stop dancing and start to laugh.
“No jungle dancing,” the moms command.
“We cain’t help it,” we all plead.
“But, you’re our babies,” they cry.
“Not anymore,” I assert, grabbing the acoustic and banging out the opening leads to Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid,’

until all the strings are broken. Falling over onto pillows, I see, in the corner of my eye, all four females looking shocked, while I perform. I lay there for 5 seconds, open one eye and wink at them.
They explode. A giant pillow fight breaks out – everyone against me – a frantic feminist fury.
“Stop.” I yell, the non-feminist. They stop and listen. “We gots ta name the band.”
“It’s more like a trio,” Amy responds.
“Okay, the Triplets then.” Angela is always right.
“The Triplets – Amy, Angela & Andy,” I pronounce.
“Andy?” Mom questions.
“I asked ya to call me Tim, but y’all still callin’ me Timmy. You even said Timothy jist a whiles ago. I wants ta be called Andy, so I kin be one of the Triplets. Molly, do you wants me to be your son? Amy and Angela, I’ve felt like kin since we all met. Can I be yer brother, to harass and kid ya, for being choir girls, and to be the one that backs you up regardless, ‘til death does us part?”
“Welcome to the family, Andy.” And it is one big family hug. Max barks, startling the girls.
“There’s hopes fer ya yet.” I pronounce.

Another morning and another bang on my door to get me up to be dressed for school. The girls tone down my look with flat hair and no makeup – just me, the bowling jock. We arrive early at Ames High (shoots low) so they can parade me around to all their friends. I am definitely in with the girls, which makes me more or less a target with the guys. Somehow the rumor starts that I am their long-lost brother and that the three of us are triplets. I let the girls participate in the gossip mill, denying I ever knew anything about sisters until now. My suggestion that we promote our Friday performance is nixed as the girls are nervous enough about playing before strangers, let alone their critical friends. A hug from Jace reassures them that it will all go well. They glow when I tell them to relax; it is going to be fun.

A couple of guys approach me to say welcome, asking if I play sports. When I say I am a bowler, it confuses them. My scrawny musculature discourages everybody. Some of the golfers ask me to go out for their team. Golf seems about as silly as bowling. I agree to go out, since it does not start until after winter when the snow is gone. Once I have my class schedule, the twins insist they walk me to each class. My hayseed persona does not elicit confidence about finding my own way.

English confirms my choice of country culture, as we are studying Laura Ingalls Wilder’s ‘Little House on the Prairie.’ My English teacher, Mrs. McCarthy, calls on me.
“Tim, what do you think about ‘Little House?’’
“I go by Andy, Mrs. McCarthy. Since it’s on television, why don’t we put on an episode as a class performance? We did that last year in Junior English.”
Amy giggles at my lack of accent. Mrs McCarthy frowns at her before returning to me, “What plays did you do in Miami, Andy?” she asks.
“We did Shakespeare, ma’am.”
“That was ambitious,” she notes.
“Oh, we just made it fun.”
“What role did you play?”
“I was just a minstrel. We tried to be authentic by having an all-male cast and all-girl stage crew.”
“How’d that work?”
“The girls taught the boys how to act girly .”

Some students laugh.
“How did the parents like it?”
“They said the girls had become too uppity.”
Now everyone is laughing.
“Anyone else like to do a ‘Little House’ performance?”
Lots of hands shoot up.
“Well, I’ll see about getting a script,” Mrs. McCarthy is pleased to have an excited class. “In the meanwhile, please go ahead and read Chapter Five. Ask yourselves what it would be like to live in the wilderness.”

My other classes go well, especially since I do not have to discuss the curriculum with my teachers again. After each class, I make sure my teachers call me Andy. I have made the transition. After the last bell rings, I meet the girls in the music room.
“More guitar lessons, ladies?” I wink at Jace who already has Amy in his clutches, guiding her fingering and fret work on an electric Fender Stratocaster. It must be a band instrument. Amy rocks-on to the chorus of Barefoot Boy while I chase Angela around the room doing the monkey moves. We stumble over a piccolo band boy hiding behind the amps. Angela trips on him as I dive on top, while scratching myself. Amy stops playing and rescues the band boy, who instantly runs away.
“Who knew band could be so fun,” I mock Angela until she finally starts laughing and cannot stop.
“It’s not funny anymore,” Amy complains. “He was just trying to practice.”
We attack Amy by tickling her until she pees her pants.
“Oh, you’ll be late for choir,” as I point at her obvious embarrassment.
She slaps me just before Mrs. Hull slams the band room door. I feel so abused. We are all hiding in the corner behind the amps.
“Just practicing,” I explain after standing up.
“Practicing at what,” she demands.
I grab the Strat, ripping the opening to the monkey song, as the girls sing about the Barefoot Boy. I throw the Strat to Amy after shouting ‘a monkey like me.’ The girls sing and play the chorus while I ran around the room, finally stopping in front of Mrs. Hull. She is immune to my jungle love. It makes it all the funnier when the girls run over and join me making monkey moves on the poor band teacher.
“Whatcha think, for Friday night? We’ll git them college kids a’dancin’, Mrs. Hull.”
She tries to look so stern, until I wink at her. She joins us, laughing our asses off. Jace is flying about, loving it. Max follows him around sniffing for pot, like he had forgotten what it was for. Cannot get much higher as a ghost than floating around like a pinata.

My regular classes are not as fun as is band room after last bell. English is okay if you like ‘Little House on the Prairie.’ In order to get out of playing the role of some hayseed kid, I suggest playing background music on guitar, as I had done with Shakespeare.
“Why don’tcha play a girl’s role like ya did in Miami?” a wise acre pushes back
“And be yer girl friend, too?” I shoot back.
“Settle down, boys. There’s plenty of girls wanting those roles,” the teacher, Mrs. McCarthy, cuts us off.
After class, I go up to the big mouth. “Sorry ta disappoint ya ‘bout the play.”
I am ready to take him down in front of his friends.
“Jist kiddin’ ya, ta see what you’d say. My name’s Brock, Andy.” He sticks out his hand.
Even the bullies are nice at Aimless.
“Glad not ta be yer girlfriend. The last time was pretty rough on me.”
He is not sure how to take that comment. “Yer a feisty one, ain’t ya,” he declares.
The girls watch as Brock takes me under his wing. I go off to lunch with his group.
“Com’n, sisters. Here’s yer chance ta hang with the big boys,” I cajole.
They come along and sit with a group of all guys in the lunchroom. The boys are tongue-tied and thunder-struck.
“Ya didn’t know that the twins had a brother? We’re the Triplets.” I inform everyone. “Even they didn’t know until last week when I showed up.”
The gossip mill starts its slow grind, digesting this news.
“I heard ya was gonna start a bowlin’ team.”
“Naw. It’s more of a fashion look.”
“Ya do look purdy scrawny ta be a jock,” Brock observes.
“That’s why ya thought ya could take me down in the hallway?”
“I wasn’t worrin’ ‘bout it.”
“How’s ‘bout we throw down right here,” I challenge him, “in arm-wrestlin’?”
“Yer on,” he takes up my challenge.

The whole lunch room is clamoring to watch our contest. We clasp hands. I make us both hold our elbows to keep from cheating on leverage. Brock is pretty buff and has me by 30-40 pounds. He makes the first move, figuring to end it quickly. I slowly give ground as he pulls me toward the lunchroom table. I test his strength by pulling him toward me, then letting him continue to push my arm closer to the table. At about 45 degrees, I firm up my grip and will not allow him to go any further. We both strain as I hold off his imminent victory. The muscles and tendons of my arm are stretched to the limit. I hang on and will not let him win. He changes strategy and lets me come back up to the vertical starting point. I anticipate his counterattack but am pushed closer to the table. The more he strains, the more determined he becomes. I look up and flash-back that he has become ‘Gatorsaurus. It makes me laugh which Brock takes as an insult. He roars (just like a ‘gator) and pushes me down. I hate losing but stick out my trembling hand and shake his equally trembling one.
“Ya got grit, boy,” he admits.
“Ya still got me in the end.”
“What was ya laughin’ at?”
I tell him, with everyone listening, the legend of ‘Gatorsaurus, I explain how Tom & Huck camped out in the Everglades, throwing in Tommy’s exaggerations for effect. Those boys have never seen alligators. A 24 foot one is believable. Brock is called ‘Gator for the rest of senior year. We go off to class with his arm around my shoulder. Amy and Angela have had enough testosterone to last a lifetime. They leave me to the jocks.

Brock seems excessively taken with me, which sets me on edge.
“Maybe I’ll join the bowling team after football’s over,” he suggests. His posse all nod that they are ready to follow him anywhere.
“Does Aims High even have a bowling team?” I worry that my joke may bite me on the ass.
“Naw. But you and me, we can start one,” he seems eager to please.
“Ya best stay a jock, Brock. Bowling’s fer nerds.”
“Ya don’t wants me on the team,” he looks more hurt than concerned.
“Do I look like a nerd?”
“Maybe,” as he starts to consider the consequences of threatening his jock social status.
“Well, maybe its jist a joke,” I admit.
“That’s a relief. I’s terrible at bowlin’.”
“I’s in a band, though, with my sisters.”
“Cool. Kin we see y’all play?”
“Downtown Coffee Shop, Friday night.”
“Man. We play Iowa City that night. Ya ain’t gonna watch our game?” he seems surprised and a bit hurt.
“Wouldn’t wanna miss it. We kin play after. Jist don’t come ‘less you showered.”
“It’s the College crowd. They hates us.”
“Better win the game then. Nothin’ like bein’ a winner ta feel invincible.”
“Ya always use them big words?”
Invincible? I guess it does have four syllables. Should I tone down my vocabulary?
“Well, yer a big guy.”
His posse breaks up at our back and forth.

After classes are over, I meet the twins in the band room.
“Them boys overwhelm ya?” I ask.
“Anything to do with football overwhelms us,” Angela responds.
“Well, they ain’t choir boys. Brock wants ta join the bowlin’ team.”
They just laugh.
“You makin’ fun of them boys?” Amy wants to know.
“They’s my new best boy friends.”
“Don’t tell them that.”
“I did tell them about the band. Now we’s got ta go to the football game on Friday night so’s they kin go to our show afterwards.”
“Oh, gawd. Can’t we just play to the college crowd?” Angela complains.
“Ew. Maybe the monkey song will git outta control. Wanna do something more mature?”
“More mature than jumpin’ around like pre-schoolers?”
“The moms will approve.”
“Your old band just do kid’s songs.”
“Hows ‘bout the Velvet Underground?”
“Their songs are all about drugs.” Angela is a doomsayer.
“Walk on the Wild Side” is about transvestites.”
“Trans what?” Amy asks.
I pick up the electric guitar and started singing.

“Holly came from Miami, F.L.A.
Hitch-hiked her way across the U.S.A.
Plucked her eyebrows on the way
Shaved her legs and then he was a she
She says, ‘Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side’
He said, ‘Hey honey, take a walk on the wild side’”


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The girls just stare at me, mouths agape.
“You mean ‘he was a she’ like boys becoming girls?” Angela seems shocked.
“Transvestite means a cross-dresser.”
“This song’s about you hitch-hiking from Miami?” Amy concludes. “We thought you took the bus.”
“Jist from Alabama. I hitch-hiked to there. But it’s not about me.”
“I doubt we’ll get moms seal of approval,” Angela asserts.
“That proves its mature.”
“We ain’t doing songs ‘bout boys being girls.”
“We could do the Kinks’ ‘Lola’:

“Girls will be boys and boys will be girls
It’s a mixed up muddled up shook up world except for lola
Lo-lo-lo-lo lola
Well i left home just a week before
And i’d never ever kissed a woman before
But lola smiled and took me by the hand
And said dear boy i’m gonna make you a man
Well i’m not the world’s most masculine man
But i know what i am and i’m glad i’m a man”

© Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

“I know you like the Kinks. We can do it like a duet. I’ll be the wimpy guy and you can do the Lola part together.”
Amy looks at Angela, then sits down hard. “Why can’t we be normal, for once?”
Angela sits with her and gives her a hug. And looks at me and winks.
“It’s just a song,” I try to encourage her, giving up my hayseed accent. “It’s funny, not sad.”
“It just reminds me that we’re not normal,” she retorts.
“Is that what you really want, to be normal.”
“Never happen, not with two moms,” Angela asserts.
“I hate to break it to you, but no one’s normal, no matter how hard they try.”
“You’re wrong,” Amy cries. “Everyone in Ames Iowa is normal. They don’t have to try. They look at us like freaks.”
We sit there in a group hug. Of course, I start to cry. The girls are shocked. Normal boys do not cry. They hug me harder.
“What’s wrong? We’re just complaining. Don’t cry,” Amy scoots closer.
I expect Jace to punch me to stop the tears. I look for him in vain. As the girls start to make me feel better, he appears and mocks me for begging for attention. He signs I do not need him. It makes me laugh, which relieves the girls.
“Hey, we’re the ones who have had to put up with it all. You just got here,” Angela complains. “Why does making you feel better make us feel better, too?”
“’Cause we’re triplets. One for all, all for one.”
‘”Yay, Triplets.”
“Time to write our own song – The Triplets theme,” I feel inspired. I pick up the guitar and strummed the E chord.

“They say we’re not normal
Our lives are too strange
Maybe we’re Mormon
Won’t that be a pain.

We got two moms
We don’t need dads
Our lives are songs
So we won’t be sad

We grew up with each other
That’s just what twins do
Then along comes our brother
Now we’re triplets too

Normal’s not happenin’
May be good for you
We’ll keep on truckin’
Triplets better than two

We got two moms
We don’t need dads
Our lives are songs
So we won’t be sad”

We each say what we think. It seems like we were totally in synch. The smiles on the girls’ faces assure me that the song is true. No more tears.

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