An excerpt from the novel You Don’t Think She Is by Max Harrick Shenk
Like any twelve-year-old boy worth his pending membership in the fraternity of men, I’d discovered TOPLESS PHOTOS OF NATIVE GIRLS in National Geographic.
Unlike most twelve-year-old boys, though, I found them via Margo.
“Holy smokes, Bri! Take a look at these!” she sputtered during one library period, shoving a tattered but intact National Geographic in my face, and from that library period on, we spent every half hour rifling through the Princeton Files of back issues, looking for Booby Pictures (instead of working on our assignments, which, after the fifth straight session, prompted the young, we-thought-she-was-cool librarian Miss Keer to talk to Mr. Lebo, which in turn prompted Mr. Lebo to switch Margo from group B to group A). I think Margo and I may have found every Booby Picture in every issue that National Geographic published between 1960 and 1971. (1960 was the cutoff, the first Princeton file on the top shelf in the section that was hidden from Miss Keer’s desk. She could see 1959 and before, so no way was either of us going to go around to the other side of the shelf and try to snag any of those.)
(“That’s O.K.,” I said. “Those ones on the other side are old anyway.”)
(“Yeah,” Margo said. “Who wants old boobies?”)
We really didn’t have too much to say about those pictures except “Uh-huh-huh-huh” and “Heh-heh-heh-heh” and “He-he-he-he-he”… lots of giggling and snickering and gasping and the occasional “Wow… LOOK at those!” The one comment I remember most clearly, unfortunately, was Margo’s about a picture of a young naked mother holding a naked baby in her naked arms, the tips of her naked pendulous breasts almost below her naked rib cage. “Whoa!” Margo whispered as she handed the magazine to me. “Here’s some hangers!” And as I Perused The Artwork, Margo added “Mom’s look like that, kind of.”
I pushed that remark from my mind until later in the afternoon, when Margo and I went back to her house for a snack, and as we sat at the LeDoux’s kitchen table eating fresh baked apple pie from Distelfink, Mrs. LeDoux buzzed around the kitchen counter and sink and table, picking up and putting away… dressed in a pair of cut-off denim shorts and a bust-accentuating flannel shirt, tied in a knot at the waist, exposing her belly. As she flitted from table to sink to counter to trash can to fridge to sink to table, Margo’s words came back to me, and I found myself entranced…
Did they look like that? They kind of looked like they might look like that…
I was trying not to stare (“Girls don’t like that, Bri. Don’t forget it.”) but I felt like I had to look… finally, when Mrs. LeDoux took a breath and leaned against the counter, brushing her brown hair off her forehead as she inhaled deeply… chest expanding… and then, exhaling, asked me if I wanted another piece of apple pie, Margo spat out a chuckle next to me.
“Yeah, Mom,” she tittered, “with two big scoops of ice cream!”
I wanted to kick Margo under the table, but I’d been nabbed‑‑ that’d be bad form. I just kept my mouth shut as Mrs. LeDoux adjusted her top. “Two big scoops,” she said, oblivious. “Non, I do not tink so,” and she mussed my hair and kissed the top of Margo’s head before she sashayed out of the kitchen.
Margo sat back, smirking. “Sorry, Bri,” she said as she shovelled a forkful of pie into her mouth. “No big scoops for you.”
You Don’t Think She Is by Max Harrick Shenk…
“…You Don’t Think She Is by Max Harrick Shenk reveals a brilliantly composed coming of age novel… The short chapters speak volumes about the notion of first love, the workings of puberty, and the understanding of a blossoming sexuality …(and) give the reader a keen insight into each of the character’s youthful thoughts and ideas… Shenk’s book will take any reader back in time to their emotions and explorations during middle school. It is reminder of the innocence of youth and the burgeoning feelings of desire. –Kathy Buckert, author and English instructor
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