Friday, June 19, 2015

Bill and I Find a "Little Bit O'Heaven"

Rock Island, May 1972

When I was a kid, one of my birthday presents was always an excursion for me and two or three friends to anywhere we wanted in the Quad-Cities.  Unfortunately, my birthday was in November, so most of the fun places were closed.

But then I got the bright idea of postponing the excursion to May: then my friends and I could go to Mother Goose Land, Longview Park, the Putnam Museum, or the Niabi Zoo.  Or, the spring of sixth grade, A Little Bit O' Heaven.

B. J. Palmer, son of the founder of chiropractic medicine, traveled the world collecting Chinese, Indian, and European art.  Now it was on display in a contemplative garden on the grounds of Palmer College of Chiropractic.

The commercials promised: "Mystical idols from the forbidden East.  Treasures of Greece and Rome!  Dangers around every curve!"

I imagined a forbidden temple out of Johnny Quest, with statues of Greek gods and naked natives brandishing spears.  

As my boyfriend Bill and I talked it over, the Little Bits O' Heaven became bigger and bigger.  Acres of statues.  40-foot tall slabs of muscle. Flexing bodybuilders.  Natives who were completely naked!  Rows of penises that you could see and touch!

It was settled!  We were going to A Little Bit O'Heaven!

I invited Bill and two other friends who liked muscles: Joel, a cute curly-haired soccer player, and Greg, the boy vampire who gave me my first kiss.  My brother wanted to come, to do research for his own birthday excursion in June, and of course Dad drove us and paid the admission fee.

It started out ok: we walked through an ornate gate into a tropical greenhouse with macaws and parrots, and a 40-foot waterfall splashing through a miniature town.  Then a 10-foot tall statue of the Buddha, some totem poles, and a pond full of live alligators!

That was cool, but we were anxious to get to the acres of muscles and penises.

Next came a courtyard where you walked along a winding path, past statues.  A fat Buddha.  A naked lady.

Another turn, another naked lady.

"Where are the men?" Bill asked.

"They're coming up, probably saving the best for last."

Another turn, another fat Buddha.  And another naked lady.

"You said there would be Greek gods," Greg protested.

"Naked," Joel added.

"Um...maybe they're in storage," I said.  My stomach was starting to hurt.  "Dad, where are the men?"

Another turn, another naked lady.

"It's art," he said with a shrug.  "That means women."  

"Gross!" Bill exclaimed.  "Who wants to see that?"

I was hot with disappointment, outrage over the false advertising -- and embarrassment.  I promised my friends muscles!  "Dad -- let's get out of here!  Can we go to the Putnam Museum instead?"  

"No way, Skeezix!  This is your birthday trip, and it cost me a fortune."  He always called me Skeezix when I failed to demonstrate heterosexual interest.  "Now quit whining and enjoy it!"

My friends never forgave me for subjecting them to the Little Bit O'Heterosexual Heaven.

Although getting ice cream on the way home helped.

See also: The Golden Boy in his underwear

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