HOT AS THE HINGES OF HELL, Sacramento summers were torture to adults and a paradise for children. Water so cheap and plentiful that there were no meters, kids frolicked under the lawn sprinkler and splashed in moveable plastic puddles that created a disc of sun-starved yellow grass after a few days. But the grass came back when we emptied the water and dragged the soggy reluctant pool to a new spot, which withered in turn. Boys as near-naked as propriety allowed; bare-shouldered girls modestly covered their non-existent figures with sunsuits. A big sister monitored the little ones, dipping her feet in the water and flirting with a neighbor boy who was threatening the common hedge with clippers but hardly able to tear his eyes away from her legs and breasts. Breastless, hipless, a first-grader stood transfixed, staring at what she was to become. She wandered off, and in the darkened doorway of her house stood before a hall mirror, two oranges stuffed down the top of her bathing suit, turning this way and that, unconscious of my pre-adolescent gaze. It wouldn't be long before her body blossomed fruit-full, and she could perch on the edge of a pool, mind little kids and feel men's eyes caress her body. Oranges and lemons.
August 20, 1994
What Rhymes with Orange? "Oranges and Lemons," is the opening line of the children's rhyme:
Oranges and lemons, Say the bells of St. Clement's . . . the rhyme ends,
Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
Here comes a chopper to chop off your head.
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