Source: The Independent


by Jerry Della Femina

March 05, 2014

Start a trip to the Hamptons on a Friday at 4 PM (even during this cold, ugly winter) and you deserve what you get.

What I got in the first two hours of my four-hour trip to Bridgehampton was bumper-to-bumper traffic with me driving and my little fluffy pal Shlomo asleep in the back seat. This was traffic that never went over 10 mph.

Queens felt as big as Texas.

At one point I decided to go to a playlist on my iPod which I had sensitively titled “Music for Old Farts.”

I played the rock and roll music I grew up with in high school. The songs I played were “Earth Angel” by The Penguins, “Sincerely” by The Moonglows and “Pledging My Love” by Johnny Ace. Then the song “Dedicated to the One I Love” by The Shirelles came on and I remembered once, many years ago, on a car ride with another couple, both Judy and her friend Julie agreed “Dedicated to the One I Love” was “one of THOSE songs.”

“What does ‘THOSE songs’ mean?” I asked. “You know,” was the answer, “like Mindy Carson singing the dance that was called ‘The Fish.’”

“God, wasn’t that awful the way boys used those songs to grind themselves into you?” Julie said.

“They would bump and grind into you as hard as they could,” said Judy.

Both women sounded obviously traumatized for life by the experience.

Julie’s husband Ed and I both smirked at each other.

Now I can’t dance to save my life. I am the worst dancer in the world.

I came from a long line of awkward clumsy dancers. My mother and father attempting to dance at my wedding to Judy in 1983 were the worst. Their dancing looked like an event at the handicapped Olympics. But I must say I was like Fred Astaire when it came to doing “The Fish.” I would bump, I would grind, I would work myself into a red-faced perspiring frenzy doing “The Fish.”

Suddenly I went back a million years and I was 15 years-old dancing in Sandy’s basement. (Last name withheld in case there is not a statute of limitations for things you did when you were 15 years old in the basement with Sandy and her friends.)

“The Fish” was put on the turntable. The lights were turned down low and “The Fish” would play over and over. The words are forever locked in my brain:

The Fish. Is it a salmon that comes in a can?

(Chorus): No no no no no.

Is it a flounder that you fry in a pan?

No no no no no.

What is this new dance I’m asking you man?

They call it The Fish.

Roll a little left foot, 1 2 3.

Rock little right foot, bend your knee.

Use the ocean motion, calm and cool.

Rock and roll your baby, that’s the only rule.

My favorite part was the “ocean motion” part. I don’t mean to boast, but when I did the “ocean motion” part, the tide was always going out, if you know what I mean.

Never once, in those days, did a girl I danced with bump or grind back. Good thing, too. I would have passed out from excitement.

Now you have to understand that what boys were bumping and grinding against was something every girl wore in those days — a panty girdle. This was sort of like a hard elastic body armor. A boy bumping against a panty girdle could damage himself for life if he caught the hard edge of the panty girdle the wrong way during a bump or a grind.

Also, if one got lucky and found himself in a position where one could work his hand under a panty girdle, then one had to deal with the dangers of the elastic cutting off circulation in the fingers. Gangrene caused by a hand’s lengthy stay under a panty girdle was a real fear in those days. Bras weren’t the wispy, dainty things they are today. They had these hard plastic bones in them for shape. I always worried about losing an eye from a snapping bone if I got too close to a bra with my head.

We were so innocent in those days.

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