The summer of 1986 was an unseasonably hot summer, if I recall. Perhaps it was an unseasonably cool summer, or on third thought it might have been altogether unremarkable for its climatic character. The summer of 1986 is only remarkable for me for two reasons, if the true story be told.
In the summer of 1986 the federal government (or rather, the section of the governmental department that keeps us safe from foreign aggression, otherwise known as the Army) told me that my ankles were no longer healthy enough to defend our country against communist aggression. My ankles had never seemed to shrink at the prospect of stabbing, shooting, slicing, dicing or ricing communist aggressors in the past (although I can no longer remember the preferred method of dealing with communist aggressors in 1986 – perhaps my ankles would one day be needed in a 24-hour Charleston contest against said communist aggressors, as they can be sly, crafty dancers). I gathered up my ankles, saluted a final time and did the samba out of there.
The second remarkable thing that took place that summer was the hiring of Betty Trebbe as the pancake lady. Perhaps the more accurate description would be the “pancake girl,” as Betty was only 17 and eagerly awaiting her senior year of high school.
Betty was remarkable for only two things, as well. This made her a natural for being one of the two remarkable things about the summer of 1986. First, Betty's name was Betty, obviously. In and of itself, this was not entirely odd nor remarkable, but Betty had been named “Betty” long after people in the western world had ceased to name their female children “Betty.” In fact, I do believe there was a federal moratorium placed on the name “Betty” sometime during Lyndon Johnson's administration. This was done right after he declared a war on poverty. We still have not dragged ourselves out of that quagmire, and our boys are still marching off to die in the trenches. What a senseless waste of human life – poverty seems to be getting the upper hand.
But I digress.
Betty was secondly remarkable for having over-active sweat glands, particularly in her underarm regions and groin. Great damp patches would appear whenever she wore unfortunately-colored clothing on warm days or whenever she found herself nervous about an upcoming calculus exam. Sadly, this allowed Miss Trebbe to appropriate a most unfortunate yet strangely poetic nickname. By her 15th year she had become known in her class as “Sweaty Betty,” and she realized there was little she could do to direct attention to some other aspect of her being so as to play down this label. Could she become more worrisome, so as to gain the title “fretty Betty?” Unlikely. Would greater diligence in academic pursuits cause many to think of her as “heady Betty?” Probably not.
In June of 1986, Betty Trebbe was hired by the local pancake house to stand on the street and flag down customers with promises of the carbohydratic wonders within during their “colossal pancake-riffic” promotion. Most mornings of that terribly hot summer, Betty would ply the wares of the pancake house, clad in the thickest, hottest and most realistic-looking foam rubber pancake suit that anyone on the south side had ever seen.
Some things are just meant to be.