The Inversion Trawler: Easy-Peel Clementines – February 2008

Illustration by Craig Secrist

Not long ago Aunt Leona, Boo, and I were traveling along State Street which used to be a big cruising street on weekends for bored teens. It was a Friday night and there were a few teen-filled vehicles making the rounds. We were stopped at a light when a loud, constantly revving, primer-gray Camaro pulled up alongside us. Inside were a male driver and, as Boo put it, two blatantly female puffballs. The driver had mangy long hair and sported an animal claw earring dangling from his left ear. Both girls wore seriously shredded rock concert T-shirts with their boobs unnaturally large and protruding. Their faces were covered in so much makeup that it must have been purchased in large vats from some home hardware store. Both seemed somewhat diminished under their huge puffballs of hair. One of the girl’s heads was showing off the many variations a person can achieve with peroxide—from orange through canary yellow to almost white. The other girl’s hair was just various shades of dirt. Their car stereo was pumping out loud drums, screeching guitars, and vocal phrases like “Class dismissed. I have the hots for the teacher.” I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. Then all three of them looked over at us and burst out laughing followed by a complex chorus of insults from which I could pick out “preppy faggot,” “ugly lez-bean girl,” and “stuck in the 80s.” The light changed and they peeled off loudly. Aunt Leona looked at us calmly and rolled her eyes. “F-People,” she said. “F-Dudes and F-Chicks—ya know, from my day. In other places, they’re known as butt-rockers and you don’t see many of them around anymore. ‘Stuck in the 80s, indeed. They’re an endangered species and probably best, ya know, extinct.” We were driving casually, but as luck would have it, the offending Camaro was stopped at the next light. We were again beside them. This seemed to please the F-People very much as they immediately began their sing-song assault again. The light changed and they peeled off, turning into the parking lot of a convenience store and squealing around the back of it to park. “Right,” said Leona. “How convenient.” She put her blinker on and calmly pulled into the parking lot. She stopped at the front of the store and said, “You two get out here. I’ll be right back.” Boo exclaimed, “Aunt Leona, No!” To which Leona replied, “No need to worry, sweetheart. I know how to deal with these people. I’ve been doing it for years.” Boo and I reluctantly got out of the car and stood on the curb watching as Leona’s white Chrysler LeBaron convertible gracefully glided off around the corner. From where we stood, we could hear an initial outburst of surprise and glee and that familiar caterwaul of insults followed by an outburst of surprise and horror and screams—both male and female. Then silence … Boo and I glanced anxiously at each other. Then, almost silently, the LeBaron pulled up beside us and there was Aunt Leona, smiling and looking totally undisturbed. “OK, get in, you two,” she said. Boo walked towards the car and suddenly jumped back with several four-letter exclamations. “Aunt Leona, what’s that on the seat?!” I glanced at the seat and saw fur—a large pile of it. I looked closer. Some of the fur was displaying the many variations a person can achieve with peroxide. In almost jinx-worthy unison, Boo and I exclaimed, “You scalped them!” Leona just chuckled and said, “Not scalped, well, not exactly.” She lifted her hands, wriggled her long red press-on nails, smiled and flapped her eyebrows. “These things aren’t just for beauty,” she said. She then reached down and picked up the peroxide pelt, holding it up daintily on either side with her red claws. This time both Boo and I screamed. Hanging down from the hair where the face would be was … A FACE!!! It was the dead-looking zombie version of that F-Chick’s face staring back at us. Distorted red lips, spider eyelashes sprouting from blue eye shadow, heavy blush on unnaturally tanned skin. “You killed them,” Boo gasped, almost in tears. “No, no” said Leona, “they aren’t dead! Just bald and bare and, ya know, speechless for now.” Again, she wriggled her press-ons. “From years of experience with the F-People, I discovered just the right spot under the chin to make an incision with my nail. Ya know, with all that make-up and several layers of hairspray creating an extra skin, all I hafta do is slice and pull and … PRESTO! Just like, ya know, an easy-peel Clementine. It all pulls off, bringing the hair with it.” Boo and I got into the back seat, keeping our eyes glued to the pelts as if they might pounce at us or try and crawl up on our laps. Leona just laughed all the way home.