The Birds and the Bees

Xmas in Palm Springs is like an oxymoron. The palm trees sway, the sun shines bright and it’s often hot and balmy. It’s where Beverly Hills families often went. Where some were lucky enough to have vacation/weekend homes.

We were lucky to “know” someone. My dad was always up for a freebie and one winter vacation we borrowed his friend Alan Freed’s house. Alan, the New York disc jockey known as “the father of rock & roll,” had in fact coined the phrase “rock and roll.” Poor Alan Freed. Sometimes when we were there to visit him and not on our own, I would make him sit and listen while I auditioned for him, singing the hit Allan Sherman camp song, “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh (Here I am at Camp Granada).” I was convinced I had a great voice, but in truth could not have been more off-key.

Hello Mudder Hello Fadder

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The Fishell family lived a few blocks away because they were one of the lucky ones who owned their own home in the desert. The Fishell girls were very grown up and popular. All the boys gravitated to them. My dad was a friend of their dad Dick, an older father like my own, with a hot, younger wife, also like mine. To be honest, my parents had been divorced for years, but we went everywhere together as a family. Very modern, way ahead of their time. Maybe no one even realized they were divorced.

The twins, Jeannie and Jackie Fishell were a year younger than me, in fifth grade, and Robin was my age and also in sixth. Every day we hung out as a large group of pre-teens. Robin was probably too mature for me so I hung out more with Jeannie and Jackie. At night we had spin the bottle parties with lots of boys who remember our peck of a kiss to this day. Like John Sofro who would later marry one of my BFF’s — Barbara Dudley.

The Beautiful Fishell Family

I was in way over my head and my mother must have felt something was up (no pun intended) and decided it was time to have “the talk”. Yes, the dreaded birds and the bee’s talk took place in the desert that Christmas. She sat me down all serious, looked me in the eyes and literally put her hand on my extra-flat chest and said, “Boys are going to want to touch you here.” Eeeewwww! Was she kidding? I so didn’t want to be having any kind of weird-ass talk with her and I really hated that she actually touched me to get her point across. By the way, I wasn’t born yesterday, even at that age. I grew up around a father who used words like prick and cunt like other fathers said please and thank you. I would have to explain to kids playing at my house, “Oh a prick is a penis … cunt is a vagina,” and the kid would be so confused. Why had Fredde’s father called some guy a penis???? Anyway, I knew things. I guess now that I’m older I appreciate that she went to the trouble, but back then I cringed big time.

Oh, for the record, a boy wouldn’t be touching me “here” until I was 15 years old. I had smuggled Scooter on to the cheerleading bus from an away game. We sat together in back. It was very late at night. I could not have been more infatuated with Scooter; he knew it and humored me all the time. This time he put his hand above my breasts and over my not sexy uniform, which, underneath, barely concealed a REALLY BIG not-so-secret Kotex pad held in place by a now ancient, almost medieval belt. He said “Trust me?” in an unforgettably hot moment in my life. I said, “Yes”. And he put his hand right on those barely visable tits of mine. So, I finally went to second base. Sort of. If it counts that it’s over thick orange and white felt material, which it shouldn’t.

me in orange and white felt cheerleading uniform

So, back to the desert. On the first night there, before the aforementioned infamous chat with mom, my parents decided we should all go skinny-dipping. Mom’s idea. Seriously. The water in the pool was cranked way up. It was a hot sexy desert night (with my parents?) and my clearly sex-crazed, nudist (not that I knew it before) mother wanted to swim sans suits. Very European of her, I now realize. At the time, you couldn’t pay me to be naked. Now, it’s hard to keep my suit on and I ONLY swim naked. So, I know the exact moment in life that caused me to free myself of clothes. Stems back to that fateful night. We did it. We swam naked as a family. Are we freaks? Maybe. The only thing that honestly ever bothered me about my own body, and that I was 100% self-conscious of was this nasty bluish purple mole on my ass. A big-ass mole on, literally, my ass!!! So, the summer before I knew I would want to get naked with a boy (and not just to swim), I went to a plastic surgeon friend of the family to have it removed. I know you want to know how old I was, not telling. Okay, fifteen. But I think I waited until sixteen to take all my clothes off for a boy. And if you’re reading this — and I’m pretty sure you do read this, Boy That I Took it All Off For — I never told you about the hideous mole… So, now you know.

Since I grew up with this very European sensibility about sexuality and naked bodies and all that, I hoped that my kids would pick up on it and be okay and comfortable too. I didn’t want it to be a taboo subject, but I also didn’t want to be my mother, and I never sat my daughter Augie down for the “talk.” So, on Augie’s first date with a boy in the 6th grade, she and her BFF Cody went on a double-date with two boys. When they walked in the door later that night, Cody and I asked Augie questions. She answered honestly that he put his arm around her in the movie and he had his hand on her chest the whole night. That slick move, yawn and stretch, that dates back to the beginning of time, I guess will never go out of style. We gasped and screamed, “Augie, you’re not supposed to do that!!!!!!!!” Poor Augie was clueless and said how sorry she was, that she just didn’t know. My bad. Guess I should have been more like my mother and sat my daughter down for the birds and the bees talk.

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On Sundays, my mother the skiksa would make my father a favorite dish. Matzo Brei. I never watched her make it, not my favorite dish. In the early 70’s, my mother moved to Palm Springs and until she died, she made this for my father whenever he visited her. Just found this Ruth Reichl recipe online.
Matzo Brei Recipe
4 matzos
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter


Crumble matzos into a large sieve placed over a bowl to catch crumbs, then hold sieve under running cold water until matzos are moist and softened but not completely disintegrated, about 15 seconds. Transfer to bowl with crumbs, then add eggs and salt and mix gently with a fork.
Heat butter in a 10- to 12-inch skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides. Add matzo mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until eggs are scrambled and matzo has begun to crisp, about 3 minutes.

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19 Responses to “The Birds and the Bees”

  1. Augie Duke says:

    bring it back mom yes yes yes… Love it…

  2. jennifer dudley arbaugh says:

    You know how elegant and polite my ma aka mere was… She didn’t go into b&b’s detail, simply emphasized “sex should be beautiful and FUN.” well, it was for me and still is…. no doubt same for Dudley and Erin. I passed her words onto her grandchildren!

    Keep em coming.. pun intended… xxxxx jenn

  3. Joy Aroff says:

    Charming Fredde. Such a petty picture of the Fishells. Wonderful memories.And cute Mina was a Hot Mama. Cannot believe they have picked Jennifer Aniston as the Hottest Female of all time. Palm Springs is where it all started for me and the Aroffs. Hate to say this, but Maury Aroff taught me to make Matzo Brei and it is really great. Too much butter, but delicious. Probably the majority of B.H. school children have Palm Springs in their early childhood. Just keep writing. Luv yah.

  4. David Miller-Engel says:

    Great Stuff Fredde, forwarding to Jackie…Happy Holidays…and we’re due for a lunch again…

  5. Alan Duke says:

    There’s no way I went skinny dipping with you or our folks. Maybe with the Fishell girls, but not with you guys. 🙂

  6. valentina says:

    Fredde, wow. Not only did/do I share your pool and swimming obsession, but I you’ve brought forth more memories. I was constantly at the Fishells’ house in first to/thru third grade, being geographically desirable (next street over), plus Robin and I went to the same Saturday art glass for “gifted” kids for several years. My parents loved the desert. Many a summer or Easter vacation, they’d rent a house there for 1-4 wks. I learned to swim there. I remember the Fishells’ house in PS … we rented the house right next door to them one Easter, I think.

  7. Eileen Mumy says:

    another great story told. Thanks.

  8. Pauli says:

    Fantastic piece of work Fredde – hysterically funny and moving. Brought
    back so many memories of the early make-out parties in BH & PS. Great work!

  9. Irene Freedman says:

    Fredde, I remember so many weekends at your mom’s house in Palm Springs with you, Alan, Sol, Rory, and Stan… and and yes, the Matzo Brei too…yummy! What great memories…I still have the pictures to prove it!! Love reading your stories!

  10. Joy Aroff says:

    One thing I meant to say is, your writing just flows. Just like you are talking. It’s as if the words come quickly, just roll off your tongue. That’s why it is so delightful to read. How many of these are you going to write before you enclose them in a book? Go girl. We all love it.

  11. Julie Phalen says:

    Another great story Freddie!

  12. mitch says:

    Your story took me back to my own teen years in the desert. Wonderful story, Fredde.

  13. Ebbo says:

    Is this the actress who was on Tales From The Darkside?

  14. Augie Duke says:

    It is the actress from Tales From The Dark Side. She is now producing writing and has a fun blog.. This is the blog.. She is great.. If you love food and funny stories, stay tuned…..

  15. Bruce says:

    Another fun story!

    I love matzo brei, but Reichl’s recipe has too much butter. Also, my shikse ex-wife from Indiana use to add fresh blueberries (and of course served with maple syrup). Really good.

  16. Jay says:

    Love it Fredde! Tittilating!

  17. pauli says:

    Nobody remembers it better. Makes me feel sad that it’s gone. Nobody does it half as good as you…Fredde, you’re the best!

  18. Bonnie raphael says:

    Dear Freddie I knew Robi really well!

  19. EDDIE says:

    Great Story, Such things we did as adolescents. Brings back memories of when I dated ‘Robin’ (not a twin) lol

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