The Cuckoo Sisters
Published in Atlantic Highlands Herald September 2007
A wedding invitation came in the mail today. My friend Angela’s daughter is getting married in Honolulu this November. I phoned Angela immediately, and was overjoyed to learn that Connie will be coming from China for the celebration.
Angela, Connie and I, the only daughter of three families, formed the Cuckoo Sisterhood almost forty years ago. We individually saw each other from time to time through the years in different parts of the world, but rarely all together. Tossing and turning at night, I can’t contain my excitement. Memories flood my mind. We were joyful spirits, marking some of the most free and fearless times in our girlhood.
It was a clear night in Hong Kong in 1967. Angela, Connie and I were juniors at Unity English High School, finally allowed to be out after dark but too young to stay out late. Inevitably, boredom set in. One summer night we came upon an idea of what to do, something that made us start laughing the minute we thought of it. All dressed in dark clothes, each armed with a flashlight, we headed for the famous Lovers’ Lane not far from my home.
The sounds of traffic and the scents of hotpot broth grew fainter as we walked, and the clamor of the streets turned gradually into a nature’s wonder. The dry sound of breeze fingering though the bamboo trees welcomed us on the scene, where the roads narrowed sharply, bordered on both sides by earthen walls softened by time and steps. The dense butterfly bushes scented and sheltered the dim winding lane, making it a world unto itself.
On wooden benches, couples sat holding hands, whispering, hugging, kissing or caressing. The thin crescent moon hanging in the sky resembled their smiles, and the brilliance of the white moonflowers matched the blazing fires in their eyes. The shadows of the huge maple trees served as natural curtains for the lovers, and for Angela, Connie and me. We snaked through the path without drawing anyone’s attentions. Only once or twice, we relied on the low glow from the flashlights that we held under our skirts to help us stay on track. We observed the actions, covering our mouths, and trying hard to swallow our giggles. Finally, we stopped at a dead end, overhung by tall trunks of cherry trees. Before we could start to recap what we had seen, we heard a deep voice coming from the deep shadow. “Let’s do it. I crave for you as my stomach craves food.”
My mouth popped open. Angela immediately stuffed a handkerchief in it. Then we heard a tiny female voice. “I don’t think we should until you divorce. Or at least wait ‘til you tell your wife and children about us.”
“I’ll in due time. But I want you now.”
“Let’s wait. I’m only sixteen. My father would kill me.”
What? Sixteen? I squeezed Connie’s arm hard, and this time, Angela’s mouth popped open.
“What’s the difference?” the deep voice said. “We’ll get married soon enough.”
A slight rustling and the girl’s low howls followed his words. In the dim moonlight, we took a few seconds to locate the couple and discovered that they were only ten feet or so away from where we stood! We saw a husky fellow lay atop a tiny frame; her pale flesh moved beneath like a halibut caught on the baited hook. I felt my face burning. We stood frozen for a few seconds.
Then, without a word, we nodded at each other, knowing exactly what we needed to do. In unison, we pointed the three flashlights at the couple on the grass. Angela lowered her already deep voice and yelled, “Police!” Then we ran away like rabbits chased by a coyote.
After reaching a nearby park, we spread ourselves on the lawn under the shadow of a huge tree. Recalling the man’s expression, we laughed so hard that we peed in our pants.
“We caught him with his pants down,” Angela said, “Literally.”
“The look on his face was priceless,” added Connie.
“I hope that girl learned her lesson,” I said, “and never come to a place like this with him, or any man.”
“Maybe we should patrol this area every night. For her sake,” remarked Angela.
“Are you cuckoo?” I exclaimed. “Wet my pants every night?”
“Let’s go home, my cuckoos!” Connie put her arms around us. “I need dry underwear.”
Laughing, we chatted for a while and then left the place holding hands. Carefree and hilarious at the same time, we were part of a sisterhood blessed by some strong, sweet power.
Get ready, Honolulu, the Cuckoo Sisters are coming. Ain’t misbehavin’? We promise you not.