American Graffiti and Jock Itch

American Graffiti and Jock Itch

Charles Martin Smith portrayed the character, Terry (The Toad) Fields in American Graffiti. He (under legal age in the movie role) had the uncanny knack to include a few verbal diversions while trying to purchase a bottle of liquor.

"A Three Musketeers, and a ball point pen, one of those combs there, a pint of Old Harper, a couple of flashlight batteries and some beef jerky."

In my opinion, a great scene with a great line, but it didn’t work. He got carded and when asked to see his ID, he responded with, “More respect, please."

I could have used his expertise. One problem however, was that I had not yet seen the movie. And another factor is that I didn’t have the extra cash with me to mix in a few diversions at the drug store counter.

To my best recollection, my purchase took place in either the summer of ’71 or ’72. My buddy, Rich Fornadel* (now a successful pediatrician) of Beaverdale, and I had completed a couple of sets of tennis earlier that hot day.

During the match, I developed a serious case of Jock Itch. It resembled two inverted, red Christmas trees, one growing down the inner thigh of each leg. Akin to leprosy sores, I could barely touch the area, and I grimaced in pain with every step I attempted in those tight Bermuda shorts. (Where were the baggy styles when I needed them?)

It was indeed excruciating, and after getting cleaned up and changed, we made plans to go out on the town that evening. We were on our way to a suburban Johnstown nightclub. But first, I decided to stop in at a Richland Township drug store and purchase a can of Cruex (the only jock itch cure on the market).

Wallet in one hand, the Cruex in the other, I approached the check out girl – Yes, girl.

She was tanned, tall, and thin - a blue-eyed blonde, sporting a halter-top, and she was gorgeous. And, as luck would have it, she was the only employee in the store.

Most nineteen or twenty year-old males would have baled out and jumped-ship instantaneously, and Rich was one of them. He could never keep a straight face anyway and immediately asked me to pick up something else before I started to check out. He couldn’t take the thought of me, purchasing only the Cruex, in front of this beauty.

“Please buy something else," he pleaded repeatedly. “At least pick up a magazine or something."

Forget it. I was too cheap. Besides, the extra large canister (about the size of my dad’s thermos from his mill lunch bucket) was not reasonably priced. It was very expensive. But I needed the powder, so to the counter I slowly shuffled by myself.

Rich took a short hike to the magazine stand, pretending to look through a glossy. I can still see his face, grinning widely while straining an ear toward the checkout counter.

“Will this be all?" the girl asked.

With that question, Rich lost all self-control (he didn’t have much to start with) and started laughing out loud, uncontrollably.

I looked right at the counter gal, and said, “I don’t know, wait till I check."

Glancing toward Rich, I held up that huge cylinder of Cruex and asked, “Hey Rich, do you think this one can will be enough or do you want me to get you another one while I’m here?"

Naturally, there was no answer from the stunned, future physician - only a look of mortification and indignity.

So, I responded to Gal Gorgeous with, “I guess that will be all."

I thanked the girl and we departed the drug store in mass hysteria.

Rich walked upright. I hobbled out like a bow-legged cowboy, donning tan Bermuda shorts. The UN-bagged Cruex can was in my hand, cap off, and ready for dispensing the second I got in that car. Hence…

My version of American Graffiti – (with a nasty affliction of Jock-Itch).

*I have to wonder if Doctor Fornadel still recalls that incident every time he treats a wicked case of diaper rash.

My Roots - The Potchaks - circa 1927

My Roots - The Potchaks - circa 1927
From Left: Son, Steve - Dad, Frank - Mom, Anastasia (Makar) - Sons; John, Mike, Frank, Chuck (Author's Dad) - Twins, Pete & Mary - Daughter, Catherine. Photo taken in Wilmore, PA