Lots and I mean lots of my friends had sex in high school, or so I was led to believe. However, I did not have sex, well except with myself. I remember riding the bus after a track meet and Ben was showing ‘the guys’ the condom he always kept in his wallet. I guess, if he ‘always kept it in his wallet’ he may not have been sexually active, but that’s beside the point. It was the first one I’d ever seen. I did, thankfully know what it was. I was a junior and had barely survived my ordeal of explaining the female reproductive tract to a class of my sophomore peers the year before. Imagine my angst when my biology teacher, Mr. Whitney asked, “Kevin start us off."
Oh, come-on Eugene, I was, by far the shyest kid to ever look through one of your microscopes. Anyway, the vagina is the place to start, right, I’m a guy I knew that. However, the problem was I’d never heard it pronounced before. Of course, I knew many of the politically incorrect and offensive euphemisms and wondered if I could insert one of those in my description. But my mind could not find a suitable substitute for vagina. So out it came, “Well a woman has a VAG-IN-AH.” I tried to speed through the pronunciation but my class would have nothing to do with it.
I have no recollection of what else I may have said after that. But after that I lost all credibility on the subject. I can still see the heads of my classmates bent down on their desks, cradled by their arms, in a vain attempt to suppress their laughter. They were, after all, my friends. Perhaps it was the memory of my pronunciation challenges that lead to me being recognized as my class’s most shy?
So, like every boy, I crushed on girls, usually large breasted ones, and often associated my fantasies with a popular song of the day. “Oh What a Night.” was playing when I first saw Deedee in the cafeteria. Phew, she wore a pale pink angora sweater; it fit her perfectly. Did I say it was too tight? Tight, fit Deedee perfectly. Deedee was my real-life fantasy that I thought of as I looked over my brother’s Penthouse, Playboy and Hustler magazines. How lucky are the boys of today that have easy access to internet porn? Did I mention I’m still a boy? I’d look at those glossy images and did a mental photo shop of Deedee’s head over those arousing bodies. Oh, what wonderful nights perfecting my presumed knowledge of female anatomy.
Like the school’s marching band, my years quickly marched on playing a tune that wasn’t always in tune with my friends, until the week before my senior prom. The last bell just rang, homeroom was over and I was packing up my books. When Ann came in saying, “Kevin, wait a second.”
She sat backwards on the seat ahead of mine and I looked into her dark eyes and became lost in their depth and mysteries.
“Kevin are you going to the prom.” She asked?
If it had been John or Scott that asked that very question it would have made both of us laugh. Imagine Kevin going to the prom. But this was Ann. Deedee was now only a midnight memory. Ann was my everyday fascination. Immediately, I thought, OMG where is this going. And I imagined holding her against my chest as we danced to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”.
“No, Ann I’m not.” I was scarcely able to breathe.
“Well Leelee isn’t going either and she’d really like to go with you.”
I know what you’re thinking, “Deedee and now Leelee”, he’s making this up. I kid you not. This is Maine 1978. If this were Alabama, I suppose they might have been Mary Ann and Mary Ellen.
My heart dropped, my towering hopes immediately sank to somewhere between the lost city of Atlantis and the Titanic. Leelee was great, and we did share the same click of friends, and we both battled the perennial teen scourge—acne. But she was not Ann, she did not occupy my day time thoughts and my night time dreams. But how could I convince Ann to go with me instead?
If you will, picture Eeyore saying, “Sure, I’ll go with Leelee.”
My senior prom took place at Evergreen Valley, it was a small ski resort, now defunct, located in Sweden Maine. I picked Leelee up at her house on Long Lake and did all the things my mom told me to do.
“Tell her she looks lovely.”
“Compliment her dress. “
“Offer her the corsage.”
I held the white flower thingy up to her face, Leelee smiled and her mother came to my rescue saving me from the difficulty in trying to attach it somewhere on Leelee’s body. I failed to ask my mom where it was supposed to go.
Leelee was pretty but the whole time all I could think was, She’s not Ann. We arrived and danced. Then I saw my best friend dancing with Ann. I hadn’t even thought to ask who he’d be going with. To his credit he had no idea I crushed on Ann. I had so many unrealized crushes my friends would have been bored to know them all. Seeing them dancing stabbed me like a stake in the heart. Envy took over my heart and I must make a long overdue apology to Leelee. I’m sorry for how I behaved the rest of the night.
Before I left for the prom, my mother said, “Remember to give her a gentlemanly kiss when you say good-night.” Sorry Leelee, I was an ass. A handshake, really?
I graduated high school. My score in fantasy sex was 872, while my real sex was 0. I went off to college at the University of Maine at Orono. Gee there were lots and lots of Deedee’s there. I offered to ‘coach’ a girl’s intramural football team from my dorm. I remember how embarrassed I was following them to the field as they walked arm and arm, like some absurd New York City Rockette line singing, “My balls are swinging between my legs.” That’s when I discovered that girls could act like boys. The only thing missing were the actual balls. I secretly hoped that something might have come of my willingness to ‘help-out’, but it did not. Through my freshman year my sex score was a depressing 885 dreams to 0 reality.
So, I returned home for summer vacation and worked at the State Park. At the park I worked the Bowl Patrol. It was about as glamourous as you imagine. I worked nights, driving around the campground, moving from one bathroom to the next cleaning and disinfecting them. The only ray of sunshine, through those long summer nights was my co-worker, Danielle. Her name still rolls off my tongue as my imagination sees her body glistening in the moonlight with Sebago Lake as her canvas. She had the beautiful female characteristics you’d expect would intrigue a shallow teen male. Through the course of the summer, I believed we had become friends. She even confided in me a secret that I’ve kept long enough. Imagine my thoughts of her curvaceous body spinning around a pole after I learned she had been an exotic dancer. And imagine the imagery when she regaled me with her recollection of time when she was working a fire tower in the western Maine mountains, while a pilot, practicing a water pickup in his fire patrol plan filled the planes belly with water. Then he hugged the side of the mountain and climbed towards to the tower knowing she often sunbathed naked. As she described it, he dropped the water spot on.
I was close, so close to asking her out. Until one damp summer’s night when we approached each other in the dark, and I playfully called out, “Friend of foe?”
And she replied, “Neither.”
Strange how heavy that one word felt.
I filled the next few weeks with runs and bikes, scorching beach days and rigorous mountain forays but there were no girls. My brother’s stash of mags, was no longer available, that was lost in the move to camp. And still no World Wide Web, or at least not with the sites available that a 19-year-old boy could benefit from. So, until July my score remained the same. Then the phone call. I was out in the backyard making the basketball hoop clatter more than the net swish when my mother came out of the camp, her hair up and curls and beaming, the proud mother.
“Kevin, you have a phone call.”
My next shot clattered off the backboard and rebounded off the bark of the tree and shot back at my groin. I deflected it into the bushes.
My mother, smiling from ear to ear, tried to calmly add, “It’s a girl!” “
A girl?”, I said, trying to act cool.
“Yes, you know, like the opposite sex.” She winked.
Fully engaged now, “Who is it?”
“I don’t know. Perhaps you should go and find out.”, she smirked.
I bolted inside, any chance I ever had of being cool around women was lost with VAG-IN-AH. Slightly out of breath, I picked up the black heavy rotary phone and said, “Hello?” as if doubting this day would ever come?
“Hi Kevin, it’s Ann.”
I could feel a walnut sliding down my throat and an ulcer forming just above my duodenum. I turned back to the door and realized mom was sitting on the couch next to me in the den.
I managed to put my hand over the receiver just before I imploringly shrieked, “Mom!”
Mom’s smile was compressed to a pinched-up smirk. She knowingly left the room. This wasn’t her first rodeo; I was the last of seven chicks in her nest and the only one still flightless.
I’d like to say I conversed with Ann in the very composed and dignified way of my sex, but is that ever true? I’m sure there was much stammering and confusion but I did manage to retain the key fact that I was going to visit her at her house. Her dad owned some antique cars and we were going to wash and wax them for the July 4th parade. Who was I to say no to that enticing offer?
On the drive to her house, in nearby Casco, I lowered my expectations about the upcoming wax-on wax-off mating ritual. Perhaps I was one of many people she had invited to help out? But to my surprise, and glee, I was the only one. Oh, I bubbled I’m sure. Ann had a special place in my heart. She was both beautiful and bright and we had the added bonus of already being friends. The details of the conversation are now just dust in time, but I do remember we had planned to go to a drive-in movie.
During the week leading up to the drive-in movie my anxiety grew like a snowball gathering momentum and size as it rolled down an enormous hill. Until Friday, the only article of clothing I was concerned about was my underwear. If it is important to wear clean underwear in case you had an emergency and needed to go to the doctor, then certainly the underwear selection was instrumental at a drive-in movie. After-all, one of the clichés of a drive-in is ‘making-out’, and that would lead to touching and feeling, right? So, what would be the best underwear to wear?
Somewhere in my history I had acquired a skimpy light green heavy cotton brief. It probably fit me when I was 4 years younger and 20 pounds lighter. I pulled it on. My manhood, was now contained in an itty-bitty loin cloth. As I looked in the mirror, with my junk itching to get out, I thought that would be the right look.
I can’t recall what the movie was. I bet I didn’t even know what the movie was then; I was preoccupied with expectations and conflicting thoughts:
Expectation, the man has to make the first move.
Mother’s influence, be a gentleman Kevin.
Expectation, put your arms around her shoulder and reach down to touch her breasts.
Mother’s influence, Kevin, be a gentleman.
Expectation, lean over and pull her towards you kissing her with your tongue probing the inside of her mouth.
Then came my internal dialog, Okay, Kevin, if I kiss her should I probe her mouth with my tongue? Probe, what an idiot.
Then Ann spoke, “Kevin? You seem far off?"
While she was ever present in my thoughts, I had managed to take my mind on an out-of-body trip to Mars. “Yes Ann?”
“Your windows have sure fogged up a lot.”, she said smiling.
I could see a twinkle in her eyes reflecting from the windshield.
She continued, “Why don’t you sit closer to me.”
Now, firmly grounded on Earth, I slid next to her. Okay we’re touching now. This feels nice. What’s next? I had never sat so close to a girl. Her skin was soft and she smelled pleasant and peculiar in the way of a new puppy. I managed to clumsily touch a breast at some point before the credits. But this is where my underwear plan backfired.
By now I was extremely uncomfortable. The more excited I became the more uncomfortable it was, in a case of diminishing returns. And when Ann reached down my pants to try to feel my junk, she didn’t find it. It was painfully restrained in my underwear. So, I achieved entirely the wrong effect. Although the drive-in was memorable, I was still held scoreless.
As the leaves changed to their emboldened shades of brilliant yellows and their lustfully needy deep tones of red, I returned to school. Ann, who still occupied my shortsighted view on the future, set her attention on someone else, who undoubtedly did a lot less thinking and a lot more action. She became a cavernous pot hole in my rearview mirror. Someday, I’ll figure out how to stop driving in reverse.
Dorm life worked for me, empowered by a tennis racket, I marched down my male wing of the floor to the mysterious lair of the female human. I stuck my head in one door and then another asking if anyone cared for a game, until I looked in one room where a blonde girl sat cross-legged looking over a disarray of her stuff strewn across the plush white rug in her room. My immediate thought was wow, messy like me, my second thought was how beautiful she was.
Once again, I remembered the sage advice of my mother, “It can’t hurt to ask.”
I asked this beautiful minx if she wanted to play a game. We did played tennis, we went for runs, we saw movies and ate meals. We watched repeats of the TV show Paper Chase from my bed. We drove to Acadia national park to cross country ski the boundary road.
But I, clinging, rather glued to a notion of my pimply faced and limp dicked inadequacies never asked the obvious follow-up question that swam just below the surface of my furtive imagination. We remained close friends that entire year. She must have thought me disinterested, or perhaps she thought me gay. But we fit, we really did—if she just wasn’t so damn beautiful, I would have had the courage to ask.
In the spring of that year, she needed to make a foray to the University of Fredericton Canada, she was after-all, a foreign exchange student who was attending Orono for just one year and she asked me to go with her. Thankfully, memories of pain are dulled by the years because even though she initially asked me, at the last minute she drove off with someone else.
The next fall, I learned from her roommate, that she had a crush on me and wanted me to ask her out. I filed the Laurie lesson under the heading, Seize the Day, and vowed to act in the future.
I was 20 when my junior year started, and Michele was formed out of the clay of my imagination and the fire of my passion. She had a plan for a man, and for some reason that man was me. I think her goal was to take my virginity before I turned 21. She just succeeded.
Mark was my roommate. He was outgoing and … we’ll he was outgoing. It wasn’t long into the fall term that he instructed me about the notecard. If we reversed the notecard on the door so the name was hidden, it meant we had someone in the room with us. Mark used it almost weekly. So much so that I wore a familiar depression in the lounge chair in the centrally located study lounge.
I don’t recall when Michele and I started to date, but it got really serious in February, a week before I turned 21. Really serious meant we were naked in my bed, which was the top bunk in the bunkbed Mark and I shared. I inverted my notecard name just as Mark had so many times. And while Michele and I were fast in the throes of passion, I heard the tumbler on the door click and realized Mark was coming in. I vaulted off the bed, naked and threw myself against the door.
“Mark the name tag!”
“Ah Kevin?”, he said questioningly. “I thought you were kidding.”
“No, I’m not!” I said emphatically.
With Mark gone, I pushed the door closed, and being only 20, had no problems getting my groove back on. When the evening ended, I finally was able to add 1 to my tally.
It’s cliché, but in a very real sense I stopped being a boy and became a man, and stopped counting trivial things.