I am ashamed to admit that with every one of the five girls I've ever made love to, I was drunk the first time we hooked up.
When I was fifteen, I went to a gravel pit bonfire party with a girl named Cindy Kaminski, who was a grade ahead of me in school. She had her older brother get us a forty ounce bottle of Seagram's amber rum to split. We mixed it with ginger ale, and we managed to finish about two-thirds of it before we both had to wander into the field to puke. I went with her when she had to puke, and I held her hair back. I thought I was fine, but a few minutes later I had to heave too. When we got back to the pit, we found someone had swiped out bottle. That was okay with us. We drank our ginger ale and then wandered off and humped in a bluff of trees. It was messy, awkward, pants-around-your-knees sex, but what other kind of sex is there when you're a fifteen year old small-town idiot?
Cindy and I dated for about a year, but we weren't a great match. A while after we broke up I got hammered at a house party. Some chick brought twenty cans of light beer and then decided she wasn't going to drink them, so I negotiated a drink-now-pay-later arrangement with her. Way later, after just about everyone else had left, I was still sitting there in the living room still drinking light beer. There were some chicks hanging out there with me. They were all big girls, but there's a certain time of night (usually after ten light beers) when a girl isn't fat, she just has big boobs.
Anyway, long story short, I gave shoulder rubs to three different fat girls, and then ended up going downstairs with the hottest of them. We made love on the concrete basement floor (how romantic). We didn't see each other again after that, but only of my earliest artistic endeavors was a satiric poem called "The Hottest Fat Chick." It was kind of an ode, kind of an elegy. It doesn't quite bring a tear to my eye. My other high school poems discussed such far reaching topics as "My Worst Hangover" and "Getting Hit In The Face With A Hockey Stick (By My Own Goalie)."
I had kind of a dry spell after that, until I got to Garrison Valley and started attending the horrible little university situated in that blighted prairie city. There, during my first semester, I went with a few class-mates to a dance-bar named Gooch's. I did a whole bunch of shooters, danced ironically, and ended up making out on the edge of the dance floor with a bar-star glamour girl named Sash. We ended up going back to her place and drinking a bunch of vodka coolers before finally going crazy on each other in her room.
Sash was a strange case. She and I made less sense than anyone ever. She was one hundred percent about the current, the slick, the popular, the cool, the blah, blah, blah. Twitter, cell phones, Lil Wayne, Lady Gaga, all the new shit, which of course is all the complete opposite of me. It was all I could do not to make fun of her and all her friends, all the time. But they all thought I was the loser for not caring about that stuff.
After having several months to think it over, here's my theory: Sash was so embarrassed about hooking up with a fashionless jock ape like me that she dated me for three months, hoping that I would eventually prove myself to be "cool," under her definition of the word. When it turned out there was no slicky-slickster under the shit-head exterior, she dumped my ass. Good riddance as far as I'm concerned, although I think we made a pretty good match in the sack. This, despite the fact that she made love like she danced--like she was trying to look cool while she did it, as though her catty friends were all watching.
Next up was Jasmine, whom you've all met. When I took her home from Riot Band's gig in Nick's basement I was several beers gone and she was completely trashed on wine cooler. She was wasted enough that she even thought it was cool that I was sleeping in a walk-in closet. Drunk, she made love like she wanted me to like her, as though she wanted it to be hot and sexy in sort of a put-together kind of way.
When Jasmine was drunk all of her raw emotion came out. Often it was anger, but sometimes it was just pure insecurity, and a desperate need to be liked. I felt bad for Jasmine. Even when she was having fun, even when she had it together and was being cool, even when she was helping me out, she was fragile. There was something tragic about her, all the time. Even when she made love.
* * * *
Around three in the morning, things were winding down at Lise's birthday party. James had gone home around two. There were still people hanging around in the basement, and there were still beers. Smokey, the party's host, was still loading his pipe with fresh pot and passing it around, although he looked like he was wearing down. And Lise, snuggling against me on the couch, looked like she was ready to pass out.
Everyone had finished with the guitars and drums. We were listening to a band called The Melvins and watching a lava lamp. Everybody was wasted, and people were telling stories and making jokes in stoned, sleepy voices.
I was pretty straight. I'd had a few beers and I'd taken the pipe when Smokey put it in my hand, but I was far too wary of Smokey to get wasted. I kept my eye on the shaven-headed, devil-faced pot dealer. He'd warned me against getting fresh with Lise, and here I was with her practically wrapped around my waist. He looked over at us a few times, but he didn't say anything. I tried to play the whole thing cool.
When it got near four, Smokey got up, switched off the stereo, and started kicking people's feet. "Up," he was saying to people. Some of his buddies had passed out, and he roused them and told them it was time to get out.
"Man, I thought I could crash," one dude moaned.
"You can sleep on the couch upstairs," he said. When the guy started whining, Smokey kicked him in the ass. "You want to sleep on the lawn? Get your ass upstairs."
I started to get up, assuming the instructions applied equally to everyone, but Smokey turned sharply toward me. "You're cool," he said, gesturing for me to sit my ass back down. "Chill."
Smokey cleared everyone else out and then went upstairs, leaving Lise and me alone in the basement.
"What the hell?" I said. "This is weird. How come he's not kicking me out too?"
Lise squeezed me around the waist. Her head was resting on my shoulder. "I explained a few things to him," she said. "He's got your back." She yawned and got up, taking my hand. "Come on."
We went into her bedroom. It was the same mess it was last time: an unmade bed with clothes on the floor. She instructed me to get on the bed. It was all very clear and simple, although she and I had never discussed hooking up. Apparently we hadn't needed to.
I got on the bed, still dressed. Lise closed the door and turned out the light, plunging the room into total blackness. I could hear her padding across the floor, and then felt the bed move as she climbed on. "You can get undressed," she told me. "You don't have to sleep in your clothes."
That was all the convincing I needed. I pulled off my t-shirt and got to work on my belt buckle. I felt her slide in against me. She'd worked quickly and was already undressed. Her smooth warm skin touched mine, and she pulled me down next to her and tugged the covers over us. She kissed me warmly, once, twice, snuggled into the covers, and fell asleep.
I already had a huge, um, idea, about what we were going to do together in that bed, but she was passed clean out. It shouldn't have been a surprise. Not only was it four in the morning, but she's been putting away the red wine and had smoked a lot. I thought about trying to wake her back up, but instead I tried to enjoy the peaceful moment, and I went to sleep.
* * * *
I didn't know what time it was when I woke up. How could I? It was still completely black in that little room. It could have been noon or the next night already. All I knew was that Lise was awake, and she was active.
With all the other girls I'd been drunk. With Lise I wasn't quite drunk--more like sleeping off a hangover. I don't know how she was feeling. She didn't say a word. She used her hands to find her way around, and she started in on me.
With Cindy at the gravel pit it had been awkward youth, trying to figure out what went where. With the girl on the basement floor it had been drunken strangers, participating in an emotionless hookup, stupidly humping to fulfill a biological imperative. With Sash it was a two mismatching parts, both embarrassed by each other, but enjoying the incongruity. With Jasmine it was a death-f--k. The whole think stunk of tragedy and decay, even in the earliest moments.
With all those girls, there was the idea of needing an exit strategy. Even at the beginning, there was the idea of needing to get out of it. And that tainted the enjoyment.
But with Lise, everything just fit. There was the excitement of the new, but there was also a depth of feeling that had always been absent with other girls. I was able to lose myself in it, because it felt like something that was right.
When it was over we lay next to each other in the dark, not speaking, but holding hands. Eventually she got up and flicked on the light, got a cigarette, and we smoked it together on the bed, still not speaking, just sitting together, looking each other in the eye. It was wonderful. I've always been an awkward speaker. I can do tough-guy talk and I can make sarcastic comments, but I'm no good with saying the right thing at the right time. I think Lise sensed that, and we just sat in silence.
She ran her fingers through my short hair and touched my cheek. When the cigarette was gone she leaned close and kissed me, then stepped off the bed. She had no shame in letting me see her naked, but she drew a ratty old robe around her small body and stepped out, leaving me alone in her bedroom.
I lay on the bed for a few minutes, then got up and got dressed. I came up out the basement and into the kitchen. I was expecting Smokey to be sitting there sharpening a big knife, but the kitchen was empty. I could hear a shower running somewhere. The clock on the microwave said twelve thirty.
In the living room some of the goons from the party were still there, still in the same clothes, playing video games. Still no Smokey. No Lise, either. I presumed she was in the shower.
One dude looked up at me. "Sup," he said.
"Sup. See Lise?"
One guy jerked a thumb toward the hallway. "Bathroom."
I went back into the kitchen. The phone was sitting on the counter. I picked it up and called Nick's place. Bertrand, the snob in the turtleneck, answered the phone. I asked for Ryan.
"Dude, what's up?" he said when he got on the phone. "You didn't come home last night. Are you in jail?"
"No," I said. "Are we jamming tonight?"
"Um, yeah, I guess."
"Good. Call Jed and tell him he needs to come over."
"I'm not calling that guy."
"Call him, man. We've got stuff to work on."
I hung up and got myself a bowl of cereal. Lise was still in the shower. I had ideas running through my head. Words. I wasn't a talker, but I had words in my head. Words for songs.
2010, Nolan Whyte