Saturday, March 16, 2013

Getting Unscrewed

        "Have you ever wanted to be a virgin again?" She lets her hair fall over her eyes and doesn't brush it away. I think this is an odd question coming from her, the demure, secretive thing she is. Maybe she's tired of her husband, wants me to find her a lover. She's right, I could. But I wonder why she thinks I can. 
        "God, no," I slash coffee on the table as I sit down, wiping it up with my napkin. 
        "You remember when?" 
        "God, yes." 
        "It's probably like remembering when Kennedy was assassinated, don't you think? I mean, everybody remembers, you know? You remember even what you had on. What the person you were with had on." She doesn't look at me, choosing instead to study the glass of ice tea she's turning her mouth toward, opening her lips and inserting the straw. 
        "Blue Jeans." I say, looking right at the hair in her eyes. 
        "I remember where too, you know?" she says, not smiling, leaning back. Her mood's becoming dark. "We were in my bedroom, with the radio on." 
        "Remember the song?" I smile, feeling only a little naughtiness in all of this. But she's wanting to tell. 
        "Uhmm, yeah. 'My Girl.' Isn't that odd. To remember so vividly, I mean." She pauses to blow up at her hair in a sigh. "They interrupted to say he'd been shot in a parade...." 
        It took me a minute. Then I felt a hot flash of disbelief, "No, Sally, I mean...." 
        "Oh, you're talking about...." she pushes her hair back finally. The word "sex" comes squeaking out of her. "You mean the first time." Her eyes look out at me with a nervous dare in them. So I wait, thinking she'll go on. When she doesn't, I say, 
        "I remember clearly. We both had on jeans and there was no song, believe me. We were at his apartment on the floor. He zipped down, but I had on the button kind, and I was glued into them. It was a terrible state of affairs. Him trying to get my pants down. Him with his pecker sliding back and forth over his zipper. A miracle it didn't get sawed off before he finished me. Probably the whole reason why we're supposed to wear dresses." I look down at the summer print I have on for work. When I look up puzzlement clouds her eyes. “I just mean that perhaps he could have removed his own pants more easily if he didn’t have to worry about helping me with mine! Time is of the essence when you’re having fun.” 
        There is a small pause before she laughs in a burst and I hear the slight rumbling of the last of the tea through a straw. She says with far too much girlishness in her voice, "It was different for me. I was engaged. He wanted to, but I didn't do it until after we were married. We ran from the courthouse to the motel. It was, like noon or something." 
        "I never wanted to be married," I say unreasonably loud. "But I didn't want to be a virgin either. I was scared I might always be one and embarrassed I was getting so old. God, what was I? in my twenties. Heavens! so I just let it happen to me when I came up upon it, so to speak!" We laugh together. I hope this coffee break is over and look around at the clock. 
        "Who was it?" she says, showing no signs of getting up. 
        "My best friend's husband." I say, turning around to see her eyes drop to where her fingers play with the spoon on the soggy napkin, turning it over and over. 
        "Oh, yes. He's still in a sanitarium, as far as I know. He ate himself up with drugs. And sex. I heard many years later that Susan left him for a kid who was fifteen years younger than herself. Guess she wanted to redo everything, this time having it her way!" 
        "Mind if I ask how it happened? You losing your virginity, I mean." 
        "Hell, no. What do I care? He doesn't remember his own name, let alone mine. I thought he was nervous about her appendectomy. Called me up from the hospital, and I went over to hold his hand. There never had been a thing between us. Ever. At all. But there was an attraction. Not sexual. In other ways. When she'd work late, he'd call sometimes, and I'd go for bike rides with him or drink at their apartment. She wanted it that way. I went with her too. Did similar stuff. But my visits with him got more frequent toward the end, and more dangerous. Once we went on his Harley after dark down the runway at the airport as fast as his bike would go, and half way to the end, he turned off the headlights. We just smashed through the night like that." I feel breathless, my voice spurting out too much air. She's just staring at me, her hand on her glass, this little opened-eyed stare on her face, her lips pasted against her teeth in a grin I couldn't make out. "Another time, I rode on his front car fender down the highway going sixty-seventy miles an hour, out of my mind. Nothing holding me there but luck and my might. I was buck naked. He was fully clothed behind the wheel, of course. He got his hard-ons doing that stuff. I don't know what I was doing. I really don't. For me, it was never sexual. It was more like suicide.” I can’t seem to stop. I blather on, dumbfounding myself, "Then one night he calls me from the hospital and I go over to their apartment and the minute I walk in the door, bang, he hits me straight on—not with anything, just his hands, slapping me around and I am so in shock, I don't even know what's going on until the jeans business and then his sex's going against me hard, right there on the floor, and all I remember is him getting up and saying, "A virgin. How could I be so lucky. Broke your cherry, kid. 
        "When I go to the bathroom and sit on the stool and wipe, there's some blood, but nothing major. And I'm glad, actually glad it's over, and I'm not a virgin anymore." 
        "Wow," is all she says, her eyes darting around to the other tables, then back at her empty glass. She picks it up again and acts like she's drinking through the straw. No sound. Silence.
         "It's sad, looking back, really." I say, not looking at her anymore, just staring out at the empty tables and chairs. "I think maybe I've spent the last twenty years trying to make this kinda shit right." When I look at her again, she's got this pinched up kinda expression. I feel a moment of heat, so I look her right in the eyes and say, "It's like I've spent a lifetime trying to get unscrewed, you know?” She laughs a nervous laugh as we stand up to go.

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