Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Reading is Fundamental

Saturday, March 7, 2009

I was up early this morning to meet my 9am Pilates client on the upper east side (96th and Lexington to be exact). I hopped on the 6 train and just for the record, getting on the subway during the morning rush hour is like the running of the bulls. You can easily get gorged in the ass if you’re not careful. I sat down across from a boy who must’ve been 11 or 12 years old. He was reading,
The Doomsday Conspiracy by Sidney Sheldon, a twisting plot of a worldwide government conspiracy that could lead to the end of the world. I thought it was an odd reading choice for an eleven year old. Not that I know what your average, less than average or above average, eleven year old is reading these days, because I don’t.
What I do know is that Mr. Sheldon created the television masterpieces, Hart to Hart (1979–84) and I Dream of Jeannie (1965-70) The way I see it, Christina Aguilera owes Sidney big time (I’m a Genie in a Bottle-1999) Like she thought of that by herself. Sidney didn’t start writing books until after he turned 50. Whew, I still have several years to crank one out. Okay, so now I’m comparing myself to Sidney Sheldon?!
I couldn’t imagine how an eleven year old boy found his way to Sidney Sheldon, but I admired this pint sized rebel. It reminded me of myself. I stepped out of my fifth grade reading curriculum by studying and memorizing Judy Blume’s, Forever (thanks to my neighbor and Yonkers street gang member, Stacy Dominguez). Forever was the story of Katherine and Michael’s first time having sex. That book was my sex education. God knows my parent’s never sat me down and explained anything. Either they were in denial or hung over. That’s what the World Book Encyclopedia was for.
I underlined the dirty parts in Forever, or what I thought were the dirty parts, and I brought the book to school to share with my friends, because I’m a giver and a sharer. My friends and I gathered on the black top at recess, and being the public speaker that I was (read: attention monger) I read the dirty parts out loud with the confidence of a prepubescent Tracy Lords.
“Then he was on top of me and I felt Ralph, hard, against my thigh.”
In the book, the Michael character named his penis Ralph and ever since then, whenever I hear the name Ralph, I think cock. Ralph Lauren, Cock Lauren. Cock Machio. Cock Waldo Emerson.
“Just when I thought, Oh God…we’re really and truly going to do it, Michael groaned and said, “Oh, no…no…I’m sorry…I’m so sorry.”
“What’s wrong?”
“I came.”
That Judy knew her stuff. My friend Jennifer, okay, that’s a lie. I don’t have a friend Jennifer. I was trying to protect the innocent but it makes me feel like I’m making this shit up. My friend Leslie (sorry Leslie) wanted to borrow the book. The following day in school I was called into the nurse’s office. Leslie, Leslie’s mom, my mom, and the school nurse were all staring at me, as if I’d started a fire in the library. Leslie’s mom was so pissed. She was appalled that her daughter was reading a book about sex. Clearly she hadn’t had a sit down with Leslie either. I was such a smart ass at the time, and thought the whole incident was funny. I’m sure the expression on my face said, “Bite me.”
The nurse looked at me and said, “Forever is inappropriate reading for someone your age.”
I looked at her. “Inappropriate? My parents roll joints before family car trips, and my dad wears Speedos, and carries a man bag. I think we have different definitions of inappropriate.”
They all looked at my mom, waiting for her to say something parental. All she could say was, “I’m just glad she can read.”
After reading Forever I did wonder what my first sexual experience would be like. And when I was two months shy of my 16th birthday, I found out. Scott and I met on a teen tour the summer after sophomore year in high school. The tour was like high school; only we traveled from coast-to-coast in a deluxe bus for 40 days, all under the watchful eyes of a few 18- and 19-year-old counselors. Scott and I fell in love in the back of an ultra-modern, air-conditioned, restroom equipped motor coach.
As soon as we got off the road, and back to our separate high school lives, Scott and I made plans to meet in New York City. We met at Pier 84 to see The Clash and The English Beat in concert. I’ll always be grateful to Scott for introducing me to punk rock. At the time my musical tastes consisted of Broadway musicals and Cher. Who am I kidding. Nothing’s changed. During the song, London Calling, a thunderstorm blew in. I’d just bought a pair of cream colored leather boots (with fringe) a week earlier and they weren’t the least bit broken in, or water proof. Ow.
We strolled (I limped) to Penn Station, and took a train back to Scott’s house on Long Island. I’m pretty sure I knew where this train was headed (wink wink) and I was excited. And where the hell did I tell my parents I was going? As liberal and lax as they were, I don’t think they would’ve been down with my going to my boyfriends’ parents house to get laid for the first time. My ankles were killing me but I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want my new love to think that I whined, even though the pain warranted a whine or four. It definitely warranted a cab.
When we got to his house, we immediately went up to his bedroom (and where the hell were his parents) I took off my boots, and not only were my ankles bleeding (from the hardened leather rubbing against them of course) but my ankle blood had penetrated the leather, and stained the outside of the boot. Classy. And yet, I still kept quiet. I wish I could say that I would never walk in bloody boots again to look good for a man, but I can’t.
I timidly asked for a couple of Band-aids. It’s a miracle I was able to do that much. I didn’t want to cause a fuss, but I thought it would be more humiliating if I’d left a mark on his sheets. When he handed me the Band-aids, he looked at my bleeding ankles concerned.
“Are you okay? What happened?”
I was mortified. “I guess it was from the boots.”
“Why didn’t you say something?”
Why? If I knew that...
Then I panicked. I wondered if he’d be turned off by my bloody ankles and wouldn’t want to have sex. That was adorable of me.
We climbed under the black polyester blanket of his twin bed and started making out. All I remember is that it started slow and tender, and then before I knew what was happening, it was over. Seriously, Judy knew her shit. The thing is, I didn’t care. We loved each other, and I knew we’d be doing it again.
I went into the bathroom afterwards to check things out; you know to see if I looked any different, and to see if a Mariachi Band was playing in my vagina. C’mon, I read that first timers can have very dramatic responses and feelings. And yes, I usually believe everything I read. There wasn’t a band but I did find the condom still inside of me. Ah! I wasn’t so sure that that wasn’t supposed to happen because, as I said, my sex education consisted of Judy Blume books. Judy never wrote about this sort of thing happening, so I was at a loss. The only naked body I’d seen up to that point was the redheaded naked girl holding an airplane on the cover of my parent’s Blind Faith album. I still cringe when I see redheaded naked girls.
I didn’t know what to do with the condom. Do I flush it? What if it backs up the toilet? I was so responsible even then. Do I throw it in the trash? What if his mom finds it? I was too embarrassed to ask Scott, so I pulled it out, tied it off, brought it home and hung it upside down in my closet to dry. Then I pressed it in my scrapbook next to my autographed photo of Doug Henning. But because I’m into telling the truth, I left it in the corner of the bathtub and never said a word about it.
I went home the following morning and later that day Scott called. We decided to be mature, de-virginized adults and avoid the elephant in the room. Instead we planned our next rendezvous. Why can’t innocence like that last forever.

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