Artwork: Odalisque by Elsie Russell. (142 k)
My cousin Linny Sue won't stop bugging me about my being already fifteen and still a virgin. She says it's a shame for good Italian flesh and 'those thighs' to go untasted in their prime. "I mean GIRL", she goes. "GIRL, you are too tight for this world!"
Linny is disgusted with me. The real deal is that my dumb boyfriend Eddy is having, you know, problems with his you-know-what. Like he's the one that's scared. I mean, I don't want to be so, you know, white and lily and all anymore either. I mean, cum ON! Like, I have--well, at least five guys who would be just pleased to have my genuine peasant blouse my cousin Kathy brought back from Morocco draped over their bedpost. Already I have quite the rep, thank you! And I haven't done anything yet. At least I should have some fun for my troubles.
Just the other day Mr. G., you know--the cute English teacher--stopped me in the hall and asked me if I know R.W. in "The Biblical Way". And you know what that means. Mr. G is on my short list. I could tell you some things but I won't because some things are, you know, private.
Anyway, I can't say a damn thing to Linny about the truth since it would be all over the school before I hung up the phone. And jeez, then I'd have to give up on Eddy for good.
I really sorta like him, love him, I think a lot. I love the shivery kind of feeling I get when I just barely touch his back, trace his backbone to the end with the very tip tip of my fingers. At the end I press my palm for an extra second. It gives me an extra shiver, you know, there. Linny says that means I love him. That's the way it feels to love a guy.
On Tuesday Eddy's mother isn't home. They're rich so she must be at some Lady's Club or someplace where she drinks delicate drinks made with ice and a single piece of fruit. Sometimes, when she comes home and I'm still there she smells like whiskey and she's got those translucent fruit shreds in her fake teeth. We don't like each other. She always calls Eddy "Her Son." As if someone else would want to claim him and his cold button of a thing. Like when she fed him his formula she should have included some salt peter or oysters. I bet she was one of those kind of mothers who stroked little boy's things and ran the water in the bath to make them pee on cue.
It's on Tuesday that I take off Eddy's clothes and put them neatly on the chair next to his unloved electric guitar. Now he's birth-naked. I take off mine and toss them on the floor, stepping out of the last bit real slow like they do in the movies. I try to look tall. I'm lucky to be skinny but I didn't get much in the tall department. If I was taller, I bet I could be a model. Even with my nose and all--I mean, that would be the part of me that all the photographers would love the best. That would be my signature. In the papers they would say, "The exotic beauty, Linny Sue's Cousin, dined with Rock Hudson tonight". Linny Sue would have to be more famous than me, or she'd get too mad to be believed.
Eddy looks at me with a look that's more scared than hungry. I feel like slapping his stupid face. But I'm real smart, psychological-wise. I act real gentle. I stroke him everywhere but there, and try to distract him with conversation that has nothing to do with anything that we're doing. I talk about clouds, about colors--once I explained every step of how you shade a circle to make it look like a ball. Then I went on to corners. It was corners when I almost had him.
He was smiling because it was big. I thought of Mr. G., the English teacher. I wondered if his could get a lot bigger. I thought "Linny Sue! Now I finally got a story for you!"
Smile turns to a blank. Car door slams in the drive, and I hear the sound of grocery bags crinkling, heels on the concrete walk. Eddy begins panting with fear. What a jerk, I think. Like, you know, do you think he could get this excited over my perfect naked bod? That at least five guys would die for, including a grownup? No, not Mr. Noodle Weenie. Not with his perfectly dressed tipsy mama clinking up the walk with such heavy bags of tonight's dinner that she's too tired to cook.
I deliberately put my blouse on inside out and lose one shoe. "Oh Hi!" I go in her face as I exit Eddy's room with a door slam. Leaving her to guess a lie. Hisses escape from between her frozen smile. Tssssssssss.
Eddy's dad comes home that night and announces that there is going to be a cocktail party on Saturday night, and Eddy is now old enough to meet his friends. After all, he'll be in college soon, and he has to learn about presenting himself in public if he ever wants to get ahead in life. After all, HE (Eddy's dad) started at The Company in the mailroom after the war. It was just because he presented himself and his ideas well that he's now a VP and driving two Cadillacs. Eddy's dad wants me to come along. Unlike his prissy wife, Eddy's dad can see my good points. I am an asset to Eddy.
Shit, is this party dull. Like I want a doobie right now! I had to stand in one spot for like an hour listening to some fat guy go on about "how joyous it must be to have an artistic talent". I was about to collapse of boredom when Eddy's dad handed me a tall drink colored tan and told me I was old enough to drink scotch. Then he said I had to know that he liked me very much, that he admired my "spunk". The whole time he rested his hand on my lower back, rocking it gently. Back and forth, lazy like, back and forth.
"Do you like this painting", he asks pointing to a horror conjured up in a corporate artist's colony known as Sears.
Being polite (and liking the contact) I said, "Oh, yeah. It's real pretty."
"Bullshit!," he cries. "It's complete shit. Some crap my wife bought to match the sofa. You must learn now that you can't con me. You and my clodish son".
Mr. Eddy's father walks away, taking his gentle hand, leaving a tall drink in my shaking one. I find Eddy and whisper, "Let's go upstairs. Most of these folks are too drunk to miss us".
I wanna get out of that room real bad. Like now.
Whisky scent everywhere. Eddy is drunk on his father's scotch. I talk about corners and shadows as he peels off his preppy clothes, real slow. I press against him, I'm thinking about swirling hands, shimmers up my back, Eddy's lips melting into mine, my face, somewhere.
On the bed and we're doing it. I forget to think about Linny Sue. My head is back, Eddy is crying I think--or turning into a donkey boy like Pinoccio. Sounds of the party downstairs muffled, like a carnival blocks away. And then the door flies open.
Eddy's father is standing with a scotch, very still.
"Hi Mr. S.", I go, upside down. I'm laughing because Eddy's completely naked, his teeny boy's butt pointing scotch-ward.
Still, steady, drunk-steady, Eddy's father speaks. "Ed, your mother and I wish you downstairs with our guests."
He's so very solemn that I laugh more, standing, bare. Slowly I lift the mussed bedspread to my chin, laughing, never taking my eyes off his--Eddy's father. The door shuts, gently. He's gone.
Eddy is crying. For real.
"I'm gonna get it!", he wails. This is really pathetic. I know Eddy's father is not going to say a word.
And he doesn't.
About farewell debut.
Odalisque by Elsie Russell. (142 k)
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