Monday, December 12, 2005

Like a virgin (Part 1)

Recently I was reminiscing with a friend about that seminal moment in my younger days when I finally took that first step towards becoming a man. No, I am not referring to the day when I passed my driver's test and became a fully licensed driver, no longer dependent on my parents to drive me around on Saturday nights. I am speaking, of course, of the first time that I had sex. I suppose in the grand scheme of things, my experience is no more noteworthy than anyone else's, but it remains pretty high up there in the top 10 highlights of my life so far. Oh, and it just so happens to involve Pat Benetar and Madonna.

I had just turned 20, and while the topic of sex had occupied most of my thoughts since junior high school, I had never really had the opportunity up to that point to act upon them. I had been more of the funny guy in my teen years, and most of the girls were only interested in dating the stars of the football and basketball teams. Going out with a junior varsity member of the golf team didn't quite have the same cache for the cheerleader crowd. And my freshman and sophmore years at college were spent pining after girls who were focused on the popular fraternity guys. I did wind up making out and doing some heavy petting with girls along the way, but I had a knack for finding the ones who were saving themselves for marriage, so while I was eager to make that final move towards home plate, I seemed to be always held up at third base.

Things finally changed the summer after my sophomore year in college. I was on vacation with my family in Brigantine, a small island along the coast of New Jersey directly north of Atlantic City. For over thirty years, my father's side of the family would travel from all over the country to vacation there at the beginning of each August. I became very close with my cousins, all of whom were older than me and who always included me in their plans, even helping me sneak past the bouncers to get into the local bars while I was still under 21. I was related to my cousins from Chicago through their dad, who was my father's older brother. That summer, they were also visited by relatives on their mom's side. (It is important to note at this point for legal purposes that I was in no way related by blood to the person to whom I eventually lost my virginity. We were in New Jersey, not West Virginia for pete's sake...)

Their mom's sister flew up from Florida to stay with them that week, and she brought along her 21 year-old daughter. Jackie was absolutely beautiful--long blond hair, striking blue eyes, and let's just say that she had a figure that would have allowed her to land a job at Hooters on the spot, without the formality of the mandatory aptitude test and necessary references. She also had a very sweet personality, and was completely down to earth. I spent the entire week developing a bigger and bigger crush on Jackie, but never even dreaming of acting upon it because

a.) she was completely out of my league, and
b.) she was my cousins' cousin and I couldn't imagine even trying to put any moves on her in front of them.

So I just spent the week talking with her about everything and nothing, and making her laugh with whatever dumb joke that I would come up with on the spot.

On the last night of our vacation that week, my cousins decided to go out dancing at one of the nicer bars on the island. Since I was still underage and trying to look the part of a suave, man-about-town, I got dressed in my finest polyester shirt and thin leather tie from the Chess King. (Keep in mind that this was the late eighties...). Jackie, who all week long had been pushing the fashion envelope with what only could have been described as punk/chic, was the last to emerge from the summer apartment as we all waited by our cars. She walked out in an outfit that would have made Madonna blush. She was wearing a white pleather jacket with fringe hanging from the sleeves, over several layered lace belly shirts, with a short white denim miniskirt and white knee-high boots, also with fringe around the tops. Her hair was piled high and tied with lace ribbons, and she had what I would estimate as about 27 rubber bracelets adorning each wrist.

Don't get me wrong--to my 20 year-old eyes she was still smoking hot, but to my oldest cousin Donald, who was just shy of his 30th birthday, it was open season for mockery. Don is a great guy and when it comes to family he be can fiercely loyal and protective. But he is also extremely blunt, and won't pull any punches with his other brothers or sisters, or in this case even his cousin. He began to tease Jackie and was soon joined in by my other cousin Michael, who was just several months older than me. Jackie soon ran back into the apartment in tears, and it took my cousin Marguerite a good 30 minutes to console her and reitereate what a complete asshole her brother had been before she re-emerged.

We all went the bar in separate cars, and Jackie was clearly still feeling uncomfortable about what had happened. I spent most of the night talking with her near the edge of the dance floor, repeating what a jerk Donald had been and sincerely telling her that I thought she looked very pretty that night. And I was saying that simply to console her, because as mentioned above, I felt that she was totally out of my league and out-of-bounds as far as I was concerned, and I wouldn't have tried to put any moves on her--not that I had even developed any moves at that point in my twenty years of unintended bachelorhood anyways. So I was pleasantly surprised when she smiled and kissed my cheek, telling me how sweet I was for trying to make her feel better. And I was completely caught off-guard when she grabbed my hand and pulled me onto the dance floor. To say that I was an awkward dancer at that point is being kind, but she was a trooper and acted like I was the only guy out on the dance floor.

Mercifully, a slow song finally came on and I began to make a break for the bar, but she took my hands again and put them on her hips. She wrapped her arms around my neck and put her head on my shoulders. It was all I could do at that point to not trip over my own feet, and after awhile I began to imagine that this is what it must have felt like to be the high school sports star dancing with the prettiest cheerleader. The slow songs finally came to an end and we all went out to our cars after last call. I had followed my cousins there in my own car, and was surprised when Jackie asked if she could get a ride with me, hopping into my car before I could answer. Again, she was my cousins' cousin, so in spite of the instant erection that I had developed as soon as her body had pressed against mine during the slow dancing, I was still not imagining that things could possibly go any further. I drove her back to my uncle's apartment, and after my cousins all filed inside, she turned to me and said "Let's go somewhere private."

(to be continued tomorrow with Part 2)