Friday, July 17, 2009

The power of the pen...

Some paintings of the past are so painful to look at, that I question placing them even here: in my new gallery of deliciously embarrassing memory. Perhaps the end product will be so washed out and wobbly that it will slip down the wall one night and hid itself behind something prettier.

For now, I'm pounding in a nail and haphazardly affixing so all or few can see. I'm now retreating to the corner to see what sort of reactions I get. So let's begin this pubescent Twilight Zone.

Picture if you will: four young, promising writers thirteen and fourteen years of age. One male, three female. All but one have obscenely large plastic-framed glasses. The other is is squinting because she hides her own pair in her backpack (still a year away from the permission to wear contacts). The cocksure little group is gallivanting around a small liberal arts college in May. They're a team! At a state championship writing tournament! No other team could be more witty! No other team watches Kids in the Hall!

Their day would be jam-packed with hand cramping, nail biting creative writing. The scribbling would reach a fever pitch in response to the increasingly difficult prompts ("Describe someone who ticks like a clock! How is their day spent?) and by the end of the day the competitors are frenzied but ready for dinner in the dining hall (how sophisticated!). After dinner they'll return to their dorm rooms (how urbane!) and prepare for the celebratory tournament-end dance off in the student union. Here, they could really pretend that they actually were college aged, since that's what college students did: had dance-offs in the student union. The secretly myopic one especially was excited. She was ready for this. She had waited a very...long...time.

Stretched out on the extra long dorm mattresses, she and her teammates (even the boy, they had pushed him into their dorm room even though it was against the rules. They were a team, dammit! All decisions were made together!) were deciding what to wear. It was unanimously decreed that their matching tshirts would be shorn in favor of more festive attire. The Secret Myopic, especially wanted to rock something hard. Out of her backpack she began pulling out her go-to outfit: a pair of white shorts, black belt with giant silver buckle, topped off with a black leotard left over from "Oliver!" rehearsals a few months prior. Her recent foray into the theatre world had created some interesting wardrobe combinations of costume pieces and rehearsal attire. On her feet were her sister's handmedown blue (blue?) Chuck Taylors. On her head...well, let's please remember that the poor girl couldn't see. When she saw the rainbow crocheted slouchy rasta hat in the local head shop all she thought of was fitting in at Lolapallooza (not that she'd ever been or would ever go, not when there were productions of the Gin Game to see! her money was spent on theatre tickets, not sweaty concerts her parents would never permit her to see). She felt very confident until one of her teammates, the overtly Christian one whose writings all came down to sweet angelic wrap-ups, warned her with these words: "Remember, Jesus is like Jiminy Cricket. He's your conscience, let Him be your guide. Don't do anything Jesus would be sad about tonight."

Well...this just made the Secret Myopic teammate feel even more attractive. If the pious one was worried about her eternal soul, she must look fabulous. Attracting make-out partners outside of her usual circle was a new hobby of hers. At her junior high she was still the artsy-fartsy one, the book nerd, the theatre geek. No one had seemed to notice (really, not even she noticed) that her awkward appearance was growing into something more, something beautiful and new. But she started to get hints of this fact when she started auditioning for musicals and getting dancing and singing roles in the ensembles. Older boys (men! They were practically 16!) had announced her beauty and fallen a little bit at her feet. Fledgling drag queens had named her their inspiration and junior lesbians had stroked her thick black hair with a mixture of envy and awe. Her large (yes, again myopic) eyes she had recently began to appreciate: she drew thick black lines around them after reading about Cleopatra and her kohl. So, conscious of her new beauty, she set out with her team, reassured the concerned one that she wouldn't do anything she would regret in the morning, when the winners were announced at a morning ceremony in the college's two hundred and fifty year old chapel.

The team was in the highest of spirits as they entered the dance, chaperones lined the perimeter and several competitors were already dancing. The music was full-fledged nineties Top 40 (reminiscently awful), but it was music, and she was a dancer, so she tripped the light fantastic over to the middle of the dance floor and began her awkward promenade. Her teammates followed suit, except for the Christian one (sadly her sect did not allow dancing) and they enjoyed themselves with relative abandon for three or four songs. While taking a break to drink a can of Mountain Dew, the Secret Myopic was approached by a tall, sweaty boy with a burgeoning moustache and a Nirvana shirt. He said he liked her dancing (!) and wanted to know if she would dance with him. Of course she said yes, and walked back with him to the floor. They spoke of the things that eighth (almost ninth) graders speak of, what schools they went to (he was from a school on the other side of the state, what music they liked, etc. etc. Eventually their dancing inched closer, closer, closer and it was decided they should take a walk around the campus. Besides, it was getting highly fragrant in there, like only an enclosed space with pubescents can smell.

On their walk in the pitch black of a Midwestern late spring, they talked more. She had already decided he was cute but boring, smart but not thrilling. But she was a fan of male attention, a big fan. She had ignored the look that her concerned teammate threw at her, full of worry and shaming. She had blissfully ignored it and decided to take this walk, that she knew would eventually land them in the bushes or behind a building. She really didn't think it would end up in her own dorm room (she liked throwing that phrase around, "her own dorm room." Funny how she loathed dorm life when it eventually rolled around for her four years later).

It didn't take long to start, he made the first move (but not until she had sat down on the bed) and she returned the favor by immediately using tongue. She didn't protest at his unfocused manipulation of her chest. The rasta hat tumbled off her head and backwards towards the crisp white pillow. The sloppy kissing and second basing went on for about a half hour when it became obvious (he was sitting very, very close) that he wanted more. She actually wanted more too, for kissing usually bored her and she craved the extras that went with it. She was just about to allow everything (why not?) when she noticed that her left tit, the one that was a little larger, was hard as a rock.

It's a normal occurrence. The breasts go through growth spurts during late puberty, too...just like height. Their tissue is hard during these spurts, then softens and fills out. Her left one was doing this at the time and it was noticeable, and suddenly she was embarrassed about it. Even though it felt lovely when his hand began reaching into her white shorts, searching for the mythical girl part that evokes wet dreams in heterosexual males young and old, she knew this must stop, or he would see her odd boob. So she whispered, "We have to stop. It's late. I don't know you that well. You have to go."

She watched with a lonely little mixture of longing and relief as he stumbled out of the dorm, his waning excitement visible through this jean shorts. She yelled, "Good luck tomorrow!" and he didn't look back.

Her teammates stumbled in a few minutes later, concerned over her virtue...the male teammate used the term "boned" a few times in question. She assured them all, eyeing especially the pious one, that nothing serious had transpired, that she had kicked him out. No more was said, and the team began speaking of their pieces in the competition, and scattered to sleep.

The next bleary morning, seated in agonizing quiet, the Secret Myopic's heart raced for both the mention of her name next to "and first place goes to..." and for sight of her short-term, part-time lov-ah. She was so very vexed when the grand prize win went not to a member of her own team (namely she) but to the very boy himself whom she had released from her clutches so late last night. She and her teammates rolled their eyes at each other as he marched triumphantly up to gather his first place certificate. The facilitator at the microphone then asked the boy to read his winning prose for every one to hear, and as he began she noticed his voice was more strong and sure then she remembered (already fully changed from child to man) and that his writing was just as strong and sure as his voice. Dammit. The first thought that popped into her brain was whether to go up to him to say she'd changed her mind, but that almost immediately she vetoed. He had won first prize at the tournament, he wasn't getting another. The second thought that came (almost identical to the first) was that she didn't want to be labeled a prude, or a cocktease, even by a boy who lived 200 miles from her, so she'd better go up to him and offer him a blow job (it would be her first, first for first prize!) or something. Better a slut than a prude. She was also really upset that she hadn't placed in any category, and began to question to validity of these tournaments.

When it was all over and she was back home in the safety of her role as school nerd, where such situations rarely came up, all he was to her was a name in a list she had started a few months prior. A list with only three names on it, so far. She struggled to write down the newest name, because she had trouble remembering it. The rasta hat she decided to retire.

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