I’m still working on the project I’m using the working title “Sweet & Salty” for. It’s a project that started out of nowhere, just by sitting down to write whatever comes to mind, and it quickly has become the largest piece of writing I’ve ever worked on. It’s a departure from my normal poetry writing and even though when I last wrote about this project I wasn’t even sure if it was a play, a memoir or what but now as I work on it, I know what it is. It’s my first novel. Here’s a small taste:
The first time, my first time was on the floor in her parents living room. The movie A league of their own was on the TV but the TV was muted and music played from a boom box. I don’t know why we were on the floor and not the couch, it almost felt like she was afraid of the furniture. Maybe she was afraid of leaving a stain or something, I don’t know. I was afraid too but not of stains or furniture or if Dotty’s husband would return from the war or if Kit could pitch a win for the big game. I wasn’t afraid of having sex, I wasn’t afraid of STD’s or of making a baby.
I wish I had a photo of the cashier’s face at the pharmacy when I bought a box of condoms. Thinking back on it, it’s funny but at the time, the look on her face when I was twelve years old buying a box of condoms. To this day, I have not been able to forget her. She was probably in her 60’s with white hair that was curly but thinned out enough that her scalp was immediately obvious. She was wearing a baby blue t-shirt and a yellow cost cutters apron. Her hands were spotted sacks of bones that once resembled an actual hand and they trembled slightly. She spoke no words. Her face said it all. Her blue eyes piercing out from over her sunken cheeks with too much blush stabbed me with the horror they felt. Her lips with too much red lipstick that had stained her teeth pink, her mouth closed aggressively from a gasp to a scowl. This forced me to break eye contact and look down at her name tag. Her name was Cindy. I mean was because she must be dead by now. Even dead, that face, that look on Cindy’s face it still scares the shit of out of me.
Silently, On the TV Rosie O’Donnell is eating hot dogs while catching foul balls and Gina Davis is doing splits while fielding pop flys. On the Radio, Linger by The Cranberries plays. The song was much longer than the sex. Much longer. The sex is basically just a side note to this story. From this point and through most of high school, one thing was true. One, She got me wrapped her finger ah ah ah do you have to let it linger, do you have to, do you have to, do you have to let it linger.
I was 16 when she became the first repeat offender. We were on her bed, in one of those small 2 bedroom, red brick apartments, so common in north jersey. The bed was right under the only window and outside the window was a small patch of woods. On the other side of those woods was the middle school, the school at which we first met. We were in high school now so I wanted her to know I knew what I was doing. I did something you are never supposed to do. I came inside her.
I was wearing a condom but I didn’t want her to think I was so ill prepared and unpracticed that I couldn’t last more than 2 minutes. So, I did my best to hide the silly orgasm look on my face and kept on humping. She asked me rather nicely if I had finished. I of course denied and boastingly asked: “I’m a lot better than I use to be, right?” I smiled and tried to act like what I thought a man would act like. Tough, proud, confident. I was none of those things. In my heart, I felt terror. What would Cindy think?