ESSAYS & SHORT FICTION
The smell of used textbooks and carpenter’s glue will always remind me of my first feelings of carnal lust. Repairing art and science textbooks at the boy’s high school where my father taught was my first summer job. I worked monotonously from 9 to 1 to the soundtrack of Metallica’s Black album waiting impatiently for the ringing bell which signaled the end of summer school and the beginning of my lustful liaisons. It was August, I was fifteen, and I had never wanted someone so bad. Monday to Friday at 1:00pm I would stand in the doorway to the main hall with an invented purpose for my solicitous gaze and random presence. He always turned the corner at 1:12, centered within his brood of grunge compatriots. White Sonic Youth t-shirt and black Doc Marten clad, he would acknowledge me and my invented purpose with a shy smile and a soft hello. The pull was magnetic. His eyes - deep set. His head - shaved on each side. My breath - winded. My teenage life - over. It was raining on the last day of summer school. The day he turned the corner alone, and stood at my door with a purpose not invented. He asked me if I was hungry.
I had a Chili Dog. He had a Michigan. We shared a poutine and we didn’t talk. When I would lift my eyes he would avert his, and so on and so on until our gaze met and melted into our embryonic teenage fantasies. Post junk food foreplay he walked me back to work holding my hand.
August afternoons were eerie and silent. The 1:00pm evacuation of students and staff left the hallways echoing and the offices desolate, as they would remain, still and untouched until morning. No one saw us come back in. We walked down the long hall together, holding wet hands and cringing at the sound of my squeaking red Cons against the linoleum floor. The sound reverberated down the corridor.
“I want to show you something,” he leaned in to whisper in my ear once we had reached the stairwell.
“Sure.” I smiled.
He pulled my hand softly around the corner and I followed him down the stairs to the basement. He lead me down a dark unfamiliar hall, through the locker room, past the boy’s washroom and into a narrow entranceway. Except for the sound of his breath and the pounding of my heart we were blanketed in still silence whose only match was the soothing grey darkness of the basement weight room.
He picked me up and gently pushed me against the wall so that my back fell on cold metal. The sexual knowledge I had amassed thus far within my catholic, chaste and pure existence was limited to the trailer for Cocktail, preceding my VHS copy of Dirty Dancing. I knew that if a man picked you up you had to wrap your legs around him. I did just that and he kissed me, as ferociously and fearlessly as any 15 year old could muster. My memory of that afternoon, soaked in rain, making out in the basement weight room seems to expand the older I get. The reality of it was that it was just a moment. A defining moment, which could only be preserved through the permafrost of hindsight. He didn’t want me to be his girlfriend. But he couldn’t help himself to the feast.
He walked me back upstairs to my glue and textbooks and kissed me again before leaving. “I’ll see you in September,” he smiled and left. Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon and my summer crush escaped through the back door. When September creeped in, I retuned to school to learn that he had been expelled for academic failure.
I never heard from him again, and had erased him from my memory until recently when through no volition of my own I found myself pushed up against a cold metal wall. Then I looked him up on Facebook in search of algorithms and meaning. He is a doctor living in Oregon. He has two young daughters, and a beautiful wife. He has a black lab named Lady, and a special affection for shiny red sports cars. His pictures indicate that he has a house in the country that he visits every so often and he has traveled the world. An expulsion from school led him to a picture perfect life of ecstasy.
I did well in school. I also still live here, not far from where my premature lustful liaisons took place. I have no husband, and no kids. I have no car or dog. I don’t own property and I haven’t travelled much.
But somehow, through destiny or just plain old bad choices, I am still an object of sexual deception.