Waist-high grass, on the hill behind Tosh’s Garage, beside the lake. Still, and utterly quiet. Full moon low in a black starry cloudless summer night sky, shattered stretched reflection arrowing out across the water. Me, teenaged, on my back on the gentle slope in a hidden nest of tramped down grass stalks, quivering, with my shorts around my knees, and two young women sitting beside me. It’s my first real sexual experience.
Summer’s here and my mind has turned to summer thoughts, and so I thought I’d share a true summer story with you, because I like to tell stories.
I’d started drinking in my hometown in my late teens, because that was what you did. Turned out I liked it quite a lot. The door opened to a whole new world of social experience that was new to me, and, importantly, a whole new stage on which to interact with women. I was still and ever in love with The Girl Unattainable, but I was also pragmatic and romantic, and great ceasar’s ghost, so unsupportably horny all the damned time. Years of nights blend together in my mind. Map those nights, and the dots would form a pixel cloud around that deep cold lake we lived beside. Fifty miles of clear water, and us, and booze, and fires in the summers and autumns. There’d be crowds, and bonfires, on the rocky shores or beside the government wharf or at the cemetery, near the mouth of the river or out past the provincial park beach. Sometimes it would just be me and the Bearman on some secluded rocky promontory with a bottle of rye and a pack of cigarettes, starting early, watching the sun go down, trying to talk our future selves into existence, wondering what parties the night would bring.
I loved the parties, usually, as long as I’d emptied enough bottles to feel a bit free. And I loved to… well, I suppose I loved to interview people. At some point early on, I’d developed this intense need, when the alcohol had done its work and barriers were permeable in the comedown after the peak of the party had passed, to Learn About People. There were a few guys who were down with the whole enterprise, and would play along with my curiosity and raw questions, and I made good friends and learned from them in the process. There were even more girls who seemed flattered by my intense fascination with their emotional lives, comforted by my complete lack of judgement, and a little weirded out by me. They were more accustomed to guys clumsily trying to fuck them, right up front.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to do that, too, I’ll be honest. But even when I was drunk as a proverbial lord, my brain just wouldn’t stop, and I was too self-conscious and fearful of rejection. I hadn’t had sex yet, except, you know, with Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman in my one and only wet dream when I was about 13. So it was words and temporary emotional intimacy I looked for, and found.
There were a couple of young women — let’s call them Jane and Trudy, to draw a thin veil over the memory — who, if not fixtures at our beach and gravel pit and parking lot and Pisser’s Point and cemetery and house parties, at least showed up fairly regularly, and almost always together. One was my age, the other a year or two older. Both buxom and well-knit and attractive, but in a girl-next-door way that didn’t draw as much attention from the circling cocksharks as some of the flashier but soon-to-fade skintight-denim glitter girls, most of them a couple of years younger than us, who herded the crowd of drunken boys around like dogs with sheep. Both were smart and — that term that was nothing but derogatory in those days in that place — artsy. They just hung out with us.
I’d spent the quiet wrapup hours of a few parties interrogating them in the past. A loopy dynamic had evolved where these two friends, as far as I could tell, were able to sometimes reveal things about themselves to each other in response to the harrowingly personal questions I was asking. We all enjoyed ourselves.
So, back to Tosh’s Garage. One of those beautiful warm fleeting midsummer northern BC nights, and a bunch of us had been drinking beer around a small fire on Cottonwood Beach. The booze was running out, the other girls had gone home to beat their curfew, the other guys figured they would go look for a party, and Jane and Trudy had said they were ready to head home, too. I was just going to call it a night and go to bed, myself — home was about a 1 minute walk away. As the group broke up, it ended up being just the three of us to finish our beers and put out the fire.
I was finishing my last beer as the two girls whispered to each other a bit, glancing at me, and then Trudy suggested we walk the 100 metres or so over to the hill behind Tosh’s Garage, just to chill out and look at the lake and the moon and the sky. I thought that was a fine idea. I usually made an attempt to sober up a bit before heading home and talking to my parents, anyway. I was oblivious, and happily inebriated. Up for anything, as usual.
And so there we were sitting on the shoulder of the hill in the deep whispering grass that reached over our heads, Jane to my left and Trudy on my right. We were friends. It was a glorious night like any other, we were young and drunk, and life seemed like a thing without limits. I’d like to think we were telling each other how great it was to be young and alive, but I truly can’t remember what we talked about.
Then Trudy leaned across and kissed me. And when she pulled back, Jane did the same from the other side. I was transfixed. Time kind of stopped. After what seemed like a tiny forever, I leaned to kiss Trudy, and she took my left hand and put it on her right breast, and Jane leaned in behind me, wrapped her arms around me and rested her head on my shoulder.
They leaned me back with gentle hands onto the bed of flattened grass, unbuttoning my shirt, kissing my mouth, and then my chest. Jane rested her palm lightly on my crotch. I started shaking. Not just quivering but shaking like a goddamned tree in a hurricane. It was dreamlike, and for the first time that I could remember, my brain finally shut up.
They both sat halfway up then and looked at each other across me. Trudy unbuttoned her shirt, and Jane pulled her t-shirt over her head, and they leaned in again, kissing me. Pressing their breasts to my chest. I was finding it difficult to breathe.
Jane undid the button on my shorts, and Trudy reached in and wrapped her cool hand around me. Thirty years later, I can still feel it, and even today, the memory of that sensation shoots like a bolt through me. She said ‘You won’t get us pregnant,’ and I suddenly realized that I was going to have sex for the first time.
We kissed some more, and Jane replaced Trudy’s hand with her own, and Trudy started pulling down my shorts.
At that moment — and I swear to you, this is the truth — we heard Robert’s voice, down at the bottom of the hill. ‘Hey, guys, I got more beer!’
The three of us froze for an instant, then frantically pulled clothes back into place and buttoned and zipped and poked our heads above the fringe of tall grass.
Robert staggered, hammered, up the hill with his case of Labatt’s, and we drank a few more beers, and he totally failed to seduce either of the girls. They left not 15 minutes later, and Robert and I took the rest of the disintegrating cardboard case and wandered off in search of a party.
I think part of me has hated Robert since that night.