Boys and Girls:
The Boys. Drifting in schools, a safe distance from the wartime house.
Eventually, every kid raised in a wartime house with more than four people in it learned to smoke and drink. You hit the age when clandestine activities become the norm because you are coming of age. Being the middle child in the middle of the baby boom, I was lost. I was too young to be cool and too old to be cute. One time I managed to find myself in a field of people partying, drinking, smoking dope far past deGrave’s, down a dirt track out in someone’s farm field. The underage booze of choice there was Villaberry Cup. It came in a potbellied bottle with a jug-band style handle and a very long neck with a screw cap. It was a lovely coral colour and has long been off the market. They called them fortified wines. They were cheap and potent. I didn’t have any, or maybe I did. Everyone was listening to “Whole Lotta Love” and Gasoline Alley on eight-tracks, and we piled into the cars to head to the Lincoln. The drinking age had just been lowered to eighteen, so many high school kids could fake IDs and hang in there for the angel dust and joints and Standard Lager, but not me. Not yet. I still looked fourteen, but at least I was on the fringe. Some of my classmates who had big tits could get into the Lincoln. I would hang around on the fringes of these cool teenagers.
I was usually fortified with something. Maybe with some beer that we’d had up the street at Marlene’s. Her mom was never home. And we’d hop into and out of cars, and go over to Dunlop, then back to the Lincoln, hunting for a party. I still didn’t have a boyfriend, but they all knew me because I had a brother, a cool brother, who could fight, and party, and play football, and have girlfriends. All of my girlfriends wanted to be around him and his gang, so I got to be on the edge of the cool gang, unless he saw me and punched me and told me to fuck off.
But this time he was too drunk. He didn’t give a shit. Man, what a night. Everyone was wild. Maybe this would be my chance to find a boyfriend! Drunk kids are mean and irrational. I must have said something about wanting a boyfriend. The next think I knew I was in the back seat of someone’s car and there was a guy leaning on me, trying to kiss me. He smelled like puke. My heart was pounding. Wow! Someone wants to neck with me! Wow, this is it! But the puke was horrible. And there was so much else going on.
Wait, what is that? People? Lights? Yes. I’m still in the parking lot at the Lincoln. Is that my brother?
He was laughing. People were putting their faces against the car window and looking in. And my God. The stench. What am I doing here?
“Go Irwin Go!!! Go Irwin Go!!”
That was his name. Irwin. I didn’t know him, but they did. And who else is out there. Oh! Linda! Susan! My friends are watching too. He couldn’t even talk. He tried to put his tongue on my face and lean on me, but he was too drunk. His eyes were not even open. I got out of the car. I walked home. Nothing was ever said. My brother was too self-absorbed to care about my humiliation.
I grew to respect Irwin. He was a Rosser kid, a real farmer. He was older, an early phase boomer, and I think he really did like me, but neither of us recovered from the humiliation in time to become friends. We met a few other times, but to my recollection, never spoke. He was a shy guy, too shy for necking in the parking lot of the Lincoln.
“You need schoolin’
Baby I’m not foolin’.”
And I did. I was a tomboy and everyone else had boyfriends. I was just not pretty or I was too smart. I had a handsome brother and all of the girls really liked him. But I was not allowed there, with them, so I had to wander into other fields.
It had become embarrassing. Everyone had had a boyfriend or two by then. It was all they ever talked about. But how did they do it?
I could feel the surge of love beneath my ribs. There was no denying it. I’d drop my head on the pillow every night dreaming of Patrick or John or Raymond, anyone who had paid the least bit of attention to me. I was baffled. Not a single solitary boy had indicated in any way that he was interested in me. I guess I’d have to be more assertive.
I heard there was kissing at the New Year’s Eve parties and everyone had boyfriends, but I’d go anyway. This one was way across McPhillips. It was past Mountain and well beyond the rules and routines of Shaughnessy Heights. I had to walk, but it would be worth it. I would find someone to neck with, if it was the last thing I ever did.
I would get drunk enough, or someone else would. Yes, I’m proud to say, I found success and necked with Truss on the couch right through midnight, to Led Zeppelin, right in front of everyone. Of course, I fell in love with him. He went to a different school though, so I never got to see him after that. I think he was younger than me. But in my mind, we were destined for each other, and the pattern was established. I would find another boyfriend, now that I knew how to neck.
Anna was a good teacher. She wasn’t pretty either, but somehow she had lots of boyfriends and everyone laughed about it. Even the cool guys used to talk to her. She was really loud and crazy, just like me, and she knew where the parties were and always went, and she always found someone to neck with.
Pretty soon, I realized that most of my friends had been fucking the guys, not just necking with them. Especially Anna. Everyone liked fucking her. I was so jealous. How did they do it? How did they find boyfriends to fuck them? It was very embarrassing for me. I had to be the only virgin left who drank and smoked and hitch-hiked. What a loser.
I wondered if I would have to start telling lies and pretending that I’d been fucked in order to get my friends off my back. Most of the girls who were hanging out with my brother and his friends were two grades behind me and they were getting fucked and taken to parties and driven around in cars. I had to talk fast and keep my ears open to figure out what was going on, and usually I ended up hitchhiking to the parties, and showing up like an old shoe, just to be included.
I never had trouble getting rides, but I never got picked up at the parties. It was like I had rabies or something. I would party with the boys and laugh and be clever and crazy, and end up hitchhiking back to Shaughnessy Heights alone.
I had some friends who lived across the tracks by this time and even further up McPhillips in the nice bungalows and slab houses, on the expensive streets, almost in Garden City. They were a gang of Major Work girls, a grade behind me and they were paired up. Judy and Marlene. Debbie and Lorraine. And then there was me. Unpaired and alone, as usual, but kindly, they included me. They were pretty good at getting boyfriends. And they knew Anna from elementary school, from before they were in Major Work.
Their parents were more protective than any of the ones in Shaughnessy Heights. They always had family plans on the weekends in the summer. They had cottages to go to or their boyfriends did. My weekends were just the same once summer arrived. I was on my own and headed off to Grand Beach to party there. There were no plans. It was just a matter of sticking out the thumb and heading north. On one of those weekends, I decided I would get fucked, once and for all.
I was sick of being a virgin and embarrassed about it. I had my period, so I knew I wouldn’t get pregnant. I was on the prowl. Through Grand Marais and Grand Beach, party after party, beer after beer, joint after joint, I’d wander with one idea in mind.
Eventually, I found a guy, a nice looking drunk guy. He got me in the bedroom of the cabin we were partying in and started to go for it. I yanked out my tampon and shoved it between the wall and the bed and he fucked me. The sun was already coming up by then and people were sleeping all over the place, so I just left the party after that. I felt pretty proud of myself.
I was walking past the place that sold the deep-fried mushrooms and saw Anna there and was so excited to tell her my good news. I remember the look on her face. I’d expected her to whoop up and say, “Way to go!” but she didn’t. She just smiled and kinda softly nodded. I tried to fall in love with him. I can’t even remember his name. Foster? No. It started with F. A few weeks later Judy and Marlene and Debbie and Lorraine, who all knew him, invited him to a party in the city and made sure I was there so we could fuck again, but it didn’t work out. That was nice of them.