Friday, June 4, 2010


A boy-man whistles at me as I pass the brick and mortar house engraved with tilted, crooked letters hanging off of its face.  He looks no older than 21.  A child, but a decent looking one.  He whistles again, as if that would be all it would take.  I give him a small smile of acknowledgment and move on, passing house after house, all vaguely familiar and similar.  A Slip'N Slide covers the hill of one yard.  Boy-Men and Girl-Women are flopping pell-mell down the yellow rubber, red plastic cups gripped in one hand.  Beer sloshes everywhere as they land at the bottom, in a pile of happy, laughing drunks.  Bodies roll and tumble, collide into one another.  Elsewhere in the yard, and on the staircase, they pair off and flirt, each with their own intentions.  A second guy calls out to me and tells me to join the party.  I shake my head and smile as I move past.  He must see this as a challenge, because he follows me and calls out, "Don't you want to have fun?"

This is, of course, where I should have said no.

When I was his age.  When I was here.  I had a list of 'To Do's', a mental check-mark system that I stowed away in the back of my brain.  Keg stands were not on the list.  But, when you near thirty, and your heart is bruised and battered, and you run away, you do things differently.  Apparently.

The pattern of conversation moves along quickly.  Names are exchanged, surface questions are asked and answered.  Peter is fairly intelligent, and far too handsome for his age.  He asks if I'd like a beer.   I tell him I don't drink beer.  He looks at me with speculation.  He asks me if I'm a grad student.

I smile. "No, I'm a grown-up."

"Oh, yeah?" he says. "What's that like?"

"Like a really slow death."

He arches an eyebrow, sips his beer, shrugs and asks "Want to do a keg stand?"

Peter must not appreciate morbid humor.  I glance at the keg.  I never understood the joy that people, mostly guys, took in keg stands.  Maybe it's about being upside down and not on your feet.

I am led to the keg.  A group of boy-men, all sporting the same Greek letters, gather around.  A few girl-women join in and I'm encircled.  Peter gives me some basic instructions: suck, swallow, wiggle my legs when I'm done and let go of the tube when I'm done.  He asks if I am ready.  I nod my head, take a big breath, put my hands on the keg, and am lifted up and off of my feet.  The group circles in closer.  The tube is in my mouth and I am sucking and gulping a horrible tasting beer, while they lean in to watch and count.  I think I get to five before I start to kick out.  Letting go of the tube is more of a challenge then I thought it would be.  Beer splashes my chin as I am brought back down to my feet.  My chest is sticky, my hands are wet, and my face is flushed.  But, I am a heroine.  Cheers roar, hands pat my back, and I can't help myself.  I feel a tiny surge of pride.  Giddy with glee, and stuck to my clothes, I turn to Peter and smack a big kiss on his lips.  He grins back at me and leads me to the house to clean up.  Peter shows me to his room and lends me a shirt to wear.  He looks at me expectantly.

"I need to wash up," I tell him.

"Oh, of course."  He leads me down the hall and waits outside of the universal bathroom.  There are no doors so he stands guard outside in the hall.  It's either sweet or proprietary.  I watch myself in the mirror while I give myself a quick bird bath and pull his shirt on over my head.  The urinals and showers and two stalls are drab and somewhat clean.  The lighting is fluorescent.  I cup my hands under the faucet and swallow water.  It's metallic.  I spit it back into the sink and tie my hair back up into a ponytail.  I can hear Peter whistling happily to himself outside.  Turning, I look at him and back to the mirror.  Decided then, I nod to myself and walk back out to him.  I take his hand and lead him back to his room, closing the door.  He smiles then.  He looks as he feels.  Lucky.

The night turns to sweat and heat.  He is gentle.  He listens to my moans, watches my movements. Studies me.  Learns from me.  There is something sweet, and heady about being the teacher.  I let go and enjoy myself.

We doze afterward, until I wake up some time later.  I watch him sleep.  He smiles as he snores.  Sweet as he is, he is not for me.  I dress quickly, kiss his cheek, and leave out the back door of the house.  Walking back to the apartment, I watch the sun float up into the sky.  Surrounded by yellow and red plastic cups, I pick my way past the houses.  A few others are out, returning to their apartments and dorms.  I feel much older than I am in this moment when hours ago I felt like a kid.  The urge to drive returns.  I leave the apartment quietly, pack the car, and head back to the highway.

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