IN THE SUMER OF 1979,
I was Mark Merlini's girlfriend for four hours. He
lived down the street and suddenly seemed cute, so we kissed for about a
half-hour on the hill behind his house, facing the Route 11 bypass in
Gilford, New Hampshire. He kissed with his mouth open so of course I
opened mine, but our mouths created a strange suction which I found
unpleasant and a little stupid. When I broke up with Mark after I'd
walked home, had time to think about things and called him on the phone
he thought he'd frightened me with his sexual prowess. "We don't have to
make out," he said. " I guess we moved a little fast."
"It's not that," I said. "I just don't like you," and after he protested a
few more times, I hung up. My reason for breaking up with Mark was no more
truthful than his vows to keep us together, but it was the best I could do
when I was eleven.
Boys like Mark were a dime a dozen. I was either friends with guys in
grade school or rivals, with a reputation for being as tough, as quick,
and as mean. I gained their respect by outlasting them at dodgeball,
standing alone in the circle while they pitched the kickball and missed
me, one by one.
I thought I knew as much about sex as I did dodgeball, it was just that I
hadn't put my expertise into practice yet. I read a lot and was a
know-it-all about plenty of things I'd never done, and though I can say
now knowledge without practice is pretty close to ignorance, I really
thought I had a handle on things at eleven.
Reprinted with permission
from brevity, Fall 1999
Copyright © 1999
by Kate Flaherty