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Five Stories: Same-Sex Experimentation
What else is college for?
By Nerve Readers
Four of us sit on Leni's black-velvet blanket — Leni; Leni's wannabe-girlfriend, Val; Leni's gay friend with the eyeliner, Tim; and me — watching Kentucky Fried Movie. It's so obscene we may as well be watching porn. Val says, "Wanna put on porn?" Tim glowers as Leni changes the tape. My head feels like a microwave inside which my brain is slowly melting. On screen, people grunt and writhe, and Val slides her hand down Leni's pants. We all pretend this is normal.
Normal in Miami is eighty degrees outside at Christmas. The trees here are decorated with real fruit. I've never been so disoriented.
Ever since I met Leni at Jewish summer camp, where I fit in and she was way too cool, I've been half-obsessed, half-terrified; I wish she were a boy so that my feelings would make sense. I'm fifteen and humid with lust and yet I wear my brother's huge t-shirts to obscure my boobs, which burst out of my chest one day like guests who take over a party and won't leave. Leni's boobs are just small enough that she doesn't have to wear a bra, i.e., perfect, as I note ruefully when she lifts her shirt to show me her nipple piercings.
The night I arrive I am equally shocked to find a step-dad (no one I know has one) and handcuffs on her bedpost (um, ditto). We watch Romy and Michele, Leni on her bed, me awkward on a chair. She zonks out before the credits. Were she a friend from my real life up north, I'd crawl next to her. Instead, I curl up at the foot of her bed, on top of the black-velvet blanket, like a dog. In the morning she laughs at me. Then she puts a hand on my hip and it's my turn to laugh. All week, it's like that. She touches me, testing, and I go, "Ha ha ha!" She's patient. But the reflex persists.
The night she invites over Tim and Val, I realize I'm being punished, and that I probably deserve it. After they leave, she's quiet. She plays me Ani DiFranco songs on her guitar. The next night, New Year's Eve, we get drunk on malt liquor and take the black-velvet blanket to the roof of her shed. The hot, muggy night is like an oil spill. Finally she kisses me. Then she pulls back and looks me straight in the eye. For once I don't laugh. Later she sits in the darkness playing more Ani and I shiver on the bathroom tile. I keep thinking, and want to say, "I'm sorry," but I don't. I don't have to. She knows.
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