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One lunch period in the spring, I came into the student-council office with a great story to tell. It involved me and a fictional neighborhood girl I'd been dating. This was safe, since none of the other guys lived in my neighborhood. That afternoon I told a fantastic story about our acrobatic sex, based on a steamy scene from the film Oral Addiction.
After I'd finished, two of the other boys talked about a Spin the Bottle game that occurred at a party the previous weekend, and though they did far less in that story than I'd done in mine, their story was factual. And we all knew it. In that moment, I lost my audience. I soon became the Betamax of sexual experience, unable to keep up with the VHS of real life and doomed to nostalgic anonymity.
My career as a Peeping Tom had lasted exactly four days. I ran into Peeping Bob a few times that summer at neighborhood social functions. We never talked, but we nodded to each other in recognition. We never knew each others' names, but we shared an understanding.
The first time I stared down the business end of a recently spun bottle was on Christmas Day the next year. It was at a party at my cousin's house, and the kids of family friends gathered in the finished side of the basement and passed around a pilfered half quart of eggnog. With the assistance of spiced rum and bourbon, I found the courage to dive into a Spin the Bottle game for the first time.
The spinner, a teenage anomaly named Jackie, stood well over six feet tall and weighed over 200 pounds. When the bottle landed on me, she stood and pointed to the shower stall in the corner. "Let's go."
My hesitation existed on two levels. For one, this was my debut first-person sexual experience, and a number of terrifying scenarios were gripping my imagination. (These ranged from simply being a bad kisser to actually peeing in my brand new khakis during the experience.) Second, at barely five-feet tall, I was afraid of being crushed by this massive girl. I stared around the room at the others, begging for an out, but was offered only mute eyes and smiles.
I stood, and she put her arm around my shoulder, as if to implant romance into our brief relationship. The others all watched us go.
We squeezed into the stall together and I picked up the aroma of eggplant parmesan and root beer that flavored her breath. I gave her a long look; her blue eyes and Christmas tree earrings, her prematurely developed breasts flanking a snowman with fluffy balls for eyes and buttons. I could hear the giggles of the others in the outside room, and the observer part of me longed to leave the stall and get back to the safety of the group. Yet some other part wanted to stay.
Jackie picked me up and placed me on the built-in seat amid bottles of shampoo and conditioner since it was clear that our height difference was going to cause a logistical problem. A lump in my throat bulged outwards and for the first time I felt the excitement and sense of imminent doom that I would forever associate with barreling down a runway in an airplane.
I stared at her neck and the tight brown curls that hung around it. She took out her gum, reached out, and pulled the door of the shower closed. The next three minutes were a blur of clicking teeth and mouth breathing. I remember grasping her fleshy hip and pawing the fluffy eyes on her chest. I remember sensing when it was over, and that we stopped kissing simultaneously, as if we were both fitted with timers.
"You taste like candy canes and rum," she said and patted me on the head. I wiped my mouth on my sleeve and we left the shower.
My short rendezvous had rendered me giddy and glass-eyed. My heart worked in wild thumps and my hands were shaking with adrenaline. I'd never been able to capture these sensations from watching Oral Addiction or any other porn. Nor had I been able to capture them in my stolen moments in the forest, yards away from tapping screen doors.
We rejoined the group and sat down. As the next guy spun the bottle, my cousin nudged me. "How was it?" he asked.
I didn't reply; my look said it all. And, until now, that was all I would ever say about it.
Damien Galeone is a writer living in Prague. He teaches university students who pretend to understand him, and lives with a cat who’s plotting his murder and around neighbors who force him into hard labor. His first novel, Senseless, was published in August 2011.