I had few friends in the fall of 1985, when I was a high-school sophomore in Phoenix, Arizona. A guy at my school with the last name of Rothbart noticed this, and pounced. He said he belonged to a group that I should check out. Within days, I’d joined the Abraham Lincoln chapter of Aleph Zadik Aleph (AZA), a male-only outlet of the B’Nai Brith Youth Organization (BBYO), the oldest and largest Jewish young person’s group in the world.
It was never clear to me why my chapter was named after Abraham Lincoln, who, despite a somewhat Jewish-sounding name, was definitely not Jewish. Then again, it didn’t matter, because Judaism was at best the group’s tertiary concern. AZA was supposed to be a non-denominational organization that promoted charity and community service and commitment to the state of Israel, while also promising the “leadership training” and “self-esteem building” that every youth group has to put in its charter to keep parents from shutting it down. But, like every youth group, our little corner of the BBYO was really just a roiling chemical stew of teen hormones.
Suddenly, by virtue of ethnicity, I had seductive charms. In fact, I soon went on a sexual streak unlike any other I’ve experienced. The B’nai Brith Girls (BBG) of Phoenix was my harvest.
Lincoln AZA had a theme song. Anyone who heard it knew our chapter’s priorities. It went:
Oh, we are the jolly bastards
Of Lincoln AZA
We love our beer and pretzels
And all the girls we lay
No bra escapes our appetites
Virginity must die
Oh, we are the jolly bastards
Of Lincoln do or die
Lincoln One Lincoln Twice
Holy jumping Jesus Christ
I learned this song upon my initiation, which, since it was held in a nursery-school classroom at the Jewish Community Center, featured no alcohol. But a week or so afterward, I got to go on a double date with an outgoing chapter member, his girlfriend, and his girlfriend’s friend, who, apparently, the chapter had decided to serve me as a welcome gift. My date had an angular, birdish face, smooth, tan skin, and short hair, slicked back,
We went to see Pretty in Pink at the mall. Afterward, the four of us repaired to my date’s house.
in the style favored that year by Brigitte Nielsen and Belinda Carlisle. I found her quite lovely, particularly in comparison to the blow-dried blond Tracys and Jennifers who’d populated my crush catalog before my days of Jewish youth.
As though we were trying to create stereotypical nostalgic memories for ourselves, we went to see Pretty in Pink at the mall. Afterward, the four of us repaired to my date’s house. It was implicitly understood that each couple would get their own bedroom. Her shirt was off before I could close the door.
We writhed and licked and got naked quickly. My hands panned her body, not knowing exactly what I’d find. Then I struck my claim. It was soft and wet and blooming, and carried the salty-sweet smell that has intoxicated men since Eden.
“Am I hurting you?” I said.
“No,” she said. “It feels good.”
“Does it feel good when I do this?”
I did that.
“Oh, yes,” she said.
“I like you,” I said.
“I like you, too,” she said.
It’s been nearly twenty years since that girl’s name has crossed my forebrain. Five minutes ago as I’m writing this, I did a Google search on her name, and found her. She’s a consumer-rights lawyer in San Francisco who also runs triathlons, and is as mysteriously attractive as ever. I wonder if she remembers, bitterly, that in the mid-80s, the guys in my AZA chapter called her “Fish Cunt.”
My only other male friend, at that point, was an amateur astronomer and long-distance runner, and was about as interested in sex as my mother’s neutered French poodle. I, on the other hand, was consumed by sexual thoughts, so I played the vile AZA game, whispering “Fish Cunt” on the air at BBYO gatherings, spreading horrible rumors about this very nice girl with whom I’d lain once, and then only to third base. Within a month, I became Aleph Godol (President) of my chapter.
Soon, I got an angry call at home from the President of “Fish Cunt’s” BBG chapter.
“I’ve heard what you’re saying about her!” she said. “How dare you smear the name of our chapter? I don’t know what kind of a person you think you are!”
“You’re totally right,” I said. “Please let me apologize.”
I drove to the President’s house one Saturday afternoon. Why were these girls’ parents always out of town? We talked for a while. There wouldn’t be sexist talk like that out of my corner anymore, I said. This was a new administration with a new attitude. Our chapters should do a fundraiser together.
I leaned in. We kissed. She took off the top of her bathing suit.
“Could you put some oil on my back?” she said.
For a few months, I had an amazing run. Hardly a weekend night passed where I didn’t press a girl into a dark corner of the Jewish Community Center with my lips: An event that didn’t turn into a makeout session for me was the exception. The renowned Ice Princess of BBG and I flicked tongues in her bedroom closet. One night during a pool party, a girl and I engaged
I told her I was nervous, and also a virgin.
in a “staring contest” in her hot tub, ignoring everyone else until they melted away, and we were finally left alone to jump each other. I actually hated AZA, the forced camaraderie, the cut-rate frat-house feel, the suckering-in of new members, and the fees. But I’d never had so many girls, so I bore the weight.
Much like a slightly more powerful President a decade later, my lust for Jewish girls proved my undoing. The empire unraveled quickly, beginning in the summer of 1986, when Phoenix hosted the BBYO conference for the Mountain Region, which included such hotbeds of Hebraica as Salt Lake City. My chapter had enjoyed a peak earlier in the decade, but had recently degenerated into a dysfunctional gang of random misfits. The region was holding an important vote, though about what I don’t remember. My voting appearance would be the linchpin to Lincoln’s return to respectability.
At the first-night mixer, I met a blond cutie from Las Vegas. By the second night, the night of the vote, I was clenching her in one of my favorite JCC nooks. She blossomed in my arms. I could almost feel her clothes melting off.
“Don’t go anywhere,” I said.
I ran into the meeting hall.
“Rothbart,” I said. “I need the keys to your van.”
A few minutes later, the girl and I were getting hot on a shag carpet. Her eyes glinted with actual affection for me. You poor thing, I thought.
“This definitely could turn into something serious,” she said.
“Oh yeah,” I said. “Definitely.”
An hour or so later, feeling studly, I sauntered into the meeting hall. My Lincoln AZA brothers were standing in a circle, looking dour. The past President came up to me and gestured self-righteously in my face.
“You fucked up, Pollack,” he said. “While you were off with your girlie…”
“She is not a girlie!” I said.
“You blew it, man,” he said. “We lost our chance!”
I could hardly register their disappointment that night. There was still some residual lust brewing in my loins. I drove my Vegas friend back to where she was staying. In my back seat, we pressed together, nearly naked.
“Do you want to?” she said. “I’m on the rag.”
It was a charming offer, I told her, but I was nervous, and I was also a virgin.
“That’s so sweet!” she said. “We can wait.”
“We don’t have to!” I said.
Apparently, we did.
I resigned, but agreed to stay on as chapter treasurer to help ease the transition for the next President. My friend from Las Vegas sent me letters decorated with hearts and glossy imprints of her lips and greetings like “Hi Sweetie Baby Sugar Honey!” She wrote, “I didn’t want you to lose your virginity! Not in a car! But I would of!”
The grammar made me wince, but not as much as my behavior did. It had all been a ruse, a hazing experiment gone ten months too long. For one of the few times in my life, I played the jerk. She was in love with me becauseI played the jerk. This may have been the way guys behaved, but I decided that it was no way for me to behave.
I broke up with her, and I quit the chapter. She cried, the guys didn’t. When I started college two years later, the fraternities rushed me with their usual ardor. I rejected them easily. My all-male dues had already been paid.
Bad Sex With Neal Pollack appears monthly.
©2004 Neal Pollack and Nerve.com