Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Know What I Did Last Summer (or Statutory, Smatchatory)

While sitting on my countertop last summer, legs wide open, carrot peels flung everywhere and an 18-year-old boy’s head between my legs, I had to ask myself, “Whose life is this anyway?”

It’s a blonde head of a tall, strong boy I surf with, named Kevin. He looks so all-American, you feel like you could bake an apple pie and then eat it off of his face. I’d always catch him staring at me while we were in the water but I attributed it to admiration, surfing with a woman considerably older who could surf as well as he did.

But when my handsome gay friend Kenneth came to visit my house at the Jersey shore last June, he had a different take.

“Behhth,” (that’s Kenneth’s sleepy southern accent) “That boy lahks you!”

“What are you talking about? He has a gaggle of young girls following him around. I highly doubt…”

“Oh shut up. He lahks you.”

“Well, that’s his problem. I’m not going near a 17-year old boy. I do have some standards, Kenneth. 24 is as young as I go. And besides, I’m not even attracted…no!”

One night during Kenneth’s visit, Kevin came over to fix a ding in my surfboard. Kenneth insisted on Kevin staying for dinner. Kenneth was up to something.
As Kenneth and I started chopping vegetables at the counter, Kevin sat at the kitchen table and small talk ensued. Usually Kenneth and I would talk about any old raunchy thing but I didn’t want to hurt Kevin’s delicate young ears, so I kept it safe.

“Kevin, that girl you were surfing with today. Boy, she’s cute. She looks just like Alyssa Milano.” I say, with my back to him.

“Yeah, she’s alright. I’ve known her since I was a kid.”

Which you still are, I think. I turn around and his eyes are decidedly fixed on me. On my ass, I think, specifically at that point. I quickly face the counter and go back to peeling carrots.

Kenneth begins to dig for facts, as he marinates next to me:

“So how old are you, Kehvin?”


“Oh, really! That’s nice. 18. Behth thought you were only 17. I told her you looked older than that. Didn’t I, Beth?”

I sneak a look over and Kenneth starts smiling. I’m afraid I’m going to erupt in awkward laughter and shove some celery in my mouth to stop it.

“Hey, Behth. I’m think I’m gonna go pick up some more wine at the store. You want anything, Sug?”

“We don’t need anymore wine, Kenneth.”

Now I know what he’s up to.

“Really, Kenneth - a bottle is fine for us. And Kevin can’t drink. He’s not legal…if you get my drift!”

“Well, I want some white wine. I don’t lahk red. I’ll be back in a bit.”

Damn him. I continue to peel carrots furiously, with my back to Kevin.

“Kevin, you don’t have to stay. I mean, your friends are going out surfing again, aren’t they?”

“I want to stay. I wanted to see you.”

“Oh. I’m not meaning, um…you should leave but…”

He gets up from the table and starts walking towards me. Shit. Shit. My carrots are getting pointy from over peeling.

“Do you need some help?” he says, as he stands directly behind me, breathing near my ear.

“Absolutely not. I’m fine. I’m really good at carrots.”

He pulls my hair away from my neck and starts kissing it. Oh such a weak point. I’ve always loved Dracula for this very reason. He cuts right to the sensual chase. Except Dracula is like 2 thousand years old and this guy’s 18!

“Kevin…really. This…we shouldn’t…” The peeler drops from my hand. Shit!

In no time flat, his hands are all over and under me. Wearing a little sun dress proved to be my undoing. Sometimes a girl needs to be wearing tight-fitting, hard-to-get-off jeans.

The next thing I know, he picks me up in his arms and flips me onto the counter, in a sitting position. He spreads my legs, pulls me forward and proceeds to go down on me.

While sitting on my countertop, legs wide open, carrot peels flung everywhere and an 18-year-old boy’s head between my legs, I have to ask myself, “Whose life is this anyway?” But then bit, by bit, I stop caring.

It’s a very special moment indeed, when your body and mind let go, when you stop worrying about who might walk in on you or how carrot peels look when stuck to your inner thighs or why you’re with a 18-year-old boy in the first place. When you just stop caring. When you feel good and dangerous and a little dirty and embrace it like a woman should. That precious little moment when life crashes right over you, through you.

Afterwards, he lifts me off of the counter and on to my feet. My knees feel weak and I’m shaking slightly. He tells me he needs to go. I don’t dare ask him if his mother is expecting him for dinner, though I have a feeling that’s why. I feel relieved. I kiss him one last time and make a parting joke, as I walk him to the door:

“Well, it’s a good thing you’re 18, huh?”

“It is good I’m 18.” he says, walking out.

He turns around one last time:


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It’s a Bird not a Butterfly, Frankie

Meditating at the Jersey shore in summer is a spiritual act of futility. Entitled tourists and their sand-tossing offspring (kids love throwing sand for some reason) have taken over and peace is tough to find. 

Interestingly, no one ever looks like they’re having much fun on "vacation" here. Families bicker, kids whine and shrill New York voices yell “Tommy get that filthy shell out of your mouth or I ain’t buying you no ice cream, you hear me??”

But whatever, I live here and am determined to find inner peace amidst the chaos, goddamnit. Besides its early morning and there's time before the throngs descend. 

I find a section of undisturbed space, cross my legs, close my eyes and attempt to quiet those unruly inner demons. (Little did I know, an outer demon would soon be my undoing.)

After oh about a minute's worth of frigging inner peace, I feel the thud of footsteps circling me. Opening my eyes, I spot a gawky kid running mindlessly around me, because, you know, I'm meditating and all so where else would he run? 

I spot his breeder nearby. Teased blonde hair, bronze leathery skin and pink pastel lipstick, his mother looks like she just walked off the set of The Jersey Shore. (Hmmm...or maybe I'm walked on the set of The Jersey Shore?)

She's in deep conversation:

“I told him he’d lose that job if he didn’t get his shit together. The man’s a filthy bum!”
Block her out, Beth. Still your mind. Use this as a spiritual challenge. Embrace the moment.  

I close my eyes again and take a deep, fucking cleansing breath.

“Mommy! Mommy! Look. Look at the butterfly!” Annoyed again, I open my eyes to see the awkward child pointing frantically at a small bird that landed on a nearby sand castle.

“Mommy! Look at the butterfly.”

“Hold on, Frankie. I’m on the friggin’ phone!” leather lady screams.

“But the butterfly!”

Now clearly this isn’t a butterfly. But perhaps Frankie is the next Picasso and he's simply thinking outside the box at an early age. More likely, he's a little daft or spent way too much time indoors.

“But Mommmmmmyy!!!!”

I then make a critical mistake and open my mouth:

“Psst...hey Frankie, get this. That’s not a butterfly. That’s a bird.”

Frankie looks at me, stunned, mouth agape. A second ago, he didn't even know I existed. I was just an object to run around. 

“That's right, dude. Butterflies are entirely different creatures.”

His mother manages to tear herself away from her face-implanted phone and shouts my way:

“Hey lady, why don’t you mind your own goddamn business?”

“Well, why don’t you teach your child the difference between a bird and butterfly?"

“Why don’t you shut the hell up?”

“Only if you kiss my ass?” To punctuate my point, I do a downward dog, said ass pointed in her direction, pausing a moment to really feel the stretch. 

Walking home, I feel renewed, lighter. Like the weight of the world just fell off my shoulders. I'm relaxed, present and oh fuck me, it's summer at the Jersey shore again.


 Photos by Beth Mann