I used to say I came out like film in the developing room -- everything, dark, hot, quiet. No one to knock at the darkroom curtain. No rushing the process. No process doubt about outcome.
I love to eat Lick-a-Maid, dipping the little candy stick in tart sprinkles and sucking them off. Years later I wonder why on earth they called it Lick-a-Maid. I search everywhere for it -- 7-11s, small depanneurs, friends' memories. Maybe I made it up.
Like that Blonde cartoon girl in Playboy. I can never remember her name, but she was like Betty to Playgirl's Veronica. At 11, I am an expert on Playboy because my teenage uncle stashes 400 issues under my bed. I read them leisurely at night, just when he'd want them.
The playgirl cartoon was dark and mean and a dominatrix-- that's what I think now, anyway. Then, who knows? I carried her picture in my sneaker for only a day before trading it to Tommy Mathews for a single Peanut Butter Cup. I never replaced it.
The Playboy cartoon girl was from the corn belt, wide-eyed, wearing plaid halter tops and here's the part I'll swear by but can't prove -- all those back issues long gone (over half of them all at once, me lugging them in shopping bags to the Dalewood Park comic book sale about 5 kids ages 6 to 8 looking for Spiderman, no one buying, until someone's older brother hears there's an 11 year old girl selling off stacks of pornography "hey Jonathon, Marcus get OVER HERE!!!" -- but that's not the story I want to tell.) What I swear by is that her breasts talked back to her. Tell me someone here remembers this. Her breasts would interrupt her so she'd be talking to some guy and PAM! Her breasts would say "I want you" and break through the fabric. That cracked me up.
There were some magazines I did not
sell. At 11, Vanessa and I find the Playboy
pictorial of story of O. Vanessa and I agree it's one of our favourites.
Much better than the cartoon girl because
it's Real Life. We smuggle it into the
linen cupboard, eat Lick-a-Maid, sharing our candy stick.
My linen cupboard has a big door and a bottom filled with blankets, it smells like Yardley soaps too good to use. Vanessa runs her Lick-a-Maid stick over my lips.
I beg my mother to let Vanessa stay over. I always do. At night, Vanessa and I make a tent from our bedding.We have a flashlight and she strokes my hair. We take of our clothes, slowly, examine each other with the harsh beams and in the soft shadows. Turn off the flashlight. Turn it off.
Vanessa rolls on top of me, perched on her elbows.
Vanessa always has good ideas. I wonder where she gets
them. I feel jealous, worried, I'm not sure. I move the hair from her
face and try to find her lips in the dark. I kiss her quickly: "like
And Vanessa knows how to butterfly kiss -- my face,
my shoulders, my nipples (she turns on the flashlight).
I count in my head so I don't make a sound. Vanessa winds a path across me and through me. I count up to eight hundred and nine before she stops.
Sometimes even now at night, alone, I begin to count -- eight hundred and eight, eight hundred and nine, eight hundred and ten. And she's there.