Throughout the whole trip to Gatlinburg, TN my mother was unaware that we were tripping. We rode silently taking in the changing scenery as the altitude changed. The leaves became crisper and brighter and the seat beneath us came to life with a breathing stickiness. Every turn in the road felt sharper and my mom’s eyes narrowed from the sides. I studied her closely but not for long, “Why are looking at me?” she asked while chewing her lip. “I don’t know.” And then I started gnawing on mine until the thought of the- peeled grape feeling- flesh splitting scared me. However, looking at my mother while hallucinating was even more terrifying.
We checked in to an Econo Lodge with two double beds spread with scratchy polyester floral patterns. The room reeked of old men and stale cigarettes absorbed into the worn out burgundy carpet. Amanda and I left my mom there six months pregnant and with my two year-old little sister while we explored the mountain town. Most of the shops were the same tourist venues with t-shirts, magnets, and keys chains found on the American block except for the dress up –wild-west saloon style- and have your photograph taken shop. I stopped short and blinked. “Amanda, I totally have to put on something sexy and give the picture to Reid, my GCB (Good Christian Boyfriend.)
Reid was a sweet boy who had no idea what type of girl I really was. He was saving himself for marriage but I had other plans. I was constantly trying to test his faith by making him mixed-tapes soiled with songs like Bad Company’s, “Feel Like Making Love,” and by sending him hot-kitten talk letters. I said to my friend’s, “What other fifteen year old girl has to seduce her seventeen year old boyfriend?” but I did, and there was something competitive about it. If he would’ve been like every other hormone-hyped teenaged boy he wouldn’t have been so desirable, but the thrill of victory was compelling. (That was the repressed dyke in me trying to peg him with my little head, metaphorically speaking of course-the head part.)
I practiced sex with other guy’s in preparation for the big event. The preacher’s son taught me a lot about the game, along with a quiet guy I met in horticulture. He was stacked and cushioned by a layer of fat with long, layered metal hair, and serious hazel peepers. I felt his eyes on me one day in the greenhouse and I gave him an eyebrow, and a giggle. A few weeks later after school I saw him walking toward his car. I went up to the passenger side of his black thunderbird and window shopped while we listened to Journey. He asked, “Do you want a ride home?” “Sure, but I want to see your house first. Are your parents home?” He kept his cool, “No. Do you really want to see my house?” “Yes. Why not?” He took me to his house that afternoon and a few more for private lessons. I never let anyone see me with him, nor did I ever-until now- tell a soul. We didn’t socialize together at school, or fraternize with the same crowds. He was a loner type like me but different.
I circulated alone in and out of many groups, but he stayed within a small isolated group. He was easy to play, like ice cream melting in my hand. I was too embarrassed to be seen with him even though I liked his mature intensity.
I was evil and proud of it. I used him and let me. It was a win-win for both. He knew he wouldn’t go down any other way.
Reid was unaware of my behavior since we lived in different towns and went to different schools, and I hid it well. I showed up at church on Sunday mornings with blow-pop smiles and knee length skirts. After church I went religiously with his family to the Piccadilly for Sunday supper of fried cod, chopped steak, collard greens, black-eyed peas, and conversations recapping that mornings sermon.
He didn’t know I took acid, smoked pot and drank Robotussin in unfinished new construction neighborhoods on the Saturday nights I wasn’t with him. On our dates I downplayed my experiences and acted naively for his pleasure. He was an amateur from a solid home, my training and mental prowess dominated his willpower. I fed him pieces of bittersweet green-apple and he took them with the human drive to procreate, but swallowed them with faith-based guilt. During each closing ceremony he’d drop his head in shame. “We shouldn’t be doing this.” I’d laugh, “I know. You’re right.” Until next time, or the next.
He finally saw the letter on my forehead and broke up with me after a few months after he went off to a Christian College. He met a sweet, wholesome girl who showed him what a good girl looks like, clothed, and drug free. He told me one night over shrimp scampi at the Red Lobster, “I’ve been invited to a Christmas Party at Lori’s parent’s house. I’m going but you’re not invited.” I pushed my cheese biscuit aside, “Does this mean we’re breaking up?” I knew it was coming. He didn’t make alone time for me on his top-bunk the handful of times I visited him in his dorm, but I was ok with it. His lack of attention didn’t stop me from sporting.
Although I feel badly for manipulating him to do something against his will, I don’t feel the same shame he felt about sex. He was the first and only person I’ve ever cheated on but I had my reasons. Here was my platform: POT PC, put out to prevent cheating. That wasn’t an acceptable campaign slogan when I married a man and paused the play. I didn’t want to participate anymore but I still needed my team. It was a valuable lesson.
To the boy’s, and men I used and abused, you know you loved it and you’re a better man for it. Now I’m on to a woman- the toughest competitor I’ve ever loved in any arena, and I’m constantly tripping and falling from the highest of high’s I’ve ever felt. I’d make millions if I could make the connection and live to tell about it.
Maybe she’ll let me.