Friday, August 8, 2008

Bronxville Days, Part 11

Kids who grow up on farms know what the score is early on. They see horses acting up in the field, know how little horses are made, and figure out at a young age that people reproduce in roughly the same way.
Kids who grow up in the city, or in suburban towns like Bronxville, don't have that insight. And a kid like me, who was pretty dense to begin with, and spent much of his time and mental activity in his own dream world, was pretty much clueless about sex.

At 11, I honestly thought that women became pregnant automatically when they reached a certain age or situation in life. I was vaguely aware of sex but thought it was just unnatural, filthy shenanigans engaged in by criminally-minded teenagers.

I liked girls and had liked them from earliest memory. By age 11, we were going to boy-girl birthday parties and playing kissing games, but I don't think it ever occurred to me then that there could be things more pleasurable to do with girls than kissing.

Then one Saturday afternoon, one of my classmates and I rode our bikes north of town to the abandoned villa. Up a steep hill overgrown with wild rose and sumac was a house long ago given up to the elements. It had been a sprawling, two-story house with white stucco walls and a red tile roof. All the windows had been broken; saplings grew from the gutters, the floors were covered with broken glass and leaves and gravel that had once been mosaic tiles. We loved to walk through these ruins and imagine what life had been like there so many years earlier.

We were not alone that day. When we came up through the jungle, we saw a couple of girls, sitting on the concrete railing on the portico, sharing a cigarette. We tried to ignore them, but one of them yelled, "Hey, you, c'mer!" We did not recognize them. They were not from our school and looked a little older. They must have been from Tuckahoe.
We traded the usual insults and my friend and I turned away from them to do our exploring. But they followed us. We split up, and they split and followed us still. I was not comfortable. Had these been boys, they would have been picking a fight. The girl following me was acting tough, but she was not looking to fight. She was teasing me, telling me what goofy-looking hair I had, what ugly sneakers. And then she said, "I bet you'd like to feel me up."
I screwed up my face as if I'd just smelled a dead animal. "No!" I said. "Who'd want to touch you?"
"Well, I wouldn't let you anyway," she said.

A little later, the other girl said she had to get home and they left, and my friend and I walked around the back of the house, not saying much. Those girls were gone, but something heavy, like dread, still hung in the air. I didn't understand what had happened that day, why I had felt anxious and afraid and angry and excited. Only later would I realize that my dream world had started to crumble.

No comments: