............... ComedyCollective Writers Project
Kim Morrissey

How To Talk To Boys

"Wanna fuck?"

     I couldn't believe I'd said that. That's the problem with having a rich inner life - you lose your grasp of reality sometimes, and say things you shouldn't even have been thinking. The problem was: once something's been said, there's not much you can do about it. Except maybe laugh it off.

     Stevie didn't look like he was laughing.

     "It's a joke," I said.

    He started to relax a little.

    "Really." he said.

     "One of Jimmy Bodell's. It isn't very funny, really." Maybe cool sophistication was what I needed.

     "What's the rest of it?"

     "No, really."

     "Really." He seemed genuinely interested, god-damn him.

     "Well," I said, thinking quickly, "There are these two guys ...." My back was starting to ache with the strain of holding myself up. I decided to waft gracefully to the floor. "And they're identical ..."

     Stevie was still looking deep into my eyes, which meant that somehow he was on his hotel room floor too.

     "Go on," he said seductively.

     I took a deep breath. Helen Gurley Brown says to breathe from the diaphragm, so that you get the heaving breasts effect that all real men secretly desire. I wasn't sure Stevie was a breast man though. He seemed to be sinking into my eyes (or staring at my mouth, maybe he reads lips).

     And was it? Yes it was! The smell of Old Spice, and an arm, not attached to my body, attached to my body! I looked deeply into his dark, dark eyes, as I felt the arm that wasn't mine touch the small of my back, and I saw the eyes come closer, closer, closer, too close to stay in focus, and I'm near-sighted, so I knew it was very close, and the eyelids started to flicker and close, and the lips ... and o my god ...

    I started coughing.

     While Stevie was getting me water, I did a lot of thinking, and by the time he'd come back, I'd made up my mind to tell him everything.

     "Stevie ...., I want to tell you everything."

     "Yes? ...."

     "Stevie." I licked my lips. "See, there was this guy, and he and his friend go to the Beaver Hotel ...."

     Actually, the choice of Jimmy Bodell's joke was only partly accidental. Masters and Johnson and The Happy Hooker agree that the more titillation there is, and the more use of well-placed obscenities, the more erotic the situation. And if it's supposed to work on women, who have a really strong moral and biological responsibility if they succumb to the titillation, then it ought to work even faster on males, who don't. Right? That was the way I saw it, anyway.

     I watched Stevie, to see how he saw it. He could go along with the whole thing, and carry on with a slightly more ribald train of conversation, or he could say "how gross," and my entire life would be ruined.

     "....So his friend says, Well, I just used Ancient Masonic Love Charm Number One.

      Number One, says his friend, What's that?

     Well, that's where you go up to a girl and say, 'Wanna fuck?'"

     Stevie stared at me, a little tight-mouthed, I thought, rubbed his nose, which, as you know, is a sign of aggression, and paused.

     "o god o god o god," I prayed

     "Stephanie ...." he said, in exactly the same tone my father used the day I spit in his milk.

     o god.

     "Do you know why roosters don't have hands?"

     I didn't even try to guess. This could still turn into a biblical proverb. "I don't know, Stevie. Why?" The dentures were back.

     "Because hens don't have tits!"

     It was going to be alright. I could feel it. Right on the brink, and almost over. All I had to do was sit back and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.

      And flatter, flatter, flatter.

     "That's a great joke," I said.

     "Not as good as yours."

     "Sure it was."

     "No it wasn't."

      "Sure it was."

      "Not at all."

     All the titillation was disappearing fast. Why did I have to pick such a polite person to have sex with? I had to think defensively.

     "Gee, Stevie, do you know any more?"

     While he was telling his jokes, I stared into his eyes and started to review everything I'd dreamed, or seen, or heard, or read about sex. I wasn't quite sure what I should do. Should I throw myself on his mercy and admit I'd never kissed anyone before? Helen Gurley Brown and Playboy and Modern Sex and Hygiene all seemed to suggest the virginity angle would work best, but of course, they weren't written for high school audiences. I mean, let's face it , if you're as old as I am, and you still have all your teeth, and you wash fairly frequently, then you must be a real turkey if you haven't even managed to be kissed by anyone. You must be a complete social misfit. Which I admit I am, being a teacher's daughter, but I didn't want Stevie to know. Besides, it really wasn't fair. The reason I hadn't been kissed was partly because I didn't want to be kissed by just anybody, I wanted to be kissed by Stevie Brown My Own True Love. So if there was anything I didn't know (and there was probably a lot) it was just as much his fault as mine.

     On the other hand, I didn't know what he'd do if I did as some of those old novels suggested, and cast myself at his feet, weeping, "Kind Sir! Take that which no man can give me back."

     It didn't look like I was going to have to worry. It was only quarter after ten, and we were already rolling around on Stevie Brown's hotel bed, having a really nice time. I mean, it was a lot better than just playing footsie when you're playing cards. A lot better. And I didn't feel seriously out of my depth, either, until Stevie started running his left hand up and down my spine, pressing really hard with his fingers, which gave me tingles the first couple of times, and then didn't, because it hurt. Finally, I couldn't stand it any more. "What's wrong?" I whispered.

     "Nothing." he whispered back, but he kept pressing down on my spinal column, right at the back of my ribs, digging his fingers in right at the small of my back, like he was searching for something. I could tell he was worried.

      So was I. I had no idea what kind of sexual lunatic Stevie Brown might be. I mean, how well did I know him? Actually know him. Forty-five minutes a week in the weight room, and two and a half seconds between classes for a couple of years is no guarantee of up-rightness of character. Of course, he was with me right now, which might be some kind of character reference by association, but on the other hand probably only a lunatic would be caught dead in bed with the Algebra Teacher's daughter when he still had a year and a half to go before graduation.

     It suddenly occurred to me that if I took off my lumberjacket, whatever Stevie was looking for might be more apparent, and everything would start happening a lot faster. Under it I was wearing my hot pink danskin (which my mother doesn't allow me to wear by itself, because she says it makes me look like a french hooker). But of course I want to look like a french hooker, which is why I bought the thing in the first place. I don't know why parents always try to give you a hard time about the way you look, when that's exactly the look you were trying to achieve. I don't tell Momsy she looks like a dowdy, over-weight housewife. (Well, if I do, it's for her own good. Sometimes it's embarrassing to walk down the street with her).

     Once I took my lumberjacket off, Stevie seemed to cheer up.

     "Oh ... you're not wearing a bra." he said, and sounded relieved.

     "Neither are you." I said, and deftly undid his shirt-buttons.

      Everything was going as planned, but it was way behind schedule. For one thing, I'm never going to listen to anyone complain about Wham Bang Thank You Ma'am again, because I think those kind of seductions would be probably very refreshing if you have any commitments at all - other than emotional. I mean, when I went into Stevie's room at ten, I never expected to still be rolling around on the bed, fully clothed except for the article which I had myself removed at 2:31.

     I was beginning to see how Mrs Beebee could take sex for granted. I'd be cranky too if I had to stay up all night every night.

     The thing I was dreading was that in the morning, Stevie Brown would walk me back to my hotel room, shake my hand, and tell me how much he respected me for letting him go as far as he did, and how much he respected me for not letting him go any farther, and maybe we could go for coffee sometime, and that would be it: my big chance to get pregnant and live happily ever after with the Man I Adore would be lost forever.

     Actually, he didn't look like he was going to last until morning. He kept tugging here, and making furtive little forays, but he never really managed to displace anything for very long. It wasn't just the lack of a bra that had confused him. He didn't seem to know anything at all about danskins. You can't pull up on a danskin. You have to pull it all down at once, with one swift tug, and Stevie just couldn't seem to screw his courage to the sticking point long enough to do any good. "I think Mrs MacBeth was right." I said, "If twere done when done, Twere well it twere done quickly." but he didn't seem to take the hint.

     By 2:45 (I still had my watch on) even I had lost interest.

     "Look, what's the problem," I asked briskly. "Don't you like me?" If it was my fault, and it probably was, I wanted to know, whether it hurt or not.

     He didn't say anything.

     "Well, don't you?"

     "How can you say that?"

     "Just answer the question."

     "Of course I like you. I wouldn't be here if- I mean, you wouldn't be here if I ...I mean ...."

     "But you don't love me, is that it?"

     He didn't answer.

     "That's it, isn't it?" Whether it hurt or not, I had to know.

     He started to huddle into himself, and his voice started to shake. Actually shake.

    "Look," he said, "I'm sorry if ... I know you think I'm ... I just ... I just don't ... I just didn't ... I never dreamed ... I ... I've never done this before."

    And then he started to cry, at 2:48 in the morning.

     I didn't know what to do. None of my sources had prepared me for emotional outbursts on the part of the male. I mean, I knew, theoretically, that they were human, but I'd never had to deal with them as such. Secretly, to tell you the truth, I felt a little embarrassed.

     Not that it made me feel any differently about Stevie. I mean, I loved him, right? That doesn't just disappear overnight, or I'd be a pretty shallow person. And I'm not. But honestly, you didn't see Stephanie H. Nickel breaking down because she was in an impossible situation, did you? No, I went home, I did my research, I considered my options, I got in a compromising situation, and I tried to compromise. I accepted the challenge. Now, I agree there's a little more pressure on Stevie Brown in this situation, because he has to be actively interested in the sexual pursuit (by which I mean, erect) before anything can happen, but that shouldn't be too difficult, should it?

     I did up his shirt buttons for him, and put my lumberjacket back on.

     "Look, Stevie," I said. "It doesn't really matter."

     "No?" he said, his chin trembling a little.

     "Of course not. I think you're great."

     And to tell the truth, it really didn't matter. I mean, I figured it had been a learning experience, even if we hadn't gone all the way. Up to ten o'clock last night, I knew zippo first hand about making out, and now I knew how to kiss (rather nicely, if I do say so myself). More importantly, I knew what it was like to be alone with a boy. Really alone, without him, or me, showing off or having to pretend we were something we weren't, which I wouldn't do anyway because I'm not a shallow person, but I have to admit that sometimes people who don't know me think my naturalness is occasionally a bit forced.

     "And don't worry," I said, "I had a really nice time."



     I know it sounds sick, but I sort of like a guy in tears. It picks up the colours of their eyes. Besides, now we didn't have to actually do anything, I started to notice - again - how attractive Stevie Brown was, even at 2:52 in the morning with his eyes all bloodshot and puffy.

     "Look, I'm really sorry if I put any pressure on you ... I just wanted to show you how much I cared."

     "That's alright," he said, "I understand."

     "No, I really am sorry if ...." and I guess I was tired or something, because my chin started to tremble, and I had to put my hands over my face so he wouldn't notice, but it didn't do any good.

     "I'm really sorry if .... I just .... well .... I've never done this before either." And all of a sudden, I'm bawling, twice as hard as Stevie Brown, and he's bawling with me, and we're both bawling together, if you can believe it, and then suddenly, nobody's bawling, we're just holding each other tight, like the world was flat and we're standing in a strong wind at the edge.

     Nothing happened, of course. But it was a really good nothing. I'm ready for Greek Tragedy next semester, because now when Mrs Beebee talks about catharsis, I'm not going to be confused at all.

     Catharsis is getting really seriously involved with someone, and getting seriously close to them, and when you're really involved and really close, you go through some sort of tremendous emotional upheaval - like your father being made a senator and moving you to Ottawa, or something - and then you get together, and you stay up all night, and you exhaust each other completely, and you have a good, knock-down bawl.

     And the point that Mrs Beebee misses is this: it feels good. Even if at the end you find out that you have to run Mixed Relays at nine in the morning, and the Man You Adore can't date you because he's already going steady with some Convent girl, because he thinks they're not as fast as the girls who go to Thomas Hardy.

    He's wrong of course.

How To Talk To Boys by Kim Morrissey
first published in 200% Cracked Wheat
edited by Gary Hyland, Barbara Sapergia & Geoffrey Ursell
Coteau Books,  Regina, Canada 1992
ISBN 1-55050-038-4

ComedyCollective Writers Project
Kim Morrissey