My first date with H.G. was in the spring of 1963. A girl named Nancy fixed us up. Nancy was very popular in high school. Years later I found out she used to slit her wrists. Her sweet-sixteen party was the year H.G. graduated from Cheltenham. I was a high school sophomore. I still had that little brown mole on the side of my nose. Height-wise I was what I still am, a runt. H.G. was tall. Sometimes he looked like George Harrison. When he wore his hair flapped over his forehead, he looked like Jean-Pierre Leaud. We went out on dates. H.G. took me to the movies. He introduced me to Truffaut, Antonioni, Fellini, Bertolucci, Pasolini, Godard, Cassavetes, Resnais, Bresson, Chabrol, Buñuel, Cousteau, Pontecorvo, Costa-Gavras, Leone, and we saw all the Bergman films, sometimes twice. We played tennis and he aced me on my Uncle Herman’s court. He was funny and witty and I liked the way he dressed, Ivy League like my father. He smelled of vanilla and soap. He was a straight A student and he looked handsome in a jacket and tie. To me, H.G. was perfect. The thing I liked most about him was the part that wasn’t perfect – his Adam’s apple. It was his blinker, the barometer of change and emotional upset. It bobbed up and down, it jumped, it cracked his voice into High C while his nostrils quivered and flared and all in all he looked ridiculous then, but not to me. I adored H.G. I looked up to him – and because of the difference in our height, up at him. H.G. and I dated regularly after the sweet-sixteen party. All through my years at Cheltenham, H.G. was my steady boyfriend. I lived with my family and he lived downtown on campus at the University of Pennsylvania. We saw each other every weekend. These were the days of the green couch. I believed I was supposed to marry the man who touched my breasts. H.G. touched them one night in the recreation room, in front of the TV. He had that kind of zipper-clothed, zipper-taut erection that rubbed up against my pubic bone with such aggression that it ached the next day. The lights were on. Things were respectable in case my parents woke up. It was way past midnight. The television had signed off the air and it was distributing a monotonic buzz in the room. The screen was filled with black and white dots. We were lying on the green couch. We were French-kissing, breathing through our noses and humping. If I heard a noise upstairs, or even if I thought I did, I lost my place, but H.G. never lost his place, or his erection, and the truth is – I didn’t hump. H.G. did all the humping. He was the humper. I was the humpee. What I liked most, was kissing. Kissing has never been like that since. It was pure pleasure. A sublime secret warmth cupped itself to my ears until they steamed and burned, honey pots settled in my ears. The night H.G. discovered a honey pot with the tip of his tongue, I groaned out loud. I panted, my skirt rode up, my garter belt unsnapped. My thighs were sweaty, something sticky squeezed out of me into my underpants. I wasn’t just a virgin, I was so dumb I thought I was ejaculating. Something crawled over my sweater. It stopped. H.G.’s hand was on my breast. I pulled my skirt down. I sat up.
“What are you doing, H.G.?”
There was a moment of silence and then he said dryly, as if I had insulted him, “Why not?”
“I don’t know.” I turned around to look at him. He was lying on his side, his eyeballs were rolling up into his head, little half-moons flickered under the lids. His Adam’s apple was unusually still for a moment like this and his nostrils too. He started talking again. His lips barely moved.
“Look,” he groaned. “How long can we just keep kissing? Don’t you want to try anything new? I leave here every time we make-out with my balls aching.” He turned and looked at me. He raised his eyebrows. “Didn’t you ever hear of blue balls?”
I told him I didn’t.
“It’s from this kind of thing.” He waved an accusatory hand at the green couch. “I get all excited and aroused but I never reach a climax.” He closed his eyes. “I can’t stand it anymore.”
I tried to imagine his blue balls hanging down and turning bluer and bluer with pain, but my ears were full of honey. I decided his blue balls were equivalent to my aching pubic bone so I let H.G. touch my breasts. Over my sweater. He stroked them, first one, then the other. Under my sweater I wore a cotton shirt and under the shirt, a bra. Eventually, he located my nipples. He rubbed round and round with his thumbs, kneading them into two tiny points, slid closer, wormed his tongue around inside my ear, sucked the honey pot and humped. I groaned, I might have groaned another, louder groan, but I heard a familiar voice.
“Maggie? May I see you for a minute, please?”
My father was standing at the top of the stairs.
I jumped to my feet, smoothed down my skirt and sweater and walked to the bottom of the stairs. My father’s cowlicks were sticking out at the sides like Dagwood Bumstead’s. The puffy pouches under his eyes, trademarks of his Protestant ethics, sagged like the rest of him.
“You look tired, Daddy.”
“It’s three o’clock in the morning, young lady,” he pointed to the grandfather clock in the hall and spoke in a hoarse, whispery voice, trying not to raise it. “You two quit whatever it is you’re doing down there.” He threw an index finger in the general direction of the green couch. “This minute.”
“We were watching the Warren Commission.”
He ignored me, squinting at the green couch.
“That’s enough of this nonsense until three o’clock in the morning young lady.”
He told me to send H.G. home to his own bed. “Where he belongs! And that goes for you too!” He rubbed his eyes. I waited until he padded his way upstairs before I walked back to the green couch. I noticed as he went that he was wearing the yellow and blue pinstripe pajamas I had given him for his birthday.
When I reached H.G. he was still lying in the same position. At first glance I thought he had fallen asleep. I shook him.
“H.G.,” I whispered. “You have to go.”
“Yeah. I heard. I’m going.”
But he didn’t move. My eyes fell on his fly.
There was a dark, wet-looking stain around the zipper area that reminded me of a Rorschach test we had to take in school.