Fiction, Vol. 7.2, June 2013
We thought they wanted what we wanted—a kind ear, a shoulder, a helping hand, romance maybe, if we were real lucky. We’d vetted them as best we could—friend of a friend, classmate, co-worker, former professor, neighbor’s son. They were rarely strangers.
We were educated. We read the news, the statistics. Our mother’s admonitions never to get in the car with a stranger, never go back to his house/apartment/condo and to never kiss on the first date, always alive somewhere close to the surface, never forgotten.
But we were modern and not yet removed from that rebellious stage of life. We saw our mothers as naïve, clueless, and hopelessly out of touch with the real world we were living in. Nevertheless, their voices were never too far from our close remembering. Their whispers were the white noise always there, that, if we wanted, we could tune in to at any moment. But we rarely wanted to. We knew it all by heart.
So when they took us to eat or to a movie or to a club or a bar, we sallied forth with all of recorded female history known to us. Each step we took we walked on the palms of those who had come before us. We’d all read My Mother/My Self and listened to Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, and Naomi Wolf. We felt empowered every day of our lives, and could not envision that ever changing or being disrupted or disputed.
So when they offered to drive us home and we’d had maybe two or three beers or two or three shots or two or three hits of the bong, we took their hands and allowed them to ease us down into the plush leather of their Audis, Mustangs, or Hondas. We allowed them to help us into their Dodge Ram, Ford Explorer, or Escalade. We allowed them to help us into the seat belt and allowed the stretch as they reached across us to lower the back of the seat.
So when they took the wrong off-ramp we laughed and thought, well, they’re silly, they must have had a little too much to drink. But we didn’t worry too much yet. They kept talking in such a soothing and mildly flirtatious way. We were blushing. We could feel those beers/shots/pot rumbling through our bloodstreams/lungs and we cracked the window to let in the cool night/early morning air. We had trouble removing the silly grins off our faces.
So when they pulled into a deserted dirt road/the long drive to their parent’s place/the secluded parking lot of their apartment building we were just happy to be there. We were getting the distinct impression that they must really like us: visions of hand holding, neck massages, and lazy Sundays reading the Times and staying in bed all day danced before us.
So when he steered us into the woods/out behind the barn/up to his place, we knew this was going to be something special. We knew this was the night that would change our lives forever. We knew this was the moment we would know real love and devotion, know what it was to be a woman, see the flutter of our dreams becoming true life right in front of us, and nobody was going to deny us the fulfillment of our most cherished and most often burnished fantasy. Nobody.
So when he held us down and showed us the strength in his arms/legs/will we thought, this is how it must be for the loved, for the cherished. This is the world our mothers hinted at when they taught us about tampons and men and desire. Except for those of us who had no lessons on the topics and didn’t know what to expect. Still, it was all playing out like every movie/romantic TV show/romance novel we’d ever seen or read where the man is strong and the woman bends and bends, and.
So when he was done and he pulled us up off the bed/couch/back seat of his truck, still dressed minus pantyhose/panties/pants, the cool rush of expectation left us and the hot realization started somewhere down around our toes.
So we picked up our shoes and purse and followed him out of his parent’s basement/his brother’s garage/a nondescript shack in the woods and there are no words when he drives you back to your car/back to the bar/down to the corner and makes that long stretch over you to open your door, no words as you step out onto the concrete at 9:30 p.m./midnight/5 a.m. and all you smell is the exhaust of his car as he pulls away.
So you walk back to your car/closed bar/corner store to call a cab because you’ve lost your keys/your phone/your will and maybe you’ll wake up before you get home/in an hour/in a week and think back to the initial invitation/that first glance/that first touch and wonder how this happened, you being a modern, educated girl/woman/female in the 21st century and you will wait until morning/a week/a lifetime for that answer.