THE CHRONICLES OF SAINT DEL
A Compilation of Stories, Journal Extracts, and Letters From My Fairly Ordinary But Minutely Observed Life
"I swear to God, it's all true."
1967: Age 18
The Epiphany of Saint Del
Lost Innocence, A Page Turns
Warning! Vaguely Explicit Sexual Content, Plus a Few Cigarettes. But, No Cigars.
The time, summer, 1967. American forces are heavily engaged in a brutal land war in Southeast Asia. The Beatles are about to release the milestone Sergeant Pepper album. Locally, I have just turned 18 and am clueless, but don't know it.
I am going steady with Marcy James, a beautiful, blond, well figured but emotionally unstable Polish girl of like age. Marcy wants to be a model, but she can't; her breasts are too large. Her father, of whom she often wistfully speaks, has not been seen or heard from in many years. Marcy's mother, of a generally foul disposition, works the nightshift at the local Budd plant lifting box car doors or something. Mom has no front teeth and arms like tree trunks. Her favorite thing to say to Marcy is, "Mark my words! Every dog has it's day!" I believe this is the sum total of motherly advice she has to bestow upon her daughter. General Rule Number One: Avoid mom. I suspect Mr. James figured this one out some time ago.
It is a Friday night. My parents are out somewhere. Marcy and I are alone in my Princeton Avenue house after various friends have come and gone. We are on the floor macking, but the flame of this relationship is about gone for me and I decide I must tell her this now.
After listening to me, she is pensive for a moment and then says, "I don't want to lose you. Do you want to do it?"
"Do what?" I say.
"You know, have sex."
My virgin's mind begins to race.
"Oh, sex. Well, uh, I don't know. Why, do you?"
"Well, yeah, don't you?"
My virgin's mind is now careening around corners in out of control four wheel drifts.
"Well, yeah, I mean sure. You mean now?"
"Well, yeah, of course I mean now," she says laughing. "Come on, let's do it!"
Why do I get the impression maybe she's been through this before? I am trying to remember exactly what time my parents said they would be home… What the hell, they're not here yet...
We get undressed and I guess we go through the motions of foreplay, but I am so amazed that I am actually going to screw her that I can hardly be present. My other (some might say bigger) brain, however, is having no problem with this at all. I get on top, she opens her legs and, uh, lets see, where... oooooh…..there…
Pumping. Marcy is lying there with her eyes closed, legs around my waist, arms around my neck. Hmmm... she's kind of tight or something. I'm getting a little sore.
"Why don't you get some Vaseline or something," she says.
"Uh, yeah, sure," I say, withdrawing and then I'm off and running naked up the stairs, my erection pointing the way. I am thinking: boy, I've not gone up these steps like this before. Astro Glide not yet invented, I come back down with a jar of Vaseline and apply it to my rapidly retreating member.
"Come here, Robert," she says, hugging me to her which reinflates the little guy.
Back on top and in again and ooooh, the way she's moving, now ride her hard, take her, you can be polite afterward, until all sensation becomes centered in that spot somewhere deep inside and ohmygod I'm gonna... I'm gonna....I think SHE'S gonna…
Afterward, I'm floating somewhere, everywhere, part of everything that ever was and ever will be. This Princeton Avenue row home which has known me since infancy seems to hold its breath, waiting to see who it is that will arise from this tryst. Slowly, I return to earth.
Holy shit... I did it... we did it…
Marcy is holding me tight. I lift my head and look at her. Her eyes are still closed.
"Are you ok?" I ask.
She opens her big blue eyes.
"I'm just fine. That was so wonderful wasn't it?" she sighs.
"Yeah, it was great."
But, what does it mean, I wonder.
Fuck, who cares? I got laid, Jack!
I hear my parents' car in the driveway and we scramble getting our clothes on, just slipping out the front door as they come in the back. Yikes. No time to replace the Vaseline so it comes with us. Having no car, I walk her home: Mulberry Street and Harbison Ave, a fair distance. We walk quickly at first, up Princeton, then down Ditman to get out of sight of the house. At Tyson our pace slows. The Vaseline ends up in some bushes. (I can see the home owner now, next morning, hedge trimmers in hand: "Now what the hell…?") We walk the rest of the way holding hands, talking and laughing along sidewalks trod since childhood, each crack and misalignment unconsciously recognized and noted as being in its proper place. Past familiar trees, stores, houses, stone walls, playgrounds, my old grade school, each landmark reverberant of days, times and people gone by, we walk into the dusk as this soft summer's eve deepens into night.
Later, around 1 am, I leave her house and walk to Gino's, our corner hangout, Frankford and Wells Streets. Nobody's around. I stand there for a while, leaning against the fence, smoking cigarettes and watching the traffic, still reeling from tonight's events.
Finally, John "The Hook" DeMarco, aka "Slow Stepper", he who is lucky his family has money since he has no inclination to be productive in any conventional way, comes cruising by in his red '66 Cutlass convertible as he is wont to do at any hour of the day or night. Seeing me, he makes a U-turn on Frankford Avenue and pulls up to the curb where I'm standing. He sits smirking at me, nodding his head, taking a drag on his cigarette.
"Hey, John." I say, smirking and nodding back at him..
Exhaling a plume of smoke out the side of his mouth, he says, "Hey, Del, like, what's happening?"
"Aah, you know, the usual shit."
"Yeah, I know what you mean. Hey, let's take a ride," he says taking a final pull on the Marlboro before flicking it overboard.
"Yeah, sounds good," I say.
Down Frankford Avenue we drive, no destination, top down, slouched unbelted in red leather bucket seats, elbows propped on door sills, talking about life and love from the perspective of my eighteen and his nineteen years in this life. The Doors' Light My Fire swirls from the AM radio; the dash lights glow. Over the hood then around the windshield comes the air soft and warm, enfolding our words as they stream upward into this midsummer night, our invisible wake. John listens to me rattle on and finally I tell him Marcy and I screwed tonight, I just had to tell somebody. He studies me for a moment and then smiles knowingly, nodding his head.
He totally got it, you see, he understood. Whatever his shortcomings, whatever were to be his failures, I now know that only DeMarco would have listened beyond my words, only he would have heard the turning of the page. And in his listening, I too suddenly heard it, felt it, and was changed forever.
This magic night was complete.
At the Satellite,
Was part of it, too.