They knew. I was sure of it.
The waiter who took our dinner order. The couple at the next table. The people we walked past on our way into the restaurant.
All night long, I was positive that everyone could tell, just by looking at me, that before the night was out, I would no longer be the only seventeen-year-old virgin left in Connecticut.
The only person oblivious to that fact? The guy I was going to do it with.
"So, how'd you like the movie?" Eric asked, holding my hand across the table.
We were at Mona Lisa, an Italian restaurant right near the Greenwich Country Club. Usually I love the place, but tonight it barely registered. We could have been eating hot dogs out of a Dumpster for all it mattered. Tonight I was going to have sex. And until that happened, I couldn't concentrate on anything else.
"Yeah," I said, not really answering. I was too preoccupied with the way Eric was rubbing his thumb back and forth across the top of my hand. I'm sure he thought it was romantic, but actually, it was kind of . . . chafing.
I looked closely at Eric's thumb. It was red and dry. You could see clearly where each individual black hair sprouted out of his skin.
I was pretty sure I had seen Eric's thumbs before. So why, tonight, did they look so-blech?
I pulled my hand away and poured some more Diet Coke into my glass. I crunched a few ice cubes while Eric smiled.
"You know what they say about chewing your ice," he said.
"What?" I asked.
Eric leaned in and whispered, "Same thing they say about green M&M's."
I gasped. So he did know!
Did that make me feel better or worse?
I took another sip of my drink, careful not to get any ice in my mouth this time.
Eric picked up his own glass and crunched a few of his own ice cubes. I couldn't decide if that made him funny or a big jerk.
"So how's school?" I asked him.
Eric went to St. Bernard's. They started classes two whole weeks before we did.
"Man, my morality teacher is so cool," Eric said. "Sister Marguerite. She started telling us about all these cases of bioethics, like a family who had a second kid because their first one needed a bone marrow transplant, and what are the ethics of doing something like that? She doesn't talk like a nun at all. She lets us make up our own minds about things. You know?"
"My mom had a case like that," I told him.
My mom is chief legal counsel for Greenwich Memorial Hospital. She always has crazy stories about the trouble the patients and doctors get into.
"There was this woman who already had three kids, and she-"
"Yeah, and there was this other guy, who had been on life support for years, right? He was a total vegetable-" The pizza arrived, and Eric reached out and grabbed a slice. "Anyway, his family wanted to pull the plug because he was completely brain-dead, but his wife didn't want to let him go, right?"
Eric took a huge bite of pizza. He chewed for a moment-then his eyes went wide. His face turned bright red.
"What's the matter?" I asked.
He opened his mouth, giving me a close-up view of mangled sauce, cheese, and crust. He fanned at his tongue, making "hot hot hot" noises. Then he spat the big chunk of pizza onto his plate.
Eric gulped some of his drink before saying, "Ow! Sorry." He wrapped the half-chewed bit up in his napkin, took another, smaller bite, and continued his story from where he left off.
I slid a piece of pizza onto my own plate and silently waited for it to cool down. While I waited, Eric babbled on. And on. And on.
This is it, I thought. This is the magical evening I'll always remember. The one I'll cherish and compare to all subsequent evenings. Eric, with his red, hairy thumbs, endless stories, and spit-out pizza, will be with me forever.
Eric finished raving about Sister Marguerite and barely took a breath before launching into a story about his chemistry teacher, Brother Jonah. I watched his mouth moving and his hands gesturing in the air. I ate two pieces of pizza and picked all the toppings off a third.
Too late, I realized I probably shouldn't have gone for that last slice. It made me feel too full to be seen without my clothes on.
I gulped. Without my clothes on . . .
Well, at least the car would be dark.
As I thought of Eric's car--and what would go on in that car post-pizza--tiny beads of sweat began to form on my forehead.
I scolded myself. Why was I so nervous? Eric had been a good boyfriend in the couple of months since we'd started dating. There was no way I could chicken out now.
So, I decided. Whatever. Full speed ahead.
Eric paid the check, and I wrapped my arm around his waist as we walked out to the car. I slipped my hand into his back pocket, and when he asked what we should do next, I said, "Let's go somewhere we can be alone."
We got into his mom's Saab station wagon and drove out to East Rock Park. Eric pulled down a leafy little lane heading toward the Pop Warner clubhouse and put the car in park.
It was a steamy night, so we had the windows down. Eric slid a cassette into the tape player and moved closer to me.
"You're so beautiful," he murmured, and put his hands on my face as he kissed me.
Sigh. I am a sucker for boys who touch my face during lip lock. It is the rare specimen who realizes that kissing isn't only about the mouth.
Eric's hands wandered down my neck and, slowly, through my hair. I kissed him back, shutting my eyes and trying not to think about the next twenty minutes.
About how I was going to get from kissing in the front seat to emerging from the backseat a Woman.
Eric stopped for a moment, tilted back his head, and smiled at me. "Hi," he said softly. Then he leaned in, pressing me back against my seat. His wristwatch snagged on my hair and pulled it.
Ow! I shut my eyes again and tried to get into it, tried to enjoy the faint spicy flavor of his tongue slipping into my mouth, but after a while, all I could feel was the hot air whooshing out of his nose and spreading over my face.
I opened my eyes, hoping to make an adjustment, and saw straight up one of Eric's nostrils. It was full of black hairs, just like his thumb, and . . .
Wait. Was that . . . ?
Ugh! Didn't anyone ever teach him to use a tissue?
At that moment, it was official. Any trace of desire I felt for Eric went screaming out the window.
Chance at de-virginization: completely, utterly over.
I put my hands on Eric's shoulders, lightly pushing him away.
"Marit," he gasped. The wheezy, sexy tone in his voice made a thousand tiny ants crawl over my skin. "I want you so bad."
"Yeah," I said, sitting up a little straighter. "Sorry. But I gotta go."