Fifteen and a Half.
You remember it don't you ? Fifteen and a half years old, you worry about every zit you see in the mirror, you're too young to smoke, to drive a car or to vote (or screw). So far you never made it to first base but all your buddies seem to be screwing around like jack-rabbits. Your grades are slipping because the prettiest girl in the whole damn school sits at a desk just three across from yours. The thing is, and oh yes - she really is beautiful, no the thing is that you never made the football team, you tried real hard but as they say, you just couldn't cut it. She's been in your class for four weeks now and you have been longing to talk to her but every time that you think you just might, you sort of clam up, turn away and as you walk away in shame with your head down, you hate yourself for not saying a word to her. As far as you know she has never dated, but oh god is she beautiful, so what chance has a guy who can't even make the ‘B' team with a girl like that ? So every day is torture as you cut her sly glances hoping that she won't look up and catch you out because you love the way her forehead furrows when she concentrates hard on her work.
Today is different though because you just know that you're going to do it. You hang on a bit when the class empties because she is usually the last to leave. You figure that if you ask her then, none of your buddies will see you get knocked back and looking stupid, so you mess with your own books until you see that vision three desks over, stand up. That's when you jump to your feet but you are in such a rush now that you catch the desk as you stand - the desk rocks and your books scatter all over the floor and while you scrabble around to pick them all up, she's gone. That night is another agony as you lie in your bed and try not to think of her and when at last you do drop off to sleep you end up dreaming about her in any case and you have to tip a glass of Coke over the sheet in the morning to hide the stain that you made in the night from your mom, who knows exactly why you did that with the Coke in any case.
Every day you see her in school and when you wait for the bus you see her mom pick her up in her car and you ache to say hello to her, but you can't. Then something magical happens. Your teacher is casting for the next school play and he puts you in as one of the characters......and her as another. This means lots of after school rehearsals, and for weeks now you will be alone with that girl, well almost apart from the other twelve people who are also in the play too. After two weeks of messing up your lines because all you can do is to look at her, you finally reach the point where you both say "hi", when you meet up in the school theatre. A few more weeks go by and you know that pretty soon it will all be over, you will present the play and that will be that. Finally, at long last you somehow find the courage to do it. You know that if you wait until almost everybody has gone that when she turns you down and you feel that awful humiliation of rejection, that nobody will be around to see you turn scarlet and slink off.
The last rehearsal is over, everyone has gone but it ended fifteen minutes early and so she has to wait around for her mom to collect her and that's when you do it. For as long as you have been learning your script you have been practising what you will say in front of the bathroom mirror. You have set you voice to sound sort of macho and romantic ( you think), and you know every syllable off by heart so you turn to her to speak, but the other problem is that your voice is only just breaking so instead of sounding like Bruce Willis you sound like Minnie Mouse on helium, and instead of your killer line you blurt it all out on one joined up word, "would-you-like-to-come-to-the-movies-with-me-on-Saturday-only-its-fine-if-you-dont't-want-to-but-I-kinda-thought....", and then you turn bright red and turn away because you know she will say no, only she doesn't, she says, "Great! I'd love to go. Call by at seven - you know where I live ?"
And in your head you go "WHAT ? She said YES?", so you turn back even more embarrassed now and say as coolly as you can, "oh yeah. See ya", and you're outta there as fast as you can, before she can change her mind.
Saturday is three days away and you don't really sleep at all, you just lie there wide awake and thinking about her. On the great day the clock takes forever as you hide in your room, watching it tick and waiting. She lives eight blocks away but luckily the Mall where the Cinema is, is just two blocks down from her house, so you set of real early and at half past six you have walked past her house to an empty lot on the corner where you try to kill time until you can go back for her at seven, like you promised. You knock on her door and your stomach has already fallen through the sidewalk, but the door opens and there she is. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! You've only ever seen her at school, never at the Mall or anywhere else, but here she is, all dressed up for a date, with you! She looks like a movie star and she smells kinda wonderful, a musky smell from whatever perfume she is wearing and, oh my god, her top has buttons all down the front. You drink her in, is this for real ? Then the most unthinkable thing in your whole life happens and down there, down in your groin, you feel it and you know that its pushing out your Levis like a tent pole so you sort of turn a little bit and that Minnie Mouse voice squeaks, "let's go". She takes your arm and moves real close as you walk, so close that you can feel her rubbing against you with every step. You only walked eight blocks to get here, you could have walked a hundred.
At the cinema you know what seats to go for and so there you are, sitting in the back row (of the movies on a Saturday night, holding hands together....), and as the movie begins you drift away. Very casually, you managed to get your arm around her, across the back of her seat. Its been there for a half hour now and you have a cramp but there is no power on earth that will make you move it. The movie (what movie ?), gets to a scary part and she leans in real close so you let that arm drop so that it is touching her so lightly that you know she won't notice and tell you to move it, and you are in heaven. There is an open bag of candy on your lap which you bought to put there to hide that man problem thing you have ( and that really aches now). She reaches into it for a candy and you know that if she rummages around in there she is going to touch you through the bag, and then you will come in your pants. You drop you arm a bit more so that the very edge of your hand is just about touching the swell of her breast, and she lets you do it. Oh sweet Jesus I believe!
Suddenly she moves and as she does so your hand has no choice but to rest hard on that magnificent breast. She whispers into your ear, "that's nice", so you form your hand into the shape it was when you caught that last baseball the other week and you clamp it firmly over her breast and she sighs. The movie gets a bit smoochy now so she turns her head and without thinking you plant your lips on hers and the tiniest tongue peeks into you mouth, and this time its you who does the groaning because you really have come in your pants. After the movie you walk her home, but you both keep stopping to kiss and let your hands roam a bit.
You date her for the rest of the semester. Its your last year and you both got to the same University, and its there, on your very first night, that you both lose your cherry and you think that the world is a truly wonderful place. Its just bad luck that the first time did the trick because nine months later you have a son. You both drop out of University and take jobs at Wall-Mart to pay the rent on the awful apartment you have on the wrong side of town, but hey, you love her, she loves you, and she still is the most beautiful girl in the school.
You know the worst damn thing about all this ? You're forty something with a respectable beer gut and a house of your own now, and five kids trying to wreck it. The car payments are two months late and the engine is dead in any place. The TV colour flickers on and off and it can't get cable. The roof of your house leaks and the toilet is always blocked. You walk down the yard with the garbage can and you remember what it was like when you were fifteen and a half. In the blink of an eye it all runs through your mind as you put the trash can down. You fart, turn around scratching your crotch and amble back to the house for a cold Bud. You may shave tomorrow, who knows? What really pisses you is that inside the house, right there on that damn couch your mother bought you when you got married, is your very own three hundred pound ‘Jabba the hut', stuffing her face with a Kentucky Fried Chicken bargain bucket, and you wonder what the hell you did that so upset the good Lord that he gave you this shitty life to live.
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