Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Jocelyn was about 10 years older than me. I had met her at my catering job when I was working for Martha in high school. She had told me I could drop by her house on our day off, and I did only to find her lying spread eagle on her bed, no panties and a peasant top, a fan blowing directly at her open vagina.

“Don’t get herpes, my box is on fire,” she advised me, making no adjustments for modesty’s sake.

I had met a lot of older people through my catering job, and my job at the town’s local theater where we all worked summers directing cars, handing out programs at show time, and selling candy and cokes at intermission. I got most of my high school friend’s jobs at the theater, and we had all taken to hanging out with older men, some of them 25 or older. We would find ourselves at their houses after the bars closed at 1AM. We would help them clean their marijuana by pushing it through cut squares of window screens stretched taught in wooden frames, opting out when they started to pass back and forth these special cigarettes. One of them promised me the next empty Almaden wine bottle, its womanly curves perfect for catching rainbow colored candle drippings, they were prized possessions proudly displayed on every cool older person’s coffee table that I knew.

I felt a little wrong hanging out with this older crowd, they were probably trouble, but my parents had raised me right (aside from the fact that they were blind to the fact that we were late night hub-bubbing with a bunch of barely employed grown-ups, watching them smoke dope while listening to Led Zeppilin records in their rented houses on the outskirts of town) – still all us girls had clear boundaries when it came to stuff like pot or Jack Daniels. We had much more class than that, we spent many a summer evening impersonating our parents, heading down to the beach before sundown – with a cooler full of ice, a bottle of white wine, cut up vegetables (or “crudite”, as Martha corrected me) and dip made from onion soup and sour cream. Miraculously, none of us got into any real trouble with these guys, although one of my friends made out and got felt up by one of them. I think he broke her heart until she met her high school boyfriend who she’s married to – to this day.

Still, the older set were fascinating, and I had no trouble fitting in, no trouble faking nonchalance when I met the sexy, powerful Jocelyn at my catering job – she was a heck of a lot of fun. A real tell-it-like-it-is broad, pretty face, her long thick hair cut in a shag. She had a bit of a weight problem that manifested mostly in the boob area, which served her well. She was popular with the guys, although I never actually saw one of them around during daylight hours. I’d never spent any time with her except for our 8 hour catering gigs; usually lavish weddings in Redding, or Greenwich where she would pop a Percodan on the way over to the job in Martha’s Suburban, later sneaking away with platters of jumbo shrimp during cocktail hour to be consumed back behind the garage, washing them down with the Cape Codder cocktails she would coerce the bartenders out of. I didn’t look to her as a role model, but she was entertaining in a dangerous way, I realized just how dangerous as she offered me a close up view of her blistered privates. It was a brutally hot August day, and the heat was really starting to get to me seeing Jocelyn in this position hogging all the fan’s air. I wandered out into the old turn-of-the-century house that she had rented out with some other older people and found the kitchen a room or two away. Now a safe distance from Jocelyn and her privates, I needed a glass of water – a guy, a house mate, I suspected, shuffled in, said ‘hi’ as he opened the fridge door, looked inside, and closed it – it seemed like he’d just rolled out of bed, although it was well after lunchtime. He had on a white t-shirt that was now grey-ish, and Levi’s, or Lee’s, those were the choices back then. His hair looked like Starsky, or Hutch, I don’t remember which one had the tightly curled brown hair.

“Hi, I’m Claudia,” I said, although he didn’t seem to expect an explanation as to who I was or why I was there. “Jocelyn asked me over, but she’s…. sleepy.” I didn’t know if he was aware of her current condition, the mention of her name didn’t seem to pique his interest.

“Don’t mean to be rude but I’m gonna jump on the day,” he said slamming the refrigerator door after taking one more hopeful look inside, “ever been on a motorcycle?”

He gestured with his head towards the door and I followed him out on to the gravel driveway. His motorcycle was there under a shady tree, he rolled it out on to the turn-around and said, “get on if you want, I’ll take you for a quick ride.”

I didn’t know if it was a great idea. My parents wouldn’t think so. Older guy, motorcycle, maybe it was a bad combination. Still, I had always been curious about them, these motorcycles. I had seen old-older guys on them up by the reservoir, riding around with serious looks on their faces, still you could tell they were having a great time. Jocelyn’s roommate, or whoever he was, he never told me his name, threw his leg over the bike, started it up, and head gestured again for me to take the space on the seat behind him, then pulling my arms around his waist.

Soon, we were riding down a back country road, one that I had taken a thousand times in a car usually on long Sunday drives with my Dad, but this was something different. My arms wrapped around a strange older guy’s body, gliding through turns, leaving the sweltering day behind us, giving way to a whirl of cool breezes, I looked up, a blur of vivid green leaves rushed over our heads, it was like nothing I had experienced. All too soon the motorcycle’s tires were crunching the gravel of Jocelyn’s driveway again, the adventure coming to an end as quickly as it had started.

That was the most fun I had that summer. Eclipsing those white wine spritzer parties at the beach, the baby powder sessions I had with my first boyfriend up in his room, those forbidden nights of cleaning seeds from the older boys pot and watching them “toke” their “doobs”, it just didn’t hold a candle. I never went back inside the house to say goodbye to Jocelyn that day, I don’t remember ever seeing her again. Maybe the herpes got the best of her, or Martha fired her for stealing shrimp, I didn’t care. I had gotten high for the first time in my life on the back of a motorcycle with a guy who’s name I never knew – but his bike and his Starsky and Hutch hair made that late August afternoon epic.

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