I was sixteen, a virgin, and working at Vons as a bagger. One day an Italian woman named Monique was hired as a checker. Two honeydews sat on her chest, her ass was flat as a flour tortilla. Said she was twenty-eight, but Tony the Butcher told me, “Don’t let her make-up fool ya kid, she’s over 30.”

While taking out the Von’s trash, I slipped a bottle of Goldschläger into the bag and threw it in the dumpster. Monique had suggested we got drunk after work. Goldschläger was sure to impress. It was laced with gold flakes, after all.

After my shift, I punched out and dumpster dove for the schläger. I held the bottle by the neck and sparked a blunt as I approached Monique’s truck. I exhaled smoke in the reflection of her passenger window. The gold chain around my neck and peach fuzz that hugged my upper lip shined under parking lot streetlights. She squinted at the bottle, her bottom lip puckered. I opened the door.

“Goldschläger, huh? Out of all the top shelf booze back there, this is the best you could do?” She cracked the cap and swigged it back. Gold flakes clung to her lips. “You’re bad for sixteen. You got a girlfriend?”

“Give me that,” I hit the blunt and ashed out the window. I gulped down two shots of schläger. It burned my throat and didn’t want to go down. But it eased my electric nerves and pounding heart.

Did I have a girlfriend? I hated that question. I hated that questions because I’d never had a real girlfriend before. Sure, I’d asked Carianne to spider on the swings in 1st grade after seeing two 4th graders do it. But Carianne said she hated spiders…and me. But whatever. It looked awkward and easier to swing alone anyways. Then there was Kristina in 2nd grade. I drew stick figures of us holding hands and inside a heart I wrote: I like you, do you like me? Check yes or no.  She checked yes. We held hands for a few recesses until my friends started picking me last for football and suggested I might have more fun jumping Double Dutch with the girls. I had no choice but to let her go.

In 5th grade, Jenifer and I played footsy under the lunch tables. I thought that meant we were a couple, so I gave her a $10 promise ring I bought from the swap meet. Her mom said she was too young to date boys and made her give it back.

7th grade I used to secretly go to the movies with Shalyn, who, at the time, was also dating my best friend Kyle. For most people the live action film Inspector Gadget was pretty forgettable. But for me, it was when Shalyn finally asked, “Why haven’t you tried to kiss me?”

I might have said because you’re dating my best friend, but instead I replied, “I don’t know, I guess, I didn’t think you’d want me to.” I gulped my drink and squirmed in my seat.

“Have you ever French kissed a girl?”                                                                                   “Yeah, duh…I mean—” she grabbed my hair with both hands. Her jaws gaped opened like a python about to swallow an ostrich egg. I put my hand on the small of her back as she probed my throat with her giraffe-like tongue. I was pretty sure she’d eventually reach the spinach quiche I had for lunch.

“Did you like it?” she asked.                                                                                                  “Sure, yeah, it was…real cool.”  I can’t believe the French kiss like that, I thought.  No wonder nobody likes them.

8th grade, I tried having phone sex with Nicole. “O.K, so, I’m palming your boob, oh, your nipple is so hard.”

Then Nicole said, “I just dipped your dick in a bowl of melted chocolate. You know, the kind that turns to a shell when you put it on ice cream. Now I’m gonna suck it off.”

“Wow,” I went silent. “I mean, so hot…but, like, do you think the chocolate would actually harden if you put it on my penis? Not that it matters. But, you know, since it’s warm and all and ice cream is—don’t you think it’d just melt? I’ve just never really thought about it before.” And that was the last time I had phone sex with Nicole.

            In 9th grade I started selling pot. During lunch, two 11th grade stoners named Ratski and Allison came up to buy a sack. Ratski was a hippy and smelled of Nag Champa; Allison had her tongue pierced and played with the metal barbell between her lips.

“So, we have a proposition for you. Allison and I don’t have any money, but, we think you’re cute, and…”

“And what?”

Allison whispered in my ear, “We’ll give you a blowjob after school if you give us a gram.”

“Uhh,” I looked at the ground and laughed uncomfortable. “I don’t think so.”

“Are you kidding me?” Ratski scrunched her face as if she’d drank bad milk. “What are you, gay?”

“No, I’d just rather have the twenty bucks. That’s all.”                                                                     Monique stared at me as I thought about telling her the truth. That I didn’t have a girlfriend, nor had I ever had a girlfriend. Then I remembered Tony’s advice, “You gotta be confident lil’ homie if you wanna get chicks. Just be an asshole. Chicks love assholes.”

“Naw,” I lit a cigarette and looked Monique in the eye. “I’m a player. I don’t got time for girlfriends.”

Monique slapped the steering wheel in laughter.


“Get out of here with that shit, you lil wanna-be Snoop Dogg,” she said. “Look, I gotta go. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She pushed me out the door and peeled off into the night.

The next day, I was bagging groceries for Monique when she scanned a long cucumber. I gripped the green veggie, but she wouldn’t let go.  “Come over tonight,” she stroked the cucumber with a giddy smile. “We’ll get drunk and watch a movie.”

I yanked the cucumber away and threw it in a plastic bag. “Buy me a 40oz of Mickey’s and I’ll be there.”

I bolted back to the meat department in search of Tony. Tony spent his checks on hookers at Adelitas. He knew everything about women.

“Hey Tony, Monique asked me over for drinks tonight. What do I do, man? You got any tips?”

He slowly looked up from his work like a demon who’d been conjured from the underworld. Wiping his bloody hands on his apron he growled, “Listen lil’ homie. All you need to remember is wherever ya’ tongue goes, ya’ dick goes after.”  He hacked a slab of veal into cutlets.

I went home that night, watched porn for some pointers, and left a letter—Sleeping at Eric’s tonight, Mom. See you in the morning. I then hit up Pal Liquor for a box of Extended Pleasure condoms. I was ready.

Soon as I walked in her door, she grabbed my arm. We downed shots of peach Schnapps. She handed me a 40-ouncer of Mickey’s.

“Nice place. How long you lived here?”                                                                                            “Not long. Here, I’ll give you the tour.” She pulled me down the hall and opened a door draped with metallic-green Mardi-Gras beads. The room glowed with a cherry red lava-lamp that cast bubbly shadows on us. An N.W.A poster hung on the back wall.

“Get over here,” she tugged me to bed.

“Wow, you got a waterbed?”  I poggoed up and down creating a set of waves beneath the zebra-print comforter.

“Stop it! You’re making me seasick, fool.” She pinched my arm. “I think we need some music to set the mood.”

She strutted across the room and popped Chronic 2000 into a boom-box on the dresser.  Dr. Dre’s voice boomed out the speakers, “Welcome to Death Row.” A cell door slammed shut, a synth started squealing, and the bassline dropped. She two-stepped back, bumping her shoulders to the beat and straddled me. I grabbed my 40 of Mickey’s and took a long, hard, gulp.

“You’re nervous.”                                                                                                                  “Naw,” I snaked my trembling arms around her waist. “I’m good.”

“Don’t worry, fool. Just let me take control.”

She locked her fingers around my neck, drove her tongue into my mouth, and tore off my shirt. We splashed into bed.

She slowly raked red nails up my ribs.

“Hey,” my abs spasmed.  “I’m ticklish there.”

Without a word, she stripped off her shirt and steered my hand to her chest. I’d never cupped an unclothed breast before. It reminded me of the water balloons I threw at the ice cream man after he doubled the price for Bomb Bags. I fished a condom from my pocket and tossed my pants on the floor. She smirked at my naked body and shimmied out her shorts. I imagined all the men Monique had been with. Grown men. And then there was me: fucking twig boy with nothing more than a coffee straw between my teenage thighs. I felt inadequate. I wasn’t a real man. At least not the kind Monique was used to. I felt scared

I fumbled to thread the portal into manhood. Poking around between her legs like a blind folded child trying to pin-the-tail on the donkey. She took me in her hand and guided me in. Snoop sang “Ain’t Nuttin’ but a G-Thang,” and with the suave of a suffocating mackerel, I flopped around on top of her. No rhythm. No end in sight. I just wanted it to end.

“Hey,” Monique put her hands on my chest and pushed me back. “I think you need a break.”

We lay eye-to-eye. No smiles, no cuddles.

“I guess I need some practice,” I said as I rolled away from Monique and watched the mercury float like red jellyfish in the lava lamp.