(Cassie and S. are walking to the Orange Market to take a break from her typing his Senior thesis. When he asked her if she'd ever wanted to sleep with another woman, it tapped into a memory long forgotten)
It was the very last Saturday night of Summer vacation the year I graduated high school. I was starting at Temple the following Monday, and several girlfriends who were hanging out together called me to suggest we go out to a movie, a last “girls night out” before we went mostly separate ways. I started looking through the paper to see what was playing downtown, and my gaze fell on one in particular. In a brave voice, I blurted out “Therese and Isabelle. Let’s go see an X-rated film.” I knew nothing about it other than that it was X-rated, I’m not sure I even knew why it was rated X or even what an X-rating meant, other than that it was naughty in some mysterious way. I wanted to be bold and provocative; going to an X-rated film seemed brash and reckless (the ad warned “no one under 18 admitted, identities will be checked at the door,” insuring every teenager alive would try and sneak in).
“Why that particular X-rated film and not one of the usual stag films?”
“Simple— I didn’t want to go to a sleazy porn house full of degenerate men ready to jump on one or all of us and spray us with— uh, cum.”
S. burst out laughing so loud it echoed off the façade of the Belnord, this huge apartment building we had to pass each way. I was glad it was dark out, I was blushing from using that word for the first time in my life (except with P.). Because it was a first, I enjoyed my naughtiness, it made me feel brash and modern and audacious the same as that night we went to see “Therese and Isabelle.”
“I probably rationalized things by thinking or saying it would help me learn French.”
“Ah, what kind of French?”
“The ads didn’t make it seem sleazy, and all my friends knew I was signed up to take Basic French.”
“But the movie was in English. I saw it with German subtitles.”
“I didn’t know that then.”
Four of us were planning on going: me, Stephanie, Gina and Rochelle, and it seemed as brazen and daring a thing as I’d ever done. I didn’t tell my boyfriend at the time, nor any of my other friends, and I’ve never told Patrick. I caught the uptown bus with Stephanie and Gina, and the three of us joked about whether we might run into someone we knew. When we got to the theater, Rochelle was waiting with her friend, Judy, in tow, and I remember being pissed about it. I didn’t want our going to this film to get around my old high school— I don’t know why, we were all going our separate ways, yet that night we were still five high school girls from South Philly. Plus I was worried they might not let us in. I was only ready to go so far in being bold, and this was about the limit of it.
My jitters passed quickly enough, we were soon preoccupied with buying the tickets. Rochelle was petrified we’d need ID, she was only 17 like me, but looked 12. It would’ve been really humiliating if they’d turned us away at the door.
“’Don’t worry,’ I boasted, ‘I’ve got fake ID if they ask.’ I don’t have to tell you the old man in the ticket booth couldn’t have cared less if we’d been school girls in stockings and uniforms.”
“Stockings AND uniforms? Ahh, what an absolutely lovely thought,” S. nearly licked his lips. I slapped him playfully on the wrist; it kept me from staring at those same lips— or slapping his face on general principle, both impulses came over me simultaneously. In the interim, we got our coffee and headed back to Clark Street, with S. pouring the remaining Scotch into his.
(to be continued)