Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Losing my Virginity

I was sixteen when I lost my virginity. I can't tell you the date or even the day of the week, only that I was off of school for Martin Luther King Jr. day and both my parents were away all day for work and I had the house to myself, aside from my grandfather who was old, hard of hearing, and who, unless there was a blizzard, spent most of the day outside on the front porch, sitting still enough that birds sometimes literally landed on his head.

It probably took me all of sixty seconds to lose my virginity. Of course, 120 seconds later, my sixteen year old hormones were doing the Mummer's Parade through my system and ready to go again.

That was natural instincts kicking in and taking over. Any teenage male can tell you it's a strong attraction and afterward, your life is changed forever.

This past weekend I lost my virginity again. I can tell you the date now and chances are pretty good that I'll remember the date if you ask me a few years from now.

8-11-06... the very first day of HorrorFind this year.

I did not have a vacant house, nor a vacant room. Instead it was filled with some familiar faces, and some strange ones. The three men I call brothers, along with my wife, and some great friends and writers I've gotten to know over the years. Even a cousin of mine showed up to hear.

I can't say I was nervous, although I was excited. I shared my reading slot with Elizabeth Blue, and she led the reading hour with her story, Riding the Pony with Mr. Moore. She had a bubble machine and served wine and had music playing from an iPod in the background. She'd even thoughtfully brought an extra flashlight for me to read my story in the dim mood lighting.

This was the first time I'd met Beth, and she seems like a great lady and it was apparent that she and her friend Sarah were having a blast of a time with the audience and the reading. But when she was finished, and it was my turn, I knew I'd have to make some changes.

The story I was going to read didn't fit in with those things. The character whose voice I was going to borrow that night didn't know laughter without cynicism. She knew the harsh reality of life on the streets but not bubble machines. She was familiar with the shadows of the human condition, but not cool techno music in a dimly lit room.

So I asked for the lights to be on, and the music turned off and Sarah and Beth did as I asked.

I introduced myself (foreplay) and briefly mentioned the origin of the story, and when I turned the title sheet of my papers back...

Free Ride Angie began to talk.

For the next 28 minutes, I stood in Angie's skin and let her tell her story. I watched the people's faces in the audience as she told them about being a hooker for twenty years. I saw furrowed brows as they began to understand what it was like to avoid having best friends because it hurt too much to see them o.d.

I saw people with a mixture of revulsion and empathy as I told them about murders with high heel shoes and being a runaway at fourteen years old.

I saw a lot of emotions cross people's faces as words left my mouth. And when I finished, and I came out of my reverie, I heard the clapping. I saw the smiles and I took the handshakes and I signed copies of my chapbook, Bluebottle Summer.

A tall thin man came up to me, introduced himself as Wayne and asked me to sign the chap out to him. Then he withdrew something from behind his back - last year's chapbook of Free Ride Angie. I hadn't done a reading last year - only given those away on tables and anywhere else I thought people would grab one. He'd kept not one, but two, and asked me to sign them for him.

Steve Lukac came up and shook my hand, telling me that was some set of chops for a first reading. Thanks Steve, that really does mean a lot coming from you, you Oogie Boogie, you.

Drew Williams complimented me - and again, that means a lot.

I talked with others off and on throughout the night; the lovely and beautiful Cassandra Keene and the equally lovely and beautiful HorrorWench, who was reviewing the reading, and others. I asked what I could have done better and got feedback, but for the most part, it was all extremely positive.

I can't adequately put into words the feeling... a buzz of adrenaline. A rush of vindication... a loss of... virginity. My mind is still humming from it all.

And much like my sixteen year old self, natural instincts are kicking in. The attraction is strong.

And I can't wait to do it again.


Blogger BedlamBanshee said...

Now that I have a blogger account I can post a comment and tell you again that your reading was terrific. It was good to see you there and I hope next year we can talk your lovely wife into staying longer :-)

9:10 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Hey! You two are taking the world by storm with your bedlam blogs, y'know that?

Thanks again for the kind words, bedlambanshee - and after this year, I'm pretty sure Jen's going to stay longer at next year's HorrorFind. =>

6:55 PM  

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