Okay. Trevor and Lesley, two key figures in the following excerpt, might’ve been seen as “friends with benefits” decades before pc society manufactured the term. Between themselves both one-time college classmates might’ve done away with sweetening semantics and labeled the other a “fuck buddy.”
Already individually disposed towards random, unattached, unsentimental banging, fortuitous class scheduling let them connive numerous carnal opportunities during their two semesters of sex on demand. Generally speaking, each interval satisfied and gratified each participant. Well, except for their last youthful commingling. That one ended all exchanges on every level imaginable.
Only a chance meeting a lifetime later produced an immediate thaw and even faster reconnection. Reconnection. Not reconciliation. Promiscuous, Not Careless, picks up these past lovers newly post-coital.
During their initial fervor, Trevor overlooked the linen. The twist of sheets, indents in the pillows escaped his perception. He only fixed on Lesley, the hot brown sex streak sharing his bed.
Thing was Trevor had taken sketch classes which emphasized textures and contours. He’d failed recognizing them in active life as a younger man. All he saw was Lesley, his odalisque. Proximity, the heat she emitted, either blinded him or narrowed his perspective. Now, though, much older, cool experience an enhanced substitute for hot enthusiasm, Trevor could value background as well as the subject herself.
She was sleek then. Both were. Lesley joined his confession: nothing other than appearances had drawn them together. Through that they discerned themselves kindred in that both were quite open to carefree sensuous delights.
Of course only years later could either have articulated concupiscence. Earlier, they lacked the ability to assess then define. Rather, for the longest instinct sufficed very well.
In those days, Trevor couldn’t have imagined the wrinkles and the clear failures of flesh he ignored now. On both of them.
Lesley’s long ago “Beware!” had left Trevor too frustrated to learn anything. The alert, now known to have been false, that she no longer took the Pill, halted his engorged locomotive on a dime. Lesley had scared him good.
Trevor understood he’d inadvertently insulted her on another level during that spring 1980 late night/early morning. A deeper personal one he never would’ve suspected existed between them. His abrupt cessation and quicker withdrawal had everything to do with avoiding some stupid-shit pregnancy.
Lesley mistook his pullout for rejection. Instead he only sought to avoid consequences. She misread his prudent behavior as a sign he believed her unworthy of an insoluble bond should their act result in a child. By his single cautious deed Trevor had suddenly created as well as confirmed immense and insurmountable distrust.
At the nub, this acid test proved he bore no desire to share any life with her. Inadvertently or otherwise.
Presently, Trevor said, “But earlier that night you just got through telling me you didn’t like children!”
“I know!” Lesley said. “But maybe I would’ve felt different with some of my own! Maybe.”
Before Lesley mired them in maudlin, forcing him to endure female shoulda/coulda/woulda, Trevor hustled to explain why that morning had transpired as it did.
A dumb-shit pregnancy. Luckily one not involving him.
Long after Beryl (Beryl. The woman Trevor realized had been “The One” only after she left – and would remain “His Only One”) had decamped and shortly into his openly consorting with Lesley, a friend of a friend discovered one careless night had shot him into impending fatherhood. Poor dumb bastard.
The first friend was a dorm buddy, Eddie. One big Mexican-American who was such an Anglo he spoke no Spanish. Fortunately, he passed for what Southwesterners thought resembled a Sicilian. Thus when from below-the-line muchachas sniffed around him, Eddie happily played up his “Italian heritage.”
Clint, Eddie’s boyhood best gringo bud, had at least been lucky enough to impregnate Peggy, a pretty daddy’s girl whose old man was loaded. Usually handsome none-too-bright studs like Clint occupied sufficient facile charm and bad timing to knock up some two-legged dream who only shimmered through beer goggles.
The money behind Peggy aside, Botticelli blonde tresses framed the bluest eyes in a perky face. She had bow lips, the kind that always seemed ready to spout mischief or dispense the sweetest kisses. Trevor thought if all hell broke loose, one glimpse of Peggy might’ve been enough to douse the alarm.
She could innocently encourage the spineless and lily-livered. So no wonder Clint found himself in a bigger jam after having had jammed her.
If Peggy told Clint “one potato!/two potato!/three potato!/four!” comprised her rhythm method, why, he wouldn’t have seen nothing but a long stretch of green lights. Clint was the kind of guy who probably simpered, “Okay.”
Trevor wondered whether the “girl in trouble” pair had ever discussed an abortion. Or had they remained practitioners who cherry-picked tenets?
Out-of-wedlock sex could be condoned though only after plenty of winks, nods and nudges. Yet the procedure which permitted escape, allowed reset, and could provide a terrifically frightening lesson remained a strict sin?
Then as now, Trevor knew parenthood required deliberate and sober entry. “Oops!” never sufficed as a baby-making reason. Besides, wouldn’t Clint and Peggy’s issue have benefited from parents who’d grown further into their adulthood? People who’d then become more adept nurturing mentors?
Since this mishap occurred in 1979, they could’ve had that talk without any early 21st century shrill and fraught baggage.
Since the couple’s was to be one rush job nuptial, Eddie elected giving Clint a bargain America bachelor party. This consisted of a Los Angeles road trip.
Leaving Tucson on a Friday afternoon, they’d attend Saturday’s Arizona-Southern California football game at the Coliseum (likely watching SC tailback Charles White run north and south against Arizona throughout the afternoon), followed by an excursion into a Southland amusement park. Oh, by the way, brew and mushrooms would augment the whole deal.
Which was how Trevor got dragooned.
He didn’t ingest psilocybins. Or pharmaceuticals for that matter. Well, maybe a few of the latter.
Eddie needed someone reliable to drive from Tucson because Peggy had graciously loaned this dodgy adventure her car. Taking Trevor’s measure and liking it, Eddie gauged that any man who could shamelessly pilot Lesley’s rolling cartoon caption in broad daylight was more than able to wheel them between California and Arizona. Safely.
Clint’s betrothed drove a brand new Oldsmobile. Her plum-colored land shark’s white leather interior glowed pristinely. White landau covered the roof. The Olds’ whitewalls sported wire rim hubcaps. Had Peggy’s car anymore chrome on its grille, party people years later in the 90s may have looked upon such ornamentation as rapper orthodontics.
Lesley laughed at Trevor’s auto references.
“Hey, that dented boat you drove was a cartoon on wheels,” he said. “And Peggy was ahead of the curve. She’d pimped her ride long before it became must-see TV.”
A fourth man, another close friend of Eddie’s and Clint’s, one whose name Trevor had forgotten, accompanied them. The drive west was uneventful. Not only Charles White, but every other Trojan ran up and down against the visiting Wildcats. Fortunately, for the tripping trio those mushrooms rendered the game and amusement park even more vivid.
Trevor’s own interior embellishment sustained him.
Eight months earlier, he had attended the same park with Beryl and Coral, one of her roommates. He thought Coral would’ve been a third wheel. However, Beryl had schemed a grand design for their Spring Break sojourn. Trevor never figured out whether he and Coral had merely been pawns in Beryl’s plan or had their actions grown Frankenstein-like beyond their creator’s control. Really, who could’ve foreseen Coral’s resultant euphoria and worship? Beryl couldn’t have expected that, could she? He probably should’ve asked her. But then the pair perhaps ought have talked more in general.
The driver never mentioned the first trip during the second.
Lacking the way west’s anticipation and baked into exhaustion, Trevor’s passengers snoozed from Anaheim to Tucson city limits. They missed the empty nighttime interstate and those portions where glowing-eyed wetbacks anxiously huddled waiting for rare traffic to pass before crossing further into El Norte.
The stars rolled along the black above while boss tunes blasted from Oklahoma City’s KOMA.
A worthwhile station before utterly devoting its playlist to country music, evening atmospherics availed KOMA’s clear constant AM radio signal to all aerials crossing the great Southwestern distances. Whoever spun that night, he spared listeners patter, PSA’s and paying commercials.
Until these speeding hours, a song Trevor had often heard, Pure Prairie League’s Amie, had meant little. Yet under those circumstances, the past with Beryl and the then present with the somnambulant trio became strangely interchangeable, the song assumed one pleasant continuity.
Hadn’t it also played in the same direction, on the same road in March? Maybe Clint should’ve been awake to have heard it. Maybe Trevor should’ve listened closer when it played when Beryl sat beside him.
Sunday peeked over the Rincons just as the quartet returned to Tucson. Despite the sound sleep his passengers enjoyed, none felt invigorated upon awaking.
Back on campus and dragging, Eddie half-heartedly suggested how they might convene later and let Trevor, the bunch’s only clear-headed member, recite what devilment had transpired in Shakytown.
Other than being loud and goofy, nobody had behaved untoward. But knowing this bunch, Trevor would fabricate some hellraising just to make them feel better.
The groom profusely thanked Trevor. He suspected not only for the 900 or so of safe driving but by being a reassuring presence easing his impending transition. Though the reason behind the getaway lurked, none of the travelers had once alluded to it.
Unspoken of and intentionally banished, they’d accompanied Clint on his last respite before he assaulted one truly formidable mountain.
Maybe his pals Eddie and the other guy sympathized with him. Having been so careless, Clint nonetheless manfully accepted his share of the burden. That was to be expected. At least. His manner, though, impressed Trevor. Clint didn’t grouse.
Right off the bat Trevor knew of dozens of guys who in Clint’s dilemma would’ve cursed bitches for getting knocked up, then shitting the problem, effectively ruining their futures. Especially if none of them had any particular plans.
Instead, Clint seemed to assess the unknown and resigned himself to do his best. Perhaps the incipient father’s guts twisted around themselves, but he remained stoic. He comported himself manfully.
Sunday night under violet floodlights, Eddie got together a pick-up basketball game on the within crawling distance West Stadium concrete courts. He’d brought along a few cases of beer in order to prevent dehydration. Joining the four who’d gone west were several other scholars coaxed from their studies. When didn’t free barley soda work miracles?
It wasn’t a serious game, obviously. The boys hacked and bricked with impunity. But the physical release felt good. When beer breaks beckoned, brew, bullshit, laughter, reaffirmed their simple, straight, uncomplicated maleness. The world falling beyond these narrow parameters was rightly ignored. They could exult. They could be themselves without apology or explanation.
Was there anything better than square freedom?
When play resumed a curious incident occurred. Because guys will be guys a few empties weren’t stuck back in the cases. Some stood near the baseline.
Clint had received the ball and drove to the hoop. His heel brushed one of the loiterers. He grazed the bottle enough to rock it. The brown glass wobbled lazily, drunkenly almost, until tipping sideways. Unyielding surface aside, the speed, force, and distance involved shouldn’t have caused it to burst. Yet the thing exploded. The glass smashed into smithereens as if J.R. Richard had wound up and thrown that bottle against a brick wall.
Play stopped. Clint’s drive ended. The basketball dribbled away into obscurity. Those glinting shards drew the players’ attention. Clint’s most of all. He dumbly gazed on them. He looked stupefied. A moment later he began crying. No, not cry, bawl. Great heaving sobs racked his shoulders.
The players who’d been ignorant of his plight witnessed him with embarrassment. After all to them he’d just broken a beer bottle. An empty one at that.
Eddie and the other guy rushed to their friend’s assistance. They embraced him tenderly and tried comforting him. Eddie assured Clint that everything would work out. Genuine sincerity carried in Eddie’s voice. Although touched, Trevor thought Eddie a fool if he believed his assurances might actually have much effect.
Clint’s future. Such as it might’ve been. If he stayed the course, his next 18 years were prescribed. Given human nature, Trevor figured he’d compound the original sentence with Peggy by having more children. More children produced a thicker entwinement, added burdens, furthered uncertainties.
Life as Clint knew it was coming to one rude close. Had he ever dared himself to venture outlandish dreams, these were soon to be packed away into his mental attic. Should his memory hold, perhaps in a generation he could pull them down, dust them off, and see whether any still moved him.
Now he was about to live entirely for others before he’d done much of any living for himself.
“That’s what I was thinking of that morning,” Trevor told Lesley. “Not whether you were good enough to shit my kids. Dumb-fuck Clint. I didn’t want our lives to be over before they started. That would’ve been absolute bullshit!”
Lesley responded between hopeful and defensive. “Maybe it worked out between them. Maybe it worked out better than you could’ve imagined.”
“And if it didn’t?” Trevor said. “Once you’re together like that, that’s it. Or at least it should be. You can’t get angry. You can’t have regrets or be resentful. Well, sure you can but you can’t express any of that stuff. Talk about making a situation worse.”
Lesley became accusative. “Oh!? You couldn’t stand leading a noble life?”
Blitheness escorted his reply. “Why, oh why, is it always noble when it’s involuntary?”