The first day of 8th grade, Debbie and I make bets on who will lose her virginity. By choice, I mean, as opposed to the way we’ve had it.

That weekend, I pass out at a party and when I come to I’m in the bathroom being fun-dipped by this older guy while my boyfriend pounds on the door.

I’m not really sure he penetrates. I have this weird recurring experience with probing, rubbery dicks. I don’t think they’re supposed to bend like that.

I squirm a little bit, test the possibility of not being in this situation.

The boy on top of me doubles his weight.

“Chicken Little,” he mutters. Referring, I guess, to my too-tight twat?

I don’t want to think about it, don’t want to be there. And for some reason the place I choose to be instead is the upside-down toybox my sister trapped me in when we were little.

It was pitch-black then, too, and I remember trying to feel up the toys, guess what they were. Finding the most satisfaction in Barbie’s green convertible, whose wheels made a cool spinning sound, and gave me something to do.

“Did Mom give that away?” I wonder, suddenly upset, because that’s just not right. I loved that car, and she’s always giving things away before I’m ready.

I spend the next night at Debbie’s, cuddling up to her enormous tits in bed and listening to My Sugar Walls on low. I tell her about the bathroom. She laughs and laughs, comes up with a surprising number of dirty remarks about my unmanageable sex appeal.

Which ends up making me feel like Appolonia. Or maybe that’s just the Purple Rain poster taped on the ceiling. The one that we stare at when we’re bored, wondering if Prince’s dick is really all that big.

Debbie is my best friend.

Later that night we sneak down to her kitchen to make pancakes, because she knows how. She’s not supposed to eat because her dad said he’d give her a thousand dollars if she lost ten pounds.

“Stupid fat fuck,” Debbie says, of him. It’s true that he’s a creepy, horrible man but I never say so. Because it’s one thing to say bad things about your own family, but another thing when someone else does.

Debbie pours Bisquick into a bowl and a bunch of tiny, black bugs are crawling in it. This is all new to me and I can’t stop staring, but Debbie just says, “Must be old…” Having seen it all before. So instead we just walk out her front door and go wander around in the dark, feeling both older and younger than the 13 we are.

Debbie and I go to private school and Debbie either gets dropped off in a limousine or by her dad in his DeLorean. Neither of us fit in right. She’s new money, and I’m no money at all—there on scholarship, you know.

Two weeks into the school year and I find out I’m written up on the boys bathroom wall short list.

Girls Who Are Not Virgins.

“You told!” I accuse Debbie.

“Fuck off. You know I wouldn’t do that.”

And really? She wouldn’t. She might give a guy a blow job behind a gas station to get us liquor, but she wouldn’t do that.

“Nate wrote it,” she finds out. “Mary told him you use super-sized tampons.”

Fucking Mary. She would. I don’t use super-sized tampons—not even close—and I’m oddly hurt by the allegation.

“They’re talking about my menses, now?” I ask, because menses is a word that makes Debbie laugh. “Why the fuck are they talking about my menses?”

“Mary’s third-rank bitch,” Debbie tells me. I never know what she’s talking about when she says things like this, but it always gives me the impression that one day Mary will get what’s coming to her.

Mary is my nemesis by proxy, because my older sister was her older sister’s nemesis and it seems to have gotten handed down. The strange thing is that Mary and I get paired up a lot, like during field hockey scrimmage or last year when Mr. Lyman and his comb-over decided they were going to take the two of us out for weekly ice cream. Which I got kind of excited about, because I love English Lit, but it turned out he just wanted to perv and ask us questions about our sex lives.

Counseling, he called it.

Mary took up all of the attention and talked in great phony detail about being molested by some older man, turning them both on.

“Why would Mr. Lyman buy this shit?” I wondered. Because if you’ve ever been raped you sure as fuck don’t talk about it lightly over ice cream. And after that I refused to speak to him, even in his class, refused to give my oral presentation, even. Told Mom I had cramps and stayed home those three days. Still got an A. Maybe he was scared I’d tell. Technically we weren’t supposed to be off-campus in middle school.

October rolls around and I end up at this public high school party, showing everyone what an astounding drinker I am. Unsurprisingly, I end in some bushes; I just wanted to be alone, but here’s yet another guy trying to figure out how to shove it in. I get sick on him and pass out.

Someone must call my mom, or maybe I do, because when I come to I’m at home, and she’s undressing me.

“Your underwear are on inside-out,” she tells me.

I roll over, and she sits down on the side of my bed.

“You know, when I was your age, I had a crush on this bad boy. He rode a motorcycle.”

I roll my eyes, even though they’re closed.

“I really wanted to impress him, but when he’d invite me to parties, I’d secretly dump the drinks he gave me in a plant.”

Mom giggles at this memory. Like, what a clever girl she was!

“What kind of an idiot gives away a drink?” I think.

“I’m not going to punish you,” Mom says, as though she could. “But I want you to remember this story the next time you’re at a party.”

I think about Mom, being my age. For some reason I imagine her in a preppy kilt, a monogrammed sweater. Probably because I’ve seen a picture of her in it.

How could she have straddled the back of a motorcycle wearing something like that?

Mom and I? We wouldn’t have been friends.

“Can I go over to Debbie’s?” I ask.

Because Debbie’s the only one who will ever even begin to understand.


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