During the late spring and
summer before my freshman year, I was spending a lot of time in the
company of a beautiful sixteen-year-old named Staci. Staci had dark
brown hair and piercing brown eyes. Hers was the proverbial face that
could launch a thousand ships, and she had a figure to match. Staci’s
family and mine went to the same church.
My parents and I have always
been church-going people, although I guess you'd have to call us
"left-wing" Christians. We're very much out of sync with the
fundamentalist brand of Christianity that's endemic to the Bible
Belt. My parents were both raised in the same denomination, one of the
so-called "liturgical" denominations whose ritual isn't far-removed
from that of the Roman Catholics. My father's academic
background led him to look at much of the material in the Bible as
mythological, yet full of all kinds of existential and ethical
importance. He raised his kids in that same denomination, but through
his guidance inoculated them against the intolerance and
rigidity that characterize much religion below the Mason-Dixon line.
In any case, our family was
highly involved in our church. We
belonged to the largest congregation of our denomination in Dallas.
Staci was a member there too, and one of the few kids I knew there
who'd also gone to my
junior high and high school. Although we had a fairly large youth
demographic in our church, most of the kids came from different parts
At school, Staci and I were on
different planets. She was a sophomore that spring, and I was back in
junior high, so we'd never really known each other from school. The
friendship we had came from our mutual involvement in our
church's youth group. In early May, the eighth-graders in the church
got moved from the junior high youth group to the high school group,
and that's what caused our friendship to move forward.
By my fourteenth year,
grown into most of my adult height and had a pretty decent build. I
wouldn't have had any trouble passing for sixteen or maybe even older.
I noticed pretty quickly in our youth activities at church that Staci
seemed to like me. She went out of her way to make me feel welcome and
to introduce me to the older kids. From my end, the attention from this
"older woman" was intoxicating.
But Staci had a
seventeen-year-old boyfriend. His name was Dylan, and he was a real
tough guy. He played football and baseball and hung around with a group
of guys who had reputations for getting into trouble. So as far as I
was concerned, between Dylan on the one hand and my young age on the
other, Staci was just a set of butterflies in the stomach and a jerkoff
fantasy. I figured the best I could hope for was "good friends." But,
hell, I'd take it.
As the weeks went by, I
discovered that Staci and Dylan were having some conflicts. He used to
come to some of the church youth activities, but I saw him there with
her less and less. She and I were also spending more time in each
other's company at youth group activities. And I'd gotten brave and
started calling her during the week. Before too long, she
began opening up to me about the problems between her and her
By the time the school year was over we were talking for hours on the
phone each day.
One evening near the end of
May, I was outside shooting hoops with Matt. My mom poked her head out
the door, looked at me with a curious expression, and said, "Andy,
Staci Hamilton's on the phone; she wants to talk to you."
I looked at Matt, wide-eyed;
Matt grinned and gave me the thumbs-up sign. I'd talked to him about my
hopeless crush on her, and over the weeks he kept encouraging me to say
"what the fuck" and ask her out.
As I turned to go inside, he
said, "I want the full report when you get back."
I went in and walked upstairs
room. I took a deep breath and picked up the phone. Putting
on my best
"confident Andy" persona, I said, "Hey, Staci, what's up?"
"Andy...hi." She sounded
sorry to pull you away from your game."
"No big deal, it was just me
and Matt; hell, we do that every day."
She paused, then said, "Hey,
do you think...I mean, would it be okay if I came by and picked you up
and we went for a Coke somewhere?" Again I heard the note of distress
in her voice.
"Staci, what's wrong?"
There was another slight pause
before she answered, "Oh, nothing. I don't want to make a big
deal of it. But I just want to, you know, hang out and talk about some
things, and you're such a good listener and all."
I had no idea where any of
this was coming from or where it was going. But I answered, "Yeah,
Staci; I really like talking to you and hanging around you and stuff.
You've been pretty cool to treat a freshman right."
She laughed a little and said,
"Well, I have plenty of time to pick on you next year, so you're not
out of the woods yet."
I laughed and said, "Oooh, I'm
She laughed a little too, and
then said, "Anyway...would you go out for a Coke with me?"
Damn. A date with Staci.
Regardless of what you called it, that's what it was. My palms were
starting to sweat.
"Yeah, sure! But you're
gonna have to give me some time to clean up. I smell like sh...I mean,
I'm all sweaty from playing basketball."
"Okay...how 'bout if I stop by
in half an hour?"
"Okay," I said.
"I mean, is it okay if we just
go to the Sonic and grab a Coke?"
"Sure," I replied. "It's your
car and your call. But I'm buyin'."
"Ooh, a big spender," she
said. "Okay, then. It's a date. See you in a little bit."
I said goodbye and hung up the
phone. A date. With Staci. I was floating about a foot off the ground.
I made my way back outside,
where Matt was busy perfecting his layup. I must have looked as goofy
as I felt, because Matt looked at me for a second, then said, "What the
fuck, Andy? You look like you just beamed down from outer
space. What the hell did she say?"
"She said...I think she...I
gotta go get showered
up, Matt," I said. "She...well, she's coming to pick me up and we're
gonna grab a Coke at the Sonic."
"No fuckin' way!"
"Yes way, dude. I'm goin' on a
fuckin' date with Staci Hamilton."
"My man," Matt said. "I always
knew you had it in you. Good thing I taught you everything you know
about makin' the moves on the women."
"Fuck you," I replied.
"I didn't make any moves; she called me up and asked me out. Anyway,
she wants to talk about something."
"You know what it is: She
wants to talk about Dylan, dude. Man, I'm telling you, this is your
In my gut I felt Matt was
right. But I wasn't sure I wanted to admit it. I didn't want to get my
hopes up. Hell, she was this beautiful older woman, and
I was just a freshman. And anyway, I didn't know that I wanted to be
getting into any kind of situation with Dylan. That was a guy you
didn't want to cross.
"Screw that," I said.
"I'm just gonna go out and grab a Coke with her. For all I know she
just wants to talk about the beach trip or something." The youth group
was planning on going on a weeklong beach retreat in mid-June.
"Maybe," Matt replied. "And
for all you know, she wants your body."
"Shut up," I said. "She
doesn't want that. We're friends. That's all."
"Come on, Phillips," Matt
said. "You're freakin' about this because she's older. Don't even think
about that. Just make your moves, man...I'm telling ya, she wouldn't be
calling you if she weren't interested. You know you got game; now pull
your head out of the clouds and bring it."
I didn't know about that, but
Matt was right about one thing: if I had any chance with Staci, I'd
have to neutralize the "young, inexperienced freshman-boy" thing. I
she'd been dating a guy who pretty much reeked of self-confidence.
Well, fuck that and fuck him,
I said to myself. I know a little bit about self-confidence.
"Okay, Matt," I said, trading
"daps" with him. As our knuckles bumped, he finished off the gesture by
turning his fist counter-clockwise and "locking it in." I grinned at
him. "Thanks, man. I better go get ready."
He grinned back at me. "Yeah,
that's my boy. Dude...you play this right and she could teach you a few
things, know what I'm sayin'?"
"Get the fuck outta here,
Price," I said.
"Okay, I'm gone," he replied,
"but I want the full report on this one too."
"Yeah, you'll be the first to
Matt tossed me my basketball
and started jogging home.
Over Cokes and conversation,
Staci spilled her guts to me, albeit with some reserve. Dylan had been
pressuring her to have sex with him, and had been threatening to dump
her if she wouldn't. She was a virgin and didn't feel she was ready.
But she didn't want to lose him. The previous night, she'd finally
given in; and the experience was horrible for her. She was in pain, and
Dylan was brutish and insensitive. He got what he wanted and rode off
in his car, unaware of, and unconcerned about, her confusion and hurt.
We talked about guys, and
about girls, and about love, and about sex. I had little experience
with sex, but plenty of opinions. The vulnerability she'd displayed in
seeking me out to share this intimate problem only increased my
infatuation; as we talked, it felt as though I had known--and
adored--her forever. I was a captive audience. I was blown away that
such a bond with me that she'd tell me this story rather than going to
one of her girl friends with it.
We must have talked for two
hours. I listened to her vent about Dylan, about how complicated
relationships between the sexes are, stuff like that.
When she reached a stopping
place, I finally said to her, "He doesn't deserve you, Staci. He's a
jerk. You need to dump him. You can do so much better."
She smiled, kind of wistfully,
and said, "Oh, yeah? Who'd you put me with?"
I grinned and said, "Me, of
course," then laughed quickly, in hopes she'd believe I was joking. I
wasn't a big fan of rejection.
She didn't laugh. She studied
my face for what seemed like an eternity, and finally said, "You don't
seem like you're just fourteen."
Trying to dispense with the
"little kid factor" as quickly as I could, I said, "That's because I'm
almost fifteen; well, just three more months, anyway." Immediately I
regretted it. Damn, I thought to myself; how fuckin'
juvenile! I might as well have said "I'm fourteen-and-a-half"
like some little grade school kid. Idiot!
She didn't seem to notice,
though. She said, "You're as mature as any of my friends. More
I began to realize that there
were some possibilities here. I liked where this was going. I was
scared spitless at the thought of taking the next step; still, if I
I heard myself say, "Look,
Staci, maybe I shouldn't say this after you've told me how confused you
are about Dylan. But I...I really like you. I don't know if you'd
go out with a freshman, but I like being with you. I'd never treat you
bad and I'd never put any pressure on you."
Half-shocked by my own
forthrightness, I looked into her eyes. She smiled at me and said,
"You're so sweet, Andy. I've always thought you were a cool guy. And
you're cute, too. Any girl would be lucky to get some attention from
you. I really do like you. I feel I could trust you with anything...you
always seem to understand things.
"I know you like me," she
continued. "I've known it since all of y'all moved up into the high
school youth group. If you were a little older..."
Screw "a little older." I
wasn't going to let that get in my way.
"Staci," I began, "I guess I
don't have any right to tell you what to do about Dylan. Especially
since I'm crushin' on you so bad. Y'all have been together for a long
time, seems like, and so maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. But
I can't help it; I know he's a creep and you need to dump him. You
think he's gonna change? He's not.
"We have a summer," I went on.
"I like you. I'd love to spend more time with you. Don't think about
the age thing. Can't we just go out a few times, you know, enjoy the
summer together, hang out a little? You said you liked me and you feel
safe with me. You don't need to be all hurting over your loser
boyfriend all summer long. Summer's supposed to be about fun, and this
guy is gonna keep after you now that you've given him what he wants. It
doesn't matter to him if it messes with your head or not, long as he
A tear rolled down Staci's
face as she stared into my eyes. Crap! I'd made her cry with my big
"Aww, geez. I'm sorry, Staci.
Please don't cry. I didn't mean it like it sounded."
She struggled a little to
recover her composure. Finally she said, "No, you're right, Andy. He
doesn't give a shit about me." I winced to hear her say "shit." She saw
it and laughed a little. "And I'll tell you something else, too...I'd
be happy to spend more time with a guy like you. I mean, you are gonna
be fifteen soon. I'm only sixteen. My dad's older than my mom by more
"Now, wait a minute," I said,
"I'm just talking about going out with you, Staci, not any lifetime
"Hey, don't start what you
can't finish," she said, looking at me totally seriously. My smile
vanished and my eyes got
wider by the second, which made her laugh. "I'm just yankin' your
chain, freshman," she said. The
expression of relief on my face must have been pretty damn funny
because she started laughing even harder.
"Oh, man, are you gonna pay
for that one," I responded.
"Wow, Andy," she said, eyes
wide in mock surprise. "We haven't even been out yet and I still
have a boyfriend, and already we've had our first lovers' quarrel!"
Lovers' quarrel: The words
registered and lifted me ten feet off the ground.
She was kidding, of course.
But what came through was this: I really have a chance with this
beautiful, sweet girl.
As the reality of all this was
sinking in on me, she said, "Well, it's getting late; we probably ought
to get home."
"Yeah, I guess," I
responded. "Man, thanks for calling me, Staci. You're so awesome.
I'm really happy that you trusted me to tell me all this. Can I see you
"Well, you'll see me Sunday of
course," she said, pulling her keys out of her purse. "But if you mean
like this, well, yeah, I'd like to go out with you too. You're
pretty cool. I guess I'll have to drive, though, right, little boy?"
I could feel myself starting
to blush. "Yeah, I guess, old woman. Unless you want my dad to
chauffeur us around."
She wrinkled up her
nose. "I think I'll pass on that. Tell ya what, you let me
drive and I'll let you pay."
"Sounds like a plan," I said.
"That way you don't totally rob me of my manhood."
She cocked an eyebrow at me
and said, "Why would I want to do that? What good would you be to me
I was sure my face got even
redder. I had no idea what to say to that. I looked at the floor and
muttered, "I...okay. Yeah."
"C'mon, let's go, silly," she
She started up the car and we
pulled out of the parking lot.
When we got to my house she
stopped the car. Looking over at me, she said, "Andy...thanks for
talking to me. You've been great. I would love to go out with you this
summer. I think I still have it bad for Dylan...but you're right about
him. Everybody's been telling me. I just wasn't ready to listen. Thanks
for helping me listen. And thanks for listening to me. Look, I'm not so
sure about going out with a freshman. I think it...it seems kinda
when I'm with you it doesn't feel like you're so young.
"Part of me doesn't want to
break it off with Dylan," she continued. Then she took my hand and held
it in hers and said, "but part of me already has. I can't promise you
anything, Andy. I like you a lot. But let's just keep it casual, okay?
You know, see what happens. Call me in a couple of days after I've had
some space to work this thing out."
"Sure, Staci," I said. Then
she leaned over from the driver's seat and kissed me on the cheek.
Encouraged, I leaned over in
her direction and moved in to kiss her on the lips. Her face met mine
and we kissed, tenderly, for a quarter of a minute.
I could feel my dick turning
to steel. I needed to make my exit before I lost all dignity. Pulling
away from her, I stumbled through a goodbye: "I...wow.
I better...I'll call you on Saturday, okay?"
"Okay, Andy. I may need a
shoulder to cry on by then."
I smiled. "Well, I have big
shoulders with lots of room for a pretty girl."
She smiled back at me as I got
out of the car. "Bye, Andy. See you soon."
I watched as she drove away.
Then, still half-dazed at the developments, I went inside the house,
walked directly into my room, shut the door, and released the tension
the evening had produced.
Copyright 2003 by Adam Phillips. Thanks for reading. You
can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org