January 21, 2008

Rubicon Heart: Chapter One

CHAPTER ONE: “Discovering Love”

That giant square block of architecture, that was the High School building, had never looked the same as it did that one morning. We had all seen it, of course. Many times during our young lives. We had seen the crowds of boys and girls walking back and forth on the yard, and standing there, laughing, goofing around, being loud and obnoxious as they stood at the bus stop waiting to go home… or wherever it was they were headed after a day of school finally came to an end.

That morning the structure was intimidating and exciting at the same time. Inviting us to come inside and begin a new life - A life of adulthood.

It was the five of us. Me, my cousin Andy, Bobby, Rob and Ronald. We stood at the top of the small paved walking path that went up the steep rise between a single house on the right and a grove of trees on the left. A medium trafficked street drew a line between us and the four story, yellow and white building that was to be our school for the next few years. Once we crossed that street and walked through the double sided glass doors we would enter a new era of our lives.

“You guys ready?”, I ask.

It was always the five of us. It had always been the five of us, meeting up at a mailbox which was strangely located at a three-way intersection. We all lived close by, and always met up at that mailbox to walk to school together. For years we’d been walking together to our old school, but this was the first time we continued past the old school and continued down the road, up that narrow path and to the High School which would offer so many adventures for the next three years of our lives.

“It’s going to be awesome!”, Bobby says.

“It’s a little scary”, my cousin Andy proclaims.

“I hope we can make it through the day without being ‘initiated’”, I add to that.

Being ‘initiated’ was something we’d heard about. When the younglings, us new-comers each year, first came to the High School there was traditionally a two week span in which the older kids did awful things to us 7th graders.

Not only could we expect to be pressed up against the wall and threatened to be beaten up, but we could end up head first down the toilet bowl as they flushed it. There was a chance someone would sneak into the locker room during gym class and throw our clothes in the shower, or even take them outside and spread them around on the school yard. We could be victims of classic noogies and wedgies… and basically – we knew we would have to stick together to survive the first couple of weeks.

This was the intimidating part of standing there outside this massive building. The exciting part was meeting new people.

The High School housed more than 3 times as many classes, and we would meet new friends and find new fun things to do. And, many of those new people would be girls. At thirteen, we were beginning to look at girls in a whole new light. No longer did we curl our lips in disgust at the thought of kissing a member of the female species and complain about “girlie germs”. We were now curious of how it felt to hug them – to brush up against that small bulge behind their shirts. That part of the girls which they had recently started to develop, and which was known to us as titties (giggle). We were curious about giving them a peck on the softness of their cheek… or if really brave – a peck on the lips!

Yeah, I had kissed a couple of girls on the lips in my days before – but that was more of a childish kiss, and would always be followed by a quick swiping of the mouth and that lip-curling of disgust. What had changed now was that one wanted to kiss a girl, and even go as far as licking the taste of their lips off one’s own lips afterward. Actually enjoying it.

Together the five of us crossed the street. Grouped tightly together to ward of any possible threat as we entered the school halls and felt a rush of emotions going through our whole bodies.

Enter adulthood! Adolescence in fact, but we didn’t think of it that way. Once you belonged to this school – you were officially an adult the way we saw it.

And enter a new phase of life I did as I set foot inside of that school. I had never been one of the popular kids, and I was secretly hoping that all that would change at the new school. I would no longer be the one everyone would pick on and make fun of, and that was one of the reasons I wasn’t too scared of the ‘initiation’ threat. We would all be equally picked on by the older kids in school. We would all be victims of those stunts, and now those who had been picking on me would find out how it feels being on the receiving end of all that.

I actually managed to make it through the first two weeks without any major embarrassments. A couple of times I would be pushed up against the wall while some kids threatened to kick my ass – once I had to give up a soda I’d bought down at the cafeteria to save my precious little ass from being whopped. Apart from that I faired pretty well. I witnessed some of my friends getting the head-flushing treatment. One had to wear soaked wet clothes the rest of the day after gym class when he found his clothes bundled up in the showers.

I had also laid eyes on the prettiest girl I’d ever seen. She was blond, with blue eyes and a smile that spread happiness a mile away. She would walk the halls of the school with a group of her friends, and they were always laughing and joking and they were all very pretty. The blond one was the prettiest of them all. A year or two later, when Madonna released the “Like A Virgin” hit, she would adopt the Madonna look and pull it off, looking even hotter than Madonna ever did.

I didn’t know her name. Not for a while. I most certainly never spoke to her during the first year at the new school. She was way out of my league… and whenever I suggested to any of my friends that I should talk to her, they would laugh it off.

“Yeah right, Dude. She would laugh right in your face. She and her cute little friends. You know you don’t belong with those chicks, man. They play a whole different kind of ball.”

Yeah, they did. They were the girls who hung out with the older boys in school. The athletic ones… the boys who were always surrounded by a horde of pretty girls. Pretty girls who were smiling and laughing with them, while they seemed laid back and comfortable, and didn’t really care about any one of them. They only cared about them as a group of pretty girls they could brag about to their friends.

I was one of those boys who felt far from laid back and comfortable when I spoke to a pretty girl. I was one of those who got tongue tied and nervous. Smooth talk was not my game… I played in a whole different league, and in a completely different kind of ball-park.

I found out her name when the school year book arrived. I quickly located her class page and saw her picture there. My God was she pretty, and that smile of hers almost came out of the inch-wide black and white photo, to warm my heart and make it sing.

Priscilla. Even her name was the most beautiful thing I’d heard.

It wasn’t until the second year of attending High School that I first spoke to her. I had found that I was still the kid who was being picked on and ridiculed. During that second year of High School, something inside of me changed.

I didn’t want to be that kid any more. And, while I couldn’t be like one of those guys the women would flock around, I could at least be one who stood up for himself, and didn’t let any one bring him down. The type of kid who believed in what he was doing and what he represented.

One of the reasons I found the strength to be that kid was on account of me and my friend Pete. We were introduced to a local movie making club. The fantastic invention of VHS had made it easy to make home movies, and although the movie making club had been around for years shooting short films on 8mm and 16mm – the invention of VHS made things so much easier and cheaper.

We made a movie together. My friend wrote it, and the chairman of the club helped him shoot the thing. Pete invited me to star in the movie, and we played out some of our crazy kid stunts while shooting.

Me and Pete had been friends since I first arrived here from the States. His mother ran a day-care program from her own apartment, and I was one of the kids who went there after school until my mother could come pick me up and take me home. Me and Pete were always great friends.

He and I would do the craziest things, and one of our favorites was to buy acetone and light things of fire. Most preferably – ourselves. We would soak up the sleeve of our shirts or the legs of our pants with water and then pour acetone all over it. Then we put a match to it, and ran around screaming in imagined pain and fear.

I was starting to allow myself to be crazy. I had always enjoyed being a little bit nuts, but it was in the 8th grade that I really allowed myself to be crazy when people could see me. In that first film, I burned off every single little hair on my arms, as we wanted a scene where I suddenly burst into flames. I poured acetone directly on my arms and lit it. The screams in that scene were one hundred percent real. No need to bring out my acting skills.

Thank God our preferred liquid for setting things on fire were acetone. Acetone burns out quickly. Had we used lighter fluid or gasoline, I would’ve certainly been hospitalized after that particular stunt. My skin probably burnt right off of my arms.

My desire for acting became one of my tools for entertaining people at school. Making them laugh with me, instead of at me. I chose to become the class clown – and frankly, it did me a world of good.

The first time I ever spoke to Priscilla was when I pulled one of my ridiculous and comical acting stunts to entertain my class mates. I had bought a bag of potato chips at the cafeteria, and we were sitting at one of the tables in the hall. A couple of tables down, Priscilla and her followers of pretty girls sat laughing and joking as usual. There were many boys who would stop for a quick chat, some of whom they would speak back to and giggle that pretty girly laugh. Others would be sent on their way, because they were not good enough to be seen talking to them. That was the only time the girls would stop laughing. That was their way of showing them their company was not appreciated. Be on your way, we only speak to the pretty boys!

On any given day… I would have been one of those boys who were sent on his way. That’s why I had never walked up to talk to her. I didn’t have the balls.

This day I felt cocky, crazy and mischievous.

“Check this out”, I said to the group of people I was sitting with. I stood up and tucked the bag of potato chips under my jeans jacket, which was covered with sewn on patches of nearly every heavy metal band that existed. I put myself into acting mode, and confidently walked toward the group of girls. I stopped directly in front of Priscilla, and put on the face of a pervert about to flash himself to her. I looked to the left. I looked to the right, as if to make sure no one was around.

“Pssst”, I hissed at her.

The girls fell silent. They were about ready to give me the cold treatment. I was in acting mode, and couldn’t care less. I was sent here to entertain – and entertain I would.

“Hey, listen”, I whisper just audible enough for the girls to hear. I continue to look around me as if worried I was going to be caught by the police. “I got something for ya”.

They didn’t say anything. Priscilla didn’t say anything. She was looking directly at me though, and that was the first time she’d ever done that. I was pleased to just being looked at. I’m pretty sure she was lost for words – meaning I was in charge of the situation.

“Ya want it?”

She still doesn’t speak. A couple of the other girls started to mumble and shift uncomfortably in their seats. They were a little embarrassed by the situation. What if some cool guy would see them talking to me… that would not do.

“I… I d-“, she starts speaking, but doesn’t really appear to know what to say. I quickly interrupt, and I flash my jeans jacket open, thrusting the bag of chips right at her.

“Quick! Grab one!”, I say with imaginary panic in my voice.

She suddenly starts laughing, probably surprised at the whole thing. And, then she stuck her hand down the bag and pulled out a handful of potato chips. Mission accomplished! The prettiest girl in school just accepted my offer of potato chips – I was king of the moment.

Then, as quickly as that, I hid the bag of chips under my jeans jacket again, and quickly walked away. The friends at my table were laughing, and looking at me with unbelieving eyes. Some were shaking their heads, letting me know just how crazy I was.

“Told’ya! The girl likes me!”, I said as I sat down.

A couple of days later, as I crossed paths with Priscilla in the hallways and none of her girlfriends were along. She smiled at me.

“Got any more candy for me?”, she said. I was stunned, my tongue went numb. Acting mode was no where to be found.

“Uh… no”, and I continued to walk toward the classroom.

The 8th grade, and being fourteen was also when alcohol was introduced to our lives. Parties were a plenty, and I was one of those who would often host one at my mother’s apartment. Whenever she was out of town for the weekend – a party was thrown at my place. We were almost evicted once, after there was puke everywhere and some idiot had thought it would be a good idea to break the front door window downstairs. My mother was not pleased at all.

During one of those parties – Priscilla showed up at the door. I was so pleased to have her in my home, but she brought her boyfriend of the week with her. I don’t think I even spoke to her all night. A couple of other times we would end up at the same party somewhere else, and I would speak to her occasionally. Short conversations that would mostly end with me being laughed at by her and her posse of girlfriends. It was clear that I was not welcome among the cool people.

I was, perhaps, good for a laugh or two because I was that goofy kid. But, I was not one they wanted to be associated with on a friendly or (dear God No!) a romantic level.

On one of those many parties I had my very first kiss. By that I mean the tongue-thrusting kind. Not just a peck on the lips followed by nervous giggles. I’m speaking of deep tongue in mouth, lathering saliva, and faces smooched together for minutes on end. Drunken sloppy kissing, the way only inexperienced teenagers know how to French kiss.

It was a girl that was three years older than me. I was about to go home, because I was shitfaced drunk, when this girl is standing right by the door at the party.

“Going home?”, she asks.

“Yeah”, I mumble, about ready to exit through the door and walk home in the cold and the snow outside.

“Too bad”, she says. “I kinda like you”.

I stop dead in my tracks. Girls don’t come up to me and say that kind of thing every day. And this one was older than me! How cool was that! She was like seventeen or eighteen – God knows what experience she has!

“Huh? What?”

“I could kiss you”, she says. I had my jacket on, and I was ready to leave. She walked up to me and put her arms around me. She looked deep into my eyes, and then she leaned forward. Every nerve in my body went berserk, as I parted my lips and her tongue thrust inward, into my mouth. The warmth, the softness and the taste of her saliva (which tasted very much like alcohol, wouldn’t you guess) took me to heaven in an instant. The snake in my trousers came alive and tried really hard to break free of its imprisonment in my briefs – bulging against the fly, making me almost worried it would break open and Mr. Penis would pop out and say “hello” to the onlookers.

We stood there in the hallway making out for at least fifteen minutes, before she suddenly walked away from me. I found out later that her boyfriend was at the party as well, so I guess I was lucky he never came out of the kitchen and found us making out. He too was an older kid… one that I actually befriended a few years later. He and this girl were still together then. I don’t think he knows to this day that his sweetheart was the first girl I ever kissed - The first girl whose tongue was entangled with mine.

The walk home that night through the slush and the cold was a fantastic experience. My mind was racing, and my heart was pounding. I had kissed a girl! Wait ‘til everybody hears about this! And an older girl at that! A girl who really knew how to kiss a guy!

When I came home I opened a new notebook I'd bought, and for the first time in my life I started writing a diary. The first entry was a three page rant about the experience of being kissed by a girl.

I never had a real girlfriend during my high school years. I had a few crushes, and I had quite a number of experiences making out with girls while drunk at a party. I wasn’t the type of guy who had the balls to ask a girl to be my girlfriend – it just seemed like such a big step to take.

Priscilla was the one and only girl I truly wanted though. She was the most beautiful thing in the world, but I knew she would never be mine. Everyone said so… I had no chance at all of landing someone as popular and good looking as her.

When high school was over, and I packed my belongings at the age of seventeen to move out of town, I had never really spoke to her more than briefly. I had made her laugh a couple of times.

I had never, ever, dared telling her I was attracted to her.

Me and my friend Pete left town. We got a small student apartment together in a new city. A bigger city. We were going to be actors and had signed up for an acting school.

My mother was not pleased that I left for the big city and got a place of my own at the tender age of seventeen. But, she was always a very supportive mom, and knew that this is what I really wanted. It was only a couple of hours drive to get there, so it wasn’t like I moved to the other side of the country. I would still be able to come home on the weekends every now and then, and she could come visit me any time to make sure I was doing ok.

Going to acting school was our choice of college. We were going to start a new life, and it was going to be so exciting.

I didn’t think I would ever see the pretty face of Priscilla ever again. I had to face reality. Me and her would never be one.

But, even then, I knew I would never find a girl as pretty as her ever again.

Priscilla, no doubt, was the prettiest girl on the face of the earth.


Jen said...

That was lovely. If teenagers could just be a little bit nicer & not care so much what their "friends" thought . . .

I was taught/raised to be nice/kind to everybody & quite frankly, I'm glad I was. I always felt bad about other kids being picked on and I never wanted to make anyone feel that way myself. I'm thankful my parents raised me as such.

Anonymous said...

^^I agree with Jen. I had a hard time being mean to the fat kids or dorky kids just so I could seem cooler. I wonder if things will ever change with teenagers . . .


Alli said...


Can't wait to read more, REH! You have me hooked already. :)

R.E.H. said...

Jen: Yeah, I'm coming across as the sole victim here, but I will admit that I too picked on others. Those who were weaker than I had better watch out. It's a natural process of our teenage years I suppose.

I do wish it was never like that though.

Emmeline: No I don't think that will ever change. In fact, I believe it is a necessity during our teens, as a means of discovering who we are. Of course, sometimes it goes way too far, and kids are messed up for life... that I hope the future can change.

Alli: Glad I got your attention. Things will twist and turn a little over the course of this story...

Sparkling Red said...

You have truly captured the feelings of adolescence. That was like a time machine. Amazing! I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for the next chapter. :-)

Jay Cam said...

that's kinda sad. yo should have told her you loved her!

in 9th grade i told my girl i loved her. but then i moved away the next year. that pretty much sucked.

doesn't matter if you are rejected, telling her would have given u a gift you would have never regret..

Samantha_K said...


Isn't that always the case? One delightfully brave moment leading to a chance for a secondary interaction, and the only words that come out are "uh...no".

It happens too many times in life.

R.E.H. said...

Sparkling Red: Thanks. I kinda put myself mentally back there as I wrote this part. It was weird and felt sort of... nice ;)

Jay Cam: Well, this was not the end of my love life story (thank God!). There may be a few surprises down the line.

Samantha K: If "Uh... No" were a sport, I'd be participating in the next olympics. No question there!

Jay said...

Your off to a great start here. Very descriptive and interesting first chapter.

I've been on the receiving end of the "umm no" answers a few times too. Not fun.

R.E.H. said...

Jay: Thanks. I can only hope it will become even better. I struggled with this part, as I wasn't quite sure how to make it interesting - since all I really had to work on for this part was my undying love for "Priscilla".

I don't take rejection very well - probably one of the reasons I didn't hook up with many girls back then - you know, like in a relationship. I was too scared of the big N-O!

fiwa said...

Man, this brought me straight back to how awful high school was! I mean, some parts were good, but kids sure could be mean. Very good chapter, I'm hanging on the edge of my seat waiting for the next one. Hey, Jay showed us his high school pictures, I think you should show us some of yours to go along with the story! :)

RockDog said...

So far so good! I'm digging it! Can't wait for more!


tt said...

Hooked!! Completely hooked. Sparkling red said everything I was thinking. Usually the only H.S. memories we tell about are the 'good' ones. You've written of the anguished road we all traveled at one point or another.
Your description of that first 'real' kiss cracked me up. Um, I think I kissed a few guys who had that same reaction. :) That kind of reaction gave us girls power you know.
I was ready to turn the page though and, what?...I have to wait?...pfft...
Damn your good!

Karen said...

I saw the entry was up, but I didn't have to sit and read it at the office today. But I rushed out of the office and thought about your entry my entire time at the gym. Thankfully, it was worth the wait. You are off to a great start and itching for the next entry.

Anonymous said...

My first kiss was from a woman who was at least 5 years older to me(I was 16 then). She wasn't cute and all, but was pleasure-starved; her husband is no good it seems!

I'll follow your story, sounds more or less like mine!

R.E.H. said...

Fiwa: Yeah, High School was a lot of fun too. I'd like to go back there and do it all over though... with the wisdom that I have today ;)

About the pics from the era... I have considered it.

RockDog: Thanks, man. I'm itching to bring y'all the next chapter myself. It'll be a good one (I think).

TT: Thanks. I actually think I have mostly fond memories of that time, but when looking at it from a "love life" perspective, it wasn't all that great for me ;)

Dig the snake in the trousers part, eh? Yeah, you girls do have the power initially... once the action starts, though - us guys take over ;)

Karen: Thanks! Hey, you really thought about me the whole time at the gym? I'm honored ;)

Joel: Pleasure Starved - LOL! Yeah, a guy needs to take advantage of those girls ;)

I'm hoping people will be able to see some of themselves in my story as well. I think all of us have gone through some of the things I will be writing about.

Leighann said...

This whole, one chapter at a time, thing is for the birds! ;)

Us impatient people need MORE!

Real Live Lesbian said...

Great job on getting across the angst of a teenager. The fear. The trepidation at meeting new people.

I know it's hard. But keep going.

And a challenge...try writing in the present. It gives a story a totally different view point. And it will change how you're feeling as you write it. Of course, you don't have to share it with us if you try it. But it is an interesting challenge.

Great job, REH! Keep it going!

Kell said...

What a great start. I can't wait to read the next chapter!

Tequila Mockingbird said...

"The snake in my trousers came alive and tried really hard to break free of its imprisonment in my briefs – bulging against the fly, making me almost worried it would break open and Mr. Penis would pop out and say “hello” to the onlookers."


R.E.H. said...

Leighann: Think of it as a soap opera on TV. One episode per week is all you get ;)


Real Live Lesbian: Initially I meant to write the whole thing in present tense - but since there are so many gaps in the timeline it made it impossible to do it that way.

This first chapter quickly covers almost four years. From being 13 til I was 17.

Kell: Thank you!

Tequila Mockingbird: That's my sense of humor which found its way in there ;) Glad you liked it!

Dana said...

I am really enjoying this story! You have an ability to evoke emotions through words - not an easy thing to do.

Besides, anything that drives Leighann batty (or is that battier?) is well worth continuing with!

R.E.H. said...

Dana: Thank You! I'm kind of enjoying drivin' Leighann nuts, too ;)

Jo said...

What a great chapter, REH. There's something so painfully lovely about that "big" crush, the one that strikes while adolescence is slamming you, you capture it so well...it's fascinating reading it from a "boy's" perspective. I remember such highs from highschool, but there was always cruelty too...I was one of the popular kids but I was friends with all types, this presented so many internal conflicts; I remember thinking my in-crowd reminded me of vampires. Can't wait for the next chapter, you're a bit devilish with this suspense thing :P

Beautifully Profound said...

I never got to experience the casual dating thing in high school. I wasted my time on the same douchebag all throughout junior high and high school. I was so totally in love with that guy although he took my heart and stomped on it. I ran into him a few years ago he had a girl who broke his heart bad. I couldn't help but feeling a little jump of happiness in my heart. Ah well, he's gay now.

Awesome start though. I am really enjoying "Rubicon Heart". Keeps my mind off my impending sadness. Anyway, take care and have a great Wednesday.


Loving Annie said...

Oh r.e.h. - you captured school and a first crush brilliantly... Adolescence sucks - and the it has its joys, too... Very well written. I wonder where Priscilla is now...

Leighann said...

Listen you two, if you think I'm batty now, keep up your crap and see what happens!


g-man said...

Very cool. Bringing back memories of my own high school days. Cant wait for CH.2.

R.E.H. said...

Jo: My big crush wouldn't leave my heart for many, many years. Looking back at it, it's kind of amazing that I had those feelings for the same girl all those years. Now, I had crushes just about every day. But, Priscilla was my number one heartthrob throughout.

Beautifully Profound: Oh, that has actually got to suck... the casual dating back in those days was a lot of fun.

Nice to know I can help keep your mind off the sad stuff ;)

Loving Annie: High School was a roller coaster ride... but that ain't nothing compared to the years in Acting School - that's when things really was crazy. That's coming up ;)

Leighann: Did you get my message on your fridge? ;)

R.E.H. said...

G-Man: Thanks. I'd think most of us can see a little bit of ourselves in this. In some ways.

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

Sorry, kids have been sick and I'm way behind on my blog reading. I'm really enjoying the Rubicon Heart and am looking forward to the next installment. My husband wooed me with his acting and clownish tricks too -- playing the funny guy does melt the ladies. ;)

R.E.H. said...

Mary P. Jones: Thanks. I haven't often experienced that being the funny guy works with the ladies, but I guess some of you do fall for "funny charms" ;)

Guilty Secret said...

I remember before I went from primary to middle school (aged eight) being scared by all the stories of people getting their heads flushed down toilets. They were never as creative as all those 'initiations' you mentioned though, and I never saw it happen for real either.

Where did all of this take place? You said 'Europe' in the introduction... is there a reason you were not more precise?

I love how that older girl took your kissing virginity. What a legend! (I had my first full-on snog at nine years old!)

Oh, this post really took me back. You painted a great picture of adolescence (or 'adulthood' - you weren't the only one who saw it like that!)

R.E.H. said...

Guilty Secret: Oh, I saw plenty of those creative "initiations" in my day... headmastered quite a few of them as well when it was our turn to be seniors at the school ;)

At nine?! You did notice I was talking about the deep throat tongue action? Not just a peck on the lips? Wow! ;)

I would've been grossed out at nine ;)

Guilty Secret said...

Yeah, it is gross, I know. Deep throat tongue action as only teenagers are supposed to know how at age nine. Once we started (at the school disco), we just did it all the time... in the playground! Weird, I know. No wonder I felt ready to have sex already by the time I was fourteen...

R.E.H. said...

Guilty Secret: Gross or not... wish I went to your school ;)