“Have you ever had sex?” my brother asked his band-mate and best friend.
Declan was not prepared for this question. He knew the required response—“Yeah, sure, loads of times!”—but couldn’t bring himself to give it, which was why he scoffed and turned it around: “Have you?”
“Yeah, I did,” said Jasper.
Now, Jasper was, of course, not one to shy away from bragging, but there was something in his voice, something vulnerable that Declan wasn’t used to, coming from him. It made him curious, and as he teased out enough details to convince himself that Jasper wasn’t making the whole thing up, his curiosity turned anatomical—
I’m sorry, I really don’t want to have to talk about this part. Like, seriously, this part is grossing me out just thinking about it, thinking of having seen it—Seeing it was hard enough the first time. And you should be grossed out, too, listening to it, a girl describing her brother… doing things. It’s disgusting.
But it’s important to the story.
Is it, though? I keep thinking I can tell the story without it, that the plot will somehow fold itself around these events and make itself clear in spite of their absence.
No, no, it’s not about plot. It’s about… something. Character. Events. Leaving this out would be dishonest, not just because I would be leaving this part out, but because it’s maybe a part that would resonate. With somebody. Somebody not related to my brother. Because ew.
All right, so you remember that I said my brother had gotten a bit carried away with drugs in the wake of our father doing what our father did. Well, to think that he would just stop there isn’t just despicably naive, it’s oblivious. Jasper was a wannabe rockstar, and unlike some people in this story, he wasn’t in it for the art.
Yes, you heard me. He was in it for the chicks. Rock’n’roll (or whatever punk-metal indie hybrid they thought they were doing) leads to drugs leads to *holding her nose* sex. Ugh. I made it.
My brother started having sex. Well, once, at least, that first year. Her name was Gretchen Forbes and I really appreciate how plain she was, even though that was part of why it ended up happening. Jasper knew she was plain. Jasper wanted to hook up with Marjorie Robbins or Imogen Talbot or even Jemima Sidney, she seemed cool, but none of those girls really gave him the time of day. Gretchen would, though.
Now, I’m not saying that girls only give it up when they’re feeling insecure (although, in retrospect, a lot of that going on around here) but Gretchen was feeling particularly ugly that day, not just because of the zit that she just couldn’t seem to pop, but because of what Cat Jones (who was also having a bad day, but was also just in general kind of a bitch, which is ironic, but I digress) had said about her being fat. Now I, looking at Gretchen Forbes, would not have gone straight to “maybe cut down the string cheese diet”, but Gretchen was insecure and got caught up after school with the cool kids going to hear the band, and then ended up talking to Jasper after practice.
Jasper, meanwhile, had never consciously been flirted with, mostly because he’d just been kind of oblivious up to that point, but something about Gretchen just sort of tugging down her shirt to show just the barest edge of bra, the faintest hint of nipple, got him thinking “Oh my God she wants me this is not a drill!”
Do I have to describe the whole thing? Every touch? Every word? Every base? Do I have to? Isn’t it enough to say Gretchen Forbes, in an act of desperation and low self-esteem, found herself the most potent loser she could stand and did something she regretted for the rest of her life? Because yes, she was a virgin, and yes, she was fourteen and a freshman in high school and she had to live with the knowledge for the rest of her life that she was the kind of girl who had sex at fourteen and then didn’t again for like, what, eight years? Until she was almost out of college? Because of how ashamed she was.
Then again, at least she didn’t get pregnant.
And at least she didn’t have to watch that happen to her brother.
For a week, I couldn’t even look at him. For a month, I glared. I knew he knew I knew, but he didn’t know how I knew, so he ascribed it to magical powers. I laughed and laughed, until I remembered what it was that I knew and was laughing about.
Declan, meanwhile, pretended not to seethe in jealousy of his friend’s experience as he admired their one lone female band-mate from afar.