Going All the Way By Liz Smith In 1939, my birthplace in Texas wasn't the metropolis complex that it is today—a huge hub for international travel with museums, art galleries, fashion, insurance, oil, and the cattle "bidness" at the center of it.
Back in the 1930s, Fort Worth was still a small town, complete with streetcars and a uniformed cop on every other corner. The country had begun emerging inch by inch from the Great Depression that had crushed America after the stock market crashed in 1929.
Even insular Texans were beginning to be aware that this was a dangerous world and a bunch of thugs called the Nazis were about to march into Poland and throw the world into chaos.
I even recall some months later, my high school class experienced our French teacher, weeping that the Germans had paraded down the Champs-Elysées in Paris. We cried with her, for Paris was a city of our dreams where American talents such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Gertrude Stein abounded and impressionist art reigned supreme. We knew about Paris—it was where women danced bare-breasted in the Follies Bergère. On the other hand, life in Fort Worth was provincial and insular, full of misplaced western pride and obsessions with football.
Racism and southern paternalism still beset the great state of Texas (Lyndon Johnson's civil rights advances lay far in the future). .
. A demagogue Catholic priest, Father Coughlin, was forever on the radio preaching hatred. (There was no such thing as being politically correct.) We didn't listen; we preferred Walter Winchell, Jack Benny, and "The First Nighter" hurrying to his seat in the little radio theater off Times Square. .
. Women had not joined the workforce as they would when World War II became a terrible fact of life. In fact, women were still second-class citizens, having only won the vote nineteen years earlier.
It was a world where my narrow-minded grandmother believed in a hard-shell kind of Baptist religion that frowned upon men and women in bathing suits swimming together and disapproved of ballroom dancing. This was too rigid even for my devout mother. My grandma used to make dresses for her neighbors for two dollars apiece but once turned down a chance where the dress pattern was sleeveless.
"No decent woman would wear a sleeveless dress," she opined. (Shades of wardrobe malfunction!) My father was broad-minded, liking jokes, gambling, and dancing. But even he was shocked to see a woman smoking on the streets. And he felt pregnant women should stay at home and not be seen. My mother once said, "Sex is the ugliest word in the English language." We kids thought "sex" was a delicious if forbidden idea. We could read and did read the classics.
We had even heard that in France, a woman named Coco Chanel had created a sensation wearing trousers at the beach. Women in pants, in Texas! Never, unless she was contributing to a cattle roundup. So now you have the idea of my youth in Fort Worth, Texas. Let's now introduce sex and bring us into the present tense. I'm sixteen. I'm dating for the first time—really. The locale is Fort Worth, Texas, pre-World War II. We drive around in cars, we eat in cars, we neck in cars.
We never go "all the way." We girls are more concerned with getting to the famous Fort Worth Casino on Lake Worth, dancing to Tommy Dorsey's visiting orchestra—or somebody else famous on tour. There's a skinny kid fronting for Dorsey; name of Frank Sinatra.
He's good and it's all very romantic. I'm trying to break away from the Southern Baptist environment that has dominated my life. My secret passion for show biz glamour and my family's embedded church life are warring with one another. On many nights I am double-dating with my favorite cousin, a charming guy who is a little older than I am.
I'll call him X in order not to smear the family names. X is cute and funny and snappy, full of jokes and one-liners, a marvelous dancer and storyteller. He always drives the car with one hand and makes the gearshift go into place, manipulating it with his knees.
He starts any evening we go out as a foursome by wisecracking, "Well, what do you want to do—first?" I know what he means but I just giggle. I was always mad about him, but he has really cute adorable girlfriends and he is so appealing.
I am invariably more interested in what he's doing in the front seat of the car than I am in whomever I'm with in the backseat. I feel I amount to a big disappointment and I know my dates never measure up, as I'm forever equating them with X.
Comes a soft Texas night when we're not going out. We've had a family picnic in the Smith backyard where our mutual grandparents live.
But everyone else—adults and children have segued off to a Wednesday night party at the local church. X and I are just sitting in sling chairs, looking at the starry Texas skies. We're listening to Glenn Miller coming over the radio from the kitchen.
We have ended up side by side, not saying anything. The rest of our cousins, siblings, and adults have gone. "What you say, kiddo?" asks X, lighting a cigarette.
(He's too young to smoke but he would live into his eighties anyway, so what did we know back then about the dangers of smoking?) "I don't know, Bub," I answer.
He leans over and kisses me softly on the cheek. This is a far cry from his usually jokey manner. "Ya know, kid, I really love you. We always kid around and we're with other people, but it's you I've got my eye on. They don't know where we are tonight, so let's stay here under the stars and make out." I am so shocked I can't speak. It's as if he has been reading my tiny mind. "Okay," I say slowly. He gets up, he goes off and comes back with an old quilt and a couple of pillows and spreads them on the ground.
He pulls me down on top of him, and I feel him hard against me. I think I might faint. I've been around boys and my brothers all my life, but I've never paid any attention to their fooling around. I guess I didn't want to know too much. Now I know. X and I start kissing and he really knows how—slow, sweet, and tender. Fabulous. So that's what this is all about? Hmmm, it makes practicing kissing with my girlfriends seem absolutely idiotic. I keep caressing him back and it's all instinctive.
I haven't any idea what the end result will be, but I didn't seem to need a lot of instruction. "Look at me," he whispers. "Look at me. I love you. I want to be inside of you." And so—it happened. Most virgins report poor results for a "first" time. Not me. I know we didn't use any birth control; didn't think about it. (What fools we sexually uneducated mortals were!) I don't remember if I had an orgasm; I was so ecstatically having "something" special happen that I didn't know if I was missing something else.
When all this passion and friction and mind-blowing was going on, time passed, unnoted. Finally, gasping like fish out of water, we lay back and looked at the stars. Then he said, "That was stupid of me. Next time, we use a rubber." Next time? Light began to dawn. He was my cousin. My first cousin. There was to be no "next time." And, it never happened again though he tried and tried and I began to do that thing females do.
They say no when they mean yes. I just knew that down the road we would create such a mess between our families, it wasn't worth imagining. Fortunately he soon went off with my older brother to join the air force because the Selective Service Act would happen anyway and they'd be drafted as buck privates.
Temptation was removed in the form of patriotism, and the war lasted a long time. But I stayed half in love with him for years and years. He wrote me wonderful letters, and in time, after 1945, he returned to Fort Worth and we became "just cousins" again, seeing each other seldom and off and on in others' company.
We met socially at family reunions. Marriages ensued, children, years passed—I grew up. I read Masters and Johnson, Playboy, Helen Gurley Brown, and I experienced the Swinging 1960s and every other kind of sexual freedom they had to offer. I developed my personal tastes. But nothing ever thrilled me like that one night under the stars. He was my "college education." When X was retiring, not too long ago, he wrote me a letter. We had always corresponded without mentioning "it!" "I have never stopped thinking about you and about our night.
My marriage is over. I am old now but I am still thinking about you. You need to stop working. Retire and come live with me in Arizona. The best is yet to be!" He died alone shortly after this. But he has dominated my sexual reveries through all these years.
That little experience was so surprising and so wonderful, I'd have to give it an A plus. I wonder what would have happened if I had retired with him to Arizona. Going All the Way Liz Smith Shared by: Nicole : nicolestories.tumblr.com/Profile