Charlie was a boy I had gone to grade school with, and I was madly in love with him all the way from 4th grade, when he transferred in, through 8th graduation, when he was dating my best friend. He was a very clean cut Puerto Rican boy, who was smart, popular, star of the basketball team. Basically completely unattainable for fat weird 5th grade me, but 4 years in middle school is basically forever, so he was pretty much the most important love of my life ever. Then I went to high school, and discovered what actual sex was. He went off to a different high school. It was a tragic ending.We reconnected years later, when I was 22 and freshly back in town from an adventure with methheads in the Southwest. I was sitting on the patio at one of my favorite restaurants with some friends, loving Ohio in all its verdant greenness and meth-head-less-ness. He walked by, stopped to say hello, and I was basically smitten all over again. We hung out for a few days then, but he had a girlfriend (ssshh) so that was that. Until a few years more after that, when we met at a party, and he did not have a girlfriend. We started seeing each pretty frequently to hook up, and it became clear immediately that while he was still the smart witty kid I remembered, he was also a little bit of a slimeball player. I didn’t care. I was living out a grade school fantasy. What did I care that he had been kicked out of his Ivy League school because he took shrooms before his midterms, or that he had already knocked up some other girl and had a kid, and lived with his parents while he coached basketball at the local Catholic boys school? It was CHARLIE, none of those things mattered. They probably wouldn’t even matter if I ran into him ten years from now and he was a homeless gigolo. When it came to him, my 4th grade heart was blind.
One day I met him over at his parents’ house on a sunny September day. We walked over to see a friend of ours who worked at a local bar, had a few day drinks. I was still deliriously flattered to received all of his attention, we cooed and flirted at the bar, and then it was definitely suddenly time to go back to his house. Only when we got there, Mr. and Mrs were home. We stood in the backyard plotting. He decided that the perfect place to go was the roof of this two story building near by, accessible by fire escape.
It was perfect. The building was low enough that it felt like I was basically having sex in public. Anyone from the neighboring office building down the block could have watched us. It was beautiful outside, and I stared at the glorious blue sky with it’s little white early Autumn clouds and felt like sex should be exactly this every time.
But then it was over, and once moments like that are over it’s important not to tarry and spoil it. We got dressed, and walked down the street to another bar to have another drink. As we sat in the cool dark bar, cheap beers in hand, I felt like we had achieved a sort of intimacy, a kind of bond that would last despite the fact I might not see him again for another 5 years. I was glowing with all sorts of feelings, power and nostalgia and sweetness. Then I noticed that in fact maybe that glow was glowing just a little bit too much. Maybe it felt a little bit more like a burning. I wiggled around on the bar stool in my jeans as the itching of my skin got progressively worse and worse. Not just my legs, but my arms, my stomach. My back felt like it was being attacked by a million fire ants. My cheap cotton hippie blouse was a shroud of thistles.
I didn’t want to spoil the post-coital bliss, so I tried to hide it, at least until we finished our first beers. But as soon as the last swig of his Miller Lite was gone, I jumped up and babbled some excuse about needing to go home. He jumped up too, and said “yeah, I gotta go too, I feel all sorts of itchy.” Relieved we both were suffering, we both ran off back home. Once in the safety of my own bathroom, I tore off my clothes, and found my entire body covered in red angry rashes. I took a benadryl, and stood in the shower scrubbing my tender hurt skin for at least an hour. By the next day, I still had a rash, but it was abating. Two days later it was pretty much gone, except for the scratches I had left on my own body out of frustration.
Talking to him later that week, we decided that the roof had probably been coated with some sort of asbestos or chemical, that we had inadvertently rubbed all over ourselves. But frankly, it was totally worth the pain and embarrassment. That roof sex defined like three different fetishes for me, which we all know last way longer than a rash.
Bio: Bridget Callahan believes that somewhere out there is a Flannery O’Connor for the Rustbelt, and it’s not her, but if she ever meets her/him she will recognize them right away and probably fall in love, and seeing how this is Ohio, they will be married already and it will suck. She writes at bridgetcallahan.com, and hosts a podcast with her sister at theawkwardsexshow.com