I was a late bloomer in high school. I was 17 when I had sex the first time. Having sex for the first time was like driving my father’s car for the first time. Exciting, thrilling, passionate, fulfilling, and my father never knew about it like he’d never known I’d always wanted to. Aubrey Porter, (the girl that popped my cherry) didn’t know either, let alone known I’d had sex with her. Which was disheartening because I’d been in love with her since the fourth grade.
I thought about girls at the age of 9. Not sex. I had seen sex scenes in movies and on TV, but never knew what that those were. They hugged really hard without clothes on, I thought. Whenever those scenes came on, my mother and father would order me to pull my shirt over my head as they kept on watching and at full volume. But their doing so always prompted my eyes to quint just hard enough to watch the scenes through my shirt. I didn’t know what it meant that way either. I never asked my parents any kinds of questions either. Not knowing just made me wonder. More and more.
4th grade. Our teacher, Mrs. Kent, dressed like a stewardess. She was short. Real short. Always wore long dresses with endless weird patterns. From the 60’s, I think. The dresses looked like they were intended to be mid-length on a person not as short. Her hair was cut short too. Mrs. Kent was just a short person. In every way. Her class was where I met my long-term crush, Aubrey Porter.
“Hi, Daniel.” Aubrey said once. During lunch. I made a noise of some kind as response. My response sounded like the sound you’d make when you had a stomach ache, which I didn’t have. But she just smiled and walked bounced off with her gabby friends. (I was to discover one had dropped out of school by 7th grade due to a pregnancy. The other was expelled for conceiving a baby in the 8th grade. During a school dance. Maybe a school rave.)
In terms of blending in with my 4th grade class, I did alright. Better than Mrs. Kent could with the other teachers, at least. I couldn’t understand how Aubrey would recognize me. I looked like and was most certainly, the most forgettable 4th grade boy in all of Dillon Elementary. I fooled everyone else, but she knew my name somehow.
Later that year, some guy from the Defense of Dental Detriments, or something like that came to our class to teach all 4th graders how to properly care for our teeth. The class had to take it seriously and went as far as to dedicate three minutes and forty-one seconds to brush our teeth after lunch break. I had this habit of timing things (I’d watch the hands to keep from making eye contact with people) ever since my father gave me his old analog watch. We were given Crest toothbrushes. They told us toothpaste didn’t really do anything besides tasting sweet. That was also why we didn’t have any to brush our teeth with. An adult told us that, so we believed it to be true. (It was the low budget our school had that decided whether or not we had toothpaste.)
“Then, you better start taking care of your teeth now.” Mrs. Kent said to Rudy, our class bully. He had shown shown Mrs. Kent his blood-glazed teeth. I looked at the browned bristles on his brush, and felt queasy.
We all lined up to take turns to rinse our mouths and toothbrushes. We did this in the class sink. The paper towel dispenser was always empty, (also due to the school budget) so we’d all wipe our hands on our clothes. Four minutes for something we weren’t trusted to do every morning. That was us. Soggy, dentally hygienic Mrs. Kent’s class.
I started taking longer to brush my teeth one day. I wanted to be last in the rinse line. I’d noticed Aubrey had always been last. For no obvious reason to me, I wanted to be near her. I also thought that if she believed I cared about my teeth as much as her, we would have something in common. People that liked each other in movies had things in common. I thought that was how it worked when you liked someone. She kept brushing in the line while everyone else anxiously hopped with spit-glazed toothbrushes in hand. I brushed too. We were the last in line and the only ones that kept brushing. Mrs. Kent always smiled at me whenever I’d look at her, but she didn’t know my scheme.
I always wished the rinse line to last longer, because that would have meant more time with the smell of Aubrey’s hair. It smelled ike vanilla. Some things I did, I could not explain. But only if Aubrey was around. And when she wasn’t, I wanted to smell vanilla all the time, like looking both ways before crossing the street. Even people that believed in God looked both ways before crossing the street.
I thought I was in love with Aubrey Porter, because she made me want to smell vanilla all the time. And almost every day for those four minutes, my dick always tingled while we waited in line to spit and rinse. It had never done anything like that, just hosing out piss. And I was too afraid to say anything to her because the butterflies would flutter out of my clean mouth. The world couldn’t have been any bigger to me in the 4th grade. She was the moon that smelled like vanilla.