BACK IN THE POOL
Mr. Watt drives up to my house, which is dark. I let myself in. As my Dad said, no one is home. We unload our bikes and bags. The remaining Watts depart for Kendall. There are steaks in the fridge, with a note saying they are for us. I fire up the grill and cook rice and vegetables to go with the steaks. Afterwards, we devour half a gallon of ice cream. I open my room’s windows to get rid of the musty air, noticing an approaching storm’s lightning gathering over the Bay, coming to greet us home. Sitting together, waiting for the rain, I shiver from pleasure at being home with my boyfriend. At least I feel he is. Soon it’s pouring torrents. It’s the first rain we’ve seen that summer. Standing on the roof, we’re instantly soaked. Scott is clowning around and loses his footing. I reach to grab him, but we both tumble off the roof, landing on the wet grass in a big splash. We aren’t hurt, so we start rolling around on the lawn.
Jumping up, we run, then dive and slide in the water and mud. Scott grabs the hose and washes me down. We fight for control of the hose, alternatively spraying each other. In the middle of our play, Dad’s military voice booms out, “Tim!”
He’s standing on the back step. We drop the hose. I run over to give him a hug. His look of dismay stops me in my tracks. I realize I’m a wet, muddy mess.
“Sorry, dad,” as I offer him a handshake. ‘I forgot I’m all wet. Good to see you. Do you remember Scott?”
Scott comes over and solemnly shakes hands also.
“What are you boys doing?”
“It’s the first rain we’ve seen in ages. It’s great in North Carolina, Dad. We did all kinds of things. Even got me a redneck accent.”
“Fine, Tim. I want you boys to get cleaned up and come down so all four of us can talk.”
That is foreboding. We run upstairs, shower, and change into clean jeans and tees, coming downstairs without making any noise.
“Oh,” Susan is startled by our sudden appearance. “I didn’t hear you. Bert, the boys are here.”
“Susan, this is my best friend, Scott.”
“Pleased to meet you, ma’am.”
“Nice to meet you, Scott. Please sit down, boys.”
We sit on the couch while Susan lights a cigarette. My dad walks in and gives Susan a hug. I can tell he’s uncomfortable. We never had family meetings before.
“First off, we want to discuss your plans for the summer.”
“Well, tomorrow we start swimming again. We go in the morning until ten, then again from four to seven at night. That’s pretty much all we do. There’ll be meets on the weekends. If you can’t drive, I can go with Scott’s family.”
“When do you eat?” Susan asks.
“Breakfast after practice. Lunch about two, and dinner when we’re done at eight. We can make our own meals. Mom used to have dinner ready to reheat at night.”
“I guess family meals are out, if you get back after eight,” my dad concludes.
“Even in the military, we never ate together,” I remind him.
“I just want you to know you have a family, son. I was upset you went off with Scott, when I asked you to stay here to help your mother move.”
“She said she could manage, Dad. I didn’t decide to go until the day we left.”
“I don’t like you making spur of the moment decisions.”
“Mom always let me do what I wanted.”
“Well, that has changed. I’m in charge. I expect you to toe the line.”
“That’s better. Now you boys go into the kitchen and clean up the mess you made. I won’t have you taking advantage of Susan. She’s not your housemaid.”
“Yes, sir,” we both say and leave the room.
We wash the dishes and leave the kitchen spotless, without saying a word. When we get upstairs, Scott offers to go home, if it will help.
“No way, man. If my old man is going to be a dick, I need you here for moral support.”
“Is he always that bad?”
“Naw. He usually just leaves me alone. It’ll settle down. He’s just impressing his girlfriend by being ‘in charge.’”
We play the radio, listening to oldies and doing doo wop backups. There’s a knock on the door. It’s Dad.
“I forgot to give you your mail and messages. I’d appreciate if you boys can ask your friends to call only when you’re home. I don’t want Susan taking lots of messages.”
“Okay, dad. Maybe we can put in a separate line up here.”
“We’ll think about it. Listen, boys, I know I sounded harsh down there, but Susan has never had children. I don’t want to overwhelm her.”
“You could just ask, Dad, instead of issuing orders. We’re not children. I’ll be sixteen in a couple of weeks.”
“Oh God, does that mean you’ll be driving?”
“Once I get my license. You must sign for me.”
“One more thing to deal with.”
“Dad, we’re not going to be a problem. We’re low maintenance kids. All we do is swim, eat and sleep.”
“Well, please help Susan get adjusted.”
“Of course, but you can’t act like we’re causing problems. You’re the one who’s moving back. I live here, remember?”
“We’ll discuss this later. Good night, boys.”
I go and lock the door. Scott has a sly grin on his face, but I just throw a pillow at him. Dad is definitely dampening my sex drive. The mail is from New York; Tina writes about their up-coming visit to South Beach and Pete had sent a short note to say hi.
“You’ll get to hang out with my New York friends when they come to visit,” I tell Scott. “They’re going to be here for a week, starting next Sunday. It’s a whole gang of Puerto Ricans who stay in South Beach.”
“Like Floyd’s gang?”
“No way, white boy. These dudes are cool and hip. They taught me how to pick up Latin chicks.”
“All right. Bring ‘em on.”
“Your first lesson is to cool it. You never come on too strong. Let them come to you. It’s like fishing. The guys will show you. And there’s Tina for me.”
“Just this tall, dark chick who has the hots for me.”
“Another old woman, like Cheryl Ann?”
“No way. Tina’s fourteen now.”
“You guys doing it?”
“You’ve got a lot to learn, man, before you’ll even get one of these hot mamas interested in you.”
“Like you know so much.”
“Yup, and if you’re lucky, I may throw a bone your way, Fido.”
The message is from Lydia, to call her as soon as we get in. We go downstairs to call, gossiping about the team. We tease her about all the girls we met in North Carolina. We tell her to come over and visit. She says it is our turn to visit her. Telling Dad we’re going out, we ride bikes to her house, sneaking in her window. Scott tries to kiss her, which is totally rebuffed. Then she feels guilty, so she gives him all her attention, which makes me jealous. Then she sits next to me. All three of us end up on the floor with our arms wrapped around each other. She’s Queen of the May. We tell her about the sock hop and singing Sgt. Pepper. We talk about Floyd’s gang and the stock car races. She says half the team has been on vacation, so Coach devised ‘special’ workouts that were extra intense. She’s been waiting for us to return so there can be a distance workout. With early workout next morning, we get up to leave. Lydia gives both of us a kiss on the forehead. We know she’s glad we’re back. Riding home, we pause by the library and whistle. Giggles and return whistles almost always occur there. We’re ready to believe it’s ghosts but know that thought is foolish.
As soon as we’re in the room, Scott turns on the radio and I lock the door. He’s obviously horny, pulling my tee-shirt over my head, pining me on the bed, with my arms caught in my shirt.
“You gonna rape me?”
“If you don’t co-operate,” as he pulls my jeans and Speedo down. Taking my hard-on in his hands, he complains, “How come you’re bigger than me.”
I get out a ruler and pull his dick out of his pants to compare. We both have grown. Scott is 6 ½ inches and mine is 7 ½.
“At least you’ve grown, but so have I. You may end up bigger. I wonder when it stops growing? My cousin has 9 inches; maybe I’ll get that big. It looks like a cucumber.”
We jump each other and go at it. By the end, Scott burps up a mixture of cum and saliva.
“Jesus,” he says. “That’s intense.”
He rubs the mixture onto my chest, and roll us over, so it smears between the two bodies. He locks his legs and arms around me. We fall instantly asleep.
Sometime later, he shakes me.
“Tim. Tim. Wake up.”
I look at him, still in my arms.
He looks really concerned.
“We’re stuck together. The cum on our chests and stomachs hardened.”
I try moving, but he’s right. It ‘s like Crazy Glue, our skins are attached. Trying to pull apart causes instant pain.
“What’re we going to do?” Scott asks.
“Maybe it’s meant to be. I’ve been feeling very attached to you lately.”
“It’s not funny. I think we’re really stuck.”
“Going to practice is sure going to look strange. Maybe they’ll let us have joint entries in meets. I bet our times will improve. Ouch. Don’t move like that.”
“What are we going to do?”
“Look, we just need to get into the shower together. Move slowly with me.”
We maneuver ourselves off the bed and into the bathroom with a minimum of self-inflicted pain. After running warm water over ourselves, the mixture loosens up and we come apart. After a long shower, we crawl back into bed, going to sleep in our usual embrace.
Getting up at five-thirty to ride to practice is only the first misery of my day. It’s been two weeks since we’d worked out and it shows. Coach makes us pay for our vacation, Just as we are climbing out of the pool at nine, Scott looks at me in mock agony and starts singing Elvis’ ‘Stuck on You.’ I barely laugh.
The rest of the week passes as we fall into our training routine and get our conditioning back. We never discuss sex, but in truth, we’re too beat each night to fool around. One night, Scott falls asleep with his head on my shoulder. After drooling on me, he wakes me up, whimpering about being stuck again. I pull him off of me. I guess it’s the cum that makes the mixture harden.
When the weekend comes, we spend Saturday at the Watts, taking a long bike ride with Stu. We stop at all the other kids’ homes and pick up a large gang of riders, ending at Coach Earl’s house for sodas. He asks Scott and me to come back later. We leave Stu with the other kids to ride home by themselves. When we return, he sits us down and asks if anyone had given us a sex education lecture.
“You want to talk to us about the birds and the bees, Coach?”
As always, he knows exactly what was going on with us.
“I get the feeling from you guys that you’ve had sex. Was it with some of the girls on the team?”
“God, Coach,” Scott notes, “you know everything. We met these two sisters in North Carolina. We did it a couple of times.”
“Did you use birth control?”
“You mean condoms?”
“Yes, or, there are other ways.”
He proceeds to tell us about the various methods. When we tell him about withdrawal, he convinces us it isn’t effective. He’s stern about protecting the girls, saying it’s our responsibility. After the lecture, he asks how we felt about doing it.
“It’s great,” we both agreed.
Then I tell him about getting depressed about all the deceptions and how it all worked out in the end. Then I tell him Cheryl Ann is married. He laughs.
“You boys are something else. I knew something was up. You boff these girls like it’s nothing. I hope you’re more responsible about girls who are also your friends. And I don’t just mean using rubbers. There are feelings that are important to growing up. If you trample them now, it may not turn out so well as adults. Easy sex is not good for you.”
“We’ll try to make it harder next time.”
We expected more lecture, but Scott cuts it off by telling Coach Earl that Cheryl Ann is married to the local sheriff. He almost splits a gut, which in his case is major. He sends us away with a warning that he will know if we get in trouble. He’s a good friend, as well as our coach.
On Sunday, we ride to South Beach and wait for the New Yorkers to arrive. For Scott, it’s another world. Most of the permanent residents are Jewish retirees, who go about their lives as if no one else exists. They’re not the least self-conscious. We sit on our bikes, laughing at the old people, whom we call penguins, due to the way they walk. The first person I recognize is Pete. He comes running out of the hotel and claps me on the back. We hug. I introduce him to Scott. Pete becomes serious, shakes his hand, and checks him out.
“See how you’re being checked out?” I tell Scott. “It’s your first lesson in street smarts. You’ve got to take everything seriously.”
“So, who’s the expert now?” Pete snarks. We all laugh. He looks at me and whistles. “Man, you really got the look. Tina’ll be creamin’ her panties all week. That swimming must be good for muscles.”
I’m embarrassed for once.
“When’s she getting here?”
“Oh, she’s probably already here, just checking us out from upstairs.”
We look up at the hotel but can’t see a thing.
“Lock your bikes up. We can hang out by the pool. We’ll see everyone there.”
We sit on the pool deck and catch up on the past year. Pete’s doing well in school, unlike most of the others. Some guys have already quit and are working. One of the girls got pregnant and is married. Pete asks about Dickie.
“You know Dickie Mertz?” Scott joins in for the first time. “He’s a snob.”
“But he’s got a boat,” Pete counters. Then looking at me, “how come you don’t have more snob friends? I was hoping for a limo this year.”
“Most of my friends are pretty normal, except Scott, he’s sub-normal.”
Pete and I laugh, but not Scott.
I continue, “Remember how you fell off my roof last year? Scott did the same last week, except he dragged me with him.”
“Good move, my man.” Pete slapped Scott’s hand, making him smile again.
We stay by the pool. Slowly all the guys who came this year show up. They congratulate me for not being a snob and condescending to see them again. They check Scott out. I make it a point not to put him down again. Pete’s extra-friendly to Scott. He soon feels part of the group.
Pete asks how my cousin is. I say he probably left New York for LA. I thank them for helping find him.
“You guys probably saved him from going to jail. How’d he look when you found him?”
“Not too good, man. Like a white boy who don’t belong in our neighborhood.”
“Too many drugs?”
“That, and too many nights on the street. He’s your blood, man, but I sure don’t wish that on my family.”
“Well, thanks, guys, for all you did.”
“No problema, Huerto.”
After waiting a while, I figure Tina isn’t coming down. I ask Pete to call her room.
“No, man, let her make her entrance. After seeing how much of a stud you now are, I know Tina. She’s gotta make an entrance.”
We go over to Nathan’s to get food, about ten guys, with Scott and me. While eating, we hang out on the street with the younger guys walking back and forth, whistling whenever girls drive by. Any girls who try to walk past us, suffer cat-calls and sharp remarks. Scott takes it all in and remains cool. Suddenly, I see her, Tina, walking with her girlfriends. I wait until she reaches our group.
“Tina. What a knockout you are.”
She stops and smiles. Pete and his buddies give each other high-fives.
“Tim, you look great, too.”
While we talk, the other girls are giving Scott the full check-out. I introduce him to Tina. She introduces him to her friends, reminding me which girls I met last summer and which ones are new. I ask them into Nathan’s, where I buy hotdogs and sodas. Just Pete, Scott, and I go with the girls. Sitting across from Tina, we just stare at each other. I can’t believe how much she grew up. She’s so self-confident. I tell them about swimming. How Scott is a State Champ. Pete takes charge of Scott. Soon they’re drawing out the other girls, so Tina and I can speak alone. We talk about her magic book and astrology. I tell her about all the stars in the North Carolina sky, how you couldn’t find the constellations because there are so many stars not visible in the City. She asks me about my cousin, who apparently made a bad impression on everyone. I try to defend Joey but realize it’s a lost cause: you can’t change someone’s opinion of anyone else. I tell her about my parent’s divorce and how I get to stay in my house. She talks about her family, all the cousins and relatives. We both are doing well in school. Pretty soon there’s nothing left to catch up.
“You’ve changed, Huerto. You’re not the wide-eyed boy of last summer. Do you have a girlfriend or something?”
I don’t tell her about the something else.
“Just a girl I like; she’s like you. She likes me but doesn’t want to be intimate.”
“Your friend seems nice. You seem closer than any of the neighborhood guys usually get.”
“Yeah. We really are best friends. I went with his family on vacation at the end of June. We weren’t always close. At first we really hated each other, then we worked it out. I guess we’re inseparable now. He’s living at my house. You guys have to come visit this week. It’s pretty cool, except for my dad’s new girlfriend.”
“He moved her into your mother’s house? Que caca.”
“Nostra familia este diffferente.”
“Oh, you’re learning Espanol,” and she gives me a kiss on the cheek.
Instantly, all eyes are on us, and then the gossip starts. We laugh.
“Let’s go over to the pool,” I suggest.
They all agree. Picking up the rest of the gang waiting outside, we walk in the mid-afternoon heat to the hotel pool. Scott and I strip to our suits, with everyone watching. We do a few laps of each stroke, and then race easily against each other several times. The girls giggle when we get out and sit on the deck. Obviously, Tina had rights to me, which is fine. The guys seem jealous of our athletic prowess and maybe that Scott is getting all the attention. I ask if they have a boom box so we can dance to Salsa. This is their prowess. Soon we’re all dancing by the pool. Scott learns the dance steps easily. Some of the girls are making sexy moves, rubbing his muscles as they dance. Tina and I laugh. When it gets too hot, I grab him and drag both of us into the pool. The other guys all jump in, also picking on poor Scott. The girls shriek and giggle at his discomfort. Later, we arrange to meet outside the hotel and go eat. Pete lets Scott and me shower and dress in his room. It’s obvious our tees and shorts are not up to their sartorial standards. Pete offers to share his clothes, but we’re much taller than all the other boys. We still have our money from the Georgia shakedown, so Pete takes us shopping. For about forty dollars we both get floral shirts, linen trousers, and sandals. We look very Caribbean, except no Panama hats. The guys all whistle when we return. Once the girls come down, they all flock to Scott, leaving Tina and me to ourselves.
“He likes all the attention,” Tina notes.
“I don’t think the guys like it so much.”
“They know it’s just a game. We see each other all year, anyway.”
We walk to a seafood restaurant and have Cuban dishes. The New Yorkers have a snobby way of dismissing the Cuban waiters. I figure everyone has to have someone to put down in life. And, they are on vacation, so why not? After dinner, we wander around South Beach. We tell everyone about the ‘penguins,’ so we establish a penguin watch. Pete and a buddy get so carried away, they’re actually mimicking an old couple walking behind them as they cross the street. It’s mean but really funny. The girls egg them on, until an older couple upbraids everyone. We all come back to the hotel pool. We stake out the pool as ‘our turf.’ Sitting and talking as a group. Scott and I do imitations of Floyd and Wayne to hysterical laughter. It’s past eleven when we leave to ride across the causeway, getting to bed at midnight. As we ride home, Scott talks non-stop about the girls. He loves the attention.
Getting up for swim team is tough, but we survive. I call Pete at ten-thirty. He arranges for one of the parents to drive all the kids to Coral Gables for a visit. We’re too beat to bike it out there and back for afternoon practice. About seven of them arrive. Everyone hangs out in our room. I can tell they’re impressed with my house. They say it’s so Spanish, ’much nicer than Long Island.’ Pete shows everyone where he fell off the roof last summer. I have to convince him not to do a repeat. They’re all impressed with my swimming medals and trophies. We turn on the radio. When ‘Up on the Roof’ comes on, Scott and I sing along really well.
I wink at Tina. The parent who is driving rings the bell at two-thirty. They leave as we get ready for practice. They understand that we can’t come out to the beach after practice. Scott still has three girls, all vying for his attention. He isn’t about to make a choice. Pete tells him he’s blowing it by being a player and not choosing. It’s too much fun for him to decide. I explain to him how important Latinas take these dating rituals. Looking around the house, I realize what a mess we made, hurriedly picking up. We’re not meeting Susan’s standards.
After practice, I ask Scott what he thinks about going to South Beach anyway.
“They’re only going to be here for a week. We’re blowing it by not seeing them as much as possible.”
“Yeah, but how are we going to handle morning workout?”
“Com’n, man. Let’s just ride over there now,” I beg.
He’s reluctant but comes along. We’re on Collins Avenue before nine where we see Pete and the guys.
“Hey, it’s the white boys,” he calls us. He looks at Scott and makes a sad face. “You didn’t listen to me. Now the ladies are off with some guy in a Caddy.”
“No, man. They got picked up not half an hour ago. Too bad. You snooze, you lose.”
“Where’s Tina,” I ask.
“Maybe at the hotel. Com’n, we’ll go check it out.”
She is by herself, in her family’s room. She’s so pleased to see us, me really. We all go to Nathan’s for the meal we had missed at home. Pete takes Scott outside to teach him the tricks of girl cruising.
“How come you came back tonight? I thought you’d be too beat from practicing.”
“It’s more important to see you since you’re only here a week.”
“Oh, que romantico”
“Com’n Tina, let’s be more open. Can’t we be girlfriend/boyfriend for the week?”
She moves closer. We kiss, for the first time on the lips. Glancing up, I see all the guys mugging at us through the restaurant window. So I kiss her again, this time even longer. The boys are going crazy.
“What are you doing? Ruining my reputation?”
“It’s safe with me,” I assure her.
“You’ve grown up this past year.”
“You’re even prettier this year.”
We laugh and go outside, hand in hand, to join the guys.
They’re attempting to make Scott cool. It isn’t working. I take him aside.
“They’re trying to get you to act like them, instead of your crazy self. You got to be yourself to be cool. Let’s do a song so they get to know you better.”
He readily agrees. We decide to do ‘Girl Watcher.’ We set up like the Temptations.
“Hey, guys, check us out,” and we clap out the rhythm and start to sing,,,’I’m a girl watcher. I’m a girl watcher. Watchin’ girls walk by, my oh my. I’m a girl watcher. I’m a girl watcher. Here comes one now…’
Written by: JOHNSON, GORDIE EDMOND / BALLANTYNE, PATRICK JOSEPH
Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
I motion to Tina. Taking my cue, she struts by us and the guys. They whistle and do their own hand motions. Cars slow down to watch, as we dance and sing on the sidewalk. Pete and the guys are impressed. There’s even a group of twelve-year-old girls crowding around us.
“Thank you, thank you. And for our next number, “ and I look at Scott who whispers it to me, “straight from Philly it’s Dion and the Belmonts, ‘I’m a Wanderer.’”
We put our arms around each other’s shoulder and sing,
‘Well, I’m the type of guy who’ll never settle down.
I’m never in one place.
I roam from town to town…
’cause I’m the wanderer, yeah, the wanderer.
I roam around, around, around…’
Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., ERNEST MARESCA
We can go all night with this crowd. Pete goes around and collects change from the tourists, while Scott and I do the Beach Boys’ version of the cool guy, ‘I Get Around.’ I sing Brian Wilson’s high alto chorus, while Scott sings the baritone verses
“Take out the papers and the trash,
or you don’t get some spendin’ cash…
yakety yack, don’t talk back….’
LEIBER, JERRY / STOLLER, MIKE
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, IMAGEM U.S. LLC, BELINDA ABERBACH STEVENSON AGAR REVOCABLE TRUST
The guys are dancing all around us, until Nathan’s manager comes out and tells us to move on. We move to the hotel pool. Pete runs to get his tape player. They want, of course, to hear salsa. They show me some fancy new dance steps. Tina and I mix the dances between Salsa and slow songs real close. Since Tina’s the only girl, the guys are getting restless, so we all dance with her. The Hustle and the Bump were new then. Scott and I are given quick lessons. When the desk clerk calls it a night, it’s already midnight. Scott and I give each other a tired look, knowing how beat we’ll be in the morning.
“Are you coming over tomorrow?” Tina asks us.
“Sure, but I bet we’ll have to sleep in the afternoon. It’ll have to be at night.”
She gives me a quick peck on the cheek and winks when we leave. As we ride across the causeway, I ask Scott what he thinks of Tina.
“I just wish I had a girlfriend, too,” he answers.
“It doesn’t bother Pete and the others. They just hang out and chase all the girls. You had three of them chasing you. You have to learn when to be serious and when to be casual.”
“It seems so involved, how they get together. For us, we just like girls as friends before it gets serious.
“Look how long it takes to get started then. They’re getting married at our age. It has to be more complicated.”
“Do you think Tina wants to marry you?”
“Man, that blows my mind. I think she wants to go to college and be more than a housewife.”
“She’s pretty cool for fourteen.”
“We’re both so much older this year. Last summer I didn’t even know she liked me until the last night. Stay patient. I’ll bet you’ll hook up with someone.”