November 17, 2001
Patti was my first real girlfriend. I dated a girl before her, but she turned out to be a nutcase so that enterprise only lasted seven weeks. The entire experience nearly put me off of girls altogether, but when I met Patti she was a breath of fresh air. We were very much alike in our thinking and temperament. We fit together like a hand in a glove.
That’s how we were on this particular night, hand in hand on a blanket next to the old war memorial. We gazed upon the heavens and the best meteor shower we’d ever seen in our lives. Fireball after fireball erupted into sight as we oohed and ahhed. We were at the highest point of the island and had a fantastic view for miles around.
Dad was a couple hundred feet away, sitting in his car with the engine running. He watched for the first five minutes before claiming he’d seen enough. He spent the next two hours listening to the radio to stave off boredom while Patti and I had the time of our lives. I would have preferred being alone with her, but we were teenagers and had to deal with hovering parents. Dad was parked facing us to make sure there was no hanky-panky. I was too self-conscious to put my arms around her with him watching.
We finally called it a night (morning) as the shooting stars faded into the approaching sunrise. Dad had dozed off by that point so we knocked on the window to wake him up. The three of us went to the diner for breakfast. Then he drove us back to her house. He was gracious enough to head down the block a little ways to turn the car around, giving me a little time and a modicum of privacy to kiss her goodbye. I wrapped my arms around her waist as she smiled at me.
“You know, I’m going to marry you someday,” she stood on her tiptoes and whispered into my ear. I grinned in reply and gave her another kiss before Dad reappeared at the curb.
We drove in silence for a couple of minutes before he started the inquisition: “So, uh, what religion is Patti? Is she Catholic?”
“No,” I said.
“Well, what is she then?”
“She isn’t anything. She doesn’t have religion,” I answered. We drove in silence for another minute while Dad chewed his cud.
“You know, if you two ever get married then you have to raise the kids as Catholic,” he said. I gaped at him. It was almost as if he knew what she had said to me.
“Yeah, I know,” I replied. Dad brightened up.
“Good! I’m glad to see you’re thinking about these things.”
No, I’m NOT thinking about these things. I’m fucking seventeen, Dad. I only said “I know” simply to show that I knew what the Church taught. I didn’t mean to infer that that’s what I intended to do. And why the hell was he even bringing it up?
“Because when your sister Shannon got married, I had a talk with her and her husband,” Dad continued, pronouncing the last word with venom. “And they agreed to raise their daughter as Catholic. And now your sister is divorced, so I guess being Catholic and obeying the commandments doesn’t matter to some people,” he ranted. Oh boy. I had to listen to a treatise on the faith during the rest of the ride home. Not only did his marriage fail and his family walk out, but now his daughter’s marriage failed as well. Dad took that as yet another personal failing and a further step down the road to his eternal damnation.
Meanwhile, I still hadn’t told Patti about my parents. She didn’t know that they had split up. Nobody knew. My friends didn’t even know that my parents fought. It was very personal… and embarrassing. I worried what other people would think if they knew. But Patti and I had been dating for a couple of months and I didn’t think I should keep it a secret much longer.
I finally spilled the beans a week later and she was very surprised. And confused. Try as she might, she could not understand why my siblings wouldn’t talk to my father. Like me, she was also the youngest and came from a broken family. But even though they fought she said they still got together for the holidays – so why couldn’t we?
“It’s just not like that with my family,” I said.
“But why?” she asked.
“It’s just… not. It’s…” I struggled to explain, but it was hard for her to understand without having experienced things for herself. And it was remarkable that she raised a point that Dad himself raised several times: Other families we knew yelled and fought but they stayed together – why couldn’t we?
“Have any of you tried just sitting down and talking with him?”
I snorted. There was no sitting down and talking with him. That lasted 30 seconds before he flew off the handle. Our house was a dictatorship, not a democracy, he told us. Dad did not like his supreme authority being challenged. We were supposed to do whatever he said, whether we agreed with him or not, and whether he was right or not. Honor thy mother and thy father.
Unfortunately for Dad, there was another commandment I was interested in violating. It happened whenever I looked at Patti. I was incredibly lucky to have her. There were a lot of guys trying to get with her, but for some reason she wanted me and she didn’t give up until she got me. We were the talk of the school when we started going out. Guys and girls alike came up to me asking, “Is it true? Are you and Patti really going out?” They were agog when I answered in the affirmative. Patti proudly wore my jacket around school, silencing any remaining doubters.
A few weeks after the meteor shower she invited me to the Christmas party at her karate school. Her mother drove us, but first they had to stop at my house to pick me up. When they arrived I told Dad where I was going, but as I headed out the door he was right on my heels and stopped me in the driveway in front of their car. He demanded to know all the details. He wanted an address, an arrival and departure time, a phone number in case he needed to get a hold of me, etc.
I stood there and stared while Dad put his head into the car to bombard Patti’s mom with questions. Patti looked up the address of the karate school in her book and wrote down the information on a post-it for Dad. We finally hit the road about five minutes later. Patti and her mom burst out laughing as soon as we pulled away.
“Tommy, you should have seen your face,” Patti’s mom said, glancing at me over the front seats.
“Yeah, you were just standing there with a look of ‘What…?’ on your face,” Patti chuckled.
I confirmed that that was indeed my reaction. What the fuck was that all about? Since when did Dad ever need any of that information? He never acted like that before. It wasn’t the first time Patti’s mom had taken us someplace, so why was he suddenly making a big deal about it? Was he putting on a big show for Patti’s mom to show what a concerned and disciplined parent he was? Very, very bizarre. Whatever he was up to, it annoyed me all the way to the party.
Once we were there my mood lifted. There was good music, good food, and of course good company. Shortly after we arrived they turned the studio lights off and the black lights on. Patti and I settled into a darkened corner. I sat behind her and wrapped my arms around her and pulled her into me. I brushed her hair aside and gently breathed on her neck while I ran my fingers along her stomach. The effect was immediate. She tilted back to give me greater access and I gave her a neck a few experimental nibbles. Her breathing grew heavier and I could feel her pulse pounding in her wrist as she placed one of her hands over mine.
After the party we took advantage of the backseat of her mom’s car to continue our foreplay. We sat side by side and I grabbed her hand and pulled it towards me so I could lightly trace my fingertips up and down her forearm. She did the same to me and by the time we arrived at her house we were all breathless and flustered. Her mom parked in the driveway and went into the house first, leaving the two of us outside to say good night. Privacy – thank you!
“You have no idea how much I want to jump you right now,” she grinned up at me.
“That’s good,” I said. Then I pushed her up against the garage door – out of view of the front windows of her house – and French kissed her. She eagerly returned the favor and we made out for several minutes. I ran my hand down her back and grabbed a handful of her nice round ass before we broke apart. She gave me a mischievous smile before she reached behind me and squeezed my ass in return. Then she gave me one last peck before turning around and darting up the walkway and into the house, nearly tripping over her own feet as she did so.
I walked home. No Dad around to spoil the mood this time.
I wanted her. And I was going to get her.