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First Time

by Jeremiah Tolbert

So I met this girl at a "meatspace" party the summer between high school and college. I was hanging out with a lot of BBS people back then, before the Internet. And I asked everyone at the party, but no one knew what her screen name was, and they got a little nervous when I brought it up, which only made me more interested. I spent the night watching her across the room. Some time after midnight, she walked out onto a balcony just off the main room where my fellow nerds were arguing about the X-Files. I followed her.

"What's the weirdest thing you have ever seen?" she turned and asked me before I could figure out what I wanted to say. She lit a Marlboro with a cheap Bic lighter, and the end glowed like the moon on fire.

I paused for a moment before answering. "I saw a ghost of a jogger on the Fourth of July, running in the road. I could see through him and everything. You?"

"Flying saucers practicing their landing on a hillside in Arkansas. They darted up into the clouds sometimes, and then floated back down like a feather. I was bored after an hour."

I laughed. "I know what you mean. It like, when you see things that lie outside of the realm of the normal, you aren't aware, in the moment, just how unusual they are. And then you spend a lot of time trying to come up with explanations that put the event squarely inside normal."

"Lovecraft thought those kinds of things would drive people mad, but I think that human brains are too elastic for that," she said. When she took a drag from the cigarette, her face lit up. Her eyes were green.

"Is that why I am not gibbering right now?" I asked.

"You mean, because of my tentacles?"

I shrugged. I hadn't meant to draw attention to them directly, but they were kind of hard not to notice.

"Beats me," she said. She paused, and took a long drag off of her cigarette. "You want to make out?"


So that's how I lost my virginity. I have a suspicion that if I had answered her opening question with "you," something much worse would have happened to me.

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