I fucking hate Christmas music.
Except for The Carpenter’s Christmas Portrait, and I only like that because I once made out to it in its entirety as it played on the radio, the snow falling silently outside, my boyfriend and I kissing and kissing, nestled together in the warm back seat of a police cruiser.
It’s the kind of a moment a girl just never forgets.
As I have confessed previously, in general, I enjoy the younger man. The vast majority of my boyfriends have been younger, and I started dating younger men as soon as they could be younger and not be significantly jailbait. My very first younger man, the man who snogged with me in the prowler that cold wintry night in Vermont, was Ben; he was sixteen; I was twenty.
I met him the fall I turned twenty with the express purpose of taking his virginity. We had been thrown together by fate and my sluttiness and the guiding hand of Ben’s older brother’s bossy sister, Cindy, who was in a play with me. I met Ben, I thought he was hott, and Cindy suggested that not only was his cherry ripe for the plucking, but that I was the slut to pluck it.
I did. We spent a night together in Cindy and Big Brother’s big bed. I don’t remember much of it, other than I faked an orgasm, which I did a lot until my rich but unpleasant lover taught me to use my hand to come, but I liked Ben a lot. We took a shower together the morning after we slept together, and I remember this moment when I looked at him as I was rinsing my hair, and he just had this look like he could not believe that he had fallen awake into this fantasy—that moment I remember distinctly.
We fell in love rather quickly, and I really did love him a lot, though as it turned out not as much as I’d thought I did. One very good thing about having a boyfriend who’s still high school while you’re in college is that it’s pretty easy to continue to fuck whomever you want, which I did, with abandon. So I suppose I discovered my leanings toward polyamory, as well as my leanings toward younger men, synchronically in my falling for baby Ben.
Just before Christmas, the day I’d come home from college and the day before my family and I were to drive to Philly to celebrate the holiday as we did every year, Ben called me and told me he had a wrestling match at my old high school. It was snowing lightly, but I convinced my parents to let me take the car to go see Ben wrestle, even though we were driving that same newly-tuned vehicle eight hours to Philly the next day.
I drove, I saw him wrestle in his singlet, I think he lost his match. (Is there anything cuter than a white boy in a wrestling singlet? I think not.) We made out. He had to leave. His bus was filling up with his teammates.
Impetuously, I offered to drive him home, back to St. Johnsbury, all the way on the other side of the state of Vermont, about two hours away. I had no idea how far it was. I had never driven there, but love makes you do the wacky, and I offered and he said yes.
We drove, and the air and the roads got whiter and whiter. I always feel when I’m driving into snow that I’m driving into the ends of a giant pom-pom, like God’s great cheerleaders are eternally shaking their pom-poms at me, cheering me on into this deaf oblivion. The snow fell silent around us, and we talked and tried to find something New Wave to listen to on the radio.
I remember that I was driving with one hand on the steering wheel; my other was holding Ben’s. I lifted his hand to my mouth and I kissed it, tenderly. Just then the car took a sudden lurch off the side of the road, the right wheels seemed to be stuck in a right-veering groove, and slowly, balletically, gently, the car went down a ditch, up a hill, and came to rest full stop when it crashed into a stand of firs.
The engine still ran, but the car wouldn’t move. We sat there, completely fine, but stunned, the full enormity of the issue hovering above apparitional and not yet settling upon us. This strange kind of post-apocalyptic snowy hush muffled everything around us, and there was nothing but the dark and the white and the black outline of trees as far as we could see.
It was 1982, well before cellphones. We were stuck in the middle of nowhere, Vermont, in a car that wouldn’t move. We stayed in the car with the engine running and the heat going.
After a very short time, a cop showed up. I’m not sure how he knew we were there—maybe had some kind of weird cop psychic power, maybe someone in a house we couldn’t see heard or saw the crash and called him. The cop was this fiftyish looking guy; he had white hair and the busdriver green uniform of the Vermont State Police. He asked us our names, he got my license and registration, he looked at me closely to see if I’d been drinking or smoking pot—I had not—and then he put me and Ben in the back of the cruiser while he figured out what to do.
It was very toasty in the back of the cruiser. Officer Psychic liked his heat on high. And he, unlike me, seemed to like Christmas music. We sat in the warm cruiser, completely aware that our lives were severely fucked once our parents found out what we had done—especially me and mine—and naturally we started making out.
Ben looked a lot like Emilio Estevez in RepoMan. He had that black spiky gelled hair, that pallid skin, those rose-tinted lips, that pale pink of blush over his cheeks, that unsuccessful attempt at bad attitude. He had tiny brown moles on his milky skin, the skin of a person who should not spend a lot of time out in the sun. He wore a lot of thermal weave shirts with the necks cut off. He smelled like acrid pine.
He was a fantastic kisser, and we would make out for hours, even though we had the full consenting adult permission to fuck. For hours and hours, drunk with spit and hormones, we would lie together, our tongues making languid circles around each other. And then we’d fuck and suck but we always went back to making out. In a lot of ways, Ben was my last teenage love because we expressed our love with our mouths and our hands, even if we fucked like muskrats when we had the opportunity. Which was often.
So there in the back of the prowler was no exception. Our mouths found each others and we kissed and kissed, the dread and the doom of our respective parents’ reactions held at bay in this snowy limbo, the metal cage separating us from Officer Psychic, who once he had made whatever arrangements for someone to call our families returned to the car and sat in the front seat, a mute and long-suffering witness to our committed face sucking.
Just us. Just kissing. Just Karen Carpenter singing, telling us that thought it had been said, many times, many ways, merry Christmas, to us. Just us, the hot cruiser, and our teenage love burning like sweet wine in our mouths.