Every summer my friend Mary Anne invited me on vacation to the Outer Banks with her and her parents, who drove their camper to the beach campground and partied for a week. She was an only child while I was one of five; life with Mary Anne’s family, even in a tiny RV, felt luxurious.
We were 15 years old, and her parents gave us fairly free reign in the evenings. It was the wholesome Outer Banks, after all, overrun with heterosexuals and their families. While her mom and dad barbecued and drank interesting drinks and played rummy and laughed loudly with their campground pals, we roamed the beach. One night we met two young men, several years older than us, although probably barely legal. I remember nothing about the guy Mary Anne wandered off with. My guy went by the nickname Lightning Lav, because his last name was Lavender and he had been struck by lightning. Twice.
Lightning was skinny and shaggy and sandy-haired and had a mustache. Years later when I watched “Dazed and Confused,” I recognized his look in the burners. He took me to his wee camper, where he had a little vial of cocaine, which, he told me, used to be a perfume bottle. He was pleased with what a pretty vessel he’d found for his coke. But when he opened it, the cocaine was gone. It took him a few minutes to figure out what had happened. One of two things: something left over from the perfume dissolved the powder, or his buddy had taken it. Either way, he let it go and laughed it off. I’d never known a man who could get over things so easily; all the males in my house were fiery and ridiculous hotheads. Lightning was mellow, and I dug it.
We left his camper and found a dark, deserted dune where we could make out, which we did with alacrity. As things got heated, his hands made their way into my shorts, and then my shorts were off and he was going down on me. This was my first time experiencing that, and I didn’t know what to do. Should I somehow reposition myself so we could have regular sex, which I’d only recently begun to dabble in? Should I reciprocate orally in some way? I decided not to overthink it. He seemed cool, so I relaxed and enjoyed the ride. It was a really enjoyable ride.
When his mission was accomplished, he kissed his way back up to my face and we necked a little longer, my smell preserved in his mustache—it’s not for nothing that mustaches are called flavor-savers. Then we said goodbye. For the life of me I can’t remember why we said goodbye at that moment, and I still wish we hadn’t cut our date short. For a few more years I went with Mary Anne to the beach in the summer and looked out for him. I never saw him. But there’s still something about a skinny, sandy, mustachioed man that makes my heart beat a little faster.