Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I know a Krack when I taste one

Once Tim moved in, I knew it would only be a matter of time before she found something incriminating.

Oh sure, her stuff has been here for months, but when move-in day came, and she unpacked the copy paper boxes full of sweaters she never intended to wear, the trouble started.

"Honey?" she calls from the master bedroom.

As soon as I see the workboot box on the bed, I sit down. Some things can't be dismissed quickly, and this is one of them.

"Did you open it?"

"Was I not supposed to?"

"I don't have anything to hide, if that's what you mean. But it is personal."

"I'm sorry, hon," she says with a lilt of her head. "Curiosity got the best of me. I only peeked for a second."


"It's a trophy box, right? You'd have sex with a girl and then put something of hers in there?"

"But you only peeked, right?" I smile.

"Can I ask you one question?"


"What's the big Krackel bar for?"


Her name was Marlene. She was a new freshman; I was just starting grad school.

She was half Puerto Rican and half black, but she was far from the feisty Latina you're probably imagining. Everything amazed her; each new fact was an earth-shattering revelation; every joke was the funniest she had ever heard.

I didn't like her at first. She was naive, uninteresting; her face was pretty yet immature, overshadowed by her gleaming teeth and feathery hair. I was a 22-year-old big shot, remember, who had lost 50 pounds a year before. Girls noticed me now; I had gotten laid a few times, and I just knew that I was the studliest guy within a five-mile radius.

Friday, September 9, 1992, 11:00am
University development office

It is my desk, technically--Nancy, whose cubicle this is, is on a leave of absence--but I lack the balls to take down the fake flowers and Precious Moments figurines that adorn her workstation. I looked ridiculous sitting there, but at the time I didn't know better.

I was fortunate to get this job: It's a work-study, 12 hours a week of clerical drudgery which I enthusiastically perform, not because I love making copies, but because it pays 50% of my tuition.

"Ask him," Marlene's coworker says, in a stage whisper.

"Noo," Marlene giggles.

The office couldn't be quieter if there were a final exam going on. I hear their every word, clearly; do they not realize it?

"Just ask him!"

"Later, later!"


"Steve?" Marlene says, meekly, brushing the hair from her eyes.


"Are you... do you... "

We stare at each other, and my stomach starts to churn. She must dig me; otherwise, why would she be so nervous?

But why me? What would an attractive college freshman want with me? And isn't she too pretty to be so shy?

I want to let her finish her sentence, but she wants me to help her. "Yeah?" I say.

More uncomfortable silence. "Do you want to come to a party at my sorority? I mean, a sorority I'm pledging?"


"Okay! Thanks! So, that'll be fun!"

"Yeah, definitely, Marlene!"

She scoots away.

Two minutes later, I track her down in the copy room. "Marlene? About that party..."

"What? You can't go? Oh, that's okay--"

"You didn't tell me where it was. Or when!"

I never thought it could be so easy to see a dark-skinned girl blush.


October 10, 1992
Kelvin Hall, room 310

"A Nestle's Crunch is the same thing as a Krackel," Marlene says.

"Sorry, but you're very wrong."

"People are so crazy! Like, they get all goofy about Coke and Pepsi and they don't even know the difference! I bet you couldn't tell the difference between Krackel and Nestle's Crunch!"

"Bet I can."

"You can't see, can you?" she asks, as she ties the silk scarf around my forehead. I like that it smells of her perfume.

"Which one is this?" she says, gently slipping a small piece of chocolate into my mouth, as if feeding a baby. The tip of her finger brushes my lip longingly, and for an eternal moment I forget about the candy.


"Hmph. Okay, here comes another one." The finger again, slower this time, deeper into my mouth, and it flicks briefly against my tongue. She's doing it intentionally; she has to be!

"Crunch again," I say, softly, and my sex drive is completely out of control. She has to know; she has to hear it in my voice. She has to feel it too!

We've gotten close, Marlene and I. We talk on the phone until after midnight, and she pleads with me to take her for ice cream at 1:00am. She giggles at my jokes and pulls closer when I put my arm across the back of her waist.

I haven't nailed her yet. We've had wet, mushy, sloppy makeout sessions, but it's gone no farther. Tonight is going to be different. Blindfolds? Chocolate? It's straight out of a porn movie! This is her way of telling me that she's ready: All of the waiting is going to pay off tonight.

"Try this one," she whispers, and now there are two fingers in my mouth, and I close my lips on them as she slowly pulls them away. "You got my fingers," she coos, with a little laugh.

"Kiss me," I say, and her lips engulf mine instantly, as if she were only an inch away. It's true what they say about not being able to see; your other senses are heightened. The touch of her hot mouth revs me, and I grab her pert breast in my hand, squeezing softly.

"Hey! Hey," she shouts, pulling away from me. "What are you doing, Steve?"

"I... you..."

"Don't do that! Don't touch me like that! Ew!"

I pull the blindfold off. "What do you mean, 'ew', Marlene?"

"I told you I wasn't ready for that!"

"You said you weren't ready yet! That was a long time ago!"

Yeah, like almost long enough to microwave some popcorn!

"It was last week, Steve!"

"Well, I know, but I mean, the whole blindfold thing, and the chocolate..."

"You thought I... ew! You thought I wanted to do that?"

"You don't have to make me feel like a pervert, Marlene."

"I'm not having sex until I'm married. I hope you're okay with that, or else..."

We make up. She waits until I cool off, then sits on my lap, playing with my hair like she always does. "You're not a pervert," she says. "And I really really like you, but I know this is hard for you, and I'll understand if you want to break up."

I like her too. It's comforting to know that we can talk things out. She handled an emotionally charged issue with a lot of maturity, and that impressed me. I am proud of her! How can I break up with someone like her?

I should have, though.


"I'm gonna bring you back a Krackel from San Diego," she says. "A huge one!"


"I promise, baby boy."

"Thanks, baby girl."

Marlene is home for the long weekend, and I'm not planning on going out, but after studying to exhaustion, I walk through the dark and drizzle up the hill to the dorms, admiring the colored leaves on the shiny pavement.

I almost don't open the door to the building. I don't like any of those people, really, and I don't want to waste the whole night drinking. Sometimes I still wonder what would have happened if I had just kept walking.

"Man! You need to relax," Marlene's roommate, Brenda, says. "You look like somebody died! You look like you died!"

"Thanks, Brenda."

She hands me a red plastic cup. "I better not see that empty," she says, wagging a finger.

Hours pass. Faces and conversations run together like cheap paint. I stop drinking and the haze clears a bit.

"...why are you dating a freshman, anyway?" Brenda asks.

"I like her! She's--"

"You're a grad student, right? You're 22, aren't you?"

"Well, yeah, but..."

"She's 18, Steve! And this is none of my business, but she... never mind."


"It's just that, you're so much older than she is, and she's making you look dumb."

"How is she making me look dumb?"

"I heard about the boob incident," she smiles, looking down at her beer.

I felt my face go pale. "You what?"

"You were blindfolded, she was feeding you chocolate, and you thought she wanted to have sex. So you squeezed her tit," she says, stifling a laugh.

"Oh, man, shit, I--"

"I'm just saying, I'd be pissed if someone said that about me. I mean, all you wanted was to have sex. She acted like you fucking raped her!"


"Oh man, she was all in tears and shit."

"I swear, I didn't force her to do anything--"

"Oh, I know. Marlene is such a fucking baby sometimes."

You'll never catch me having a conversation anything like this today. No one tells me my business, even if they happen to be right. Being played by someone much younger than me is the most humiliating thing I can think of. I can handle being wrong, but not being manipulated.

"I know you like her and all, but there are some things you should know."

"Like what?"

"Like that whole virgin thing? She's not a virgin, you know. She was sleeping with her ex-boyfriend. The one in San Diego?" Marlene never did use the word "virgin"; I picked up on that.

So she was fucking Jose. Jose wasn't a pervert. Jose got to see her naked, got to spread those sweet little thighs apart and bury himself deep in her 18-year-old pussy.


What the hell was I doing wrong? Why was Jose getting all the action, while all I was getting was teased? What words did he say, how did he look at her? How did he touch her, how did he kiss her? How did he melt her defenses, make her fling aside her Banana Republic wardrobe and dive at his cock?

Fuck Marlene. I don't know Brenda from a hole in the wall, but I know she's telling the truth. How the hell would she know about the tit story, if Marlene wasn't blabbing? The two of them were probably sitting around, laughing. Laughing! At my expense!

The chocolate incident, the fight, the reconciliation, all of it seemed so private. It felt like we were the only two people in town that night; it never occurred to me to tell someone else about it. But obviously, Marlene felt differently. How could she betray me that way?

"Your cup is empty," Brenda says.