Thursday, June 29, 2006
TransmutationMy sophomore year, when I was fifteen, my best (school) friend was Paola. Paola was an exchange student from Mexico, and we were something like the odd couple; she was socially graceful, where I was socially non-existant. She was just shy of five feet tall, and I was just long of six.
On Halloween of that year - 1997, for those keeping track - I took Paola trick-or-treating. I may have been awkward, but that had its advantages - namely, that I didn't care who saw me trick-or-treating at the ripe age of fifteen. (Frankly, I still don't.) She wanted to go so badly - it was something that simply wasn't done in her part of Mexico, down the Baja California peninsula.
So I painted her face and gave her a cat-tail I'd made for a few years before. I took her, and we talked as we were walking. About seven or eight blocks from my house, a relatively affluent couple was giving out snooty chocolate - dark, with a smooth chocolate and walnut mousse on the inside. Paola determined that this was one worth opening right away, and a moment later, it was in her mouth, and then she was making this face.
"Mmm, orgasmo," she said.
I lifted my brows. "...orgasm?" I asked. I was used to Paola slipping off into Spanish, and around me, it usually meant she wanted to know how to say something in English (which I could usually puzzle out well enough).
She shook her head, correcting my awkward assumption. "This chocolate," she said. "It's an orgasm."
I shuffled on my feet, unsure of what to say. I finally settled on, "I wouldn't know." See, I was uncomfortable. Along with all of those other things on which I considered adults primary (and infallible) sources, my understanding at the time was that sex at our age was simply categorically wrong. I knew of examples of girls who'd had sex at our age or younger, and they weren't good girls. Surely Paola - my friend Paola - was?
I asked, after that long pause to think all of that. "You've had sex?"
She hesitated, but did answer. "Yes," she said. "With my boyfriend." Another pause. "I love him." Her hesitation seemed to be more about her picking up on my discomfort than any sense of impropriety or shame.
We walked for another block before I spoke up. "What does it feel like?" I asked. "Orgasm?"
She stopped walking, looking at the ground like the answer was somewhere there. Then she looked at me, and she punched me in the arm - not hard enough for it to hurt, just demonstrating. Then she did it again. And again. Maybe seven or eight times. "I don't know how to explain," she said, "except that if I kept hitting you like that, sometime it would stop feeling bad, and feel very good all suddenly."
We kept walking, but that was the end of that conversation. I didn't understand until much later, on a day in April of 1998, chasing down a replacement for my lost passport the day of my flight home from my own foreign exchange. I was scared out of my mind - stumbling around one of the largest cities in the world, working in a language of which I was not a native speaker, trying to reconcile the fact that I was both technically no longer allowed to be in my exchange country and would also not be allowed to take my flight home if I did not fix things. I succeeded. In the photo that was taken for my new passport, I look elated, glowing.
a climax of sexual excitement, characterized by feelings of pleasure centered in the genitals and (in men) experienced as an accompaniment to ejaculation.
That's the Oxford American Dictionary definition. Here's mine.
the often sudden transmutation of sensations or experiences which are generally understood to be negative or unpleasant into something euphoric, epiphanic.
Posted by Erica at 6/29/2006 11:29:00 PM ::