Amateur

My sister, nearly in tears, had buried her face in my chest.

“Is something wrong with me, Tony?” she asked between shaky breaths. I held her as we sat on her bed together, patting her shoulder, comforting her like a big brother should.

“No, Emma, no. There’s nothing wrong with you. So you’re attracted to women, too? You experimented a little? So have millions of others like you. There’s nothing wrong or right about it. It just is.”

“But the Church says—”

I cut her off, gently. “Now come on, sis. You and I agreed before that the Church has no business telling anyone what to think about any of this. Not with their record. You’re not going to buy into that now, are you?”

“But Mom and Dad do. What if they find out?”

“But that’s not going to happen, is it? You don’t have to tell them anything. They’ll never hear about it from me, I promise you. Unless you want to tell them, and then I’ll stand beside you all the way.”

I had come back to visit my family home to try to explain to everyone why I was not going to be married anymore, after five years with Dianna. As if I understood it myself.

And now I had walked into a different crisis. It would have been almost a relief from my own, were it not my baby sister in distress.

“Look,” I continued, “not saying you should necessarily, but suppose you decide you like guys more. You’re going to have plenty to choose from this fall. Then this never has to come up at all. Only you and I will know, and I would rather die than reveal a secret of yours.

“Yeah I know, you’ll have plenty of women to choose from too. If you want to date them, and you want to be open and honest with the world about it, that’s the time you will want to tell Mom and Dad, and I will be with you. You just call me. The world is changing, Emma, and even they will have to admit it’s for the better. Don’t give up on them. You might be surprised.”

She sighed and lifted her head to look at me. Her curly blonde hair fell back to the sides, revealing the beginnings of a smile returning. “You make too much sense, Tony. It’s hard for a girl to get a good cry going. Thank you. You are the best brother anyone could ask for.”

Then she leaned in to kiss me quickly on the lips, in her familiar way. It was always just a quick peck, a sweet sisterly gesture. I think she started doing that when she was thirteen and I had just graduated from college. Maybe it was at my wedding. But now she was eighteen and this time was different.

This time she kissed me for long seconds, as her soft lips bloomed against mine.

When she pulled back, she said, “I’m sorry Tony, I didn’t mean to do that, I mean, I did mean to kiss you, but I guess I must have been thinking of someone else. Don’t think I’m bad, please.”

“It’s all right, sis,” I told her. “I can imagine your feelings being all mixed up right now. I remember being your age. It was simpler for me, but I was still a mess sometimes, just over which girl I wanted to go out with. Don’t sweat it, and I won’t.”

“Okay, big brother. Thanks again. I’m gonna stay here and think things over some more. See you at dinner?”

“Sure.”

I got up, releasing her from the embrace I suddenly realized I had kept her in for a good minute. I gave her a quick wave at the doorway, left her bedroom and walked down the upstairs hallway toward my own. How could I explain to anyone, even myself, why her kiss had started a flame burning inside me? Should I ask the world not to think I was bad?

I’ve loved her since the day she was born.

Dad woke me up that night before driving Mom to the hospital. It was one in the morning and I was supposed to stand watch over the house while they were gone. What I was going to do if anything happened during the night was a mystery to me. I was nine. I suppose they wanted to feel like someone was there, and I was the oldest.

So I sat at the venerable, scarred oak dining table and played the radio, softly, and read some. When I tired of reading for a bit, I tuned across the AM band and listened for stations from far away. They were distinguished by the way they would fade in and out, sometimes slowly, sometimes so rapidly, like a guitar tremolo, that I could hardly make out what the program was. Sometimes two or three stations could be heard on the same frequency, their programs mixing together into a jumble, with strange whistling sounds that I later learned were caused by the mixing of their waves with those on adjacent frequencies. It was a thrill when a station identified itself as being two, three, four states, or even half the continent away.

The sun was up, the signals had faded out, and I had gone back to reading when Dad returned.

“Mom hasn’t delivered yet,” he said, and was gathering up some things to take back with him.

My brothers were up, having been awakened by the sun and Dad’s arrival. There was Matt, eight, and Scott, six, both with Mom’s blond hair. They came downstairs and looked czech harem porno at me, silently questioning.

“Mom’s at the hospital having her baby,” I said. “Dad had me stay up all night and watch for you guys.”

“What for?” asked Matt.

“I guess if you got sick or something, I don’t know.”

“I hope we have a sister. There are enough of us boys,” said Scott.

“You think you should have been a girl?” Matt taunted him.

“No, butthead. You should have been a girl.”

“All right, knock it off, you guys,” I said, exercising my great authority of nine years. “I’m going to take a nap. Try not to beat each other up and wake me up if you get sick or something.”

Mom brought Emma home two days later. For the first time I was old enough to be allowed to hold a new baby. Mom showed me the right way to do it, making sure to support her head, and placed her onto my waiting arms.

She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Her tiny face with its perfectly formed features, topped by a wisp of golden hair, almost made me shiver. I thought of this infant in my arms growing up to become a running, playing girl, then later a woman. I thought about myself having started out this way, as a bundle that would fit on someone’s lap with room to spare. I was filled with awe for the few minutes I held her.

When she started walking, Mom and I would help her practice. Mom would stand her up on the living room carpet, Emma dressed in her pink onesie. I would sit on the floor five feet away and hold out my hands. She would let go of Mom’s hands and start off, a little unsteadily, one step at a time, across the gap. When she reached me, she would grab my hands and laugh with joy. Once she started talking, she quickly learned all our names and would say, “Tohhhh-nee” when she reached for me.

Two years after she was born Mom and Dad gave her a sister, Janie. It was exactly like they decided she should have someone closer to her age to bond with, after six years since the last boy. I have often thought that the original coining of the phrase “don’t ask, don’t tell” was to describe the practical Catholic’s attitude toward birth control. They may believe, as they are taught, that children are a gift from God, but many a couple, just between themselves, aren’t shy about asking God to hold off just a bit with the next gift. Just a few years. What the Pope doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

Janie was another beautiful baby, with Dad’s darker hair and strong features. My brothers and I loved her right away, but she was destined to be Emma’s special companion. Once Janie could walk, the two of them would seldom be seen apart until school separated them. They competed, and sometimes fought, but at the end of each day they were each other’s only sister. She was named Jane as far as the authorities knew, but to her family, friends, and lovers she would always be Janie.

I was seventeen, and my radio listening had moved up from the AM band to the short waves. I had saved money from summer jobs and bought an old Hallicrafters S-120. The programs I heard now came from places like Havana, Quito, London, Hilversum, and Monrovia.

I remember one evening in late spring. I was tuning around when Emma came into my room.

“Tony, what are you listening to?”

“It’s the radio, Emma. But it’s radio from very far away. You want to listen with me? Come sit by me so you can see.”

I had a second chair for visitors at my listening desk. She climbed up into it. According to my listening log and notes from the World Radio TV Handbook, I had tuned into the Spanish service of Radio Brasil, beamed at the Americas.

“What language is that?” she asked.

“They’re speaking Spanish,” I said, pointing at the world map on the wall next to the desk. “This station is in Brazil, in South America. Now, in Brazil, most people speak Portuguese, but the station is transmitting to this whole side of the world, and most other people in South America and Central America speak Spanish.”

“Where are we, Tony?” She meant on the map.

I pointed to our location inside the United States.

“We are here, in the United States, in North America. This radio station is here, in Brasilia. You see how far away it is? You know the world is like a ball, right? Well, Brasilia is almost a quarter way around the ball from us.”

“Wow, that’s a long way. How big is the world?”

“You know how far it is to Aunt Mary’s? That’s about ten miles. From here to Brasilia is about five thousand miles,” I said, estimating the distance on the fly. “To get to the other side of the world, we would have to travel about twelve thousand miles.”

Her ocean-blue eyes got wide. “Wow! That’s big! And we can hear them talk that far away?”

“That’s right, on the radio. You can hear people all over the world.”

“That’s like magic. Do you know magic?”

“Nope, this is just ordinary stuff. You’ll learn about swingers porno it in school.”

“Okay.”

We listened for a few minutes. The news program gave way to music, a lively samba.

“Ooh, this is good!” she piped. She clapped her hands in time with the rhythm.

“Dance with me, Tony!” She was laughing as she dropped out of the chair and held out her hands.

It was too much. I didn’t know the first thing about dancing to a samba, but that hardly mattered. I took her hands and we did the little-kid dance, just circling around each other like planets around their gravitational center. I made sure to change directions every few times around so we wouldn’t get dizzy.

The tune ended and she, energized, cried “Yay! Gotta go now! See you later!” Gravity was suddenly abolished and she went off on a tangential path that led straight out the door of my room.

“Bye!” I called after her, but she was already gone.

She would be back though, many times over the next year, to sit and listen with me. This is one of my favorite memories of her.

I met Dianna in my second year at State U. She showed up in the Philosophy class that I was taking to satisfy my general education requirements. She was obviously bright, often asking the lecturer penetrating questions that led to lively class discussion. She was also stone gorgeous, with long dark hair framing a classic face with hazel eyes and high cheekbones, and a curvaceous body that she usually hid, with only partial success, under a buttoned-down style of collegiate dress.

The question of how to meet her arose. She may well be out of my league, I told myself, but this was college. At least give it the proverbial old college try.

I hit on the ploy of chatting her up after class about some point of the lecture or about a question she had raised. It might have been obvious, but I did hold an advantage: I was doing well enough in the class to be able to make reasonably intelligent conversation about the content.

My first chance came early in the semester. The professor was discussing Pythagoras, and mentioned the golden ratio as one of his discoveries. Dianna raised her hand and said, “I read the reference cited in the lecture notes, but the explanation there of how the golden ratio is defined doesn’t make sense. Is there a way I can understand it easily?”

The professor, probably not interested in the mathematical details, sidestepped the question by handwaving at other references. She seemed to accept the answer. But I happened to know this one.

After class ended I approached her.

“Hi, Dianna, is it? I’m Tony. About your question, I think the explanation in that reference had some words missing, but I remember this from geometry that I took last year.”

I had a pencil and paper out already, and was drawing a rectangle with its longer side horizontal.

“Suppose this rectangle has sides in the golden ratio. What that means is, suppose I draw a square on top of it that just fits, that is, its side is equal to the longer side of the rectangle. Now ignore the line that was the top of the rectangle for a moment. There is now a larger rectangle, and this one has the same proportion as the original rectangle.”

I was drawing on the paper to illustrate, but also watching her face. She was interested in what I was saying.

“From this drawing, you can set up an algebra equation to find what number the golden ratio must be. It turns out that the answer contains a square root—another concept that Pythagoras discovered.”

“Hey, that’s interesting! It fits, doesn’t it? Thanks Tony, I like your explanation.”

Now, did I make my move then? No. There’s obvious and then there’s too obvious. I gave her my best smile, wished her a good day and moved on. The result was that she now saw me as someone to trade ideas with. My best chance would come later.

One day when the class had been covering Aquinas, she remarked to me that it was interesting to see where the attitudes of the Catholic Church toward science and knowledge had come from.

“I was raised Catholic,” she said, “and it was always clear that the Church had no problem with things like evolution, cosmic time scales, the age of the Earth, and so on, unlike some of the evangelical Protestants right up to today. And it’s really because of Aquinas.”

“Oh, it so happens that I was raised Catholic, too,” I said. “Raised” was serving as a code word for us, as often happens. “That was always my experience as well. Where did you grow up, Dianna?”

“I’m from St. Paul originally,” she said with a sudden smile, “but my family moved near here just two years ago, after I finished high school. It made going here an easy choice. What about you, Tony?”

“My family is from Greenville. They’ve been there for two generations back. So this is my first time in the ‘big city’.”

“Greenville’s not so small. I’ve been there.”

This czech pool porno was it; we were talking about ourselves now. I invited her to go for coffee with me at the student union. Fortunately she was free the next hour. She was so different from the girls I had dated in high school. Her interest in ideas was passionate. She was an English major, and was resigned to the fact that her employment options would be limited. It was the life of the mind that mattered.

“I’m so glad I got my party phase out of the way my first year,” she said. “It was fun for a while, but it got old, and there’s so much more going on here that I can spend my time on.”

I was on the same wavelength, as an Anthropology major bound for graduate study, and made sure she knew that. At the end of our coffee date I asked her to dinner.

On our first real date, we talked about philosophy and about our life experiences and plans over tapas at a cozy pub just down the hill from campus. She wore a dress that showed her stunning figure to best effect, quite unlike her usual school clothes. We were seated near the enclosed fireplace that was the centerpiece of the room, soaking in its cheery glow and warmth. We lingered late, killing a bottle of wine in the course of increasingly personal and revealing conversation.

I remember her asking at one point, “Do you ever get the feeling, when you’re very involved in some activity or scene, that right now is a memory that you’ll keep for the rest of your life?”

I said, “I have had that sometimes, and you know, I always do remember it. The trouble is, it doesn’t always turn out to have been an important or crucial moment. Just a moment that struck me at the time.”

“But sometimes it is important, and I think those you always do remember.”

We talked until almost eleven, then returned to her dorm lounge, where we found a secluded corner with a comfortable sofa and shared several tentative, then warm kisses before saying goodnight.

I called her the next day. We were off to a great start.

When I came to pick her up on our second date, she hugged me and took me upstairs briefly to meet her roommate, Dora, a nice young woman whom I unfortunately remember nothing else about. Dianna was showing me off! Or else, and more likely, getting an outside opinion. Either way, a good sign.

We walked over to the Theatre Arts building to see a student production of Much Ado About Nothing, which was delightful: everyone on stage was putting their whole heart into their performance, relishing every little jibe and joke in the dialogue and comically overstating the physical actions with glee. Afterward we sat together over a beer at Patrick’s, and she filled me in about some bits of Elizabethan innuendo that I had missed.

Near the end of the evening, as we were supposedly headed back toward the dorms, she slipped her hand into mine and we went for a stroll around the campus, trying to make our time last. Underneath the bell tower we stopped and she turned to me, taking both my hands.

“Tony, I feel so at home with you,” she said. “I can see us becoming close so easily. If it’s not too early for you, can you tell me if you feel anything like the same way about me?”

“Honestly? I used to dream about meeting someone like you, Dianna. We can take it slow if you want to, but I see you in my future.”

“I sure hope so,” she said. Then she put her arms around me and drew me into the sweetest, tenderest kiss I had ever experienced.

We found our way to my dorm, where I arranged to get my roommate out of the way for an hour. We put that hour to good use with our first hot and heavy session. We nearly wore out each other’s lips, and I explored her firm young breasts with my hands, and then, as we both undressed to the waist, with my mouth, as she ran her hands through my hair.

She tongued my nipples and stroked my erection through my pants, as my hand found its way up her skirt to her heated center. I stroked her through her silken panties, hearing her breath come in ever faster gasps until she shuddered and crushed herself against my hand with a muffled cry.

“Oh Tony, thank you,” she sighed.

“My pleasure, babe,” I replied softly. “Can that be a down payment?”

“Of course…but, what about you?”

She was still grasping the pulsing bulge in my pants.

“Don’t worry, Di. I’ll be okay. We don’t have much time left anyway. But, maybe soon?”

“Oh yes, soon.”

I had spoken my truth to her under the bell tower. She was someone I had only before met in dreams—intelligent, warm, beautiful, and affectionate—and her affection was directed at me! It was almost too good to be true. I alternated between feeling unworthy and wanting to offer my whole life to her, to do with what she would.

I think the technical term for someone in my condition then is ‘hopeless’.

By our fourth date, we were ready to consummate our relationship. Dora was home for the weekend, giving us the perfect opportunity.

Neither of us was a virgin, and thank goodness that we didn’t have that awkwardness to deal with. Just the pleasure of exploring each other’s bodies, fully naked together for the first time. She was as glorious as I ever imagined, and her passion for me could not have been anything but genuine.

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