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A Bubble Bursts
had assigned Patti a sexy part, and she played it. She dressed the
part. She looked the part. She cultivated a knowing wink and
a provocative pout. Soon she had a reputation. People assumed
that she was the sexual adventurer she seemed to be, and many claimed to
have explored the territory with her. Since I was both a cynic and
a dreamer, I told myself that the claims I heard were certainly exaggerated
and probably untrue, and I managed to convince myself that, in all likelihood,
Patti was a virgin—a very sexy virgin, to be sure, but still a virgin—and
I tried to hold on to that conviction, but it wasn’t easy, given the sheer
number of claims to the contrary. Some I could easily dismiss, because
the claimants were no likelier sexual partners for Patti than I was myself,
but others were more convincing, none more so than the claim I heard Nicky
Furman make one afternoon when I was sitting in the school auditorium during
a study hall.
Patti had just come into the room, late. I
watched her walk down the aisle, watched her hand a note, an excuse for
her tardiness, to Mr. Cantrell, an English teacher who affected bright
silk squares in the handkerchief pockets of his threadbare jackets, watched
her stand, shifting her weight from one foot to the other, canting her
hips while her note was read, watched her idly look around the room to
see who among the assembled scholars might interest her, and blushed when
she spotted me and winked.
Two louts were sitting in front of me. One
was known as Greasy; I don’t remember his last name. The other was
Nicky Furman. A low groan came from Greasy. “Oh, man,” he muttered,
“I would really like to get into Patti’s little snatch.”
“Mm,” said Nicky.
“I mean,” said Greasy, superfluously and boorishly,
“I would love to fuck her.”
I was shocked to hear this, because fuck
was rarely used in those days. It had not yet become what it is now,
a limp bit of oral punctuation that lies in a sentence like a slug, flaccid
from overuse, as impotent as a comma. It had power then. It
was outrageous. I was outraged that Greasy should employ it
to name what he wanted to do to Patti. I would have liked to give
him a piece of my mind, but I didn’t because I had seen the damage he could
do to boys my size.
In the privacy of my own mind, I told myself that
what Greasy wanted was not at all what I wanted. I wanted romance,
love, a love taller than the tallest mountain, oo-oo-oo, deeper than the
deepest sea, oo-oo-ee, a love that would never die, a passion for the ages.
I wanted to know the magic of all her charms, under the moonlight, one
summer night, which meant, I can tell you, because I was there, pretty
much the same thing as wanting to fuck her, but in a loving and beautiful
way, oo-oo-oo, oo-oo-ee, ohhhh yeah.
“Yeah,” said Nicky. “She’s a great lay.”
What? How did he know?
“You fucked her?” asked Greasy.
“Yeah,” said Nicky, as if it were not a particularly
interesting thing to have done. “She’s a great lay, a terrific piece
He was slandering the piece of ass I loved!
I didn’t want to believe him. He hadn’t—Patti would never have—he
couldn’t—this was just—
“Bullshit,” said Greasy. I was beginning to
feel a kinship with him.
“If you say so,” said Nicky. He let a moment
pass. He snorted. “I’ll tell you something funny, but you got
to promise not to tell anybody.”
“I had a rubber that I swiped from my father’s bedside
table, because I didn’t want to get her in trouble, you know?”
“Well, I never used a rubber before—”
Uh-oh. This was not good. It put him
a bad light. It was not the sort of detail he would include unless
he was being really honest.
“—so I open the package and I take the thing out
and it’s a little flat round thing. I don’t know what the hell to
do with it. So I start fiddling around with it, trying to figure
out which end is up, and she says, ‘What’s taking you so long?’ And
I say, ‘I don’t usually use this brand. I’m not familiar with it.’
And then I see that it’s all rolled up, so I figure I gotta unroll it,
which I do. So I’ve got this long rubber bag that I’m trying to get
onto my pecker, and it ain’t easy, let me tell you that. When I finally
get it on, there’s a big bubble in the front, like a balloon, and when
I stick it into her, it goes ‘pop.’”
“I told my uncle what happened, and he cracked up.
I thought he was gonna bust a gut. And then he tells me you’re supposed
to put the thing onto your prick and roll it down. You don’t unroll
“Oh, sure,” said Greasy. “You didn’t know
“No,” said Nicky. “I didn’t know that.
I already told you.”
Silence. Then Greasy, convinced now, asked,
“How did you get her to let you do it?. ”
“Just asked,” said Nicky.
Just asked? That couldn’t be. It couldn’t
be that easy, couldn’t have been that easy.
“What did you say, exactly?” asked Greasy.
I bent over my notebook.
“I said, ‘You want to get into the back seat?’”
Damn. You had to have a car. Wouldn’t
“Yeah?” asked Greasy. He waited a moment
and then prompted Nicky with, “And?”
“And what? We got into the back seat.”
“You didn’t say anything else?”
“No. I said, ‘You want to get into the back
seat?’ That’s all. She knew what I meant. Everybody knows
what the back seat is for.”
“Yeah,” said Greasy, and he laughed a laugh that
sounded very much like the sound that would be made by the outrushing air
if one inflated a dog till it was as round as a ball, then gave it a couple
of slaps on the belly, and let it go.
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Copyright © 2001 by Eric
Inflating a Dog is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents,
dialogues, settings, and businesses portrayed in it are products
of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any
resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted
in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying,
recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without
permission in writing from the author.
Picador USA will publish Inflating a Dog in the summer of 2002.
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