When I rejoin my friends, Brianna is smiling broadly and her talking has increased in volume. She points at me and says: "Hey, get a load of that leggy thing…," continuing, she adds "… finished already
Kiko? Join me with another…" I follow after her to the bar and cut in just before she orders.
"Je voudrais un
Perrier au citron…"
(I would like a Perrier with lemon). Brianna doesn't understand French and tries to order a vodka and club soda with lemon. The bartender refuses her and suggests:
"Perhaps the young lady would prefer another beer…" Brianna accepts the beer with an audible snarl. Returning to our group she says to me that now she wishes she had taken French instead of
Spanish. "So how'd you get the vodka?" she wants to know. I smile and flash my eyes at her saying "I promised him
sex later!" Brianna opens her mouth as if to say something and then says nothing. Her attitude changes immediately when she sees that two of the "cute boys" have left their table, leaving behind two vacant seats. She drags me, sits me down, and she takes the one empty seat remaining. Brianna begins with introductions.
"Hi guys; I'M BRIANNA, and this is my HAWAIIAN friend, KIKO." The boys exchange glances and smile to one another. I overhear the words "smashed" and "shit-faced." Willing to enjoy a good game, I play along. I smile broadly towards a taller, fair-skinned
blond boy sitting next to me. I introduce myself to him as Akiko Tanaka. He is silent for a moment. Then he realizes it is his turn to say something. Still looking at me from the waist down, he says: "Oh, Kiko… nice le… names, uh, name…" Like a contestant at the
Miss America pageant, I force a smile. "Are you drunk…?" I ask. "Yeah, kinda…" he replies. I make no response. I have just noticed an older, twenty-something man at an adjacent table. He is looking at me. But not at my
legs, he is looking directly into my eyes. Shyly, I avert my eyes and turn to ask Brianna how's she
doing. "I NEED ANOTHER BREW!" she responds, momentarily gaining the attention of everyone within earshot. Because we are sharing a room, I begin to wonder just how drunk she is going to get and how the alcohol will affect her. There was one boy in our group missing from breakfast in the morning. He had been excused by the chaperones who said that he was "sick." The story spread quickly, and it was not necessary to inquire, that he had been vomiting. I glanced back to my other side and noticed the
blond boy who had not even considered introducing himself
sweating profusely. He appeared distraught. I got up and excused myself, but no one at the table seemed to notice my departure. The boys were too involved counting twenty franc notes, and Brianna was laughing too much to care.
I exit the bar. The noise and smell of alcohol quickly fades. The lobby is quiet. I sit at an empty couch. I say "screw it" to myself and take a pack of cigarettes from my purse. Smoke rises around me. Two men behind
the reception give me quick glances, and then begin a conversation in French I cannot follow. I look down at myself and button up my
blouse. As inconspicuously as possible I fix my
skirt. It almost extends to my knees … almost. A man with a uniform approaches me and asks in English
"Will the young lady be retiring now to her room…?" I respond that I will finish my cigarette first, and add, in French,
"et peut-etre un autre…" (and perhaps
another). He walks away. I extinguish my cigarette and retire to my room. I knock first, before entering, and no one answers the door. I enter slowly. It is dark and quiet inside. Brianna is not there. I turn to check the hallway, half-heartedly expecting to see her stumbling back, but she is not visible. Instead I catch a glimpse of the twenty-something man from the bar. He didn't follow me; at least I don't think so. He enters a room with a card key and doesn't even look in my direction. Tired, I go to my bed, take off shoes,
skirt and blouse, and fall asleep in love with a goose down pillow.
I awake, in the bed with Lizzi and Archangel, without opening my eyes. I am aware that I had experienced a dream-memory of the past, when I was sixteen. I get the sensation that Archangel is touching me with his nose. I smile and reach to stroke him; only it is
Lizzi. The words I had formed for Archangel come out anyway: "Gentle, loving creature." Lizzi laughs. "You've been talking in your sleep again,
Kiko." As usual, I have no response. "Something about smoking and a twenty-something man, half in French…"
"Mmm, that guy; you wanna know something, Lizzi?" Lizzi already knows something. "I bet he was
your first, Kiko, wasn't he?" There is no hesitation when I say:
"Le premier." (the first) Lizzi wants to laugh, but she covers her mouth, giggling instead. When she gets up to go to the
bathroom she is giggling still, saying "…sweet sixteen…"
undressing in the bathroom, preparing for her morning shower. She tosses questions out, along with her
nightclothes. "Was he really the first?" "Are you sure you
got enough sleep?" "Did you feed Archangel?" "What are you going to wear?" "May I borrow your black
jeans?" I hear the water running. I picture her getting all soapy. Steamy mist and delicate
aromas of scented oil waft towards me. The image of a most beautiful, inviting, and triangular shaped galaxy forms in my mind. It appears to me as if illumined from its inner core. The stars are all shades of red, varying hues and brightness'. Lizzi approaches me, her long black hair still wet and glossy. "Got to run. K if I take the
jeans? Resetting the alarm so you get up before eleven; don't forget your French final! See ya later and good luck, as if you ever need it. Tell
votre premier (your first) when I get back?" Before I can formulate a coherent response, Lizzi slides into my
jeans, puts on a
camisole and warm sweatshirt, throws a ski cap on and picks up her books. Before going out, she turns at the door, and says she loves me. Archangel kneads a warm spot beside me, purring.
It would seem that Lizzi remembered more of my dream than even I. I don't remember dreaming about "the first time." Where or how Lizzi came upon that information will remain a mystery to me for the time being. I attempt to focus on getting more
sleep before the final. After a few minutes I put these thoughts aside and decide to feed Archangel instead. Hungry guy is wanting something for breakfast. He follows me to the kitchen. I find some chicken leftovers in the fridge: one of Archangel's favorites. He knows what I'm putting in his bowl before he can see it. "What a smart kitty," smiling at him, "knows when his Kiko finds a little chicken!" "You'd think it was your first time eating in days," as he chews and chews. "Maybe even your first time!"
So I think back to my first time. I met the boy there, when I was in
Paris. As it turned out he was Canadian, but not French-Canadian. My French learned in America was superior to his. He was different from every other boy I had ever met. He was quite shy and quiet. Even after a few beers. We met in the bar the second time I visited there. Brianna had pointed him out. He was very cute indeed. About 5'-7" weighing around 125 lbs. Dark brown hair, a bit longish, but full of natural body and shine. And his eyes were a lovely deep dark brown. He didn't appear at all muscle bound nor
outgoing. I observed him sitting very quietly at a table with a group of other boys. He didn't appear to be interacting with them much. One could have believed him to be in his own world, far away from conversation or bar noise. His eyes weren't wandering. He seemed to stare into space at something no one else could see. Strange, I thought, but definitely different. I had had my full of the "regulars."
Braggarts mostly, full of themselves, and intolerably ignorant. Some never really listened to me at all until their probing forced me to insist: "No." For a long time I thought I'd never meet a nice boy. My friends always pointed out my
smallish breasts as a handicap. They used to suggest I
pad my bra or wear a
bustier. I couldn't see myself doing that. For what I had learned of boys it wouldn't have been worth it. In any event I asked Brianna to accompany me to the ladies' room. I asked her how I looked. "Fine, Kiko, why?" I asked her to join at the table with the brown eyed boy. "K, no problem, but lemme see your
lipstick first…" Brianna did her face and I touched up my
We went back to the bar and he was still there. Together, Brianna and I made our way to the table where he was sitting with his friends. On the way we picked up two loose chairs. We sat down uninvited; I positioned myself next to the brown eyed boy. He looked at me and said hello. Just "hello." I said: "Hi, call me Kiko." He told me his name was Steven. "Enchante…"
(literally enchanted. As a
colloquialism: Pleased to meet you) I replied. "Oh…" he said, "my French stinks…" Our conversation continued in English. He told me about the airline he was on from Canada and how the flights for his group had gotten screwed up. He had spent seven hours at
JFK, and then another five in
Madrid. Finally they had been delivered to
Paris. He told me how all his friends were getting sloshed. "But not you?" I asked. "No," he replied, "my mom's an alky and I don't wanna end up like that." I knew that Steven was going to be interesting. "He's not bragging," I thought to myself.