Standing there with one foot in the leg of my cutoff jeans, staring at Marne up on the staircase, I was both frightened and befuddled.
Scrambling to get the shorts pulled on, I ended up with both feet in one leg and stumbled backward onto the pull-out couch.
I grabbed for a sheet to cover myself and heard Marne chuckle.
“Hello, slacker,” she said. “How’s school? I know you’re not killing yourself studying up there.”
Still trying to untangle the sheet, I managed to grunt, “It’s OK; still getting used to it.”
“Quit fooling with that sheet,” she said. “I have two brothers; I’ve seen guys in their underwear. Hell, I’ve seen you in your underwear.”
For that, I had no response, although I wondered when the latter had occurred.
It was not as if Marne hated me, at least I don’t think so. Rather, she believed I was an incredible underachiever, not taking advantage of my gifts, natural and otherwise.
Although she is two years older than I, we are in one way alike.
We both come from working class families and both became the first in our clans to attend college.
Just about everyone in Marne’s and Bobby’s families are involved in skilled trades. Their dad is a master mason and their brother, John, is an apprentice mason.
Bobby had just entered his apprenticeship as a steamfitter. Various cousins and uncles are welders, boilermakers and carpenters.
The girls all work after high school and ultimately become housekeepers. They have the toughest jobs of all, those moms, because the extended families are gigantic. Eight kids was pretty common. That Bobby only had one sister and one brother was not. Their grandmother, known to all as Bubba, always said she was cheated out of grandchildren because her next-door neighbors, bobby’s parents, stopped at three children. Bubba had 14 children. Bobby’s paternal grandparents had 11 kids.
From an early age, my parents expected me to attend college. They said I would not end up in the family business, engaging in back-breaking physical labor for modest financial rewards.
It was just the opposite for Marne. She yearned for college. By the time she was in sixth grade, Marne was talking about the Ivy League.
She studied endlessly, all in preparation for a college education upon which her family frowned.
“Get a job,” Bubba said. “Save money so when you get married you can help your husband buy a house for cash.”
A child of the Great taksim escort Depression, Bubba did not trust banks and warned against mortgages.
“What’s a mortgage?” she asked each and every child and grandchild. “You buy a house on a mortgage and spend your life paying the bank five times the amount for it.”
Bubba could neither read nor write, but she could count — and mortgages didn’t add up.
Her parents were not much different.
They looked upon a college education as a waste of money.
“We’ll spend all that money on college and then you’ll get married and have kids and quit your big, fancy career,” her father preached.
Her mom, who worked in a sewing factory until three weeks before Marne’s birth, just nodded her head in agreement.
Marne was vigilant, though. Study was a full-time job, the library a second home.
In her junior year in high school, she began to apply for scholarships; big ones, little ones, any for which she could remotely qualify.
And then Marne hit the jackpot.
After posting a nearly perfect score on the Scholastic Aptitude Test — she was perfect in math — Marne was named a Merit Scholar. The colleges and universities began to line up.
It appeared her Ivy League dreams would come true, but Bubba put the kibosh to that plan.
“The whole way across the country, forget it,” she said. “This is where I put my foot down. Don’t make me call the priest.”
In the end, the parish priest negotiated a settlement of sorts.
The son of Polish immigrants, Father Joe spoke Bubba’s language, literally and psychologically.
“There is a Catholic college just two states away,” Father Joe told her. “Gonzaga is where I went to college, and I turned out OK.”
“Will they make her go to Mass on Sundays?” Bubba asked.
“No, they won’t,” he responded. “But once she is there, Marne will want to go to Mass. It is a blessed place and a wonderful school. I went there to study engineering and ended up a priest. What does that tell you?”
“Ohhhh,” Bubba said, obviously weakening. “Maybe she’ll come out a sister. Two of my sisters are nuns, Sister Mary Agnes and Sister Jon Mary.”
“Only God knows,” Father Joe said, and then sealed the deal. “You know, when my parents came here, everyone called the Poles dumb hunkies. My parents made sure I went to school, helped to build our own St. Stanislas School brick by brick. It is important for our children to become educated. Being a wife and a çapa escort mother is a blessed vocation, but education can only help.”
So off, on scholarship, Marne went to Gonzaga.
Four years alter, Bubba made the trip to Washington for Marne’s graduation. Sitting in the audience that day, she told anyone who would listen: “That’s my granddaughter, graduating with honors. With God’s help, I sent her here. We’re not a bunch of dumb hunkies, you know.”
It sort of scalded Marne that I followed her to Gonzaga — because I liked the basketball team, not the educational opportunities.
She always felt I was just sliding through life with no plan.
While she studied in high school, I shot baskets and played baseball in the park behind her house.
When I was a sophomore in high school and she was a senior, Marne often admonished me.
“You put nothing into school,” she said. “It’s all a big party to you. Your parents want you to go to college. Get ready for it. Be the best student you can be.”
“Ah, hell, I don’t know what I want to do after school,” I would say. “Maybe I’ll join the Army.”
“Yeah, that’s a good plan. Let Nixon get you killed in Vietnam,” she scoffed.
In the end, though, Nixon didn’t get the chance to send me anywhere. And the war ended before I could get myself involved, even though I was far from sure I wanted to be involved.”
So it was Gonzaga for me. I saw Marne there occasionally, but there was no attempt at friendship, only the old disdain.
The greeting was always the same: “Hey slacker, you go to class today?”
I would just smile and shake my head because I knew Marne was right.
It’s a funny thing. For most of my life, I saw Marne just about every day. But somehow, I never really took a good look at her.
As she came down the steps, silently in bare feet, I was amazed at her height. She couldn’t have been more than 5-feet-tall.
She always seemed to be so big, to lord over me, probably because of her forceful nature and the way I secretly admired her drive.
Marne generally wore jeans, baggy sweatshirts and tennis shoes. Her hair, most days, was pulled back in a pony tail.
As I lay on the bed wrapped up in the sheet, I saw a different Marne. I noticed that her face was a little like Bobby’s, but in a softer way. She was really pretty, especially with her hair down around her shoulders. Exactly like Bobby, she had a perfect, dark complexion.
I really could not tell much bakırköy escort about her physique. She was wearing a “granny” nightgown, which was common back then; a long, to-the-ankles garment with puffy shoulders.
One thing was for sure, although the nightgown completely covered her, it was the least clothing I had ever seen on a girl.
“Soooo, slacker,” I see the tickling has grown in scope; no more backs-only.”
Yikes, how did she know about backs only? And even more scary, how did she know about beyond backs-only?”
I tried to answer, but could generate no sound.
“Hey,” she said. “Quit shaking, tickling is OK, it’s not like you are some big gay guy. It just feels good.”
Once more, how did she know? Maybe Marne tickled with one of her friends. That was an interesting thought.
“You gave old Bobby boy a jolt when you tickled the insides of his thighs,” she said. “Sent him right to the bathroom, wink, wink. He’s probably in there beating his meat right now.”
“I think he’s taking a shower,” I responded, my voice cracking a little.
“Yeah,” she said. “I’m sure he just wanted to get clean, for the second time in three hours. You’re probably right.”
“Yeah probably,” I whispered.
“Or maybe he is beating off,” she said. “I saw it come out of his shorts, but I’m not so sure he can just shower it away.”
“I didn’t notice,” I lied.
“Uh, huh, you didn’t notice, she said. “When that thing popped up, your eyes were as big as saucers.”
“No, I didn’t notice,” I lied again.
“Maybe you were embarrassed when you saw it,” she said. What’s Bobby, about twice your size.”
I just grabbed the sheet and pulled it tighter to me.
“Listen, don’t be embarrassed,” she said. “From what I’ve heard, he is the one who’s freakish. The way I understand it, the average guy’s about six inches, not twice that much like the Boy Wonder in there.”
“Have you seen many?” I asked, feeling a little more comfortable.
“I’ve seen a picture, or two,” she said. “You’re pretty normal. So, do you play with it?”
“Uh, play with what?” I mumbled.
“You know, stroke it, jack off,” she said.
“Never,” I said, but it sounded like a frog croaking.
“Well, it’s OK if you do. Everybody does it,” she said. “Bobby does it every time after you tickle. He sits there and watches you until he’s sure you’re asleep and then he does it.”
“Jeez, how long have you been watching us,” I asked.
“For a while,” she said. “But don’t worry. I won’t tell anybody.”
“Do you do it?” I whispered.
“I,” she began, but just then Bobby came from behind the curtain. I hadn’t even heard the water go off.
“Hey, Mar.” Bobby said. “When did you get home?”