Through the miracle of a good cell-phone signal, I spotted my friends Tiger and Ceci (not their real names).
I knew them through some of my guy friends who they’d been banging, though the romances had fizzled within a week or two. Both girls were attractive, but Tiger was a stunner who outshined everyone. Ceci was petite, five feet tall with short legs. She had a round face, dimples, bleached-blond hair, and angelic blue eyes. Ceci had been the belle of her small Idaho town before coming to California to pursue her dream of acting.
Tiger was the epitome of a P.B. girl. She’s what middle-aged men call a “firecracker,” and they all probably fantasized about taming her while jerking off in their showers. Tiger was the type of girl every other female hated, because of a flawless body she never had to work for. Five-foot-four with a fat-free figure, she had a shapely, firm ass and a naturally full set of tits. I’ve always secretly loathed skinny girls with big boobs. How the hell does that happen? When I lost weight, the D-cups were the first things to go. Anyway…Tiger’s body was almost always fully visible. She didn’t hesitate to romp around the streets in a string bikini with boots or heels. When she did wear clothes, they were skimpy shorts, skirts, and tight-fitting dresses with her cleavage visible. Sometimes she wore more outrageous items, like black lingerie beneath a fishnet suit, or she’d don a hot-pink wig. When she dressed up for Halloween, it was always in a bikini — a zombie girl in a black bikini or a gangsta bitch Barbie. I envied the freedom Tiger felt to run around everywhere practically nude without fear of degradation. She’d obtained her killer bod with a diet of cocaine, Cheez-Its, and late-night Jack in the Box drive-throughs. She wasn’t a typical blond California girl. She dyed her natural, ash-brown hair Hot Tamale red, and she decked herself out with tattoos and a bellybutton piercing. She was a beach babe with rebellion, always the spirit of the pregame ritual before pub-crawls, blaring her music and dancing around her apartment while draining a bottle of rum into her mouth. Jumping on her couches and pulling us up atop the vodka-stained cushions, her voice was the highest WOOOOOO! in the room. She’d fill her purse with dozens of mini liquor bottles so we could get wasted on a budget. A night out usually ended with us bringing guys home to snort up their blow or with five girls stumbling down an alley, rolling each other around in a stray grocery-store shopping cart.
Tiger was loud and bold, unafraid to shout out “Screw you!” to anyone who bumped into her or who mumbled a sarcastic comment under their breath.
On Memorial Day, Tiger, Ceci, and I filled Diet Coke bottles with Bacardi. Ceci taught me to do a beer bong, which I’d never been successful at before. She held the hose with her right hand while some shirtless guy prepared to pour beer in the funnel.
“Now, Maggie,” Ceci slurred, “open your mouth. Wider. Open your mouth, bitch!”
A group of boys crowded around us, aroused by Ceci’s dominatrix tone.
“Open up. Put it in your mouth and SUCK, SUCK, SUCK!” she screamed. “Open your throat and SUCK IT! SUCK IT, BITCH! SUCK IT! SWALLOW IT ALL!”
I obeyed. With all the will I could summon, I slurped down the beer, fighting the urge to vomit it back up. As the bubbly liquid filled my belly and dribbled down the corners of my mouth, a mass of rowdy guys cheered.
“WOOOOOO! THAT’S HOW YOU SUCK IT!” they shouted, giving Ceci and I pats on the back.
Before long, we had a group of cute boys following us down the P.B. strip. Ceci dubbed one muscular oaf her boyfriend, holding his hand and dragging him everywhere she went.
The guys were Marines. I had my eye on one named Jay, who had dark-brown hair, chestnut eyes, and olive skin. I remember little about him now, only that he was sweet and that, at some point, the two of us drunkenly danced to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” in a bar. All of the guys seemed polite and down to earth. Few were from Southern California, and they had that small-town quality of treating women like ladies, opening doors, and paying for our drinks. They reminded me of the aspects of the South that I missed.
At the end of the evening, Ceci and her boyfriend for the night took off to her place. Tiger went home. The other three boys headed back to my apartment. All of us were slowly sobering up and were exhausted from consuming so much alcohol in the heat. We sipped water and hung out in my living room.
We began chit-chatting about their hometowns and their enlistment. The boys were stationed at Camp Pendleton.
“How long have you been in?” I asked.
Almost two and a half years, they said.
“Oh, so, we’re the same age,” I said. I was giddy from Jay’s returning smile.
The second guy — also friendly — picked up on my attraction to Jay and offered to set us up. The third guy sat in the corner, watching us talk. He was skinny with a rectangular head, the most quiet and awkward of the trio.
My parents rarely lock their doors, and my cousins will carry on easy conversations with mentally ill homeless men for as long as they’ll follow them. But time in California had taught me not to trust the human race. Still, here I was at 21, regularly sharing my bed with random men, and I welcomed anyone into my domain.
I don’t know if it was my frequent use of foul language, my eye contact with Jay, or the messy state of my apartment after a weekend of partying, but in the midst of pleasant chatter, the quiet boy in the corner was suddenly no longer the quiet boy in the corner.