Let’s start with an old favorite. My best friend in preschool was a neighborhood girl named Hillary Kuhl. Kuhl pronounced “cool,” and oh yes, she was—she had a pretty, cunty older sister she fought with constantly, and was the only other kid my age who was visibly upset when Kurt Cobain died. I was four and she was five. (I was pimp as a motherfucker in ’94.) We did everything together: build blanket forts, fight sandbox turf wars, get freaked out by kids with outies.
Once, probably inspired by my older brother’s recent obsession with Gary Paulsen books, we tried to run away and build a lean-to in the woods. Unfortunately, all we knew about lean-tos was that 1. they were made of sticks or something, and 2. they involved leaning. What we came up with was a bunch of spare branches propped up on a tree. When we tried to get inside it and, I don’t know, crouch, it came apart and scratched us to pieces. I guess what I’m saying is that the whole parental supervision thing that seemed to be all the rage in the 90s didn’t catch on everywhere (read: the Midwest).
Hillary was also the proud owner of the first vag I ever saw on purpose. She was mostly friends with boys (in retrospect she was a definite training-wheels dyke) and one day she gathered the neighborhood kids around into a little circle and just whipped it out. You wouldn’t think that any vagina, let alone a kindergartner’s, can be whipped out, but this one came a-flopping like the John Holmes of the Juicy Juice set. “Okay,” she said, “now boys show yours.”
Way to put us on blast, Hillary! By cutting to the end of the “show-me-yours” game, she made us all look like pussies if we didn’t wave our little dicks at her. Now that we all knew what that meant, the stakes were tenfold.
So, yeah, I got my dick out. Being a weirdo robot spacecase who could read, I was the only one who knew the clinical terms (“penis” and “vagina” for the ‘tards out there), and no one would listen to me because their parents had all told them to call them peepees or weewees or, in Hillary’s case, a bum. (Her parents weren’t British, but they were pretentious fucks.)
Complaining about terminology with an inch-long dick in your hand drops your cool stock in the neighborhood, but I didn’t care. On that day, like a fat, slow rocket, my sex life had launched.
Things kept getting better. Somehow, we knew what “frenching” was, and we saw similarly poorly-supervised high schoolers trying it at our local haunts a few times. So of course being best buds we had to try it! Frenching, to us, was like a presexual lean-to: we knew that 1. you did it with your mouths, and 2. boys and girls only duh!
One playdate at Hillary’s place turned hot ‘n’ heavy and we ended up making out under a sheet for fifteen minutes. Soon, with practice, we got pretty good—good enough that we decided to take it outside.
One day at the playground, we made our entrances the way all the kids in our neighborhood did at the start of play in those days: by running around to every single kid whose name we knew and saying, “Hi (name)!” then running off. When it got to our turn together, we shocked the world by saying hello with first base, like grownups.
The wide eyes of all around confirmed our suspicions that this was the coolest fucking thing that had ever happened. Anyone who didn’t copy us right away was lame forever, even the one black kid who legitimized everything just by being there.
This lasted for about three days. Kids slobbering on each other like we were made of parental approval. Faces stickier than fallen Ring Pops. One girl cried because a boy tried to suck her lower lip off. Then, all of a sudden, kids stopped showing up. Whispers abounded. Where could they be? Was it aliens? God? OJ Simpson?
I got my answer soon enough when I woke up at 4 am and tried to claw my skin off. Yep. Chickenpox.
The best part was that nobody put two and two together. Hillary “Powerpussy” Kuhl and I had just inadvertently caused an STD epidemic, and because we were in The Midwest: Our Senses Are Dead!™, the grownups were none the wiser. After a couple weeks, the local parents decided it was safe to break quarantine, as long as us little disease-sacs were better supervised.
Then, upon arrival and to their horror, they saw their darling dearies sprint mouth-first into the nearest opposite-gendered rugrats, and lost their fucking shit.
Thankfully, nobody fingered me or Hillary as the source of their woe. (Snitches get BandAids.) There were a few indiscriminate groundings, and in a couple weeks it all blew over. I was so scared when I saw how parents reacted to the whole thing that, for years and years, I didn’t tell anybody how I got chickenpox.
Sure, there were some downsides to this chapter of my life: it probably screwed me up about sex for a long time,* and Vulvasaurus and I were never the same again, but it was an important turning point for me. For the first and almost only time, I was really, really cool. Sometimes, cool means getting covered in lesions. Either way, to someone like me, it was worth it.
*That and all the rape.