“No way! I just gave her a few compliments. How can those hurt her feelings? That’s crazy! I’ve gotten lots of compliments in the past, and not once were my feelings hurt. Not once!”
Marc was fuming. He could not understand what this girl’s problem was. Why on earth is she upset? To his way of thinking, when guys and girls get together and are getting along pretty good, maybe even dating, he’ll give her compliments and she’ll give him compliments. No big deal.
“When one of her friends asks about me, I’m sure she tells them good things. And when some of my friends ask about her, I tell the truth and say really nice things about her, too. What’s wrong with that? Compliments are a good thing, right? How can she possibly take it wrong? I like compliments! Doesn’t everybody?”
Giving Rhonda some compliments while they had been “dating,” had occurred, but she had given Marc many more. Very few, if any, were meant or intended by her to be shared with what ended up being more than a handful or so of his high school baseball buddies. But he didn’t really give much thought to the possible consequences on her.
“She can tell all her friends all the good things about me she wants to, I like it!”
Trembling and unable to speak when she first met Marc in March of 1968, their romance was a very physical one, and he would always leave their passionate meetings in the forest and at her house pleasantly relaxed and calm. Thrilled each time those visits were concluded, she would excitedly relate every detail of their romance to her best and most trusted girlfriend, Gwen.
Marc telling his best buddy, Robby, initially, and eventually a couple others of his horny baseball buddies about Rhonda’s romantic assets, including her warm, soft, and very kissable mouth and her natural sexiness, was a cool secret. Soon, a half dozen or more athletes knew a lot about her, too, and she gained quite an exciting reputation among those guys.
Marc gained something of a reputation among the girls, too. “I betrayed her? Bull! I only said nice things. Very nice things. Incredibly nice things! All the girls think I’m some kind of monster just because I told some of my buddies how great she is? That’s fucking nuts!”
Rhonda Bell had lived next door to Gwen O’Rourke since first grade, and over time they became BFFs (best friends forever) throughout their elementary, junior high, and high school years.
Hundreds of hours were spent literally hundreds of hours at each other’s houses, jumping rope, playing jacks, tag, house, tea party, hide-and-go-seek, dodge ball, marbles, Red Rover, and cowboys and Indians in their yards with the kids in the neighborhood, and had least a hundred sleepovers at one house or the other. Each girl had a sister two years her junior.
Their parents, through the years, became good friends and neighbors, with the two families frequently even celebrating birthdays and holidays together. Both Teresa and Shirley liked the other woman’s daughters and over time came to the conclusion they were nice girls and good influences on each other. Gwen was more serious and studious, as was her little sister, Alice. Rhonda, on the other hand, was outgoing, fun-loving, spontaneous, adventuresome, and social, very much like her dad, Wesley.
Working as a mechanical engineer for a growing national company, Wesley Bell traveled all over the six surrounding Midwestern states at least four or five days a month, building the business in his region. Feeling guilty about being gone so much, to compensate for his absences for work, Mr. Bell took his family on frequent vacations to fun places, usually in the summer, when the kids were out of school. Fishing, sky diving, motorcycles, and camping out were his favorite hobbies and he often worked them into the family outings, one way or another. Teaching the girls to swim when they were four and six, snorkeling lessons followed in The Bahamas two years later, with a promise of scuba lessons when they got old enough. Since Rhonda related so well to her father’s very adventuresome attitude toward life, she became something of a “daddy’s girl.”
Rhonda’s mom, Teresa, a former kindergarten teacher, much more protective and not nearly as daring as her husband, often feared for her daughters’ safety during many of the family trips her husband planned, such as camping in the Rocky Mountains or hiking along the Appalachian Trail.
Taking their vacations in places like New Orleans for the French Quarter and Canal Street, Atlanta to explore Underground Atlanta, and Miami to immerse themselves in the Latin cuisine and culture, suited Teresa much better. Mundane trips to the beach were also more her preferred style. She tolerated local fishing excursions too, even though her husband would often spring one on her and the girls at the last minute: “Let’s go fishing at the lake tomorrow, okay? Who is in?”
Despite Teresa’s barely-concealed distaste for slippery worms and slimy fish, Wesley taught his daughters and wife to fish from the shore in a local freshwater lake, Lake Lilly, and bait their own hooks.
Fishing from a boat on the lake, even after the girls learned to swim, was not allowed by Teresa. In her eyes, danger lurked everywhere, and Wesley, all in fun, of course, would taunt and tease her sometimes just to see her freak out:
“I’m going skydiving tomorrow. Who wants to go with me?”
Wes can kill himself diving out of perfectly good planes if he wants, he’s a grown man, but my girls will not be going with him, ever! He’d also better be fully insured!
Teresa had to put her foot down, at that point.
I like the fact that Wes is honest, hard-working, and not afraid of many things, Shirley, but these are girls! If we had boys it might be different, but these are girls!
Turning ten, Rhonda was reluctantly allowed to take short, slow rides around the block on the back of her husband’s Honda motorcycle. Hugging him tight around the waist in the warm sun on those brief, intentionally slow trips, his eldest daughter felt very close to him, and very excited to be on a real motorcycle.
“Slowly…Wes…she’s only ten, remember? S-l-o-w-l-y.”
Hitting twelve, however, Teresa put a stop to Rhonda’s bike rides. “You are a young lady now and it doesn’t look very ladylike riding on the back of hot, smelly, loud, dangerous machines!”
Mostly, I don’t want Rhonda to take a liking to motorcycles and the bikers who ride them.
Bullied in the fourth grade by a bigger girl known as Berta the Bully, Wesley enrolled Rhonda in judo classes and took three years of classes with her.
“She cuts in front of me in the lunch line and shoves me when we are playing outside! I tell her to stop but she just laughs.”
Berta backed off some months later when she saw Rhonda wrestling with one of the smaller guys, Lester, before gymnastics class. Standing up, fingers entwined head-high like on TV, moving right and left in a semi-circle, Ms. Bell wound up throwing him hard to the mats with a full-body hip throw, landing Lester flat on his back and knocking the wind out of him.
Knowing Berta was watching, Rhonda glared at her afterward, the message clear: I can do the same thing to you, bitch!
Spraining her ankle in a tournament the third year, however, was just the excuse Teresa was looking for to put a stop to any more judo training for Rhonda.
“That’s it! No more judo for you, Rhonda. I knew you would get hurt, and you did. Enough rough-housing! It’s time to learn to be a young lady. You can take ballet with Patricia if you want.”
Even so, the five firsts, three seconds, and a third place out of the eighteen judo tournaments Rhonda had entered for girls in her age group and experience level bolstered her confidence considerably.
Rhonda’s little sister, Patricia, a much more serious student, straight As, Honor Roll, and inherently studious, hung out with Alice, Gwen’s little sister, most of the time, because they were a lot alike. Like Gwen and Alice, Patricia took ballet instead of judo, much to Teresa’s relief.
Sharing few common interests with their little sisters, the older girls spent little time with them. The developmental two-year-plus physical gaps were significant.
Hundreds of major and minor secrets were shared by Gwen and Rhonda during those early years, allowing them to grow quite close and trusting of each other even before adolescence arrived.
Upon the arrival of puberty, the girls painted each other’s nails, washed each other’s hair, and even showered together. They leafed through fashion magazines to see the latest trends, debated about cute guys, color coordination, skin care, lipstick, and makeup, movie stars and their relationships, music, cool kids and cool clothes, Mean Girls and bullies, and who liked who. Discussing hair care, cuts and color, hormonal problems, parent conflicts, and profanity, they also gossiped for hours at a time.
Although being almost eight months younger chronologically than Rhonda and looking her age, Gwen was just as curious and hormonal about boys, sex, romance, and the intersection of all of those three main teen interests.
“You won’t believe what just happened, Gwen! It happened! Come over quick!” Rhonda whispered furtively into the phone one afternoon.
Experiencing her first period six months before Gwen at age thirteen, hours of excited discussion were initiated.
Sharing fantasies came with the hormones of puberty, about which boys at school were cute, lusting after them privately, which pop teen idols, musical, movie stars, and rock groups were the best and the cutest, also lusting after them, and often discussing for hours all of the anatomical and hormonal changes they themselves were going through.
Their sleepovers and discussions were a rehearsal for dating guys, but the girls didn’t know it then. Puberty was in fact preparing them for adult romantic and sexual relationships, and eventual childbearing and raising families of their own.
Monthly school dances began, bringing with them much excitement, fear, and anticipation. “What if a guy asks us to dance, Gwen? We’ll be so embarrassed. We don’t know how to dance!”
Watching themselves in the full-length mirror on the back of their closet doors in their bedrooms until they didn’t look so awkward, clumsy, and uncoordinated, the girls taught themselves to dance together, slow and fast, just in case some boy asked them to dance.
Also practicing with each other, they learned how to kiss, just in case some boy wanted to kiss them sometime.
A girl in their class, Eva, had played spin-the-bottle at a party with three guys there. Because she puckered up in the back room just before being kissed, one of the boys later made fun of her to the other guys, saying she looked like a fish feeding. Her nickname after that party became “Fish Lips.”
Boys can be so cruel.
Eva was mortified, humiliated.
Gwen and Rhonda were going to make sure that was not going to happen to them. “Where do your hands go when kissing, and how do you know which side to tilt your head on so you don’t bump noses?” Rhonda asked with a giggle soon after word of Eva’s horrible experience got around.
“Do you press your lips firmly or softly? Lips open? Tongue?”
“At what point do you close your eyes?” Gwen wanted to know. “Do you always close your eyes? Do you hold your breath? Breathe through your nose? How long should a kiss last?”
Questions were plentiful, and were answered by trial-and-error and practice.
Carefully watching how couples kissed in movies and on TV to see how they did it, they rehearsed often at night during their sleepovers.
Eva did the same with her best girlfriend, Sissy, and never received any criticism for her smooching skills or technique again.
Awkward and a little weird at first, the more they practiced kissing the better they got at it and the more fun and exciting it became. Gwen and Rhonda truly liked and cared about each other and were such close friends that it turned into a normal expression of their natural warmth and affection for each other.
“Kissing is so nice! You are my favorite smooching partner, Gwen, but don’t tell anyone.” Rhonda’s confession was followed by many giggles, laughs, grins, and groans.
French kissing became an important step in their romantic educational process and where they learned about the passion associated with kissing.
“I admit kissing is great fun, but French kissing you is even better. I could kiss you for hours! It makes me feel so warm inside … and excited,” Gwen admitted with some embarrassment.
Slowly but surely, step by step, kissing on the mouth led to kisses on the face, the eyes, the nose, then the ear, a tongue in the ear, and sensual and strategic kisses on the neck and the shoulders.
“Oh, baby! When you kiss me right there on my neck it sends shivers right thru me. I love it! Try kissing my shoulders gently, too. Mmm, yeah! Right… there.”
“It tickles when you put your tongue in my ear, but it feels so good. Let me put my tongue in your ear to see if you like it… Do you like this, too? What about…here? Okay…my turn…”
Giggles led to groans, and a temporary pulling away when things started to feel too good. Then, after a lot of smiles and laughter, eventually they would start up again, but it would then evolve into a little more conservative sensual exploration.
Spending several hours or more exploring any one area, drifting off to sleep for a while, picking up where they left off upon awakening, and sliding back off to sleep again after a short while, was not all that unusual.
During dozens of weekend sleepovers, the girls slowly explored each and every sensitive inch of their respective faces, lips, and necks, taking turns, giggling and laughing, then moaning. Hands roamed free above the waist for a long time, too, and then legs and thighs were explored in a gradual process of light and long strokes and caresses, all the way south to the toes.
Manual bush exploration was off limits by unspoken, mutual agreement, at this stage. However, intertwining legs moving up and down together with the one on top, usually Rhonda, sliding her thighs in the moist, warm crevice between Gwen’s legs, evolved into one or occasionally more of their usual grunting, groaning, amazingly satisfying finales. But they never really admitted it or talked about these mutual orgasms. It was just one of the private benefits, it seemed to them, of sleeping together.
Even after they had become fairly confident kissers, the original goal, it didn’t stop the sensual sleepovers, smooching, hugs, tentative touching, and sharing.
Practice makes perfect.