In the spring after he and I break up, Drew saunters up to me in our Grade ten science class and says, “So you’re moving up in the world, eh babe?”
I shrug and continue to mix milky fluids in my test tube.
Drew is referring to my budding romance with the school’s Quarterback and Captain of the Senior Boys’ Football Team, Sé Keen. In that science class, Mr. MacDonnell (whose red eyes and slurred speech reveal to us that he comes to class stoned every day) always makes fun of Drew and I. Noticing that we have a natural chemistry together he says, “Angie and Drew. You two clean up the back room. No passionate necking.” I blush bright red though I love that Mr. MacDonnell can see that Drew likes me. When Drew asks me about Sé, I like that he is jealous of Sé and me. It softens the blow of him leaving me earlier in the year. Drew passes Sé and I holding hands in the hallways and I see that he is hurt by it though he gives me a generous smile and nods at Sé and me. At the end of that school year, Drew leaves CCH and goes home to New York. I never see nor speak to him again.
I am sixteen and he is seventeen and looks like Tom Cruise when Sé Keen is my whole world. He and I notice one another at a few parties before he actually speaks to me. The first time I see him I am at a Grade ten and eleven party in Oakridge. I had got my hair done that night and it looks nice. Fannie Lurh, my good friend in high school, has had a few drinks by the time I arrive.
“Griffin! Griffin! I like your layers! Lay-her guys! Lay-her!” Then she lets her loud laugh lunge across the room.
Sé seems to be with another girl that night. I hear that they were holding hands at the front door as she left for the night. But as he walks across the room he taps me with his foot. He pretends to do it accidentally but it is deliberate. He wants my attention. I see him at school after that. One day two boys bring Sé from the gym with his arm in a sling. They had been playing floor hockey on the lunch hour and Sé dislocated his shoulder. An ambulance comes and takes Sé to hospital. I stand at the third floor Queens Avenue watching as they load Sé Keel into the ambulance. A girl comes out of the gym and stands next to me.
“What happened in there?” I ask motioning toward the gym with my chin.
“They were playing floor hockey and Keen just collapsed to the floor holding his right arm.” She watches Sé slump into the ambulance. “Fuck. There goes the mother-fucking season,” she says. She is referring to the football season. Sé Keen is the school senior quarterback.
I see him after that walking downtown on occasion with his right arm in a sling.
“It must be Tuesday,” Fannie Lurh says as we walk downtown. “Keen wears his blue cords on a Tuesday and his grey cords on a Wednesday. The boy has the blue on. It must be Tuesday.”
Sé and I get together on May 29th, 1981. We are at a party that gets raided by the police and Sé invites everyone back to his house. His parents are semi-retired and are rarely home. The stereo in the living room has speakers that are hooked up in the basement. I go to the living room and change the record to AC/DC. Everyone in the basement lets out a huge groan and Sé chases after me. He grabs a fireplace poker and points it at me.
“Stand back from the stereo,” he tells me and I laugh.
We end up talking that night and when I use his washroom he bursts through the door catching me on the toilet seat. I leap up from the toilet, pull up my jeans and run towards him with my fly still open as I try to shut the door on him. I am not impressed that he did that to me but by the end of that night he and I are making out in his laundry room. I straddle him as he sits in a chair and we kiss passionately. God he is cute. I love kissing him. He had been smoking an Old Port cigarillo, the same cigars my dad smokes. He places the end of it in my left jean jacket pocket. He tries to feel me up but I keep slapping away his hands. I just want to be kissed by him.
He drives Lina and I home that night. He and I hold hands in his car the whole way. He only lets go of my hand to shift gears and then clasps my fingers again. When he drops me off he kisses me good night and tells me that he’ll call me. As I get out of his car I see my mother pull up in our station wagon. She is furious. I see the black cloud cross her face as she narrows her eyes at me and shakes her fat fist at me. I quickly go into the house before she can create a scene in front of Sé and ruin everything before it even begins.
When I wake the next morning the previous night feels like a dream. I’m not sure it actually happened. I lie in bed thinking about the previous night and then I roll over and reach for my jean jacket lying on my lavender carpet. I put my hand in the left pocket. I feels the crumbled ashes and white plastic tip of Sé’s cigarillo and know that it was real. It had happened. I had made out with Sé Keen the night before.
On Monday at school I am upset and ask Fannie if we can chat privately. We walk through the CCH tunnel together and I tell her that I had made out with Sé Keen the previous Friday night at a party at his place.
“Griffin! You always get the excellent ones!” she says.
In the previous weeks I had made out with resident hunk, Ennis Bo. Ennis had a nice girlfriend but they were always breaking up and reconciling. I caught him on a weekend when they were not together. He was so gorgeous that I couldn’t help myself. All we did was kiss as we made out in a car at the Sem. After that weekend he and his girlfriend were back together and I never heard anything about my indiscretion because he wanted to keep it a secret from Vie, his girlfriend. I did feel slutty after that and had told Fannie Lurh about it. She thought it was great. She had had the same boyfriend since she was twelve. He lived across the back field from her house in Byron and went to the public high school in their area. I feel guilty about making out with Sé Keen. I don’t want a reputation. Fannie doesn’t see the seriousness of it. She is delighted at my conquests and has labeled me the Kissing Bandit. At that moment Sé approaches us in the tunnel and nods to us. I nod back.
“Hello, Mr. Keen!” Fannie sings at him.
I want to punch her. We continue into the West Wing café and as we sit down Sé sits down with us. He had turned around and followed us to our table. Fannie makes an excuse to leave and leaves us facing one another in the cold light of day. That’s it. I am Sé Keen’s girl. All the boys at CCH know that it is hands-off where Griffin is concerned.
The following weekend we plan to meet up at the party that is happening that Friday night. I go with Lina and Sé is there with his buddies by the time Lina and I walk in the door. Sé takes me by the hand and he and I slip off together. We go to a football field to make-out. He is on top of me, kissing me and I get so excited that I wet my pants a little. The grass is also wet with dew and my jeans are wet at the back. We can barely see one another in the pitch dark. I know we will be walking back into light together so I take off my jean jacket and tie it around my waist. I pray that he won’t be able to smell urine but he probably can. Two of his buddies who live in Westmount give me a lift home that night. I have to sit on Adam Barry’s lap so I make sure that my jean jacket acts as a buffer between my wet ass and his lap. Adam had liked me for a long time and is happy to have me on his lap even if I belong to another.
“Keen’s a lucky guy,” he says. “I hope he knows how lucky he is to get you.”
Immediately after Sé and I start dating he has to have surgery on his throwing arm. He has a dislocated shoulder. One of his buddies asks me if I am going to visit Sé in hospital. I want to but feel that I might be intruding.
“No. He wants you to come see him,” his friend tells me.
I go that weekend. I catch the bus to London’s Victoria Hospital and search the corridor for Sé’s room. As I turn to go back down the hallway again, I see him walking with his mom and laughing at me as I try to locate his room. I carry with me a box of Turtles nut-covered chocolates and a card. I have misspelled his last name in the card and he makes fun of me for even putting his last name on the card. While we sit in his hospital room the nurse comes in and tells me to get off the foot of his bed. I feel embarrassed in front of Sé’s mom. I feel it was inappropriate that I perched myself on Sé’s bed but his mother and father occupy the only two chairs in the room. Sé’s dad uses the washroom and Sé feels embarrassed by that.
“Someone light a match!” he quips.
It isn’t long before Sé can play football again. Catholic Central shares a common football field with the downtown public high school called Central. On CCH game days the players of Central line Carruthers field for us. On days Central plays CCH players chalk the field. Often both teams write things like “Fags!” or “You Suck!” along the sidelines but the idea that they might line the common field for a rival squad is a nice gesture in theory.
I am so proud to be Sé’s girlfriend. I am dating the school Quarterback. It feels like a dream, and one from which I never want to wake.