In the summer after sixth grade, shortly after I was disappointed over the lack of muscles at Little Bit O'Heaven, I spent a week at Manville Nazarene Camp (ironic name unintended) as a "grown up."
Kids who had just finished 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades went to separate boys' and girls' camps, but then you went to co-ed junior high camps (6th-8th grade) and high school camps (9th-11th grade).
Boys and girls were camping together for the first time, and the staff was determined to make us know it .
Last year our counselors were the Sanderson Brothers, but this year it was a ministerial student named Brother Dexter: tall, wide-eyed, and thickly-built, and obsessed with pushing boys and girls together. When I sat anywhere in the vicinity of a girl, he grinned and punched my shoulder in congratulations. But once when I sat next to a cute boy, he said “Cheer up! You’ll find someone!”, as if being with a boy was exactly the same as being alone.
First Base? What was he talking about?
That night after altar call, when the kids were waiting in line at the snack bar or taking walks in the darkness, I asked a boy named Marty, a tall, skinny 9th grader with strawlike hair and a pie-pan face. He wasn't cute, but he was three years older than me and knew everything.
“Ok, so stealing first base is hugging, and scoring first base is kissing her on the mouth. That's as far as Johnny Nazarenes ever go. So stealing second base is necking."
“Biting the girl on the neck, like a vampire?” I interrupted, remembering Greg’s mouth on my neck. I could still feel the pinpricks of his fangs. Had Greg stolen second base?
Chuckling at my ignorance, Marty put his hand on my shoulder and squeezed hard. And left his hand there! “No, Gomer, it means kissing and hugging at the same time. Ok, so scoring second base is petting over. Do you know what that is?”
|Manville Camp. Tabernacle on far left|
"Sure," I said. "I pet dogs and cats all the time.”
“No, petting over means feeling the girl's chest over her bra.”
"Oh, like this, you mean." I reached out and lightly ran my open palm over his shirt. Suddenly the night seemed very hot.
"Um...yeah, that's right. So stealing third is petting under. You feel under her bra.”
"Like this?" I unbuttoned three buttons of his shirt and slid my hand inside. His chest wasn't hard steel, but it was warm and solid. I wanted his arms around me.
Marty moaned. His eyes half closed, he reached out and ran his hand over my chest. He pushed my hand against his pants. Did he have a baseball bat down there?
"So. . .um. . scoring third is where she touches you down there. . .below the belt, but with your pants on. And stealing home, when your pants come off."
"Can a boy steal home?" I asked.
"Um...like, if you're keeping yourself pure until your wedding night, guys are ok."
Now it was time for the kiss! I leaned up so our faces were close together, expecting him to draw me close, but instead he tried to push me down to my knees.
I resisted. This was no time to be praying!
He released me. We stood facing each other awkwardly in the dark.
What had just happened? Did I do something wrong? Of course -- I skipped some bases. It was hugging, kissing, necking, petting, touching! I reached out and tried to start over with a hug, but Marty pushed me away.
"Kay, so, we better get back to our cabins. See ya.” He turned and practically bolted away, leaving me blinking in surprise.
Forty years later, I'm still not sure what I expected to happen that night. Or what Marty expected to happen. But I suspect that he wanted me on my knees for something other than prayer.
See also: I Learn About Oral Sex.