Note: The following is a chapter from a book I’ve been working on, Life in a Nutshell. It’s all about my time in the US Navy. There is some adult language and some brief, and I mean brief, sexual content. Let me know what you think!
Chapter 8 – First Time in Kenosha
After the pure hell of snow detail, I settled down into the relatively calm routine of Electonics Technician “A” school. I was actually starting to dig it. Even the ribbing for being a Nuke. You know, crap like, ‘Oooooo you’re gonna glow man’ to the more original, and somewhat frightening ‘ Dude, your kids are going to have monkey arms and shit radioactive poop.’ Really? Radioactive poop you say? Yeah, that one had me worried a bit. I mean, radioactive poop. Holy shit.
About a month after school finally started my van was finally freed from it’s snow drift tomb. What tomb you ask? Let me tell you. When I first arrived, I found what I thought was a primo parking space, end of the row close to the road. During the night however, snow plows plowed snow all over it. By the end of the first week when I went out to check on it, all I could see of it was the very top of the luggage rack on top. After a week more, nothing. Nada. Zilch. A big ol’ mound of snow. Finally the snow got low enough to expose it and Tex and I set about breathing life back into the ol’ girl. Took a couple of days, but she finally fired up.
“Well shit fire son!! Looks like we done finally got some transportation to the glory land!”, Tex said as he slapped me on the back.
“Shit yeah man! The most beautiful place this side of the Mississippi man. Kenosha Wis-by-God-consin!” The look in Tex’s eyes told me he had found more than cheese on his last run into this, um…glory land.
“What’s so great about Kenosha?”, I asked.
“What’s so great? Oh man, you ain’t never been have ya?”
Suddenly I felt like that one kid at summer camp. You know the kid. The kid who showed up in shorts, black socks and street shoes. The kid who’s only other journey into the great outdoors was walking through the plant section at K-Mart with his mom. The one kid who wore bathing trunks to play baseball in, and walking shorts to go swimming. Yeah, that kid.
“Hey, I’ve heard of it man, I’ve heard of it. But how in the hell could I have gone since we just now got the Fox Hunter out of its den man?” I said this with as much bravado as I could muster. I mean hell, I had no idea where or even what Kenosha was. For all I knew it was some backwoods gin joint where guys like me ended up sweeping the floor and tending to the “needs” of Greta, the extra large bottled blond from Bulgaria with false teeth and smelling of sauerkraut.
“Yer gonna love it man! Drinking age is 18 an’ a beer ‘n’ a shot ain’t more than a dollar at the good places, and the women man…lordy the women!” Tex started to drool and get the glazed look again.
Tex had a habit of calling any female some form of “Woman.” His mom and aunt were women-folk. His girlfriend was his woman. Olivia Newton John was, in his words, “A nice lookin’ woman.” What I was thinking is that if someone thinks Olivia is “nice lookin'” then what would these women look like that he’s getting so riled up about?
“I’m in man, I’m IN! Let’s blow this popsicle stand and head to the glory land!!!”
Just dumb luck it was Saturday and neither of us had duty the entire weekend. Given that we were both 18 years old, had just spent a decidedly female free winter in hell, and had worked ourselves into a state of sexual frenzy unmatched since the French Foreign Legion Camel Mutiny of 1922, there is no telling what could have happened. And I do mean there would be no telling. At all.
We ran up to our room, threw some stuff in a ditty bag, flipped the finger to the Quarterdeck Watch and pointed the van north. The Fox Hunter had shaken off the cruel confines of winter and was on the prowl. Black Sabbath poured from the speakers as we blasted up SR 137. After just 10 minutes or so, we crossed into Wisconsin. Ah Wisconsin. land of cheese, Lombardi and drinking at 18. Sweet sweet Wisconsin. Acting as navigator, Tex had us at our destination, The Lutefisk Lounge, in less than 30 minutes after we left. Good man that Tex. Might be some kind of citation in this for him.
We disembarked our trusty “Hunter of Foxes” and headed inside. Thoughts of sipping an ice cold martini and making out with a leggy blonde in a dark corner while Sinatra played in the background filled my head. Okay, so I spent way too much time reading spy novels. Up to now though, the only knowledge I had of the bar scene came from those books and movies, or from the joints I used to have to pull my dad out of when I was younger. I liked the book version better.
As we opened the incredibly thick front door, a blast of hot, moist air hit us and Tex simultaneously let loose with the loudest “YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE HAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!” this side of the Mississippi. A lot of what Tex did was the “‘est” this side of the Mississippi. Loudest, strongest, etc. Made me wonder just how loud, strong, drunk and brave the other side was.
I took a second to scan the place. From what I could make out in the darkness, the place was one long room. A bar ran most of the way down one side, securely held in place by two or three patrons. The other side was home to a ratty old jukebox and some tables and chairs. I wrinkled my nose at the “old man” smell it had. You know that smell. Faint urine smell mixed with Bay Rum aftershave, stale beer and cigarette smoke.
Just as I was about to bolt for the door, an unholy screech filtered through four lifetimes of smoking came from behind the bar, “TEX!! Honey is that you??”
My eyes were still trying to adjust to the darkness but I swore the scream came from…oh dear god, there is a Greta! Tex ran to the end of the bar where “Greta” jumped up into his arms. She looked to be 5’2″, moving past 200 pounds, and I’m pretty sure she dated Capone at one time. Tex easily lifted her up and spun her around.
“Oh lordy but I’ve missed you Rita!”, Tex managed to say before Rita planted planted her lips on his, without removing her lit smoke first, may I add. There’s talent, then there’s talent.
So the name is Rita, not Greta. Still smells like sauerkraut though, and I’m pretty sure that shade of blonde isn’t from any nature I know.
Tex broke off the kiss and said, “Rita, this here fella is Mike Gordon, but you can call him Gordon. He’s a buddy of mine from the Navy”
“Pleased to meet you Rita” I said as I extended my hand.
“Awwww hell honey, we’re all family around here!”, Rita rasped out as she pulled me into one hell of a bear hug. She then grabbed my face, pulled it down and planted a huge kiss on me. Rita then slapped my ass and headed back behind the bar to get a couple of shots and beer. Something told me I wasn’t going to get my martini, but what the hell. I licked my lips. Yup. Sauerkraut.
I was enjoying my fifth or sixth shot and beer, which in my case was a cold draft PBR and a shot of Dickels. Tex and Rita were gabbing away and I started talking with some of the locals. One nice lady, June, kept telling me that I needed to meet her daughter, Frieda. Frieda is in college ya know. She’s gonna become a big fancy lawyer, don’t cha know. All June really wanted though, was for Frieda to find a nice man who would take care of her and give her many children to spoil. Frank would interject with comments pointing out that as a lawyer, Frieda could take care of herself, at which point June would slap him and order another beer. Tom would laugh, tell me I started it all, and pretend to throw a punch at me. The banter went on and on, and endless drone of words spoken in a Canadian-like accent. I was having a okay time, but this wasn’t the “Casino Royale” I was looking for.
I was about to see if Tex wanted to try someplace else, when the door opened and a very cute blonde girl entered. She wasn’t tall, but she carried herself like she was seven foot five. Her hair cascaded down around her face like a waterfall in Eden. She was wearing a pair of blue jeans that looked to be painted on, and a large multi-colored sweater. You know the kind, like you wear in a ski lodge. Even with the bulky sweater I could tell she was built. My stomach fluttered. I told myself it must be the sauerkraut.
“Freddy!” June yelled. “Freddy honey, we were all just talking about you. Come here, I want you to meet Mommy’s new friend”
Freddy? Mommy’s new friend? Oh this wasn’t starting off well at all.
“Freddy, this here is Gordon, Mike Gordon, but he just goes by Gordon. He’s in the Navy and he’s going to be some kinda big shot nuclear guy on submarines of all tings doncha know. Gordon, this here is my lil girl Frieda”
I extended my hand, slightly aware of what happened with Rita. “It’s a pleasure to meet you Frieda”
Frieda shook my hand, “Likewise. I’m sure my mother has been filling your head with all sorts of things tonight”
June looked shocked, “Oh Freddy I did…oops, I let that slip didn’t I? See da ting is Gordon, Frieda’s dad, he always wanted a son, but after Frieda the doctors they said no more for me, ya? So it’s always been kinda of a nickname for her ya know. Doncha pay it no mind. ”
Frieda looked like she had wandered into an episode of The Outer Limits.
I turned to June, “Would it be okay with you if Frieda and I went to a table and talked a bit?”
“Oh yah sure, you two kids jus go on now eh? Have a good time!” I noticed that June’s accent was getting more and more evident with every beer.
“Is that okay Frieda?” I asked softly.
“Oh hell ya, just get me away from her for a bit, she’s driving me crazy!” she smiled.
Oh that accent. I could get lost in that accent for a lifetime.
“We could go out to my van and listen to some music if you want to.” The words came out of me faster than a bullet, and there was no way I was getting them back. Idiot! What the hell was I thinking? I just met the girl and first thing I do is ask her back to my “room?” I was trying to think of something to say to this nice small town girl to make up for it when I heard…
“So that’s your van out there then? I love it! Sure, I’d love to go and listen to some music, bet you have better stuff than the jukebox in this rat hole, eh?”
She kissed her mom on the cheek, and dragged me out the front door before I could let Tex know what was going on.
We held hands as I walked her to the van, suddenly very aware and slightly ashamed of “The Fox Hunter”
“Oh, that is so cute! I just love that suit he has on.”, Frieda said as we reached the van. I could get to like this girl.
“He does get the comments, I’ll give you that.” I smiled and opened the side doors. It had gotten dark out, and I fumbled around for the interior light. I clicked it on and stepped aside like a gentleman to let her in. Take that Mr Bond, James Bond.
Frieda entered the van and took a seat on the couch at the rear. “I really do love it! This is soooooo cool!”
“What kind of music are you into?” I asked. I was into almost everything under the planet. World. Heavy Metal. Rock. Classic Rock. Classical. Blues. Sinatra, well all of the crooners really. In fact I loved all music. Well, all music except that evil spawn of the devil himself, Disco. God I hated disco. I hated all forms of Disco. I hated the idea of Disco. I hated the word Disco. I hated Disco, period.
“I’m really into Disco, got any Bee Gees?”
I stared at her as my jaw hit the floor of the van. I quickly gathered it back up and put it back into place.
“Um, you know, I..ah…I do, but I may have left my Bee Gee tapes back at the barracks…let me look. Um….How about “Anthology: The Moody Blues” while I look?” I asked.
“Oh I love the Moody Blues! Making love to Nights in White Satin is the best, ya? Hey, you know your voice sounds a lot like that guy at the end you know, that reads that poem? He sounds so sexy, eh?”
I swallowed so hard I tripped a local seismograph detector.
“G-Great! Moody Blues it is then.” I fumbled for the tape, slid it in and turned on the stereo. The soothing sounds of “Tuesday Afternoon” filled the fox den.
“Oh, where are my manners? Care for a drink?” I asked as I paused at the cooler. Opening the cooler I saw one can of Black Label, one pack of smokes, and a box of stale donuts. All had been in the cooler since I landed in this frozen hell, 4 months ago. I slammed the cooler lid shut and coughed.
Frieda smiled and said, “You don’t need to get me drunk you know. Why don’t you just come back over here.”
I smiled and started to crawl back to the couch. Along the way I managed to thank 5 known deities, 3 possible saints and 12 lucky stars. I didn’t really have much of a romantic life in high school. Sure, I dated a few times, but the problem was I was totally, out-of-control, head-over-heels in love with my best friend, Julie. Seemed like we were always together. Camping, going to parties, hanging out, you name it. I remember one time we took the bus downtown to get Julie a new ski outfit. On the way back we fell asleep on the bus and missed our stop. That started an inside joke about us sleeping together. Hell, she even came to my Boot Graduation! She was the sister I never had, but always wanted, and to this day remains my best bud. Suffice it to say, my knowledge of sex up to this point was limited to books and bragging friends. I was a virgin in every sense of the word.
I made it back to the couch and Frieda leaned in to kiss me. No sauerkraut this time, no sir. Sweet and smooth, like a strawberry cheesecake. I kissed her back, letting the tip of my tongue lightly touch her lips. I felt so awkward, I mean my pillow never kissed me back, how would I know if I was doing it right?
I stopped kissing her and pulled back a little.
“Is this okay?” I asked, not sure of what to say.
“Gordon, it’s more than just okay eh?” And then she dove at me like a lioness on a fresh kill.
We fumbled around on the couch, groping and kissing until we fell backwards onto the carpeted floor. She kept her mouth on mine, kissing and doing this breathing in and out thing until our breaths became like mirrors of each other. She’d breathe into me, the I into her. It was out of sight. I could feel my heart pounding, and I then started to get hard. Real hard. Frieda pulled back a little, smiled, then rolled me onto my back. She sat on me and slowly removed her top and bra. My mouth went instantly dry. Do I ask if it’s okay if I get a drink of water or something? I can’t talk, I’m staring at real boobs for crissakes! She took my hands and placed them on her. Oh dear God, I was touching boobs and not paper ones! These were real…soft…warm. I looked at her eyes and they were kind of half closed. Her mouth was parted slightly, and I realized that I would never look at a Playboy the same way again. Nothing on paper could ever be that sexy, that hot, that…boom.
Suddenly I went rigid, arched my back and orgasmed like I never had before. Oh, and I’ve had orgasms before. Trust me. If there was a professional masturbation league, I would have been one rich teenager. But this, this was just so perfect so…AUGH! Shit, I didn’t even have my pants off yet. Talk about being premature! I didn’t make it to the starting gate! Forget the starting gate, I didn’t even get my silks on.
“I’m…I’m….” I tried to say something, anything.
“Shhhhhh,” She said. “It’s fine Gordon. Dont worry, I’ll get the party going again.”
And boy howdy did she. This time I not only got out of the gate, I trotted down the back stretch, galloped away from the pack and eased across the finish line at exactly the right time. And that was that. It finally happened, I lost my virginity. I was now a man, supposedly. All I knew was I felt like I was on top of the world. I could do anything. Hell, I could even start shoveling snow again if I had to. This was going to be so fucking great! She should be able to get a job at any legal firm in the ports I’d be assigned to. Well, at first anyway. I mean, June’s going to want her grandkids to spoil. Man, this is just per…
Frieda broke into my thinking, “Hey, do you see my panties?”
“How about we go out for dinner next Saturday?” I asked, doing my best to look like I was basking in the afterglow (Playboy Advisor, May), while tossing her panties at her.
“Saturday? Um, Oh I can’t Saturday, I have a date with Jim”
Wait, what Jim? Who the hell was Jim? Wait a minute. There’s a Jim in this? Wait…what will our kids say?
“Jim? Shouldn’t you…after this…um, you know…cancel it?” Oh good one asshole. Way to fucking go. Christ I was such an idiot.
“Look Mike. I like you. I do, but I just don’t want to get involved with a Navy guy.” She started putting on her bra, which sucked even more life out of me.
“I don’t understand then why we just did what we did. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I liked it. Especially when we did it with my pants off. But why did we have sex if you didn’t want to get involved with me?” I could see poor June crying into her beer as she started putting all the baby clothes back into the hope chest.
“I like to have sex, eh? It just feels good, and I like to feel good.”
“Well, um…did you? You know…feel good?” At this point I felt like I was slipping off a cliff, hanging on to one last blade of grass.
Frieda finished buttoning her top and kissed my head. “Ya, I felt good. Twice to be honest.” She winked and I got an ego rush. “Now, you are going to go back inside eh. You’ll have a couple more beers with your friend there, and then you will go back to your base. I will go back to my apartment, go to classes, graduate, and have a good life. You have a good life too there, Gordon, Mike Gordon, you deserve it.”
I felt that last blade of grass give way.
And with that, she kissed me like a sister kisses her brother, went to her car, and drove off. I sat there for a bit, feeling very vulnerable and cold. It was then I realized I was still kinda naked, and it was 30 degrees out. I got dressed and went back inside the bar. June stopped me, I told her Frieda headed back to her apartment. June’s eyes dug into me and she started to say something, but then she stopped, nodded and went back to her beer. I scanned the rest of the bar and saw Tex sitting with his head on a table and wandered over.
“So cowboy, you about ready to hit the dusty trail?” I asked.
Tex looked up at me with eyes the color of a rusted hull, “Thas was one hell of a…a…DAMN she was cuter than…ah… Hey! Didja…you know…” Tex tried to make an obscene gesture with a finger moving in and out of his fist. “Well…didja?”
“Nah man, struck out. Ended up listening to some music is all. Come on dude, I’ll get the tab and we’ll blow this popsicle stand.”
I paid our tab and thanked Rita, who insisted on giving me a sauerkraut kiss goodbye. As I half walked, half carried Tex out, I said goodbye to the others at the bar, and said I’d see them all again soon. I managed to get Tex out of Lutefisk’s, into the van, and seat belted without falling or getting a hernia. I went around to the drivers side, got in and started her up. The Moody Blues “Lost in a Lost World” started coming out of the speakers.
“Aw, gee Gordy, can’t you git somethin better on? Tha sucks!” Tex mumbled.
“Nah, you know what man, this works. It just works. Now you just lay your pretty little head on the window, y’hear? We’ll be home in a bit”
And that’s how I “became a man.” No martinis. No Sinatra crooning away. No fancy hotel room with a view. Just shots ‘n’ beers, The Moody Blues, and a van in the parking lot of a dive bar in Kenosha, Wis-by-God-consin.