I’ve been talking about "doing it" for a long time and now, well, I think I actually am going to do it. That is, I’m going to tell you about giving the blowjob to the French fireman. You know him by name now, Christophe.
And still I’m resisting. I find myself wanting to explain the reason why I seemed, and genuinely felt, I was sleepwalking through the scene. My sophomore year of college I fell madly in love with a freshman guy and we were convinced we were soul mates. For about three months. Then he dumped me and it took four long years for my heart to recover. Somehow my mind keeps insisting the why’s and wherefore’s of that emotional cataclysm are important to this story, when they are not. It’s just that another reason I was in that car, besides my small breasts, is that I had no boyfriend waiting back home.
The other obstacle goes back to Stephen Elliott’s challenge of the “truth” of memory. Certain parts of that evening are so very clear to me, yet many of the transitions that would make it a “real” story are just gone. That gives the experience a jumpy quality, like a foreign film. Which it is in a way. So, I’ll go with that.
Ready to jump around?
So, let’s leap back into that dark, throbbing disco, take a seat at that small table where swarthy Patrice was eyeing my friend and licking his lips, while Christophe smoked, looking appropriately blasé, yet somehow nervous, too. At some point, Patrice must have asked my friend if she wanted to go outside for a breath of fresh air. I don’t know think she said yes then (he kept asking), but I was alerted to the proposition and what it probably meant, so that later, when Christophe got around to asking me if I wanted some fresh air, I had an inkling of what was in store.
When he did ask and I decided what the hell, there must have been some communication with the other women that we all had a ride home, but that part is hazy. I do remember stopping by the coat check as Christophe and I headed outside. He stopped me. Non, non, non, I didn’t need my coat. But it was chilly outside and I thought I did. But he insisted, I was not to claim my sweater. It occurred to me then that this was some signal that we were “going out for fresh air” and not leaving and that it was important to him that this message be conveyed to… the coat check girl?…or some other band of watching friends who’d know he was going to score? On the other hand, I might be violating some sacrosanct French custom, one never knew, so I gave in, hoping we would indeed come back so I could get my sweater. I liked that sweater and didn’t want to lose it.
Coatless, I crunched along the gravel parking lot under a starry July sky to Christophe’s small car, the kind of French auto that feels like you’re driving around in a tuna can. We got in and he started up the car. There wasn’t much fresh air involved yet, and again I had a distant feeling of doubt as to what I was getting myself into, but I also wasn’t getting terrible vibes, either. We drove through the fields and pastures and Christophe gallantly asked me what kind of music I liked. In truth I was more interested in hearing what he—a real, live French guy—liked, but it seemed a point of courtesy for him to have me choose from his collection of tapes. He kept asking do you like so-and-so, and so-and-so? I finally settled on David Bowie and Christophe seemed much relieved he could please me.
I always found this part of casual sex rather touching, when a guy I didn’t know and would never know in any real sense, was clearly intent on charming me in a superficial way that strangers must resort to. Then again, music is an international language.
With David Bowie singing through the speakers, Christophe pulled over to the side of the road. This seemed weird and again might have been terrifying, but he just seemed to want to sit and talk. There was no fresh air involved here, either. We started kissing. He tasted like tobacco. His hand wandered between my legs and it only then occurred to me—I was having my period. Yeah, that sounds weird, too, but at 19 I’d only had about four natural periods and this was number four. Somehow I conveyed my indisposition to Christophe and he pulled away and sighed. (No really gallant cela m'est egale, I'm going in anyway, but then Americans and Japanese never did that either). Then somehow I conveyed that I was willing to give him a blowjob.
Because, you know, I had to prove that shy, flat-chested girls could be lots of fun, too, not to mention as an American, I had a duty to my French hosts to be likeable and diplomatic so I'd give them a good impression of my country. International diplomacy--that's the real reason I gave a blowjob to a French fireman in the middle of a vineyard in Southern France.
This all makes sense, right?
Anyway, Christophe readily took me up on my offer and before I knew it, he’d pushed his seat back to a reclining position and had his jeans down to his knees. This was my first look at an uncircumcised penis, which was definitely interesting. Christophe asked me shyly what we called the male organ in English, and we had a brief cross-cultural language lesson of sexual terms--we call it this, you call it that. This linguistic interest struck me as odd, but it was also touching, too. In retrospect, I do think the guy was a sweetie.
After the lesson, I took his cock in my mouth. Now, I’d always gotten good reviews on my blowjobs, although I didn’t then or now consider myself an expert. But I was licking and sucking and dealing with the foreskin when Christophe spoke up in his gravely voice asking if he could turn on the light. I hesitated. I knew guys were supposed to be visual, and I supposed it was a good sign he wanted to watch what was going on, but I also realized we’d basically be on a lit stage in the midst of a dark country road. But again, I felt an obligation to support positive international relations, so I told him oui.
So I continue licking and sucking and he’s arching back and sighing and then he cleared his throat. “Do you mind if I smoke?”
What? That was really weird. I mean, sure he was chain-smoking all night, but if he had to do it during the middle of a blowjob, he was either really addicted or my skills weren’t translating well at all. Still, agreeable as always, I said oui. So he lay there and smoked while I did it. Now and then I’d look up and he seemed so blasé and bored, I wasn’t sure what was going on. But I soldiered on to the finish.
I don’t remember much about the rest. I licked and sucked some more, he came in my mouth, I swallowed, and we drove back to the disco to collect my sweater, but only that, no more dancing or anything. Then Christophe drove me back to the apartment complex where my home-stay “mother" lived in one of a rather depressing series of gray, featureless high rise apartments. I vaguely recall having some trouble finding the place, Christophe having to turn around and double back, but we did finally make it. Before I got out, Christophe asked me if I’d like to get together again some time. I said oui and he wrote down my phone number.
I figured I’d never hear from him again, although I’ll admit, in spite of his bored demeanor during the blowjob, his offer seemed more than pure politesse.
I let myself into the apartment to find my roommate in bed awake, ready to relate her story of fending off Daniel and his invitation to go sailing on the Riviera. She made it all sound like a slapstick comedy, with Daniel grabbing for her as she slipped away leaving him to embrace empty air. I edited my story, simply telling her that the other woman went off with Patrice, I ended up with Christophe and he gave me a ride home. The kind of experience a woman with small tits was expected to have.
The only other physical sexual contact I had that summer (although there were a number of opportunities) was with an English guy who was hanging out at the campground near Avignon with another group of unemployed fellows from Manchester who spent a lot of time following us around in their van. His name was Bill and he was a long-haired hippy type with intense blue eyes. One night he and I ended up enjoying each other’s conversation at the usual café hangout. We lingered after the others, getting drunk on pastis. He showed me his wedding photo—his wife was Indian, but they were somehow not together now. Then he walked me home and told me I was the most beautiful and interesting American in the group. As a reward, I let him kiss and fondle me on the bench outside the apartment. He kept asking between tongue-tangles if I would come back to his tent. But he smelled and I didn’t really want to do more with him. I just liked the validation.
But back to Christophe.
A few days later, I was coming back from French classes in Avignon with my roommate, when Madame called out to me from her study. “Donna, you got a phone call from a French boy named Christophe.” She used the word “garcon,” although I’d thought of him as an older man.
My first thought was this: Well, I guess he really did like that blowjob.
“He said he’d call back,” she added. “It’s really interesting. The girls who stay here during the year are so serious, but the summer girls are much more cutesy.”
“I’m pretty serious,” I said.
“Pah, look at you,” she countered. “That cute little lace blouse. The winter girls don’t dress like that. And they most certainly don’t have French boys calling them on the phone.”
When we got back to our bedroom, my roommate observed, with a sparkle in her eye, “I think you didn’t tell me everything that happened that night.”
I shrugged and blushed, but I was pleased for that validation, too. I was also pleased that Christophe never did call back. I assume he was embarrassed to speak to Madame again figuring his dishonorable designs on her temporary charge were all too clear. Or it’s possible that he left his number (I’m picturing a note in Madame’s handwriting with a phone number written in the French way rather too clearly) and I didn’t call him back. I know for a fact, at least, I never called him and we never saw each other again.
So that’s the story. Not especially sexy, more than a little poignant, maybe not quite so high on the list of "most pathetic" experiences as I thought. It’s funny, I feel a little bit like Lydia in Amorous Woman after she spilled her guts to the two young Americans. I’m not sure if it was a story worth waiting for, but I’m glad I told it.