Everyone had pimples. I didn't. Everyone had her period. I didn't. I never realized the two were hormonally related. Then, one day at 15, there it was, my "monthly friend." Aunt Flo. The crimson tide. Red River. Ridin' the cotton pony. On the rag. That time of the month. FINALLY, I was a member of my tribe.
I was a late bloomer, a sophomore in high school. I ran through the halls like the town crier announcing my triumph while holding a box, a rather large box, containing a big-ass Kotex pad. You remember, the one that came with a belt. A contraption that felt medieval. Until now, when I was excused from swim class due to my menses, I had lied to avoid suiting up and swimming laps in the chilly fall weather. I lived in Los Angeles. I was always cold. I still am. Years later, I put it together that people probably thought I was bragging-it-up about getting my period because I had missed the previous one, if you know what I mean. Losing my virginity would also be a late-blooming experience, as it didn't happen until I turned 18 and had already graduated high school.
That's my segue cue. I was visiting some cute boys with my adventurous friend Ginny. Ginny had a minor crush on one of the boys, Kevin. The boys lived in an apartment in Isla Vista while attending UCSB. They were surfer dudes -- so my style. I was just 17. Go ahead, sing the Beatles song. I'll wait.
We showed up at their door unannounced. Again, so my style. We had been given a vague invitation earlier that summer from Kevin, and were eager to make an appearance. We also planned on sleeping over, because that's the way we rolled. I'm sure when the boys answered their door and saw us with overnight luggage, they assumed they were about to get lucky. Unfortunately, I was about to get unlucky.
Over the course of the evening, I developed the biggest, gnarliest (a surfer word, so it's fitting here) pimple -- my virgin zit. A first. Right on my cleft chin. The cleft chin that had garnered so much attention my entire life, getting compliments from random people: "I love your cleft chin." The culprit -- red, bulbous and growing by the minute -- was just to the right of the cleft. I was hyperaware of this new growth. At the time, I thought it was because their apartment was a bit dirty, sandy, frat-house-y. Although both boys were really clean, the apartment had seen a lot of days and a lot of college students. We headed to the beach for a walk at night. The water, glistening in the moonlight, was calling to me. On the spur of the moment, I threw all my clothes off and dove in. Kevin's roommate Mark joined me. It was the early 70s. A freer time. We laughed. We flirted.
Ginny and I fell asleep on couches and in the morning, the zit was all I could see on my tiny face. As far as I was concerned, it was all anyone could see. We dressed and drove down the street, shopping for vintage clothes at Yellowstone Clothing. We ate lunch in the garden across the way at the local hippie restaurant. I ordered brown rice with veggies, smothered in melted jack cheese.
A few months later, I would experience another first. It was with Kevin's roommate Mark. I shed my clothes again. I wasn't sporting a zit that night.