Scooby-Dooby-Doo, Where Are You? (R)

YUMMY, YUMMY, YUMMY

 

Later that night I sat with my knees to my chest and both Shaggy’s and my sleeping bags wrapped around me for warmth. Pen in hand, I attacked a much abused spiral notebook that had done nothing to deserve the literary thrashings I dealt its college-ruled pages. The wind made a snapping flag out of my tent and I tried hard to focus on its sound rather than the depressing hysterics coming from the back of the van just scant feet away that I was un­avoidably audience to. In the days before the Walkman, one heard a lot of things one would rather not have.

Friends can surprise you. No matter how many years you’ve known somebody – inside and out, to the core, you’ve got their number – there can be a layer you never reach, a facet you overlook. One day you might catch your quiet friend singing opera in the shower. One day the cynic is discovered weeping at a phone commercial on TV. One day the cheapskate picks up the check. It’s not always a drastic turnaround – on the degree scale it might be more akin to a 135 or a 97 as opposed to a full 180 – but it’s enough to open your eyes to them anew, to rediscover this person. Friends can surprise you and they certainly had that night; the slamming of the van’s door serving as an exclamation mark.

The sudden silence was cause enough for me to lift my head out of the notebook for a second, just in time to meet Daphne’s eyes as she parted the flap of the tent.

She looked raw and certainly more flustered than she was willing to let on.

“Knock-knock.”

“Hey.”

“Okay for me to come in?”

It was a weird question, but I made the appropriate “What, are you kidding?” invitation face. She came inside and dropped to her knees, shuffling over to meet me and peering down at the notebook in anxious interest.

“What are you writing?” she asked and it became clear she was determined to act as if she hadn’t just spent the last two hours shrieking at the love of her life.

“Um, just some of my campfire stories – the ones that I can remember. I thought a couple of them were pretty good.”

“Oh – they are,” she emphasized with genuine enough inflec­tion to flatter me, “That’s a great idea. I think it’s so great that you can, you know, come up with that stuff – and imagination like that, it’s –” Her chin was starting to hitch so she spoke faster, “I’m so jealous, really. You’ve got all this talent … and I’ve got … I’ve got –”

And she caved in, her eyes squeezing out a sudden spring of fresh tears. It was like watching a Ferris wheel collapse, still bright and spinning, but faltering, tilting, and then…. Now I was crying too.

I hugged her in, her face settling into the crook in my neck, and we rocked. The girl was torn up and it rang my heart like a tin-plated bell to see her this way.

She spoke, her words muffled against my chest.

“Was I wrong?

I wanted more than anything to comfort, but my Libran nature demanded equanimity. “It’s his life, Daph, his choice to make.”

“If – if he loved me, really loved me, there’s no way he could even think about going!”

Her hair was softer than I imagined it would be as I stroked it, trying to pet away her sorrow. “It’s got nothing to do with love. You know that. That big idiot loves you more than life. But this is about him down the road, being able to live with himself. I think mascu­linity is more complicated than we suspect – it’s like a complex.”

“Fuck him and his ‘masculinity complex’,” she grumbled.

It started as a hiccup but it grew, until we were both jiggling with laughter. It was welcome and warm, if a bit snotty at this point. We still clung together as it slowly subsided.

Quiet.

Her voice was softer when she spoke again, I could hear her trying to hold onto her smile.

“I guess he does love me, the poor bastard. I’m such a righteous cunt sometimes, I probably deserve to have my boyfriend drafted.”

“Hey,” I interjected, “cut yourself some slack. You’re smart, beautiful, funny, and you really care about the world around you. Fred got lucky and he knows it.”

Daphne laughed, but it was a shy little laugh; it was her turn to be flattered. She pulled back from me and was now peering into my eyes, summing me up or taking me in. It was, ridiculously, a scary moment for me.

“I think you love me a little too, don’t you, Vel?”

If I could have vanished in a puff of smoke at that very second or bolted out of there like a panicky cartoon character leaving a me-shaped hole in the wall of the tent I would have, and I would have kept on running all the way back to Plum City. But then her hand was on my cheek. And then she kissed me. All power drained out of me; a fuse had popped somewhere and I was left in the dark. The warm, wet dark.

When the kiss was over, Daphne set me back in place like a stringless marionette. I distinctly remember saying her name, though no sound escaped my lips.

She smiled, “It’s okay, kid. We’ve known you were a lezzie for a while now.”

Which was funny, because I hadn’t known until right then. Yet still I protested.

“Wha-?! Daph? Where’d you ever get an idea like that?”

She smirked, “You mean you never thought about it? Thought about me – ‘that way’?”

My face was as hot as a skillet. “Look, if this is just because I never – you know – with Shaggy, that hardly means that I-”

“Ssh,” she said and once again pressed her lips to mine. I felt myself responding this time. I had to. I had to. Longer, more deli­cious, our tongues do-si-do-ing, my hands mapping the valley of her back. I wanted it to go on forever – I wanted it to stop right then.

“This is wrong,” my voice was an unconvincing whisper.

“This is right.”

I pushed her back, gently, my hand resting above her breast. “You just had a nasty fight with Fred. This isn’t about me and – and this isn’t what you want. Really.”

It was the truth. However close we were, however strongly she felt for me, she was still in the wrong bed that night. We both knew it. And that’s not how I wanted it to happen, if it was ever going to, that is.

“Tonight I need to be with somebody who loves me,” she stated quite frankly, “Somebody who I love. Somebody who’s never let me down.” And as she said this she was pulling off her shirt – a simple enough gesture of immeasurable power and divine resolution.

I think I might have even gasped.

Whatever.

So, yes, noble intentions aside, we did it anyway.

This isn’t the kind of tell-all where I would lavish upon my readers every juicy detail of this most intimate of encounters. It was too special, too magical to give to you (no offence). Until that night, somewhere in Death Valley, I was a virgin and the most beautiful woman, the most beautiful friend, I have ever known, changed my life forever. With her hands and mouth and heart. I have had many lovers since, many of whom I have felt for much more intensely than ever I did Miss Daphne Blake, but I have never experienced a night as romantic as that desert night, with its new tastes and textures. She had opened the last door to my being, the one I’d been afraid of all my life, and even if she slid right back through, she showed me there was nothing to fear. There were no monsters – no phantoms or Aztec mummies – on the other side.

In the afterglow, I watched her sleep.

Who knows what Fred must’ve thought the next morning when he came to the tent, unzipping it brusquely and starting in a desperate, worried voice, “Velma, have you seen-?”

We were still wrapped up in each other, heads together, arms and legs entwined. His entrance had woken us with a groggy start. Daphne squinted back at his “does-not-compute” expression.

“What do you want, Fred?”

For a second he could only stand there, his gaze flicking back and forth from Daphne to me, as if, though mightily confused, he knew he was intruding on – something.

“Uh, to give you this,” he said finally, opening his clenched right fist and loosing a small shower of gray paper ash onto the tent floor. Only a thumb-sized corner of the draft card remained to prove what it had once been. “There. It’s gone. Just like that.”

Instead of the triumphant smile that was her due, Daphne bit it back and maintained her icily aloof tone.

“Give us a minute, would you?”

Just short of scratching his head, Fred robotically swiveled and, with one last uncertain look over his shoulder, ducked right back out of the tent.

The instant he was gone Daphne lit up, electrically pleased with herself and the state of her world.

I knew she would return to him, I knew that the previous night had been an aberration, but this certainty couldn’t disguise the disappointment in my half-hearted, “Congratulations.”

Her expression softened with sympathy. She slipped my glasses on tenderly but they couldn’t have made things any clearer. “Oh, hon. Be who you are and people will love you. They won’t be able to help themselves, believe me.”

A sweet sentiment that has been proven wrong on more than one occasion, but I took it to heart as good advice and good policy.

She dressed quickly, slipping back into her earth-tone blouse and Navajo print skirt, and bounded excitedly towards the tent flap – turning back at the threshold to say, “And thank you.”

This was a curveball. “For what?” I asked, snapping my bra on.

“For last night … and for everything I haven’t thanked you for before now.”

“You’re welcome,” I said, but she was already gone.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15