Do people do that on the Planet of the Blind? You know – have sex?
Steve is currently in seclusion (working on a novel) in our little cabin on Rattlesnake Island in Lake Winnipesaukee, NH. His ability to e-mail is severely limited and so the best I can do for now is submit the following excerpt from his first memoir Planet of the Blind.
Years ago, as a college student in Geneva, NY, Steve looses his virginity to Bettina…(and no, I am not Bettina. This was before my time.) Be advised, this will undoubtedly change the PG rating this blog was recently given!
An excerpt from Planet of the Blind by Stephen Kuusisto (Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. 1998)….
In the old student pub — a dark cellar, I meet a strange new girl named Bettina. We talk and drink German beer. Betting is a polymath, angry, rebelling against her father, who is an executive at a television network.
"The bastard, he’d have been comfortable during the Crusades!" she says, and stubs her cigarette out in an ashtray on the bar.
With this altogether irreverent young woman, I experience puppy love. She’s an Irish country girl with long, thrilling, unkempt red hair. Red learning back toward gold.
Bettina cooks spaghetti over a gas ring in a basement. (She never has an apartment of her own, instead she occupies other people’s places without self-consciousness. She knows everyone.) I accept a glass of wine, I’m wrapped in earth tones and sparks. My hands stink of Gauloises cigarettes, my fingers spasm from the nicotine.
She squeezes the juice of a lemon into the salad. Puts Tabasco in the pasta sauce. She throws raw carrot chunks in there too.
"Why are you putting carrots in the tomato sauce? That’s disgusting!"
"Oh, shut up, if you’d eaten more carrots, your eyes would be better."
"I ate lots of carrots! My eyes went bad from masturbation!"
"Well, maybe you don’t need to do that anymore."
I can’t speak, because she’s kissing me. It’s a potent kiss, her tongue is wet and vital in my mouth.
She draws me to the floor, pulls down my pants, guides me inside her. I can’t believe how quickly she does it, my brain is still stuck on the word carrot.
She’s on top, loosening buttons down the front of her black dress. As her breasts touch my outstretched hands, I come with every ounce of my viscera. I come all the way all virgin-boys should-with surrender and reverence. I’m trying to say something.
"It’s okay," she whispers. "I’m wearing a diaphragm."
I start to rise on my elbows.
"I’m sorry, I-"
Her face closes in, her red hair falls over my eyes, tickles, smells faintly of shampoo. She guides my fingers gently to her clitoris. She’s n open meadow! A birch tree at midsummer, the sunlight seeming to be above and inside her.
Like all virgins, I’m a narcissist: surely no one has ever experienced this abundant wet circle of girl before? Not like this!
I’m on a rug in a spot of lamplight. The sauce simmers behind us. There’s a clatter or water pipes, there are apartments above. Dishes rattle somewhere. Bettina is astride me, and leaning, she kisses me forcefully, filling my mouth with her sip of Cabernet.
For the first time the vast silence that follows sex expands in my chest.
"I love you!" I say it. "I love you!"
I begin to cry. I who cannot see a woman’s face, who can’t look someone in the eye, I, I, who, what, never thought this could happen. I’m crying in earnest, copious sparkles.
She arches her back, I slip form her, a little fish, laughing and weeping.
Bettina refastens her dress, retrieves a tortoiseshell hair clasp, arranges it, sings very softly some lines from Yeats: "’Ah penny, brown penny, I am looped in the loops of her hair.’"