Now, where I went to school, lunch time was mainly taken up trying to get your mouth around a rather large sandwich. In fact, to call it a sandwich is a misnomer.
It was sturdily built using two thick slices of ‘pasta-dura’ bread, which due to the way they were sliced, could have been left to harden and used as door stops. They were thick. If you had been brave enough to venture inside one, you’d have noticed they were jammed packed with everything but jam.
There was usually a thick slice of meat, whether it be ham or mortadella or home-made salami or left over roast or steak from the previous night’s dinner.
But that’s not all. It may also have included a thick slice of cheese or fried eggplant or half a lettuce or slices from a number of tomatoes. And frequently you got the whole lot at the same time.
We used to envy the Australian kids with their Tip Top sliced white bread which contained a slither of vegemite and a thin slice of Kraft Cheddar Cheese. They could literally eat and talk at the same time. Boy, were we envious.
Every lunchtime, as a thousand kids opened their school bags, there was this incredible explosion of odours. A mixture of Italian delicatessen with the not so subtle blend of school locker room. On this one afternoon, a boy I knew, Giulio, appeased his testosterone by having sex. With a woman, no less.
“How many women have you had sex with?”
“Get out, will you. Four?”
I don’t think he noticed the look of surprise on my face because he chatted about it as if he had just eaten four “Italian” sized sandwiches.
That would have been surprise enough. But this was sex. The subject you never talked about without looking to your left and right first to see who could be listening.
Nonchalantly, he mentioned that one of the women had been wearing a black see-through bra. A bra!
At the time, the only bras I had seen were my mother’s hanging on the clothes line. They were white, sturdy and solid and looked as if they would have stopped a German tank. In fact, I think they were made from a German tank. The thick, wire frame that bound each cup seemed impassable. A bra! I knew our teacher, Mrs Davies wore a bra.
You could see it under her clothes, bunching up her fat and creating furrows across her back and sides. But you never consciously thought about it. Yet, here was Giulio talking about a woman’s bra. And it was exciting. He painted a picture for me. How each breast, though not large, was snugly tucked in. How they jiggled mischievously when she laughed, almost threatening to overflow their cups. And how when finally set free, they just hung there happily. Two soft, fluffy cushions with a big red, erect button in the middle of each. I remember feeling a little hot. I couldn’t understand why, it was after all the middle of winter.
He stopped, deep in thought. He often did this and I found it extremely annoying. “Well, what happened then?” I said, not trying to sound too pushy or overly excited. We were both just 15, this was all totally new (to me, at least).
“Tell me, Alex, what have we got on this afternoon?” He asked. The bastard had totally changed the subject. Had he no feelings? Couldn’t he see the expectant look on my face? What was he trying to do? “English and History, I think. Why?” Who cared. I wanted to get back to the soft, fluffy cushions. With as much sang froid as I could muster I asked “Giulio, what happened then?” He laughed with a very strange expression on his face. Almost shy, a little embarrassed. There was nothing to be embarrassed about. We were both males. And I wasn’t about to tell his father.
Come on, Giulio. “Well,” he started, the warm memory rushing back. “I got into bed while she darkened the room…” He paused. “You didn’t have any clothes on?” “No clothes.” He paused. “Yes, and…?” “And the next thing I felt was this small, silky piece of material drop on my face.” He paused. “It was perfumed and soft and smelt of her.” He looked around and then whispered in my ear. “It was her undies, Alex.”
“Whooo..ooooogh..” I have absolutely no idea where that sound came from. He paused. That smile on his face was really pissing me off. “Then…?” I wished he could just get on with it. “Then, I felt the blankets at my feet rise. A little cold air rushed in. And so did she, but very… very… very… very slowly. Oh, Alex, you should have been there.” Oh sure. “She cruised up the bed, her body hot and soft; carefully working its way up… and up… and up ….” He paused. That smile.
“Yes? … How far up?”
I probably sounded a little too excited. The words came out a little too high pitched, strained through my tonsils. “What?” He questioned, disinterestedly. I guessed the show was over. I coughed nervously, trying to get a little more depth into my voice. I was expecting it to break any day. Right at that moment would have been greatly appreciated. “Yes, sounded good, Giulio.” No luck with the voice. “Cool! My man! Hey!” Don’t over do it, Alex.
Following that day, I worked hard to form a sort of pact with Giulio. He called it a sick pact, but agreed to be part of it anyway and that’s all that mattered to me. I had always been a bit of a book worm, so with sex book in hand, I would explain to Giulio different ways he could ‘do it.’ I described the ones that fascinated me the most. The ones I thought would have the greatest degree of difficulty. Giulio would then go off and try ‘it’ and see if ‘it’ worked.
It was a form of research, believe me. For example, one of the books we managed to get our hands on was Joseph Weckerle’s ‘The Golden Book of Love.’ It was a genuine sex fest, a sexual smorgasbord, a graphic and well charted maze for young players and, I assumed, for experienced explorers. Amongst its pages were 600 different ways of having sex. Six hundred. I thought Giulio was going to die before we had got through the first handful. I had never said it was going to be easy.
Then I happened to find another book called ‘The Perfumed Garden.’ It was Indian and it had been written at the beginning of the 16th century. Boy, those Indians. The things they got up to. “This was written around the year 1500?” asked Giulio, equally surprised. “Listen, Giulio, believe me, sex hasn’t changed all that much since then, I can tell you.” “Really?” “Sure. Trust me.”
Well, what did you expect me to say? “Anyway, listen to this one. It’s called the Somersault Position. What happens is this: The woman lets her pants drop to the ground. Right?” I looked up at Giulio to make sure he was paying attention. “She then puts her head between her feet so that her neck is caught in her pants. Right?” Giulio was starting to get a funny look on his face. I continued anyway: “Then, the man, facing her, grabs her legs and turns her on her back, so that she performs a ‘somersault’.” I stole a look at Giulio and quickly realised this was going to require written notes.
“The man, then curves his legs under him and enters the woman. OK? Is that clear?” Giulio’s face was contortion-city. “Sure,” he said, unconvincingly. “Look, I’ll write it all down for you, step by step. Then as you’re doing it, you can refer to the note. Easy.” “Oh, sure, Alex. Sure.” “Now, if you lose the piece of paper, just call me and I’ll guide you through over the phone. No problem. Don’t worry about a thing.”
Just the memory of those words make me cringe. But, they were said in innocence, believe me. “Giulio,” I continued, cool and composed. I opened my diary and held my biro prepared, “when do you think you can get back to me with some results?” Giulio just looked at me with that wry grin of his, “Is tomorrow OK?” That’s what I liked most about Giulio, you could always count on him. Well, most times you could count on him.
“What do you mean, you didn’t get a chance to do the Somersault Position?” It was the next evening and, as you can tell, I wasn’t too pleased. After all, it’s not every day you come across a Somersault Position and I was curious to know if it could be done. “Hey, Alex, it doesn’t always happen like that.” Giulio tried his hand at atonement. “It was one of those situations. You know?” Naturally, I nodded my head pretending I did. “There you are tearing each other’s clothes off. Your hands fumbling for buttons and belts and pins and clips. You know what’s it’s like.”
Again, I nodded and added “Yes, of course… All that stuff … Everyone knows that.” “Alex, what can I say? It took a while to get past the sucking-face bit. Christ, she was so good at it. I finally got her pants down around her ankles. But in the heat of the situation …” He threw out his arms in despair.
“What was the problem?”
“I couldn’t remember whether she had to put her head between her feet or mine and whether I should drop my pants now or later … and … by the time I remembered … she had taken over.” “What? She somersaulted you?” Now, there was something I had never considered. “Well, not exactly. She had undone my shirt and the buttons on my pants…” He paused, looked up at me and slowed down. “Before you know it, we both had no clothes on. We were on the floor in the bedroom. There I was, trying to think about the Somersault Position, when I saw it.”
“What? What was it?” “There, under the bed, was a copy of the Kama Sutra.”
“The Kama Sutra? The somersault was in The Perfumed Garden.” I corrected him. “Oh, I wasn’t going to read it, Alex. I used it as a prop. It fitted snugly under her soft, white bottom. …” That pause. “I have to tell you, Alex. It was wild.” “Great, Giulio. But maybe it should have been me with her. Especially seeing that we both have a copy of the Kama Sutra under our beds.” Giulio stood to go.
“That’s one thing I didn’t tell you, Alex. It wasn’t her copy of the Kama Sutra. It was yours, Alex.” He paused, just for a second, allowing the comment to have its effect. Then he leaned into my ear again.
“Your sister didn’t want to do it in her room, just in case your parents came home early. Look, I’ll see you later, ok? And I’ll see what I can do about the Somersault.”
With that he just walked calmly away. I was genuinely shocked. My sister? Francesca? She was three years older than me. And she had been right, my parents hadn’t been in my room for months.
My sister and Giulio? I sat on the bed at home with that copy of the Kama Sutra in my hands. I allowed it to rest only on the tips of my fingers. Here, I could examine it closely under the light, checking for marks and stains. Earlier, I had even noticed a worn out patch on the carpet which I swear I had never seen before. This is where they had ‘done it.’
I imagined them together, in my room ‘doing it.’ Both of them. Together. On my floor. Wearing out the carpet. In my position, for heaven’s sake.
I was thoroughly disgusted.
Anyway, over the next few days I just kept right away from Francesca and Giulio. One night, I was lying in bed having just watched some Sofia Loren movie. (Christ she had good tits.) ‘House Boat’ it was called, with Cary Grant and a bunch of dumb kids. I just happened to be thinking how they would have done it on their wedding night, when the phone rang.
I heard my mother from the other side of the door; “Alesandro, it is for you. A friend.” At this hour? I got up any way. “Hello?” “Alex, it’s Giulio.” Oh, no. “Oh, hi, Giulio.” At least try to sound friendly. “What’s up?”
“Alex, I need your help.”
“I’m sorry, but I left my notes in my pocket and my mother washed my pants. Alex, you’ve got to help me with the Somersault Position.”
“Wait a minute, Giulio, is there a girl there?” There was a pause, then a whisper came back;
There was suddenly this burning question inside my brain. “Okay Alex, now listen, we’ve both got our pants around our ankles. Now who puts what where?”
Slowly, I responded. “She puts her head down between her feet and tucks her neck into her pants.”
“Okay, hang on.”
I stood there, muffled voices explaining instructions. There was a laugh, a giggle. I pushed the phone as hard as I could into my ear in an effort to hear the female voice at the other end of the phone.
“Right, what next, Alex.”
I took a deep breath and continued nervously. “Next, you grab her legs and turn her on her back. In other words, you make her ‘somersault’.”
“Great. Wait a minute.”
More muffled sounds. Was it her? I couldn’t be sure. I wanted to hang up. I wanted to kill both of them. Suddenly, clear, sharp, unmistakable laughter filled my ear.
“Alex, I’m back. Okay, what’s next?”
I opened my mouth. Nothing came out. “Alex, are you there?” I had lost my voice. Nothing.
“Yes,” it was more of a thin, high-pitched squeal than a response and it had just managed to squeeze out. “Yes, I’m here.”
“Come on, Alex. What’s next?”
“You now curve your legs under you and you …” I could hardly raise the strength to say it. “… you enter the woman.”
“Of course, that was it. Thanks, Alex.” I stood there frozen. Listening to silence. Giulio had hung up. He was having sex with my sister. And what was worse, they were doing it in my position. As I slowly walked back to my room, I noticed the light under Francesca’s door. Wardrobes were being opened and closed. Relief rushed over me. How stupid I had been. I pushed open the door. The surprise must have showed on my face. “Alesandro, are you all right? You look pale.” It was my mother, putting away my sister’s freshly ironed clothes. “Where’s Francesca?” I asked desperately. “She’s out with a friend. Why? … Alex? … Alex? You all right? …”
It was too late. I rushed off to the toilet where I threw up not only the large slice of lasagne I’d had for dinner, but also the thick home made sausage in between two ‘pasta-dura’ bread door-stops with cheese, lettuce and … that’s right … sun dried tomatoes.
Boy, I hate wasting good food.
That happened over 20 years ago and I still have that taste in my mouth; big lumps of soft meat and pasta in cheesy tomato sauce. What brought up that taste? Well, it’s what happened today. You see, after that incident, Giulio and I sort of drifted apart. The same with my sister. Francesca and I were never close anyway. She’d moved up to Sydney as a designer. So I didn’t have to continually try avoiding her. Who could blame me?
But I must say, I never spoke of the incident with either Giulio or Francesca. And neither of them mentioned it. Then today happened. There I was, sitting in the Plaza having lunch when Giulio approached me. We hadn’t spoken to each other in over 15 years. And we did exactly what people do after that length of time. We played that game: “Do you remember when…?” He started. “Do you know what I remember most about you, Alex?” “What?”
“I remember how infatuated you were about sex.”
“Me?” He must have me mistaken for someone else. After all, he could talk. “Giulio, it wasn’t me that was infatuated by sex.”
“Sure you were. Don’t you remember all those sex manuals you used to read. All those different positions. And especially how you loved hearing about ‘it’.”
“Oh, please, Giulio, don’t exaggerate.” He was exaggerating.
“I’m not.” He laughed again as if some memory had just opened a door. “Don’t you remember that position, that you always spoke about? What was it? The Tumble …?”
“The somersault.” He still couldn’t remember it. “That’s right, the somersault.” More laughter. To tell you the truth, I couldn’t understand what was so funny. “Did you ever try it, Alex?” “Ah, … no, the whole thing left a real bad taste in my mouth.” “Neither did I.” What did he say? “Pardon?” Did I hear wrongly? “I never tried it either, Alex.”
“It seemed so stupid,” he continued. “The woman puts her head between her feet then …”
“Wait a minute, wait a minute.” I had to find out what on earth he was talking about. “You never tried it?”
“Yes you did … You did it with … with… with …. my sister.” He started really laughing now. “Don’t you remember, Giulio? That night you phoned me. I gave you the instructions. I knew Francesca was with you.” His laughing now became unbearable. People were watching. Even my boss walked past and looked suspiciously in our direction.
“Giulio, Giulio … stop it,” I whispered under my breath. “What’s so funny? You bastard!” I waved to my boss, smiled broadly and falsely and nodded my head in Giulio’s direction. I wanted to give that tight arse the impression that I was a really funny, highly amusing guy and Giulio was laughing at one of my hilarious stories.
Giulio was playing along perfectly. He was overdoing it a bit, though. “Look, I don’t know what’s so funny. Don’t forget, you had sex with my Francesca, in my room, on my floor, on my copy of the Kama Sutra. And I heard you both doing it that night in my position. The Somersault Position.”
A great burst of laughter tumbled from his mouth. He had to try very hard to get out the words: “We … didn’t … do … it.”
“You bastard, Giulio. I know you did. There was a worn patch of carpet on my floor. And I heard you that night when…” I stopped. I suddenly heard a huge penny drop.
“Can you please stop laughing long enough to explain yourself?” Giulio could only speak in between gasps of air. “We didn’t …. We never did it … We made it up …. It was a joke … It was all a joke … I thought you had realised that. You mean … after all these years …?”
I just couldn’t control myself. It started almost spontaneously. At first quietly, then it just got louder and louder. It was laughter. Uncontrollable. It simply engulfed me. We both must have looked like a pair of idiots. Like two drunks teetering from side to side trying to find our balance. Tears were streaming down our faces. Blinding us. I can’t remember ever laughing so hard. Even my boss couldn’t believe it.
He actually edged his way over, a smile breaking across his face as if he was about to join in. “It must be a good joke, Alex,” he said. The comment only intensified our laughter. Giulio swaying, drunk with laughter slapped me on the back.
And that’s when it happened. I threw up right on my boss’s shoes. I could feel those white Tip Top slices rushing up to freedom. Following close behind, was a thin Kraft Cheddar Cheese slice and a slither of Vegemite.
It was lucky, I suppose. Because, as you know, I hate wasting good food.