The Back of Paradise

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The characters in this story are over eighteen.

The narrator may or may not be the same guy as in Springtime at the Paradise, which takes place in the same theater two years later. However, it’s probably on a different timeline.


Most of us of a certain age remember the 1989 teen romantic comedy, Say Anything. It’s actually an adult fantasy about how they wished teen life had been for them. Yet it struck a nerve with me when I saw it because of the early scenes with high school senior Lloyd Dobbler. At the opening of the film, at his own graduation, he is utterly infatuated with his classmate Diane Court.

Of course, it’s completely improbable how he keeps his interest in Diane secret for the entire senior term and then wins her over during the summer after graduation. To me, it’s amazing that his close friend, another girl named Corey Flood, never makes a move on him. She already has an interest in him; she even says at one point, “I wish there were more guys like Lloyd Dobbler.” Instead, Corey gives him advice on how to get Diane, whom she should regard as a rival — and one who could be easily overcome if Corey had put some effort into it.

My version of Diane was at The Bronx High School of Science in New York, at the end of my senior term in 1973. It was one of two such schools in the city (the other being Stuyvesant in Manhattan) that required an entrance exam and other prerequisites to be admitted. It had a reputation as a nerdy place, but except for a few genuine prodigies, it didn’t seem to be that different from other schools. Then again, I didn’t have any other high school experience to compare it to.

Miriam Dubinsky was not going to be valedictorian like Diane Court. Also, she was a bit short, about five-foot-two. Yet she wasn’t bad looking; she had nice reddish-brown hair and a well-shaped if compact body. What she didn’t have was the slightest interest in me.

Somehow, despite her indifference, I developed a huge crush on her. The worst part of it was that I was truly stuck with her for months. We were in the same physics class, one which had an old-school teacher who had us sit in assigned seats in alphabetical order. Her last name put her right next to me. To top it off, we had to be “lab partners” when we had physics lab on Friday afternoons.

I didn’t try to pester her too much; for one thing, my attempts to have conversations with her always fell flat. Eventually she picked up a vibe from me, and she seemed to be annoyed and even disdainful about my inevitable presence. (Later on, I would figure out that most women have great instincts about the social scene around them.)

Nowadays, I’ve heard the term “oneitis” to describe a male’s fixation on a particular girl. Except, there was nothing to justify this interest in her. Like with Lloyd Dobbler, I had made up a fantasy version of her that didn’t exist. I knew how dysfunctional that was, but I couldn’t stop myself.

What made it worse was that nearing the end of my senior year and having passed the age of eighteen, I had never been on a single date. And there wasn’t any version of Corey Flood around, a friendly girl who could take me away from my misery with Miriam. Yet in the final few weeks of the term, one such girl did show up from the very same physics class.

Her name was Lynn Kepler, and I had never said a word to her. She seemed quiet, but I got the feeling it wasn’t because of shyness. Later I found out that she was indifferent to the high school social scene, and like many of us by that point she just wanted to get on with the next stage of her life.

During that term, she sat behind me and off to the right, and I rarely noticed her. She wasn’t really plain but neither was she very pretty, or rather she didn’t do anything to doll herself up. To me, she was just a generic girl like hundreds of thousands of others in the city.

She was taller than Miriam, maybe about five-foot-seven. Her dark hair usually hung down to her shoulders. She was slender but perhaps it was more accurate to call her “flat.” There were almost no curves to her breasts or behind. Of course, since she attended that school, she had to be pretty smart.

I would sometimes see Lynn at the bus stop opposite mine at 205th Street. I would be waiting for the Bx15 which would take me mostly east towards home. Her Bx15 would take her somewhere to the south. Occasionally she would be there talking to one or two other girls, and sometimes she’d be alone.

One sunny day near the end of May I was at my stop to go home, looking superfluous perhaps. Instead of being reasonable about it and anticipating my romantic prospects at college (I had already committed to City College), I was still pondering how I could get Miriam over the summer. That was completely nonsensical since I knew she was going to Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. Even when she had semester breaks, she’d probably be at home in Bayside, Queens, istanbul escort which was a very long way from where I lived in The Bronx.

In those days the MTA didn’t provide luxuries like bus shelters with seats. On this nice spring day, I just leaned on the bus stop pole. I noticed Lynn Kepler by herself at the opposite corner, and she seemed to be looking at me. After briefly glancing away from her, I turned back and she was still looking. Then she started to cross the street in my direction. It must just be a coincidence; she couldn’t possibly be coming over here to see me.

However, as soon as she was up on the curb on my side of the street, she started talking to me, “Hi Paul, you know me, I’m Lynn from your physics class.” She wasn’t smiling, but from what little I had seen of her she didn’t seem like a bubbly kind of chick.

“Oh sure, I know you.” That was about the limit of my conversational ability.

“If you don’t mind me asking, where are you going to college next year?” She came over here to ask me that?

“It’s City College; it’s in upper Manhattan.”

“I’m going to Fordham; that’s pretty close.” All right, so what? “Ah, are you going home right now?”

“Yeah, I live just off Gun Hill Road near White Plains.”

“Are you in any particular hurry to get there?”

I didn’t get the point of that question, but I replied, “No, I don’t have anything particular to do there.” Eventually, I’d have to do some homework, but it wasn’t that onerous on that day.

“Well, I don’t have anything to do either. We should go somewhere together, I mean right now.”

I tried to process what I had just heard. Did this girl just ask me for a date? I took a moment to assess her.

She was wearing a skirt today that came down just above her knees — I had seen her in a skirt before, but not often — a white pullover blouse, and a jacket. The latter wasn’t a windbreaker, but a fairly classy kind of blazer. Her footgear consisted of sneakers and white ankle socks. I supposed that was her idea of getting dressed up, although I didn’t have much skill for that either.

I assumed it was my male role to think of a destination. By sheer luck, I suppose, I didn’t make it into a question. “We should go to Fordham Road and see what movies are playing there.”

“That sounds fine.” So I had been correct about assuming that she had really asked me for a date. She still had her serious expression. I had heard that girls would get nervous and fiddle with their hair or get giggly in a situation like this, but I saw nothing like that. She made a little gesture, “So then, come over to my side of the street.”

I was still trying to make sense of all this. How did all those years go by, and then at the very end one of the four hundred girls in my class suddenly emerge and find me? What had she seen in me that led her to that decision? I wasn’t that tall or “ripped,” as the expression is now. Maybe she had been my secret admirer a while, much like I had been the barely secret admirer of Miriam during that period.

Lynn was sociable during the twenty-minute ride to Fordham. Back then New York buses had seats lined up along the sides facing inwards, and we sat in adjacent seats. Some of the windows were open to let in the warm spring air. I found out that she lived in the east Bronx and transferred to the Bx12 or the Bx22. I told her a sort of engaging story about how I had to perform in a play in my Spanish class the year before.

I said, “There is this really strange guy I know named Mark, and he translated a story by H.P. Lovecraft into Spanish. Everybody in the class was divided into groups, and there were three of us who had to perform this little skit in front of the class.”

“What was it about?”

“It was this ridiculous thing about a mad scientist who reanimates a corpse. The guy playing the corpse had to lie flat on the teacher’s desk.”

“I wish I could have seen this thing.” For the first time, she seemed amused.

“You didn’t miss much. The group ahead of us did a comedy bit that was really popular, and then we had to come on with this lugubrious little act.”

She said, “So it didn’t kindle any dreams in you of becoming an actor?”

“No, I hated doing it.”

“So I suppose I’m going to meet this Mark guy at some point.”

“I’m sure you will.” Then it struck me that she was implying that we would see each other after today. I looked at her and noticed that she had a white hairband across the top of her head. She looked prettier than I had noticed before.

I thought, this seems to be going better than I would have expected. At least I wasn’t boring the shit out of her. She seemed interested in what I was saying.

When we got to Fordham Road, there were four theaters to choose from, but I decided to check on the largest first, the 1929-vintage Loew’s Paradise. At that time it was avcılar escort still one huge space with nearly 4,000 seats. Later it would become a triplex and then a quad before closing forever.

Soylent Green was playing there that day. I had read the novel it was based on, and I instinctively went with male decisiveness. “Let’s see this.” By chance, it was due to start in about ten minutes. Once inside, she used her own initiative, “I want to sit near the back.”

I wasn’t sure why she wanted to do that. As was usual for a midday weekday showing, there were only about fifteen other people in the huge auditorium, and they were all at least halfway towards the front. But her request seemed simple enough, so we picked the third from the last row.

I relaxed a bit, and I remembered the time I had been in here by myself to see The New Centurions and the theater had been just as empty as it was now. I mentioned that to Lynn.

In those days, the fifteen minutes between showings only had orchestral music on the sound system and the house lights were on. Nowadays, the screen is never dark, with continuous commercials playing for everything from Bounty Towels to the Air National Guard.

The relatively quiet gap in those days had an advantage. It let the moviegoer have a transitional period to settle into the seat and get prepared for the movie to start.

Lynn said, “You know, we’re going to have our graduation in here next month.”

“I almost forgot about that.”

“So how do you feel about finally getting out?”

“I don’t know, I feel like I’ve been there for so long I don’t know anything else.” At eighteen, four years seems like a very long time.

She replied, “The problem with high school is that you come in as a kid and you’re not by the time you reach the end. Like with Mr. Landau, he’s got everybody in assigned seats by alphabetical order.” That was our physics teacher, the one who had fixed me in place with Miriam Dubinsky for all those months.

“Well, he wouldn’t be happy unless he could take attendance every day in his Delaney Book. You know what some guy said about Science? He said, ‘I went there to get out.’ “

I supposed Lynn was amused by that because she smiled at me. I was beginning to like her. A lot of girls at our school seemed more than a bit stuck-up, and some of the rest were painfully shy. Lynn, on the other hand, seemed low-key but friendly. I wondered again if she had been keeping tabs on me recently but not telling me about it. Anyway, I liked the idea of having a girl with me at the movies.

After the lights dimmed, there were ads for “coming attractions,” as they called trailers back then; I think there were only two of those. Then the movie started, and I was engaged enough in it that I thought little of Lynn next to me for a moment.

The opening montage showed idyllic American scenes from the late 19th Century, then increasingly frenetic industrialization to the present or perhaps the near future. I thought, if the 19th Century was so great, why did they have labor unrest like the Pullman Strike and the Molly Maguires? How about child labor, draft riots, and the Ku Klux Klan?

Then there was a title that said, “New York City, 2022,” which was quite a bit later than the 1999 of the novel. Based on the background scene, I was briefly disappointed that there probably wasn’t going to be any location filming in the city. That was about the last thing I remember about the film because at that point Lynn quite dramatically imposed herself on me.

She was sitting to my left, and she put her right hand on my left one and squeezed it. I held it and squeezed back. It seemed merely to be an affectionate gesture.

Then, after a few moments, she ran her hand up my arm and put her own arm around my shoulders. I felt her pull me towards her and she leaned in on me. I looked into her face, and I guessed that she wanted me to kiss her. I figured I had nothing to lose by trying, so I did tentatively do that and she kissed back warmly.

Wow, she wants a make-out session already. I had never been kissed before, and I was impressed by how good it felt. It seemed like I could happily do that all afternoon.

But Lynn soon escalated the situation. She dropped her right hand into my lap and started rubbing my crotch. I didn’t say anything, but I had a jumble of thoughts. In one way, it was great that she had a sexual interest in me. But the abruptness of it surprised me. Man, this girl is really, really fast.

A few moments later she unzipped my pants and took out my erect cock. It had been stiff since the beginning of the make-out session. Her right hand stroked it. At that point I had a lucid thought. I wonder if she is something like a nymphomaniac. (Now it’s called hypersexual disorder.) I had no idea how nymphomaniacs actually did things, but perhaps this was one symptom.

Yet despite my doubts, I was an şirinevler escort eighteen-year-old virgin and I wasn’t going to tell her to stop. Biology was taking over. I whispered to her, “Lynn, that feels so good.”

“Hold on a second; I’ll make it easier.”

She stopped for a moment to retrieve a tube of hand cream from her purse. Then she applied that to me and went back to work. Her left hand held my cock by the base while her right one stroked me from top to bottom and back again.

I had heard of women who would go into porn theaters and give handjobs and even blowjobs to the male patrons. But in my mind, those chicks had to be depraved sluts, not nice girls like Lynn. Nevertheless, her hands on me felt infinitely better than jerking myself off.

Then it occurred to me: if she was fondling me like this, then I had the go-ahead to touch her too. I moved my left arm out and put it under her skirt. It must have been the right thing to do because she swung around and put her right leg up on the seat.

I briefly looked at the sprinkling of other patrons far down to the front. They appeared as silhouettes, but I knew Lynn and I were bathed in the light from the screen. But it seemed the other people were engaged in their movie-going experience and wouldn’t be concerned about what was happening in the back of that vast room.

My attention turned back to Lynn, and I felt her along her warm inner thigh. Then my fingers were on her panties. I pulled the cloth aside and had my first ever feel of bare cunt. I wished I could actually see it.

I moved my fingers up and down along her slit, which felt quite damp. This chick seems to be turned on already. I looked at her face. Her head was tilted back and her mouth was open a bit. She saw me glancing at her and she quietly said, “Please do that; it’s so nice.”

Isn’t this called third base in that ridiculous baseball analogy? And isn’t this what guys once took their girlfriends to drive-ins for? Heavy petting was the old term for it. Mutual masturbation was the blunter and more accurate way to describe it. Of course, we didn’t have a car with us now.

It was surprisingly difficult to coordinate all of this. Lynn solved the problem for me. She whispered to me, “I’ll do you first and then you take care of me. Pull your pants down.”

The meaning of that that was very clear. And she was very good at what she was doing to me. In a few minutes, I felt my climax approaching. She quietly said, “I can feel it, you’re going to come.” I tried to lean forward and spread my legs so that most of it would go on the floor, not my pants, and I mostly succeeded. I also tried to keep my voice down, but I softly groaned a couple of times. The main spurts went up and out and I heard Lynn say, “Oh man, that looks so great.”

Then, I tried to catch my breath and get my wits together. Before I could do that, she grabbed my left hand and put it under her skirt again. This time, she got both feet up on the seat and splayed her legs out. Now I could see her underpants, modest white schoolgirl panties. I got two fingers into her cunt and she put one of her own hands down to work on her clitoris.

It didn’t take her long to come, and it seemed to happen quite suddenly. I could feel her quiver, and then her body stiffened and seemed to have several spasms. Her vagina tightened around my fingers. She quietly said something like, “Oh, oh, oh!” Then she settled back and so did I.

But then she was up again, and she had her arms around me as she kissed me. We sat there for a bit with our faces pressed together. I was exceedingly pleased that we had given each other orgasms and yet I was very confused, rattled even, by the suddenness of those actions. I looked forward, and Charlton Heston was on the screen, wearing a cap and doing something incomprehensible. Our fellow theatergoers were oblivious to what had happened behind them. I wondered if Lynn had done stunts like this one before with other guys.

It seemed it was my male obligation to resolve the situation, so I said, “You’re not watching this, are you?”

“Oh no, I have no idea what is going on in this film.”

“So let’s go and get something to eat.”

“That’s fine; I’m kind of hungry.”

“I just have to go to the men’s room and wash up.”

“I should wash up too. Meet me outside.”

In the bathroom, when I went to the sink, I sniffed my fingers first. The aroma of cunt, which I had never known before, was very strong.

On my way out through the elaborate “Italian Baroque” lobby, I had the paranoid thought that Lynn would be gone when I reached the street. Then tomorrow, in class, she’d act like none of this had happened

However, out on the Grand Concourse, Lynn was standing near the curb with her hands folded in front of her. So modest-looking, so prim. As I approached her, I had no idea what to say. Her demeanor was different. She seemed a bit nervous then, perhaps even uncomfortable about what she had just done. But then I wasn’t really at ease about what I had done either.

She spoke first, expressing some doubt, “Are you going somewhere now?”

“No, why would I be going?”

“Maybe you think I’m a bit weird.”

I had a comeback, “Well, I’m pretty weird too.”

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