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The Shed

By Tina Traster

Memoir

These boys are not from here. Slicked backed hair, body-hugging polyester pants, gold medallions nestled on their exposed, chiseled hairy chests, John Travolta struts. These are the boys I met in Bensonhurst at a disco. I didn’t think they’d come to my backyard party when I handed them a note scribbled with my address.

They emerge from a low-slung black sports car. I’m standing in a cloud of cologne, introducing them to CanarsieHigh School’s Class of 1979. My dad’s eyes narrow. These boys are not from here. They are older. Much older. Maybe 21 or 23. They are working boys and they are great dancers too. The one with the cherry-blond hair looks like Robert Redford, only the Italian version. I hope they will not be bored with us. I fiddle with my halter.

“There’s beer, too,” I say.

Two of them move through the crowd.

The cherry-blond hangs back. He tells me his name again and asks me mine. “This is a nice house you have here,” he says. “Thanks.” I’m at ease with boys my age, boys from Canarsie. This feels different.

“So which one of these boys is your boyfriend?” he asks, gesturing with his chin. I giggle. “Oh these boys are just friends.” “I see.” He stares hard at me for a second.

“Come here,” he says, hooking his hand around my waist, planting it in the small of my back. I arch like a gymnast. “I ain’t gonna bite you.” He draws me in. I glance around to see where my parents are. The night air is thick with damp heat. The sky is scarcely lit by a crescent moon but I see his blue eyes. I feel his hot breath.

We walk through the backyard past my friends. They look blurry. Like soft ballerinas in a Degas painting. We keep moving. Moving toward a quiet place by the side of my house where there is a shed. He says things I don’t hear. I feel like blood will wash from my ears. I keep moving, moving toward that shed. Moving deliberately toward darkness and danger. Unable to stop because a part of me doesn’t want to be stopped.

“Come on,” he whispers, close to my ear. “Let’s go in here where we can be alone.”

“In there? In the shed?”

“Yeah,” he says, tugging my hand. “I want you all to myself.”

I slip into the velvet-black shed filled with summer things and girl-hood. My bicycle. Beach pails. Rusty skates. He is kissing me. The moon-lit streak of light narrows as he pulls the door shut. I want to run. I want to stay. He is kissing me. I kiss back. The shed feels like its spinning.His hands are moving down my body. They are cupped around my buttocks. They move up and under my shirt. I pull away but he grips me hard. Fear mixes with delight. I’m on a scary carnival ride. I want to scream ‘let me off of this thing’ when I know it’s impossible.He says nice things about my body.I like it. He tells me I smell good. He threads his hands through my long hair. Then he takes my hand, runs it down his torso and squeezes it into his unzipped pants. He eases my hand onto his hard penis and keeps it cupped over mine, showing me what to do. He is groaning. I must be doing something right. He releases his hand and says “keep going.” When I do, my hand fills with a sticky liquid. Surprised, I jerk my hand away and run from the shed. I keep my hand balled in a fist until I’m in my house, upstairs in the bathroom, washing it in the pink sink again and again. I can’t wash it away.

I jiggle the bathroom handle to make sure the door is locked. I can’t look in the mirror. I want to cry but I can’t. When I return to the party, I ask Lisa if she’s seen the Bensonhurst boys. They have left.

Suddenly I hear a full-throated mewl from inside the house. It sounds like my mother. I dash inside and run upstairs. My grandmother, sister and father are rifling through a set of drawers in my parents’ bedroom. Clothes are strewn on the floor. My mother’s face is smeared with black mascara. “It’s gone,” my mother wails. “It’s all gone.”

“What’s going on?” I ask. My father stares hard at me.

“Someone stole your mother’s jewelry.”

“What?” I gasp. “Who would do that?”

“I don’t know. I guess one of your friends came in from the backyard and snuck up here….”

“No Tony,” my mother says, in between phlegmy gasps. “I can’t imagine it was any of Tina’s high school friends. I bet it was those boys you invited. The ones I didn’t recognize.”

“What boys?” My words surprise me.

“You know, those boys who looked rough, those Italian boys. Who were they?”

“A bunch of us went to a disco last weekend. We met them and I invited them, thinking…”

“I bet it was them. I knew they were bad news the minute I laid my eyes on them.”

My heart feels likes it’s collapsing in my chest. I work hard to push out breath. For 17 years, I’ve been the good girl, my mother’s delight. Even when I didn’t make cheerleading squad she found reasons that had nothing to do with my imperfect splits or jumps. “You’re my best friend,” she always says. I can’t tell my best friend what happened tonight.

An hour later, the police arrive. My parents tell the pair of officers how the bedroom was ransacked and jewelry was taken.

“Anything else stolen?” one officer asks.

“I don’t think so,” my mother says.

“So you say you think it may have been three boys from Bensonhurst?” he continues. “I don’t know,” she says. 

Then the officer turns to me and with eyes like a hungry cat he asks me how I knew these boys. I look over at my mother and father as though I were a six year old needing a prompt before answering a question. “I, we, a bunch of us, last weekend, we met them at a disco.” “Then what happened?” he asks. “I invited them to the party.” “Do you know their names or where they live?” “No, I say,” telling half-truths. “Where was the disco?” he asks. “I don’t remember,” I say, lying. My mother throws me an eyebrow-arched glance. I look away.

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Tina Traster TINA TRASTER writes the 'Burb Appeal' column for The New York Post and "The Great Divide" blog for the Huffington Post. She is a city girl who has turned her efforts to social commentary on life in a NY-metro area suburb. She is not afraid to "out" bad actors, annoy neighbors, take on bumbling town officials or challenge anyone who messes with her bliss. She lives with her husband, young daugther and four cats in an 1850s reclaimed farmhouse on a beautiful mountain precipice.

Traster is at work on a memoir called Burb Appeal.

You can reach her via email at [email protected]

14 Responses to “The Shed”

  1. Ducky Wilson says:

    What a wonderfully told story. A carnival ride for the reader, too. And a lesson, to boot.

    “Like soft ballerinas in a Degas painting.” – my favorite line.

  2. Thomas Wood says:

    You little Jezebel! (meanwhile, I was cheering you on for your unbridling and all the fun and mystery of youth).

    Two things:
    First, I didn’t have any immediate comment about your writing style, until I realized that I read it, at pace, straight through. I’m a big pauser, and slip pretty easily into the distraction of this word or that gmail ping. Not a once for yours. Terrific pacing, lovely story.

    Second. The natural question. Whatever happened to those boys? For the sake of a grand, full-circle life story (and for lack of imagination) I will assume that the blonde boy of shed prominence is now your husband. He turned his friends in, and you waited for him for six months as he served his time and repaid his debt to society. For stealing your innocence, he has devoted himself to you.

    • Tina Traster says:

      What’s funny about your humorous response is this: there was a boy at that party years ago — a shy, awkward guy who I didn’t pay attention to. We even went to college together but I ignored his adoring glances. Then, 20 years after we each married and divorced, he found me again and I married him. As for the rogue, I assume he’s still in a penitentary somewhere, having been unable to redeem himself. But that’s just a guess!

  3. jmblaine says:

    Now this
    was a well-told story.

    I’m always a mark
    for that right balance
    of economy and detail.

    you got it you got it
    Welcome,
    keep it coming.

  4. Mary says:

    Tina, you are on a roll! i haven’t had much time to read TNB lately, but thanks to this snow, I’m catching up on some much needed reading. So far, everything I’ve seen from you has been powerful stuff. The way you handle that intoxicating and overwhelming mixture of fear and desire … Sharp, lady. Sharp.

  5. Simon Smithson says:

    Wow, what a smooth operator… in terms of his moves, that is. Not his friends (if it was in fact them) swiping your mother’s jewellery. That’s not such a classy move.

  6. Irene Zion says:

    Oh Tina,
    It was hard enough the way it was,
    and then it got even worse,
    and all this badness you couldn’t share with your best friend.

  7. Zara Potts says:

    Oh! This made for some uncomfortable reading! I could almost picture myself in the shed with you and medallion man.
    I had a similar experience in my youth (minus the stolen jewelry) when I met a totally-wrong-for-me-but-amazingly-hypnotic guy who stole many kisses from me and would’ve stolen a lot more if we hadn’t rolled down a bank and into a river, which sobered me up enough to make my escape.
    Gee. Boys. They’re such trouble.
    Welcome.

  8. Marni Grossman says:

    I think you were sort of brave, Tina. To invite those boys. To go with one to the shed. To say yes, come what may.

    I never would have had the guts.

    You lost something, but you gained something too.

  9. Richard Cox says:

    I love reading pieces like this, peeks into the heart and soul of women. Like tiny bits of blue in an otherwise cloudy sky.

  10. Matt says:

    Man, I walked away from this feeling like I’d just had an encounter in a woodshed. Well done.

    Question: do you think the seduction angle was a planned distraction so the others could pilfer the house without you knowing it?

  11. Simon Smithson says:

    Hey Tina – if you want to be trapped in a tiny box like the rest of us when we make comments, just check out http://www.gravatar.com

  12. Angela Tung says:

    “i saw something nasty in the woodshed!’

    i just read cold comfort farm and so that line was ringing through my head.

    such a great story. i hope you write more!

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