The Adventures of Ozzie & Katherine: The First Call Episode
The First Call Episode
After all these years Ozzie’s cousin Donna hadn’t changed. She still thought one of her missions in life was to play matchmaker for all her single family members and friends. But Oz couldn’t complain about her latest scheme. It was nice seeing Katherine again. How many people get to run into and hang out with their first love after almost forty years? It was only for lunch, but it was nice.
As he drove back to Harrisburg on Sunday evening Oz decided he’d give Kay a call on Tuesday or Wednesday. Monday felt too soon. Stalkerish or desperate maybe. He didn’t know her like that anymore, and he didn’t want to impose on her time or seem like he was making assumptions. She’d said she wanted to stay in touch, but wasn’t that what people usually said, even when they didn’t mean it?
But on Monday evening Kay called him.
“Am I terrifying you?” she asked.
“Calling so soon.”
“No, not at all. I’m glad you did.”
“Are you really?”
There she was with those direct questions again. Oz could just imagine how she’d be looking at him if they were face-to-face: Those dark eyes drilling into his, searching and examining his face as she waited for his answer. That mouth. Her lips slightly parted as if in anticipation of something.
She had the same mouth. Oz remembered thinking back in the day that her mouth was perfect. He’d liked kissing her perfect mouth.
“I’m really glad you called.”
“Okay, just checking. Your cousin Donna said you had a disease.”
“Yes. She said, and I quote: ‘He doesn’t know how to pick up a damn phone and call people, so if you ever want to hear his voice again you’d better call him.’”
“Donna’s on drugs,” Oz said.
“No she’s not!”
“Nah, but she acts like it.”
“Is this a good time to call? Are you busy?”
“Not busy at all. Just trying to convince myself that I want a steak bad enough to throw one on the grill.”
“Isn’t it cold there? It’s snowing here.”
“Here, too. But the deck is covered. Anyway, I’d just be out there long enough to throw it on and flip it over.”
“Sounds like fun.”
“Hey, gotta go caveman sometimes. So what are you up to?”
“Talking to you while driving home from work.”
“Be careful talking on the phone driving in the snow.”
“I’m fine. You’re on speaker. Were you going to call me?”
“I was thinking tomorrow or Wednesday.”
“I wasn’t going to wait longer. You might forget who I was; be like, ‘Oz who?’”
“Oh, so I’m going to forget you in two days? Funny.”
Oz couldn’t think of a witty comeback for that, so after a pause he asked, “Where do you work?”
“In Freehold Township, at Sensual You.”
“Sensual You Footwear. It’s a boutique shoe store. I’m assistant manager.”
“So you sell sexy shoes?”
“All shoes are sexy for women who like shoes. But yes.”
At their Sunday lunch Kay wore flat-soled over-the-calf boots. Nothing sexy about those, especially since they hid her legs. Kay’s big, shapely legs were the second thing that attracted him to her when he was eighteen, after her eyes. He couldn’t recall what she’d worn on Saturday. He’d been too busy getting over the shock of seeing her after Donna sprung their surprise reunion on him.
“So you’re into sexy shoes?” he asked.
“Who gets to wear anything sexy when you’re busy juggling six grandkids?”
“Your kids have got you babysitting, huh?”
“Every chance they get. They’re grown, but they still think my life revolves around their needs. Times have changed. When I had Jimmy my mother told me in no uncertain terms that if I wanted to hang out and have fun I needed to get an after school job so I could pay somebody to babysit, because she wasn’t going to do it.”
“You know, I remember that. When we went out one of your friends babysat.”
“Which is why a lot of our dates were on my mom’s living room sofa.”
His first time having sex was on Kay’s mother’s sofa. He’d been nervous because her mother was upstairs, but he had to do it because on their previous time together, as he was leaving Kay asked him why he hadn’t made a move; she’d asked if he was scared. She wasn’t teasing him. She’d explained her question by saying that some guys think they can’t satisfy a woman who’s had a baby. She wondered if that was why after two dates he hadn’t tried to do more than kiss her.
He hadn’t tried to do more because her mother was right upstairs. But by asking if he was scared she’d challenged his idiot male ego. He’d made up his mind that the next time he saw Kay, no matter where they were it was going to happen. It had.
Kay said, “The first time we did it was on the sofa. Remember?”
“Yep. I was scared as shit.”
“You didn’t seem like it. Why were you scared?”
“Because it was my first time and your mother was upstairs.”
“That was your first time?”
“You actually remember it?”
“Of course I do. I thought you didn’t like me or something.”
“You went slow.”
“I didn’t know what I was doing. And your mother was right upstairs.”
“She wouldn’t have come down without warning us. She liked you.”
“I liked her too. I was sorry to know she passed.”
“Thanks Oz. I had no idea I was your first. You never told me that.”
“It never came up.”
“Anyway, you could’ve fooled me.”
Oz doubted that. He hadn’t known how much experience Kay had had before him, but she had a baby that was almost a year old. He’d figured that where sex was concerned not only wasn’t he in her league, he didn’t know how to play the game. He remembered thinking that because she’d had a baby Kay had probably been with dudes who had John Shaft and Billy Dee Williams sexual suavity, while all he’d ever done was dry hump and stick his hand down a girl’s panties and get his fingers wet.
He’d been so nervous the first time they did it that he didn’t get anywhere close to coming, and he’d had no idea whether or not Kay had. In the fuck books he’d read, when women came their orgasms were accompanied by uncontrollable screams and wild thrashing. Kay hadn’t done more than shudder and sigh. He’d stopped and eased out when he figured she was tired of him being on top of her.
He remembered thinking afterward that thanks to his ineptness she’d probably never want to see him again. But on his next visit a few nights later she’d dragged him down to the carpet. That time he came. Then he’d wondered if she was grossed out by him coming inside her. He was still hard, but starting to lose it because of that worry. But instead of shoving him off her in disgust, Kay wrapped her strong legs around his waist and started grinding, resuscitating his desire for her. So she must have been cool with it. He must have done something right. Whatever the hell that something was.
Kay said, “I thought you might’ve had another girlfriend and was saving it for her. Some of the kids at work who knew you said you knew a lot of girls.” They’d met at work—him fulltime and her after school at the furniture factory.
“Knowing girls and having something going on are different things,” Oz said. “You know Donna. She knows damn near everybody in Monmouth County, or knows somebody who knows them. She was the same way back then. Probably most of the girls I knew growing up were because they were her friends. When you and I were dating, you were it for me. I never wanted anybody else.”
“You never said that.”
“The way I was back then, I probably didn’t say anything about anything.”
“Believe me, I remember. Do you remember when I thought I might be pregnant?”
“Yep. You said your period didn’t come.”
“And you didn’t say anything, Oz. When you came over I sat across from you so I could see you when I told you, and all you said was ‘Oh.’ And you didn’t have much else to say the rest of the night. I figured that was it—that you were going to break up with me then because you wouldn’t even talk to me.”
“That must’ve looked bad. But I wasn’t talking because I was thinking.”
“About things like how my job at the furniture factory had just gotten serious. I couldn’t quit just because I got bored or somebody there pissed me off. If you were pregnant then that job wasn’t an option anymore. I remember thinking that I really needed a better job making more money, especially if you’d want to get married.”
“You would have married me if I was having your baby?”
“If you wanted to.”
“Then I’m glad I wasn’t. I wouldn’t want to marry you because you felt obligated.”
Oz had felt obligated then. A couple of months later he’d considered marrying her out of desperation. That was after Gary had moved back from Georgia and it looked like Kay was getting back with him. He’d been desperate because by then he was in love with Kay. He just hadn’t known it.
Though she was his first love, he didn’t regret breaking up with Kay. He’d had to break up with her for himself—for his youthful male pride and to prove to himself that he would never allow himself to be used, no matter what he might lose as a result. Though he’d been too young to fully understand why he’d needed to move on, a part of him knew that he could not lose part of himself so that he might have someone else. He had suffered for his loss, but he’d survived, with some regret.
Oz had never regretted losing the girl. That was what it was. What he’d regretted was not having the wisdom to know he was in love with Kay while they were together. He’d missed the experience of being in first love while it was happening. That was a chance you only get once in life.
First love was pure and beautiful because it was unmarked by the scar tissue of past disappointment and heartbreak. Any love that came after could be good, even better in some ways. But after a first love, you slipped a subsequent love on carefully. When trying it on and wearing it you are always conscious of rubbing it against old scars. Oz regretted that he’d missed the chance to experience scar-free love because he hadn’t recognized it when he had it.
“I had to test you that night,” Kay said. “I couldn’t let you just walk out. I had to know if we were still together.”
Oz smiled to himself. “I remember.”
“No you don’t.”
“Red body shirt and white painter jeans.”
“That’s what you were wearing. I was parked in your driveway, so when I was leaving you walked me through the kitchen. I kissed you goodnight at the door, but you wouldn’t stop kissing me.”
“You do remember,” Kay laughed. “Even what I was wearing?”
“Impossible to forget. You started unbuckling my belt and pulling me back into the kitchen to the table while we were kissing.”
“And you pushed me down into a chair…”
“And you pulled one leg out of your white jeans and straddled me. Your red body shirt snapped in the crotch…”
“I’m driving on 537 right now and I’m grinning like an idiot.”
“Trust me; I’ve grinned through many fond memories of that night. Because of you I have a fetish for kitchen chairs.”
“And I remember the next time I came over you said I must’ve knocked something loose because you got your period. And you said that if I hadn’t done it before I left you would’ve told me not to come back.”
“You wouldn’t talk to me, Oz. I figured if you didn’t want me because I was pregnant then I wasn’t going to try to hold you.”
“That never crossed my mind.”
“You proved that in the kitchen. Too bad we didn’t talk like this back then.”
“We were kids. We didn’t know jack about life.”
“Do you ever wonder ‘what if?’?”
“Sure. It’s human nature to wonder.”
“So, change of subject…”
“I checked the Amtrak schedules from here to you…”
“You did, huh?”
“If I take a train without a transfer I can be there in about an hour.”
“’Cool’ as in it’s okay for me to visit?”
“No ladies to watch out for?”
“So when can I come?”
“If you wear jeans and a body shirt, whenever you want.”
“There’s a train on Friday that’ll get me there just after 9:00 p.m.”
“That works. I’ll be there to pick you up.”
“And just so you know Oz, a body shirt isn’t going to happen. I’m not one hundred-fifteen pounds anymore.”
“You still look good Kay.”
“You’re a liar, but thank you. So you’re still going to call me tomorrow?”
“Definitely. And I’m looking forward to seeing you Friday night.”