It’s my birthday.
I am fifteen wishing I was twenty,
and I am with Julienne
walking up Washington Street,
and she is definitely twenty
or maybe even older,
and I am in love with her and to me
she is everything, everything, everything.
My mom says she is a nymphomaniac–
But, really, I don’t know what exactly that means,
but my best friend Russ and I agree:
a nymphomaniac probably likes having lots of sex,
and I am walking up the street beside Julienne
because I want her to have lots of sex with me.
But around me, she acts absolutely normal,
like a girl should act, not like the girls in my class,
and I don’t care that she doesn’t act
like a nymphomaniac
because she is beautiful with suntan skin,
long brown hair and strands that seem to float
in the stifling summer air,
and today she has a yellow daisy near her ear
and she wears a red lipstick that grabs you inside
along with her dark eyebrows and sparkly hazel eyes.
And her breasts, Julienne’s breasts are everything
I could ever want, bouncing firm and free
under her strapless summer dress,
a soft dress with highlights of red and green flowers,
and her toe nails poke ruby red from out of her sandals,
and I can hardly believe my luck walking beside her.
She is a goddess who makes me feel like I am somebody,
not just a stupid kid who turned fifteen,
as we walk together past the college campus
in the white heat of a weekday afternoon.
She represents everything I want love to be.
Oh god, if she would only stay forever beside me.
I am thrilled to be in her presence,
walking up Washington Street,
and Washington Street is full of freaks,
long-hairs, and hippies so cool,
nobody thinks of anything, like school,
but they see us and she is talking to me.
And that’s the only birthday gift I want:
to be older and, like her, in college.
Just being beside her is like I’ve aged,
and, with her, I am a hipster too,
not a kid in a wrinkly t-shirt
that says Get Smart,
wearing stupid-looking madras shorts,
and clomping along with hairy legs
and feet too big for me in old sneakers.
On this sidewalk, right now, I am alive,
and I want to cry with happiness-
and not just because
my mom says Julienne is a nymphomaniac-
to me Julienne is so worldly and wise
and she talks as if we are all equals,
regardless of our ages and whether or not
I am a guy, and she is smart and an artist
and someone who sees the world
in a bouquet of hand-picked flowers.
She tells me she is heading to Chicago
because everyone is going to be there
at the Democratic National Convention.
and I am shocked,
I didn’t know this and now that I am fifteen
I should know all about this.
Everyone will be protesting the war
at the Democratic National Convention
and she says I should go too.
Boy, what would I give to protest the war
with her if she would only take me.
I will have to ask my mother,
and I know my mom won’t let me go.
I flunked ninth grade and she is so
mad at me she won’t let me do anything
but sit in summer school every morning,
even on my birthday.
She says I’m not dumb and thinks
I flunked because my dad left, but she says
I’ve got to get into tenth grade,
because she can’t take it anymore.
But she will think this is a smart thing
to do before entering high school in the fall,
even if I have to miss a few classes of geometry
and, fucking, earth and space science.
But I have no choice if I want to be
with Julienne, my beautiful nymphomaniac.
I want to soak in her aura.
I want to march with her in Lincoln Park passing out flowers.
I want to light hundreds of candles with her at night.
I want to lie with her in my sleeping bag
so she can show me
what it feels like to have sex with someone.
My best friend Russ and me
swore an oath as twelve-year-old’s
not to die as virgins.
Now that I am fifteen
I know my odds of dying a virgin are increasing,
but being in Chicago with a nymphomaniac
can change everything.
Another friend, Bruce, from school told me
he went to Julienne’s apartment earlier in the summer
to buy some pot
and she was lounging naked as a jaybird
on her couch
and he nearly fainted.
She was with some naked guy with his penis hanging out.
Later, in the summer, Bruce told me it wasn’t her
but someone else and she looked really good too.
But that truly is beside the point:
imagining Julienne naked on her couch
sharing a joint with my penis hanging out
is wild. I am thinking exactly that
walking with her up Washington Street
when she asks me what I’m thinking.
I tell her it’s my birthday.
She asks how old I am and I say nineteen.
She smiles at that and says Happy Birthday.
Maybe she will invite me
into her apartment on Washington Street
and share a birthday joint with me.
I have one in my wallet that I saved
for today that my older sisters gave me.
No girl other than my sisters
have ever shared a joint with me.
I have never, ever, even seen a girl
smoke a joint, other than my sisters,
but they don’t count
even though they often have weed.
My sisters don’t know Julienne’s a nymphomaniac,
I work as a busboy at night, night after night
in my family’s restaurant and pub,
and Julienne often waves to me
coming in the door.
When she leaves the bar,
she’s always with a different guy,
she’s not as friendly to me, maybe even sad
when we catch each other’s eyes
as I watch them go out the door.
I once overheard my mom talking to a bartender
and several of the waitresses she calls friends.
She said Julienne must be the town’s
nymphomaniac and shook her head.
My older brother Charley, who has a ton of Playboys
under his bed, says, so what, it’s better than being
a college prude like so many of the girls on campus.
Julienne asks me where I am going?
She stops at the walkway to her apartment.
She is smiling at me and, inside, I am quivering.
I say, I dunno. I was walking uptown to buy some comics
with the five dollars my great aunt sent me.
I am tired of growing up last, being at home and I hate this town.
and I don’t want to celebrate my birthday around a picnic table
at the lake this coming weekend.
Julienne says, you are the only guy I trust.
I know you always watch out for me.
Always, I stammer, but, Julienne, I am not nineteen.
She pulls the daisy from out of her hair.
I know, she says, you are much older.
she hands me her yellow flower.
Happy Birthday, kid. Maybe I’ll see you in Chicago.
I say, I hope so! and I do. I make this my only wish,
but I know I’ll be busing tables for my mother
the rest of the summer.