It's a hot, dark summer night—midnight without moonlight. And someone is getting laid on the tennis court that just happens to be right next to my little home. This would be the ranch style townhouse I affectionately call, "The Hermitage" and friends characterize as a sanctuary. Get the scene?
I was jolted out of night prayers by sounds I initially had trouble placing. First, I thought I was hearing deer. Did you know they screech in the night? This is something I discovered when new housing construction forced their exodus from the nearest forest. Next, I thought maybe my tabby, super mouser that she is, had eviscerated something I'd be swabbing off the kitchen floor by dawn.
But more gradually than it probably should have, I realized I was hearing the sounds of sex. After all, it was highly unlikely that given the gift of human speech, my cat would have opted to cry out "David, oh, oh, David" in increasingly louder and more frantic bleats.
Moans. Gasps. Grunts. Giggles.
Next, the unmistakable sound of a pop-top can being opened; contents under pressure released. Their post-coital conversation was not quite soft enough to mask the fact that these kids were already squabbling.
I don't want to hear any of it.
Nor do I want to march out of my house with a flashlight to tell them...what? Knock it off? Too late for that. So I call the township police who, on a hot summer night, are only too happy to dispatch three cars to the scene. The police officer who arrives on my doorstep for corroborating information is a model of decorum. If he thinks any of this is silly or that I'm being stupid, he's gracious enough to not let me know.
Their post-coital conversation was not quite soft enough to mask the fact that these kids were already squabbling.
No, they're not minors. The girl is eighteen. The boy is twenty-three. They're playing this night game because her parents don't want them in the basement rumpus room. A few other interesting factoids help me figure out that these parents happen to be neighbors. They're sleeping through the whole thing not even five hundred feet from where their daughter is calling out to God at the point of orgasm, a phenomenon I've always found fascinating. When I finally get to sleep at around two o'clock in the morning, I have nightmares that I don't remember, thanks be to God.
Joy does not cometh in the morning. What's wrong with me? God knows—because my parents sure didn't—that I luxuriated in quite a bit of lusty sex the summer I was eighteen. For years, and even now, I'll claim that I didn't lose my virginity but instead chose to relinquish it, doing so under optimal conditions. My high school boyfriend and I were virgins. My parents were away. We explored the physical expression of our abiding adolescent love in my childhood bedroom. Neil Armstrong walked on the moon on that hot summer night on July 21, 1969.
Sex turned out to be quite a powerful drug, although I didn't know it at the time. Nor, could anyone have told me, which is why I spent most of the day after this other girl's hot night feeling annoyed, and then embarrassed, and then uneasy before settling into just plain sad because she has, for whatever reason, decided that this communion with her body isn't sacred enough to warrant vows and a bed. And who, at the point, is going to tell her?
For sure, had anyone told me that my youthful sex antics would have lasting negative consequences, I'd have laughed and said something snippy. But my youthful sex antics did indeed have negative consequences, something I could not perceive until, years later, I found myself repenting my chosen abortions with choking sobs and petitioning the Church to annul two—count them, two—immature, damaged, and damaging marriages. And these, you should know, are only a few reasons why I'm choosing celibacy at this age and stage of my life.
Years after my youthful sex antics, I found myself repenting my chosen abortions and two failed marriages.
I've told both men and women friends about this midnight tennis match. The men break into goofy grins as their eyes dart to the place of memory. They groan and say, "Oh man, weren't you ever young?" when I get to the part about calling the cops.
The women react in the exact opposite way. They groan when I mention the time, place, and manner of this event. They love that I called the police and I, approval junkie that I am, love receiving their affirmation.
The next afternoon, my neighbor's daughter is back on the tennis court, this time with her clothes on and a racquet in her hand. (Oh, I forgot to mention this kid landed a college scholarship based on her tennis game.) I walked to the gate and called her over.
"I'm the one who called the police," I confessed.
She flushed and looked up at the sky before looking back into my eyes. I told her that I, too, was once eighteen.
"You're getting ready to leave for college. You have a great game. Don't mess it up."
"I'm embarrassed," she said.
Oh, how I wish I'd had the guts to answer with, "Good."