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Let Yourself Go

by Selena Jardine

It was the song last night that made me think of Rob again, for the first time in years. And what a song! An Elvis song, for chrissake! I’ve never been into Elvis, slouching there with his sneer and his pompadour and his lightning-bedecked jumpsuits, going uh-huh, uh-huh. I find him tacky and vaguely creepy. Didn’t he marry his teenage cousin, or something? Shouldn’t he be the mascot of West Virginia?

And yet when I heard that song last night, Let Yourself Go, I found myself transfixed. That slick velvet voice, the only reason why anyone ever went to Memphis, was nothing compared to the words he was singing.

Well baby I'm gonna teach you what love's all about tonight
Trust me honey everything's gonna be all right
Just do like I do there ain't nothing to it
Listen to me baby anybody can do it
All you gotta do is just let yourself go


Why did that music take me straight back to eleventh grade? I was fifteen then, and young for my class; I wasn’t listening to Elvis. I was listening to pop music: Elton John, Paul Simon, Steve Miller. Paradise by the Dashboard Light. Quicksilver Girl. Roxanne. Every song had a meaning to me then; it wasn’t just background noise. Of course, to a fifteen-year-old girl, everything does have a meaning, a profound meaning, an illimitable meaning that only she can truly understand and that she can only express through bad poetry in blank verse. I wrote a lot of bad poetry in those days.

Most of the poetry, and especially the stuff I didn’t show even to my best friend, was about Rob Ibrahim. Not that I was in love with him. I certainly was not in love with him, no sir, no way, no how, and there was evidence to prove it. The best evidence, of course, was that he already had a girlfriend. Rob was older than I was, a senior, eighteen already. Heather was his umpteenth girlfriend, of course, and rumor had it that he was pretty experienced, but she was the first one I really liked, and everyone knows it’s impossible to fall in love with someone who’s already attached if you like his girlfriend. Heather was a sweetie (though not the sharpest knife in the drawer); ergo, I could not be in love with Rob.

Then there was the fact that I enjoyed his company. If I’d been in love with him, it would ordinarily have made friendship impossible. Anguish, misery, cold sweats—the usual accoutrements of unrequited teenage love tend to get in the way of a comfortable, bantering relationship between a fifteen-year-old and an eighteen-year-old. And that was what we had. I’d known him since grade school. He was smart, he was funny, and he read for pleasure, and the trifecta made him an irresistible lunch companion, someone to seek out on weekends when he wasn’t closeted with Heather. He liked me, too. I could tell. If he hadn’t been dating someone else, things might have been different. He often gave me shy, appreciative smiles when I said something funny or dressed in a particularly short skirt. But he was dating someone else, and that was the end of that.

Sort of. But then why the poetry, written late at night and stuffed under the bed?

God, it makes me blush to say it even now, years later. (And to think of that poetry, too. My mother probably found half of those scraps of paper when she was cleaning. I ought to pray she gets Alzheimer’s.) I wasn’t in love. I was in plain ordinary lust. Every time I saw Rob in the hallways at school, my eyes lingered on his curly dark hair and his big brown eyes, then traveled to his broad baseball player’s shoulders and his flat stomach and his gorgeous ass. It was all I could do not to throw him to the ground (Watch your head on the lockers! I could hear someone cry, faintly, in my imagination) and… and…

Well, that was the problem, wasn’t it? I wasn’t quite sure what came next. Oh, I knew, of course, in principle. My mother, bless her, had told me The Facts of Life when I was seven years old. But I hadn’t had any hands-on experience, so to speak. Not only had I never seen an actual human penis, I had never even seen a decent photograph of one. The closest I’d ever come was the alarming cutaway diagram in the biology textbook. You know the one? One leg, one testicle, one-half penis, first flaccid and then, by some miracle of engineering, erect?

I didn’t have boyfriends in high school, or not often, and not for long. I told myself then that I was too intelligent for the pimply oafs who lounged around our school halls, smelling of Right Guard and acne medicine. (Looking back—hindsight is often slightly better than twenty-twenty, peering over its spectacles—it may have been the poetry.) Yet I slid into a puddle of unfocused lustbunny yearning whenever I saw the beautiful Rob. I needed to know more, and I needed to know it soon, or a certain ticking time bomb was going to go messily off in the halls of Westminster High.

Well, any red-blooded girl would have done what I did next: the Grand Experiment. Wouldn’t she?

I think now that only high-school girls have the incredible cunning necessary to operate on two levels at once and have those levels be utterly divorced from one another. On one level, I went breezily about my business, going to classes and clubs, hanging out with friends, biding my time. On another level, a deeper one, I planned my Grand Experiment with care: what I was going to do and when I was going to do it. It was a little like dealing with my own parents: I never had a chance to be nervous, because I never told myself just exactly what I was going to do.

All this time, my music played along: Jackson Browne, Creedence, Meat Loaf. Sweet Home Alabama. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. I sang along, in the car, in the shower, walking to school. Illimitable meaning, poetry under the bed.

  One spring weekend, The Grand Experiment went into effect. My folks were gone for the day to a craft fair in Winchester.

“Sure you don’t want to come, honey?” asked my mother, looking at me a little wistfully.

“Do you want me to get into college, or not?” I demanded. “I have to study for the SATs or I’ll wind up at Podunk Hicktown Junior College, sweeping the floors and gathering what information I can off the ditto sheets I pick up in the classrooms.”

She laughed. “Okay. We’ll be back around five and maybe we can go out for Chinese afterward.” She kissed me on the forehead, and they left.

As soon as they were gone, I sprang up and paced the floor nervously for a moment. I went to the phone, picked it up, dropped it back in its cradle. Then I picked it back up again. I dialed Rob’s number, then hung up before it could ring. Dialed the first three digits, then hung up again.

I’ll spare you the rest of the Telephonic Dance of the Teenage Girl. Suffice it to say that I finally managed to connect to Rob’s house, and to wait long enough for him to answer the telephone.


“Rob, it’s me, Janet.”

“Janet!” There was warm pleasure in his voice. “Hey! I was just wondering if you wanted to get together this weekend. Heather’s gone on a cheerleading retreat and I’m all by myself. Want to catch a movie or something?”

I cleared my throat. I knew perfectly well Heather was on a cheerleading retreat. It was part of my Grand Experimental Plan. Still, for a moment I thought I wasn’t going to be able to go through with it. Then I said, “Actually I was thinking I could just come over to your place and we could…”—I drew a deep breath—“…visit,” I said.

There was a long, thoughtful silence on the other end of the telephone. I was terrified he was going to say, “Visit? What are you talking about?” or just emit a belly laugh.

Instead, he said, “That sounds nice. Are you coming over now?”

“Yes,” I said, and I hung up before he—or I—could say another word.

When I arrived at Rob’s house, I hesitated by the door before knocking. I’ve done this a million times, I told myself. We’re just going to hang out. But still I waited a moment, nervous. Then the door opened, and Rob was there, leaning on the door-frame. I dissolved into liquid Jell-O.

“Hi,” he said, grinning. “Were you planning to ring the bell by telepathy? It’s a good thing I saw your car.”

“No,” I said, “I was just…” and didn’t know how to end the sentence. But it didn’t seem to matter. I followed him down the hallway.

“My parents are gone for the afternoon,” he said over his shoulder. We passed the kitchen and the tidy living room, the shades drawn against the afternoon sun. “Some craft fair or something.”

“Really?” I said. “Mine are, too. They’ll probably see each other.” And then suddenly I was short of breath, because I was in his room. He’d clearly made some attempt to clean up, because I could see the dresser and the desk, and his bed was made. Usually there were clothes and papers everywhere, guitars, books stacked up, weeks-old pizza under the bed.

Then I noticed Rob was sitting on the made bed. This Grand Experiment was going pretty fast. I stood, awkward, not knowing what to do with my hands. There was a silence.

Then Rob sighed, and smiled, and reached out for my hand. “Come here,” he said. “Isn’t this what you came for?” And since it so manifestly was, I walked toward him, perfectly balanced, one-half frightened rabbit to one-half melted river of gold.

Now don't be afraid just relax and take it real slow
Cool it baby you ain't got no place to go
Just put your arms around me real tight
Enjoy yourself baby don't fight
All you gotta do is just let yourself go


“Don’t be scared,” he said.

He kissed me, unexpectedly to my mind, on the cheek. I jumped a little.

“Relax,” he said. “We’re not in any hurry.”

I tried to relax. After all, this was my idea, wasn’t it? My mind was racing, remembering that horrible cutaway diagram, thinking of everything I’d learned in Family Life class. What if I didn’t live up to his expectations? What if I did something stupid? What if…

He kissed me. He took my chin in his hand and held the back of my head and kissed me. All of a sudden, I wasn’t thinking about anything at all. I saw against my closed eyes the pattern the sunshine made, coming through the blinds. When he stopped kissing me, my entire body felt stretched and relaxed, and I realized that my arms were around him.

He smiled at me.

“That’s better, isn’t it?” he said. I nodded. It was. “Been studying for English class?” he asked.


“Um, yes,” I said. Did he want to talk schoolwork? Had I done something wrong?

“I read Othello, but that play’s a bitch,” he said. “Explain it to me, would you?”

“Oh,” I said. “Okay.”

If that was what he wanted, the Grand Experiment had failed, but crying about it would have to wait until later. I felt shaky. I sat back a little bit on the bed and thought.

“Othello, okay, he’s a really standout soldier. I’m not sure everyone in the class understands that well enough.”

And then, with delicacy and deliberation, even as I spoke, Rob began unbuttoning my blouse. My exposition of Othello came to a screeching halt.

“Keep going,” he said, grinning at me. “Every time you start talking in class, I’ve wanted to do this. I want to see how long you can keep it up.”

I wasn’t sure I could even remember the name of the play any more. A smile spread over my face. Rob reached down and adjusted himself in his pants. I did that, I thought quite clearly.

“Go on,” Rob said. “Othello. Standout soldier.”

“Oh. Yeah. Othello,” I said, as Rob’s fingers moved down the front of my blouse, brushing my skin. “He’s this really good soldier, and Desdemona, she…”

Rob had my shirt open now. His forefinger traced a pattern over my breasts, finding the bumps of my nipples through my bra. I hissed in breath. He looked at me, then sat up and took his own shirt off over his head. I looked at his smooth skin, the color of teak. I hesitated, my cheeks burning, then reached out and lightly touched one of his broad shoulders, stroking down to his chest. He shivered a little.

All you need is just a little rehearsal
The first thing that you know
You'll be ready for the grand finale
So come on baby let's go


“Desdemona?” he asked politely. His thumbs were rubbing over my nipples now.

“Desdemona loved him at first because he was a soldier, that’s the part our class missed,” I said without bothering to breathe. He reached behind me as I was speaking and unfastened my bra, then put his arms around me. I was stroking his warm body all over now, chest, shoulders, back. I wanted to kiss him again, and I shyly kissed his bicep, which was nearest. He flexed for me, and I laughed.

“All the things she says about being devoted to him, they’re based on his past,” I told him. “He…” and then Rob’s mouth came down on my nipple. It was electrifying, delicious. I let out a little cry. He stopped immediately.

“Janet?” he said. “You okay?”

I didn’t know what to say. I wanted him to go on more than anything else in the world. How do you put that when you’re a fifteen-year-old virgin conducting a Grand Experiment with someone you’re not supposed to be in love with? I did the best I could, under the circumstances.

“I’m fine,” I said, smiling hopefully.

He laughed. I tensed immediately in his arms, sure I’d done something stupid. He stopped laughing. “What?” I asked apprehensively.

“Nothing,” he said, still smiling, waving one hand a little bit, trying to explain what he meant. “This is just so obviously what you want… you like it so much… it’s just so nice to be doing this with you.”

Take a real deep breath and put your warm red lips on mine
Just do like I tell you, everything's gonna be just fine
Kiss me nice and easy, take your time
Baby I'm the only one here in line
All you gotta do is just let yourself go


After that, it was easier. I helped him with the fastenings on my jeans, then waited while he solemnly undid my shoes and took them off my feet before stripping my jeans off inside-out. Then I waited, naked and shy, on the bed while he took his own jeans off and cast them beside mine. I was a little cold, and when he joined me on the bed wearing nothing but his briefs, his warm skin was very welcome.

“You’re so beautiful,” he said, touching me gently. “Here, make that sound again,” and he took one of my nipples into his mouth. My head went back and I closed my eyes, and I made a little whimper of pleasure. I ran my hands down his back to his ass, where they encountered the cloth of his briefs.

“Do you want to take these off?” I asked, and immediately felt like a gleeful conspirator in crime.

“Yes,” he said, “I sure-God do,” and he hooked his thumbs in the waistband and pulled them off.

He was even more beautiful naked than he was clothed. My eyes went immediately to his cock, of course, and then I tried to look away, embarrassed.

“It’s okay,” he said, amused. “Go on. Touch me if you want to.” I wanted to. I looked at his face first.

“You can touch me, too, if you want to,” I said, and I reached out and touched the tip of my finger to his erect cock. It was much warmer than I expected, and the skin was softer. I put my hand around it and stroked experimentally.

“Oh,” said Rob softly. I glanced up at him and saw his face tight with pleasure, and felt a warm rush of power and delight.

“You like that?” I asked.

“I like it too much, honey,” he said. He sounded a little shaky. “Let me touch you for a little bit.” He pulled me to him with one hand, and with the other he stroked my belly, fingers spread wide, down and down.

“Relax,” he murmured, and kissed my ear, then my mouth. As we were kissing, I felt his hand cup my pussy, and his warm fingers gently stroke me. I was wet. Was that bad? Was that good? Was that normal? I quit worrying about it. What he was doing was making me wetter, making me crazy, making me want more. I pressed my hips up toward his hand and felt him laugh again, a little. This time I didn’t mind.

Suddenly I broke the kiss. Something had happened to my air. His fingertip had found my clit and was brushing across it with tiny, tender strokes. I couldn’t kiss any more; I had to breathe. Could someone else do this for me? Was it possible? Then he bent and took one of my nipples in his mouth and, at the same moment, changed his pattern to circles, lazy circles, round and round my clit. Oh, Christ, was my last coherent thought. Oh, my good Christ. And I was coming in the safe circle of his arms, making nonsense sounds of pleasure, pussy pulsing under his hand, coming harder than my own fingers had ever made me do.

When I recovered a little, I found that my throat was sore. Rob was looking at me with open admiration. “I’ve never seen any girl do so well on a first try,” he said. “Boy, you’re a natural.” I blushed furiously.

“Is that okay?” I asked.

“It’s the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said. “Look.” It was true. His cock was hard and hot against my thigh, and there was a tiny drop of moisture at the tip of it.

“Then,” I said, “what are you waiting for? An engraved invitation?” And I snuggled back into his thin pillow, propped a little on my elbows, and waited to see what he would do. Now, I thought. It’s the last part of the Grand Experiment. It’s all been good so far, but this is it, girlie, this is the part where we hang the bed-sheets out the window for the populace to see.

Rob knelt between my thighs, kissing my breasts, his cock resting against my lower belly. “You can go ahead,” I said.

“I’m in no hurry,” he said, but his voice belied his words, and his cock pressed urgently against my pussy.

“Yes,” I said, both frightened and aching with desire, and I lifted my hips. The head of his cock slipped inside me. We both sucked in our breath. And then with one smooth movement he pressed deep, and groaned in a gravelly voice barely recognizable as pleasure.

I flinched, and he froze. “Are you all right?” he whispered. I considered. Was I? Nothing hurt. I had flinched in anticipation, not in pain.

“Yes,” I whispered back. “Please.” He kissed me gingerly, then drew back, and pressed forward again. Better this time. And better the next. This utterly new sensation was beginning to create new friction inside me. I found myself involuntarily pressing my hips up against him, running my hands up and down his back, making tiny sounds when he drove into me.

“Oh my God you feel wonderful,” he said, “oh Janet you feel so good, oh God I’m going to, oh fuck, I’m going to,” and then he drove deeper, deeper, so deep it forced a sound of pain from me, and he froze, his face lovely and still in the afternoon light.

I did that, I thought again. I held him against me in utter satisfaction. I do not think I have ever felt luckier, before or since.

We didn’t cuddle long or talk much after that. Our parents were due home soon, and (unspoken though it remained) there was the thought of Heather, on the way back from her cheerleader’s retreat. The Grand Experiment was over. On the way home, it was windy, and my eyes watered a lot. I remember noting very clearly for posterity that I was not, not crying.

In my yearbook that year, he wrote, “I enjoyed every single moment we spent together.” The double meaning of spent did not escape me. The poetry under my bed was two feet deep (college cured me of that.)

So Elvis may be the world’s tackiest rock-and-roll icon. He may be brilliantined and fat. He may have died on the john. He may be emblazoned on black-velvet paintings everywhere. But one song of his last night made me think of Rob, for the first time in years.

I guess even the mascot of West Virginia has his uses.

Well baby I'm gonna teach you what love's all about tonight
Trust me honey everything's gonna be all right
Just do like I do there ain't nothing to it
Listen to me baby anybody can do it
All you gotta do is just let yourself go


Happy Birthday, Alexis.


October, 2002

Comments welcomed and responded to at selenajardine at yahoo dot com.


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