First Person Ever

First Person Ever

How The Nihilistics got me laid.

NOTE: This NIHILISTIC Pod is adapted from an August 19, 1994 aircheck of my WFMU talk show Aerial View entitled “Frankenstein”. I’ve never been able to re-run this show because only half the program was captured initially: there’s no Side B. Luckily, Side A has the entire story I’d written about Vickie, the much older (thirteen years!) woman I met at a Nihilistics show and the first person I ever kissed… which led to much more. Here’s what I read on the air in 1994, in case you can’t listen to the episode…

The story is about the first person I ever kissed - discounting relatives and those kissed out of obligation.

I was twenty-two and still living at home, working at an awful telemarketing job and playing in a punk rock band – The Nihilistics. We were fairly well known in our home area and played out often enough to attract admirers. Most of the admirers were male but there were some females. The singer and bass player wrangled most of the girls for themselves. They had much better lines than I and were completely mercenary about getting over on any women self-hating enough to go for them. The drummer had a steady girl, usually, so he didn't bother. Me? I was petrified of women. I was convinced there was nothing I had to interest any girl. Oh, I made friends with many girls, had crushes on quite a few. But I never levitated beyond the platonic. I was the sort of boy whom girls made a confidant. I would listen to their deep, dark stories; their tragic tales of love gone wrong, their confessions of unbridled lust for guys that weren't me. I somehow found myself in this constantly frustrating role of being the understanding pal. It was a part I didn't take to easily. There was this one girl – Lorraine - who came along when I was nineteen or so. She was beyond fantastic. She was a little slice of female heaven… as far as I was concerned. She had shoulder-length auburn hair, a wicked sense of humor and a crooked smile that captivated me. I somehow became her friend. We hung out whenever we could. I would drive to Brooklyn, where she lived, and we'd go places, to shows, to clubs, to the movies – usually with some of her girlfriends along. They were all great fun but Lorraine: she stood apart. There was something about her – a sweetness that the others didn't possess, a need to laugh every few minutes – that I found myself drawn to. Somehow I fell in love with her. But she wasn't in love with me She was in love with some neighborhood jackass named John. I knew of him and his reputation for putting notches on his belt. He was a conqueror but Lorraine didn't care. He didn't know she existed but that's how those things go. Lorraine was like me in that respect: always falling for the person who couldn't possibly return my affection, never seeing the one who would do so gladly. She'd talk to me about this guy and I'd actually listen. I was too young to know that what I should've been saying was, "Forget him. He’s a jerk. Choose me. I'm crazy about you. I'd drink your bath water. I'd crawl five miles to smell the sheets you sleep on". I was nothing but a coward in those days.

Somehow it happened that I slept over Lorraine's house a couple of nights in a row. I’d spend most of the night awake in a sleeping bag, not five inches from her, imagining I was touching her wondrous ankle, imagining I was touching her leg. I remember slowly reaching out to feel her skin and getting very close, very close, almost there… and then pulling away. What if I woke her? What if she knew what I wanted to do? What if she got the idea that I wasn’t settling for her friendship any longer? I felt immobilized. I felt like it might as well have been a deep, deep ocean between my fingertips and her ankle. Those were some of the worst nights I've ever had. And Lorraine doesn’t know. She never knew because I never told her. I didn't want her to run away. I didn't want to reveal to her how horrible I felt about myself and how much I would have liked to be beautiful for her. Like the guy she was mooning over He was beautiful. I felt far from beautiful though. I always have. When it came to Lorraine I felt like Frankenstein's creature trying to befriend that little girl. If you remember the creature from Shelley's book – who is certainly not the grunting caveman of the movies – he is very articulate and he knows why people flee from him: they find him loathsome. They're repulsed by his appearance. The creature says, and I quote: "Once my fancy was soothed with dreams of virtue, of fame, and of enjoyment. Once I falsely hoped to meet with beings who, pardoning my outward form, would love me for the excellent qualities which I was capable of bringing forth. I was nourished with high thoughts of honor and devotion. But now vice has degraded me beneath the meanest animal. When I call over the frightful catalogue of my deeds I cannot believe that I am he whose thoughts were once filled with sublime and transcendent visions of the beauty and the majesty of goodness. But it is even so; the fallen angel becomes a malignant devil." And as you probably know, the creature is never able to overcome the fright he generates. He resigns himself to his fate. He says, "I am malicious because I am miserable; am I not shunned and hated by all mankind? Shall I respect man when he condemns me? Let him live with me in the interchange of kindness and instead of injury, I would bestow every benefit upon him with tears of gratitude at his acceptance. But that cannot be; the human senses are insurmountable barriers to our union."

So there I am with Lorraine, trying to get her to look past my appearance, wanting her to see how good I was, how good I'd be to her and failing miserably. She wanted John. She never once even hinted that we were anything more than two people occupying roughly the same physical space who just happen to be members of the opposite sex. Lorraine and I went along for a little while and one day I pulled up in front of her house to find all her punk rock records and Stephen King novels piled up at the curb, awaiting the garbage man. I couldn't locate her but I found some of her friends at home who filled me in. She had become a born-again Christian just about overnight. I was in shock. My jaw dropped open and refused to close for hours. When I finally spoke to her again she was spouting all that Jesus stuff and blathering. It was like seeing the post-lobotomy McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest The person I knew as Lorraine was gone. She had been replaced by a bible-thumping automaton. You know, I’ve done some reading about such things and it's not an uncommon phenomenon. People who are verging on schizophrenia often have religious conversions overnight. Things had gotten to Lorraine and she turned to the Lord with a vengeance. I never did get to kiss her and after her I didn't interact with girls for a long time. I couldn't bring myself to talk to one for fear of a replay. But the peer pressure to find a girl was at a fever pitch at that point in my life. Every one of my contemporaries had girlfriends or were getting laid or talking about. The guys in the band I was in flaunted their women like the trophies they were. I looked around and saw myself keeping lonely vigil over this Virgin Land. I was the one who'd come off the stage and be glad-handed by guys, nothing but guys. Great show! Excellent guitar! Those were the kinds of things I’d hear from the fan boys but just once I wanted to look up from my guitar case and see a girl, any girl, standing there. And then one night after playing a gig at a this local place, I stepped outside for a beer and was unexpectedly joined by this woman – Vickie – who had befriended the band. I was pretty sure the bass player had slept with her (It was a hunch) and I was surprised when she sat down next to me after I parked myself on the rear stoop of the small nightclub. We made small talk about the gig and the nice weather and the cemetery right across the highway – how it was the largest one in the country and stretched on for miles – that kind of thing. She sat very close and I was nervous. Her right thigh was pressed hard against my left thigh and heat seemed to be radiating from the area. I remember I tried to figure out why she was talking to me. I also tried to convince myself that I was attracted to her. I wasn't, though. She was very nice and extremely kind… but she was approaching thirty-five and had an eighteen year-old daughter at home. I also found myself distracted by her large nose. It wasn't Karl Malden-large but eagle beak large. It took up plenty of her face and it made me feel so terrible to be regarding someone the way that I'd always been regarded; outwardly. I didn't want to be so superficial as to reject someone on appearance. I mean, who the hell was I, anyway? No prize package, I can tell you.

So I was trying to work up this attraction when Vickie leans over and kisses me and it was very nice. It was my first one.  And she kissed me again, longer this time, and I liked it. I mean, I could suddenly understand why it was so popular, why everyone was doing it. We kissed some more and the bass player came out and saw us and he seemed angry at us but I didn't care: I was making out! Soon enough I gathered Vickie up and drove her home to my house. It was very late and we tiptoed so as not to wake my grumpy mom. She was so grumpy that she had  removed the door from my room three months earlier as punishment for me having put my foot through it. See, i t was a hollow-core door and she came banging one night when I was enjoying The Stooges (Not the Three Stooges, the other Stooges) and so I banged back with my foot and it went WHOOSHING through the thin veneer of one side of the door and it came WHOOSHING out the other side and left splinters in its wake. This did not please my mother. I mean, the next day she had me remove the door and store it in the attic and had to hang a blanket in the doorway and get used to having no privacy. So Vickie and I had to be very quiet that night and it wasn't easy. I mean, it was my first time having sex and she was far from quiet. I kept shushing her in fear my mom would walk in but I don't remember much else about it. The next day we had this earnest discussion about "things" and I realized we weren't going to repeat the events of the night before. It just didn't seem likely. I drove her home to Brooklyn and never heard from her or saw her again.

It's strange to think that my first kiss led to the loss of my virginity. It's stranger to think about this thing called beauty. I've thought about it quite a bit, probably more than I should. If I was beautiful I might not think about is so much. But I wanna know: what is the biological basis of beauty? Is it only skin-deep or does it impact on the way a person lives and behaves? I know women who are always so amazed at how nice men are toward them – and these are beautiful women. They don't know or can't acknowledge WHY men are being so nice to them. If they weren't beautiful would the same men be as nice? Is beauty necessary to the furtherance of the species? Does nature favor the beautiful? And who sets the standard for what is beautiful anyway? It certainly varies from place to place and from time to time. There’ s no constant that I'm aware of. Why do we all want it, why do we all seek it out for ourselves? Because it's better than ugliness? I know that I wanted Vickie to be beautiful. And maybe she wanted the same from me. And I've been guilty or equating inner qualities with outward appearance. We probably all have. I know others have made the same judgement of me. I don't like it but I also don't know how to overcome it. If you were given the choice and you were told you could be one or the  other – beautiful or smart – which would you choose?

After I read the piece about Vickie, I open the phones and take a few calls. Then the show abruptly ends. Oh well, it’s happened a few times: screwed by the auto-reverse cassette deck.

As always, thanks for being here for NIHILISTIC. This Friday, some new writing drops. See you then.


Chris T. – founder of seminal NYHC band NIHILISTICS – takes you on the journey to publication of NIHILISTIC: How a hardcore band saved my life... then nearly killed me – "A memoir with guitar" – is a coming-of-age cautionary tale following two forlorn, friendless, dead-end suburban “Lawn Guyland” fat kids who form a band and end up on the legendary stages of the NYHC (New York Hardcore) scene. We see how each interpret the lessons of their particular moment and the way success in their milieu warps their friendship until one tries to murder the other.
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