When I was playing football in high school, my coach's name was Henry Thompson. He was a decent coach. We won more than we lost my junior and senior years and made the playoffs once. That was pretty much Coach Thompson's speed. He didn't have enough attention to detail to make us great, but we could've done worse than had him for a coach. He was a decent man and a decent coach.
The coach had a daughter who was my age. She had very little to do with her father, and she seemed to have very little interest in anyone who played for him, which seemed to me a shame since she was beautiful. She never tried out for cheerleader, and though she made decent grades, she seemed to be devoid of much in the way of ambition. She also avoided football players. She wouldn't give me the time of day, which wasn't to say she had no interest in boys. She hung out with the "wrong crowd." She liked the boys who rode motorcycles and wanted to drive stock cars. Half of them never even finished high school. I used to wonder how her dad put up with it, but there were never any public displays of friction between them.
I became a bit obsessed with Sherry Thompson. I was kind of a bad boy myself. I played football because (1.) I was good at it and (2.) it pleased my old man and kept him off my back. I tried my best to endear myself to Coach Thompson's daughter. I sat in front of her in classes, but she remained distant. I got the distinct impression that she didn't like me, but that was just a challenge I had to overcome. I came to love her mainly because she didn't even like me.
Gradually I began to break through her frosty demeanor. In Miss Brewster's English class, I got her to laugh a few times. I made a conscious effort to make fun of both myself and all the other jocks. Sometimes, under my breath, I'd say something like "fuck that" or "what bullshit." I could tell she liked it. I even got myself in trouble a few times -- not enough trouble to get sent to the principal's office, but enough to be called down in class -- and, from monitoring her expressions, I knew she liked that shit. She could see I was a little different.
I wasn't concerned about appearances as much as all the other ass-kissing hypocrites who put up with me because I was a free spirit. They thought I was cool even thought they didn't quite want to be that cool themselves. Most of them were spirits -- not free ones, but spirits nonetheless -- but they didn't take it to heart that freedom was "just another word for nothing left to lose." They worked harder -- a lot harder -- at putting up the right front. On the side, we were all going out drinking after the games, and most of us were getting high, if for no other reason because marijuana was easier to get than beer. We didn't get "carded" for marijuana. We didn't have to find a convenience store in the next town that would sell us beer, and even when we found just that kind of convenience store -- a convenient one -- we were already in the right neighborhood to pick up a dime bag of weed. I didn't hide it near as well. I was smart enough to stay out of trouble: at home, at school, among my teammates and with the coaches. Shit, they didn't want to know. That edge of reckless abandon made me better on the field. I enjoyed knocking the hell out of people. An occasional joint just contributed to a "don't give a shit" attitude that was functional on the field. I gained way more than I lost from getting baked every now and then. It's fucking ridiculous that it's illegal.
One day in class, Sherry reached into her purse to get a pen or something, and I saw it, man. She had a pack of cigarettes. Marlboro Lights. I got a hard-on, even while I wasn't letting on that I saw the smokes. She knew. She had to know.
I had kind of started smoking, too. Not much. Almost every time, it was after I got high. During the summer before my senior year, I had started playing guitar in a band. People think marijuana leads to other drugs. It certainly didn't in my case. For me, playing guitar led to marijuana, and that led to cigarettes, and that's where it ended. I didn't have any interest in drugs that turned people into assholes. I liked that mellow edge. I liked something that made me funny and irreverent. It removed the inhibitions and made me want to hang it all out on the guitar. Stoned I'd hit notes I wouldn't try sober, and that was the guitar and voice both.
I was cool about it, but I started monitoring Sherry. I saw her smoking on the school grounds a couple of times, back in the woods beyond the parking lot, early in the morning. Or outside the mall after the 9 o'clock show. Most of the time, though, she was with one of her lowlife boyfriends. I never could find the right moment. Football season was over before I even got a chance to try to move in and break all the way through that barrier that existed between us. Goddamn, though, I used to wake up in the middle of the night, thinking about her. With hard-on. Three o'clock in the morning and I'd go jack off in the bathroom. I had it for her bad. I'd close my eyes and imagine her smoking.
So, man, I was desperate. No way I could get up my nerve straight. Too many inhibitions. It was shortly after the end of the holiday vacation. I got up really early, before my parents even thought about getting up, and blazed in the bathroom. Then I filled the bathroom with air freshener and turned on the fan. Then I shaved, put on my headphones and listened to some tunes. I went back in the bathroom, made sure the smell was gone, took a shower and felt fairly straight when I went downstairs and had breakfast with my mom. My dad was already gone. I bummed one of Mom's cigarettes. She was cool to it. We had coffee and enjoyed a stimulating conversation. Then I drove off, rode around in the country for a while and smoked a joint. Chewed some gum, let the windows down and froze my ass off the rest of the way to school. When I got to school, it was still early, and I was somewhat fucked up, which was quite pleasing. I went down in the woods and sat on the bank of the little creek that ran through.
Sure enough, Sherry strolled down, and my timing was perfect. I let her catch me smoking a Marlboro Red.
"Oh, shit," I said. "I'm so fucking busted."
She knew I was kidding, though.
"I'll let you slide, Mr. Linebacker," she said.
"I play end, Miss Coach's Daughter," I replied. "Want one?"
"Sure. Why the fuck not?"
Ooh, she cussed. Nice message.
We sat there, and we talked like we had never talked before. I asked if she got high. She said she might. She asked me how I became such a hellraiser. I told her it was all the guitar's fault. I told her I let her catch me, and that I was stoned as a quarry because there was no way I could've pulled it off without a nice, cool buzz. I told her she was going to have to help me out in first period but that I could probably make it if I could just shut up and manage not to laugh my ass off at everything the dumb-fuck teacher said.
"So," I said, "how did you get to be such a wild child? You got to be really good at this shit, or else this would, like, blow up. It can't be easy being a football coach's little girl."
"Well," she said, "it helps when you don't have ballplayers around to make him double suspicious. I don't hang out with anybody he cares about."
"Until me," I said.
"But I'm, like, done with football," I said. "I'd say there's an excellent chance I'm done with sports. I might shoot some hoop at the Y or something, but I ain't playing no more goddamned spring sports. I just want to get high and play guitar. Maybe go to college. You know, I'm actually pretty fuckin' smart most of the time."
"You're actually pretty cool," she said, blowing smoke rings and making my dick hard.
"Yeah," I said, "I am."
And she started laughing like hell, even though, as best I knew, she wasn't stoned.
I was so aroused. I know I was squirming a little. I wanted to fuck her right then and there. One thing I didn't have, though, was a rubber.
"You don't reckon you can get loose after while, do you?" I asked.
"By after while, do you mean, like, after school?"
"How about during school. How about if, between the two of us, we think long and hard about this, and we figure out some lame-ass excuse to sneak away from these fucking grounds at, like, fourth period. Get sick. Tell your old man you're going to the doctor. Figure something out ... for God's sake."
"All right," she said, and she was smoldering, too. "My mom teaches at the middle school. If we go during school, there won't be anybody at home."
"Oh, God," I whimpered.
We went to class together. We each came up with separate excuses to leave. She got sick. I faked a letter from my old man, and since I was big fucking football hero and all, no one called him. I knew the drill: Act like you know what you're doing, and you can get away with murder. Or at least fucking the coach's daughter.
We went to her house. We got high. I fucked her in her dad's office, on the couch. I "gave her a gun" with a joint. She sucked my cock with a mouth full of Marlboro smoke. We cleaned up and left, leaving quite the aroma of Lysol, before her parents got home. Best I know, they never suspected a thing.
The spring of my senior year was the best time of my life. God, she was wonderful. She was independent, too, though, and damn her, I think she went off to another college just because she was not going to go to the same school as me, and that was mainly because I wanted her to. I never recovered from that woman, and I'm still single today. I get laid by women I meet drunk and fucked up, late at night, in bars, and nothing ever lasts. I don't even care about any relationship other than the one that somehow slipped away.
Fifteen years have passed, and goddamn her, I don't even know where Sherry is.
But I'd still like to find her. She's the only one that ever mattered, and somehow I managed to let her get away.
Maybe she'll buy one of my CDs. Everything on it is about her in one way or another.