Tube tops and ironed pants with a man’s Pendleton, dark eye-liner and lipstick was the outfit of my North Side friends. It was 1975, Baldwin Park, California. Like ‘That 70’s Show, kids were cool, but in our neighborhood, kids weren’t cool in that way. We brought knives to school. We bragged about fighting and embraced hating people from East side. East was just as poor and stupid as North side, but there you have it, enmity for the sake of enmity.
One of my 8th grade friends was named Dena. She was small, spunky, came from a large family, and had a cute older brother. He was taller than any of the boys in my family, and being Asian, he was exotic in a way the Mexican boys weren’t.
When Dena invited me to spend the night, I begged my parents for permission. My parents agreed and the fun began early. Dena had a pool. I wore a tiny bikini with palm tree print. Dena had more to cover and wore a black bikini bottom and a halter top. When Dena’s brother got in the water my awareness shifted to the muscular creature that just slithered into the pool.
He was fit. He was fine like Bruce Lee.
He swam over to me and grabbed my legs. I splashed and screamed in a helpless act. I tried to get him back by cuffing water at him. He dunked me. The water flirt dance is as old as water itself.
Dena had a keen sense of what was going on and went into the house.
He and I were alone. In the pool. In skimpy clothing. I was 13. He held both my wrists and pulled me toward him.
Before much could develop, Dena called me out of the pool to help her sister with a dress. There were so many humans in and out of that house, I didn’t know who truly lived there. This sister was visiting.
Dena’s sister was twenty something, sexy and curvy. We walked into the bedroom wrapped in towels. We both dried off a bit and sat down. Dena’s sister was mending a dress. She began to ask me questions.
“Do you like my brother?”
“Um, not in that way,” I said, denying the obvious attraction.
“Do you have a boyfriend?” She asked.
“No, I don’t.
“Can you spend the night here again next Friday?” She added.
“I don’t know, why?”
She sat closer to me, and I could see that she wore expensive things, not the silver mood rings and crap we bought in vending machines.
“Are you a virgin?” She asked and giggled as if to ease my discomfort at the question.
“Yes.” I added “I want to wait until I am married.”
“Well, chances are you aren’t going to wait and you shouldn’t give it away for free.
I have a business proposition for you. If you can spend the night Friday, I can arrange for a man to pay to have sex with you. He won’t hurt you, and you can make a lot of money. We can make money off of you being a virgin for a while.”
I must have looked stunned. I didn’t know what to say. I mean, how does one say …she is a virgin for a while? Nothing computed.
“Look, you are a very young and pretty girl. Men will pay a lot to have sex with you. I’ll keep you safe. You can make a lot of money. You like money right?” she added.
There it was. I thought that I could spend the night and flirt with an older boy.
But I was bait.
Dena really didn’t care for me as a friend. She was probably making money the way her sister did and I was a fresh recruit.
I didn’t spend the night at Dena’s again. I didn’t tell my parents. I didn’t tell my brothers. I didn’t tell anyone.
I can tell you now that any one, any girl can get mixed up in anything. I just had conviction to say no.
There by the grace of God, go I.