By Albert Samaha
By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
By Alison Flowers
By Albert Samaha
By Jesse Jarnow
By Eric Tsetsi
My college in isolated northern New England belatedly became coeducational the year after I graduated. "They were waiting for you to leave," I have been kidded since. Hemingway's title Men Without Women fit too many of the 3200 forlorn undergraduates haunting a campus truly Siberian in its winter desolation. Sad sacks who'd left their high school sweeties home in Montana or West Virginia wandered about in a shellshocked daze, baffled as to how they'd been talked into signing on for a four-year monastic existence.
In my junior year at this outpost, I was a bit too old to have never had a serious girlfriend. Still, I had no expectations. But on a sunny spring day on Main Street, a diminutive beauty rode up to me on her bicycle, wearing a halter top and shorts and a warm, heartbreaking smile that couldn't be faked. Why was she intent on me? Was the sun in her eyes? I was totally without moves or guile or any reason to figure I had a better chance with her than 3199 other lads, but I decided nothing would stand in the way of making her mine.
Christl was a former Austrian national ski-team member with Gypsy blood and deep brown eyes, stranded in this college town where her stepdad was a chef. We were almost mutely smitten from the get-go, but the courtship was long before it was intimate. She had been burned romantically, and I had to patiently show my trustworthiness. One starry night, we wandered alone to a secluded swimming area called Secret Spot. As I held her perfect, 93-pound slalom superstar body in a naked embrace which for me was several years overdue, the seawall of unrequited lust broke, moving so swiftly to a localized area that I felt like I had a double hernia.
We consummated back at her apartment. Faintly on the radio, Steve Miller sang, "Leave your troubles behind, it's a brave new world." Bless you, Steve.
When I was out with Christl, people gazed at her and then glanced at me quizzically, wondering, "How did this guy get someone like her?" There was nothing about her I didn't treasure; the little indention below her breastbone was most adorable. I began to believe that German, into which she would lapse in unguarded passionate moments, was a Romance language. During lovemaking, sometimes, her eyes rolled back in her head and she lost consciousness. The first couple of times, I giggled at this imagined tribute to myself and gently woke her. The third and fourth times, I started to fret.
We were playful like puppies. That summer, we took up residence in a house on the left bank of the Connecticut River, on whose placid waters the U.S. Men's Olympic rowing team was training. Each morning at 7, Christl and I would wake to the coxswain's call"Stroke! Stroke!"approaching from downriver. Each morning, we obeyed that command.
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