Dedicated to Michelle
Nobody expected it, least of all me.
I was a freshman scholarship student at a university with an excellent music program and, to my misfortune, a nationally ranked football program. One of my professors, Dr. Smith, sweat blood to get me the scholarship money over an athlete or academic wunder-kid. She was the older sister of my first guitar teacher, and had followed my musical growth with interest.
To stop her nagging, I agreed to perform at the Winter Recital, a quasi-talent show that the Music Department put on every fall semester. I also wanted feel what it was like to be alone in the spotlight. It was the future I had chosen and getting used to the glare seemed a necessary step.
The Recital was a social event at the university. The schedule of performances was printed a month before, and I was the only soloist with freshman in front of their name. Nobody asked why I was awarded the spot; they formed the opinion that best fit their collegiate religion. I guess I was a heretic of the established order to most of my peers; students worked hard for those performance slots, and it must have seemed like I was being given mine.
Walking in the arrogance of a destined future, I made it worse.
I touched my first guitar strings before "Ma-Ma" came out of my mouth. My mother could lay a guitar on the floor and forget me for a morning or afternoon. I looked at the other Recital performers with the arrogance that if our individual practice hours were summed up and compared they would be years in deficit. They cried for toys when they were children; my punishments always involved taking away the guitar.
Puking twice in the half-hour before I performed was not a favorable omen. Professor Smith tried to make light of my clammy, pale skin.
"I cannot believe that you've never performed in public," she said brushing imagined lint off my shoulder.
"It never seemed important," I replied.
"Not to you!" she said. "Nothing is as important to you as the guitar, but those idiot instructors should have known better."
"One those idiot instructors is your sister," I reminded her.
"Then there's no one that can judge her capacity for being an idiot with more authority!" she said, putting the guitar in my arms.
I felt grounded again and must have looked it because she nodded with confidence. I performed near the beginning of the Recital; Professor Smith wanted me to close the show but was shouted down. I was singing in Spanish to a predominantly Caucasian audience went the argument. I laughed when she cursed about the prejudice of that stupidity since the final soloist was singing from an Italian opera.
They announced my name and even the guitar could not stave off the return of stage fright. I walked towards my fate and nodded to the audience as soon as I was out of the curtain's protective cover. I moved to where the stagehands had placed the bar stool in front of the microphone.
The lights were painfully bright, and I could barely make anyone out. I crooked my neck to the side trying to release the tension. The microphone was too high so I adjusted it with trembling hands. There was a snicker as the silence extended past what an experienced performer would have allowed. I looked behind me at the people who would be accompanying me. They looked bored, which did not bode well. I turned back and squinted my eyes to see if I could make out anyone. One of the lighting technicians took mercy and pulled his light away so it did not shine on me directly.
The silence was broken by feedback when I tried to say hello. There were a couple of laughs, increasing my nervousness. The sound of those laughs nearly cramped my stomach. A line of sweat broke out on my brow, and I cleared my throat nervously.
She saved me that day.
The technician moving the light let me see the audience. Directly in front of me, a few rows back was Samantha Jones, or 'Miss Samantha Jones' as the unprivileged called the captain of the dance squad and Undisputed Campus Goddess. I thought guys would have left behind the concept of an Unattainable Dream in high school, but they talked about her around campus like she was the Hope Diamond.
Knowing who had to be sitting next to her, Samantha Jones centered me. I turned my eyes to her left to look at Michelle Debreau: junior, member of the dance squad, and MY Unattainable.
She was popular with the guys because she liked sports and could laugh about guy things. Unlike Samantha, Michelle looked at people and smiled when they walked by her around campus. I got a dose of that smile everyday of the week because I made sure to be in the dining hall at the same time that she ate.
I looked at Samantha, and then at Michelle.
I had to smile. I always had to smile when I saw 'Miss Michelle Debreau'. I could not see her brown-green eyes, but I knew they would be shining with sympathy. I turned around, looked at the musicians behind me, and waved them off. I didn't need them to accompany for this.
I smiled at Michelle again. She reflected it with a wide one of her own. Our smiles reduced the world to the two of us, at least for me.
I didn't have my own words, but hours of Alejandro had put his inside me.
Alejandro Sanz was Spanish singer-songwriter, who had captivated me with 'Amiga Mía'. The subject matter was the most original I'd ever heard. I bought every one of his albums, and learned every song by soul.
He gave voice to what I wanted. He gave voice to what I wanted to say to the Dream's handmaiden.
"Y solo se me occurre amarte" (And it only occurs to me to love you)
It began with my guitar. I watched as Michelle leaned forward in the way she did when something captured her attention. I touched the guitar strings lovingly, drawing the music I wanted to give her.
"Yo quiero darte mi alegría, mi guitarra, y mis poesias" (I want to give you my happiness, my guitar, and my lyrics.)
I sang the words to her, for her. She didn't understand a single one, but that was okay. I did not understand all of Alejandro's words either. I hadn't done enough to know what they meant. I felt each word when I was near Michelle though, and that night I found a way to make one part of the song true.
I showed Michelle my soul. It ended with the guitar.
Everyone's silence came into focus. I nodded at the audience and gave Michelle a last smile before I walked off stage. Professor Smith hugged me tightly and kissed my cheeks hard.
"God! You are so fucking beautiful!" she whispered into my ear.
I knew it wasn't me though. I couldn't help smile, when I was near Michelle.
The details don't matter, not to me.
Samantha Jones was envious of the few minutes that I raised Michelle above her, and even worse because the Winter Recital was such a major social event that I had done it in front of all her friends, so what?
Michelle's ex-boyfriend was a junior and a hulking brute of a football lineman with jealousy running through his veins like acid, so what?
The ex had two sycophants who would follow him into hell not realizing that was searing heat they felt, so what?
The important thing was the second night that Michelle and I came together, and fell apart.
She and I became friends. Not friends in public, but friends in the privacy outside the doors of the rest of our lives. She was waiting in her car when I came out of Professor Smith's class a week after the Recital. She smiled and waved me in. I enjoyed the walk through campus, but the invitation was not something I could turn down. She drove to her dorm and led me into her room.
Michelle liked to talk, and I liked to listen to her. She said even if I did not talk back, she felt like I heard what she wanted to say. Those visits to her room ended the same way for two months: my guitar and Alejandro's words.
Our last night, it did not end like that. She was on the floor, and I was sitting on her bed. She took the guitar out of my hands and placed her face close to me. She kissed me, but I was too overwhelmed to kiss her back.
"Kiss me," she encouraged.
She put her lips on mine and I gave her what felt like my first kiss, or what everyone's first kiss should be. She placed her hands on my hips and moved them underneath my t-shirt. She separated our lips and took my t-shirt off.
I was afraid, not stage fright but virgin discomfort. The words Michelle knew me by weren't mine. I could not live up to them skin to skin. I was a boy, too much in love with the guitar to have cared about girls until Michelle. She deserved a man, and that thought almost made me flee.
She stopped me with another kiss. I drowned in the lavender smell of her perfume. I was going to fail, but I had to stay, like I had to smile when I was near her.
I had to be inside her even if just once.
She popped the buttons of my jeans and tugged on their waistline. I pushed myself up with my arms. She pulled my pants and underwear past my hips. She took my shoes off and finished stripping me. Michelle put her hands on the inside of my thighs and created a space between them for her body. She winked at me and took my hard dick in a gentle grip. She kissed and stroked me slowly.
I could not have held out against the first touch of a foreign hand; the hand I wanted touching me. I groaned, and my eyes felt hot as I failed her.
"It's okay, Miguel," she whispered, and I believed her. "This is exactly what I want."
.... There is more of this story ...