How I Became a Teenage Voyeur

Things like this aren't supposed to happen to people like me.

I'm the type of girl who turns in her paper a day earlier than usual to get the five measly extra credit points. I slide my syllabuses into those protective plastic sheets to keep them from being wrinkled. I call home when I'm going to be late, even if it's only by fifteen minutes —

You get the idea.

I'm a nerd.

So why me, God? Seriously. Was it because I punched my sister in the arm this morning?

. . . She deserved it. She can be a bitch. You should know, after all; You made her that way.

I collapsed my head on the cafeteria table, shooting up seconds later when I noticed the ketchup stain precariously close to the sleeve of my white long-sleeved shirt. "Sascha?" Alice asked, looking at me worriedly while I twisted my arm around, searching for stains. "Are you all right?"

No. No stains. OK, Chief. We're good to go.

"I'm fine," I burbled, "Great. Super. Fantastic — "

"Sascha — "

"Absolutely fantastic," I continued, "Oh yes, my morning was absolutely wonderful, considering that I got to see Matthew Sparks in the buff." Unfortunately, my voice carried a bit over the usual din of the cafeteria and several people happened to glance over.

Alice's face went pale. She exchanged a meaningful look with my other friends.

"You saw Matt naked," Rachel said, like I had just admitted to owning a Teletubby lunchbox.

There was an awkward silence.

"Was he . . . big?"

"I don't know." I frowned, "He's not fat . . . It's not like I was looking."

Rachel snorted, so that milk came out her nose like a fountain.

"Oh yes," Alice said, "That's so attractive. Hang on, let me get my cell phone. I'll send it to Bobby"

Rachel squealed and ran for the bathroom before Alice could carry out her threat. Rolling her eyes, Alice took the napkins out of her own tin lunch box and started wiping up the milky puddles. I was starting to feel slightly nauseous.

"No," Elizabeth said, after a long moment. She was the only Sophomore in our group, and acted like she knew so much more than us puny little freshmen. "She meant downstairs."

I blinked. Downstairs? Down . . . Oh. Oh. "Ew!" I shrieked, "You guys are sick!"

"What do you mean, we're sick?" Rachel asked, back from the bathroom with a newly applied coat of lipstick, and wet patches on the front of her lace cami. "You're the one who saw him naked!"

"It was an accident!"

"How can you accidentally see someone naked?"

It's actually my best friend, Peter, who can take the fall for that.

We have gym together and, naturally, we became best friends since neither of us can run the damn mile in under ten minutes. Peter has chronic asthma. If the wind so much as blows in the wrong direction, his lungs rebel and he has to take a hit on his inhaler than would make a seasoned pot smoker jealous. I, on the other hand, simply do not care. I'm an academic, not an athlete. I've found that telling Mr. Schafer I have my period works quite nicely. He gets so weirded out by my frankness that he doesn't even notice when I have two, maybe three, periods a month.

So I was like, "Mr. Schafer, I can't run today. I have these horrible cramps and my period — "

He waved me off, looking a bit green. Peter chuckled, which sent him reaching for his inhaler. "That's nasty," he said, sounding a bit breathless. "Oh my god. Did you see his face?"

"Hey," I said, "It gets me a solid B in gym."

"What about the people who actually have to work at that?"

"Hi, Pot. I'm Kettle — black, much?"

Peter rolled his eyes, indicating that he was either having a seizure or not amused.

I waited.

He was not amused.

I wasn't really paying attention when Mr. Schafer blew the whistle. I mean, the sound registered in my mind, but just as a background noise and not as the sign for class to end. I saw the back of Peter's crew cut and merely followed him along . . . right into the boy's locker room.

It was the smell that clued me in. The girl's locker room has the cloying sweetness of vanilla and fruit-scented perfumes and lotions that we use in vain to keep ourselves from smelling bad. The boy's locker room is a bit different. The underlying smell of sweat and gym socks is the same, but there is no fragrance to mask it. When the doors opened, I was hit full force by the smell of eau du male.

Of course, Matthew Sparks happened to have his locker closest to the door. He's a senior, after all, and I'm sure he wanted to make his escape as quickly as possible. He must have been swimming, because he was changing out of his swim trunks and into his boxers and, as fate would have it, he just happened to look up right as I waltzed through that door like a lamb to the slaughter. His beautiful green eyes widened in — horror? Shock? Amazement? — and then he grinned.

Someone shouted, "There's a girl in the boy's locker room!" which was pretty unnecessary considering that by that time, the other boys had already noticed my presence and had either halted their changing process or were frantically trying to stay decent before I could glimpse anything. Mr. Schafer was peering through the glass wall of his office, trying to figure out what had started the riot.

Matt grinned, and air humped the space between us (although by then, thankfully, he was wearing boxers) and said, "Like what you see, freshman?"

I shrieked and ran out of the locker room with Mr. Schafer on my heels. When he finally managed to catch me, hyperventilating near the chain link fence surrounding the swimming pool while Peter uncertainly offered me his inhaler, I got the lecture of a lifetime and a week's worth of detention — which, if you ask me, is a little excessive. I mean, I didn't want to Matt Sparks naked anymore than Mr. Schafer wanted to hear about my period.

I mean, he had hair on his chest. And his stomach. And his —

No, not Mr. Schafer. Ugh. Matt. Ugh.

Was that normal? Seriously, do all guys have that much hair? Or is he the incarnate of Chewbacca?

I tried to tell Mr. Schafer that it was "wandering womb", which one of my friends in psychology had told me about. Apparently, it's synonymous with hysteria, which I was pretty close to feeling at the moment. It seemed appropriate. His face paled, but instead of getting out of detention, he sent me to the nurse's office who took my temperature (98.3) and sent me back to gym.

So you can see, it's Peter's fault. He should have warned me. Friends don't let friends see friends naked. Although I didn't see Peter naked. I don't think I'd ever be able to face him again, if I did.

Oh god. How would I ever be able to look at any guy in this school without cringing?

"You goof," Alice says good naturedly, "Couldn't you, you know, hear them?"

"I was out of it," I said, "I had a Geometry test today and it was all I could think about."

"Not anymore," Elizabeth said cheerfully.

I gave her a dark look. "Would you shut up? I didn't see his . . . his thing."

"Looks like you'll get to tell him that yourself," Rachel said, with a nod towards the cafeteria door.

I turned around slowly, even though Alice said not to, and saw Matt Sparks standing with his friends in the middle of the doorway, so that everyone else had to squeeze past to get in or out. I could see his eyes scanning the cafeteria (not necessarily for me, I told myself) and quickly ducked down in my seat.

"Did he see me?" I squeaked, yanking my sweatshirt hood over my head.

"Your face is like a homing beacon," Elizabeth said, "Airplanes would be able to see you."

Alice gave Elizabeth a mean look. "No, he didn't see you — uh-oh."

Uh-oh? Uh-oh?! "He saw me."

Alice nodded.

"He's coming over here."

Again, she nodded.

I leaped up from the table, hitting my hip hard enough against the fake wood to send waves of pain rolling down my leg. I hopped on one foot, trying to angle myself towards the girl's bathroom, when the hand fell on my shoulder. "What's the rush?"

Oh god.

I turned slowly. Matt was standing there, with a couple of his friends. Grinning. At me.

I took a step back. "Hi?"

My friends were staring at me, playing the witness observers. If, somehow, this managed to work out in my favor, I'm sure they'd make a big show of welcoming me back to the table. If not, well . . . there's always the library.

"Let me guess," he said, in that strange, gravelly voice. "You were just off to the bathroom?"

"I — " Yes! That was it! The perfect escape! I could have kissed him. "Yes, that's it."

"The boy's bathroom?"

I blinked. "Do I look like a boy?"

His gaze drifted downwards, and his smile widened ever so slightly. "Not quite."

A series mental images flew through my head. I couldn't help it. I looked down. He noticed.

"Can't get enough of me?"

"There isn't enough of you to get enough of," I said flatly. I was, in fact, referring to the fact that he was wearing clothes. I didn't think it was particularly funny, but all his friends burst into laughter.

Matt took it in stride, finally bending down to whisper, "We'll see about that."

Then, just as cool as you please, he got up and walked over to the senior's table.

The next day, I woke up feeling more anxious than I do for my Geometry tests. My stomach was fluttering with the entire cast of Birds and I seriously felt like I was going to throw up. "You don't have a fever," Mom said impatiently, grabbing her car keys. "If you do throw up, call me at work and I'll give you a ride home. Otherwise, stick it out."

Stick it out, she tells me. "But there's this senior guy who has it in for me!"

"Tell the Office, if you're worried about it."

Oh, right. And be branded as a tattletale for the rest of my natural life. Great plan.

"Hey, I was in high school, too," Mom said, "The things people make a big deal out of now are nothing in the real world. Looking into the boy's locker room is not a big deal."

"But he was naked," I protested, mentally balking at the thought, "It was gross."

Mom looked like she couldn't decide whether to strangle or hug me. She settled for a preliminary pep-talk, parking the car in the loading zone and saying, "What do you think happens in sex?"

"I'm fourteen!" I said, eyes widening. "Let me out! Let me out of the car!"

She popped the unlock button on the door, rolling her eyes in an annoyingly superior way that reminded me of Elizabeth. "Grow up."

I started towards the girl's bathroom to brush out my hair and wash off my makeup so it wouldn't get all gross in gym. When the door opened, I didn't think anything of it. The lines for the ladies' room is often longer than the lines in some movie theaters. And then I heard a familiar voice say, "Hey, freshie."

I looked up. Our eyes met in the mirror. Brown and green. "Shi — " I began, turning around.

Matt was studying the bathroom. "That's not fair," he said thoughtfully, "You have a better bathroom."

I was flabbergasted. Boys were not supposed to go into the girl's bathroom. It was like one of the Ten Commandments or something, etched into stone for centuries. "Out!" I managed finally.

"Why?" Matt grinned. "It's not like you're naked." He made sure to draw out the word naked.

My face heated up to an unflattering pink, like badly mixed strawberry ice cream. "That's not the point."

At that point, the door opened and two juniors came in, talking. Their eyes landed on Matt, went away, and snapped back in a quick double-take. Then they screamed and ran out of the bathroom, slamming the door shut behind them. "I seem to be having that effect on a lot of girls lately," Matt said dryly.

"You're in the girl's bath — " I cut off, staring, as Matt lowered his face to mine and kissed .

His lips were chapped from the sun, and slightly prickly from the stubble where he'd shaved.

Matt nudged at my lips with his tongue. "Open your mouth, freshman."

I shook my head violently. "Mmmm!"

"Stop acting like I'm going to rape you."

How the hell was I supposed to know that he wasn't? He was in the girl's bathroom, doing things to me with his tongue that couldn't possibly be normal.

I swiped the spit away from my neck. "You licked me."

"I kissed you."

"Uh, yeah, with your tongue."

He sighed, setting his hands on the edge of the sink. "You've never kissed anyone before."

It was not a question. I shook my head.

"You've never . . . seen a boy naked?"

"I saw my neighbor's three year-old run out of the house once with no clothes on."

Matt chuckled. "You're comparing me to a three year old."

"There's nothing to compare you with."

He winced. "You are bad."

"No, I'm not," I said, "That's exactly the point! I didn't see you naked."

"Is there a problem in here?" Ms. Dawes, the female gym teacher, snapped. She was an ugly woman in her fifties with ruby red lipstick and sweatshirts with cats on them. I'd heard some of the older boys calling her "Tenacious D." Her eyes went to Matt and for a moment, she looked absolutely shocked. Finally, she managed to say, "Excuse me! There are no boys allowed in the girl's rest room."

"Sorry, Ms. D," Matt said, moving to walk around her. "I didn't know."

"Detention," Ms. Dawes shouted after him, "For two weeks — and if I ever catch you in here again, it'll be suspension, Mr. Sparks!"

"All right," Matt said, sounding way too cheerful for someone who was going to have to spend the entirety of his afternoon in purgatory. "See you later, freshman!"

I sighed in relief. He was gone. Or so I thought; until I remembered that see you later could be taken literally, as well as figuratively, since we were both going to be in detention that afternoon for voyeurism.

See you later, indeed.