Memories of growing up in southeast Texas are punctuated by heavy rain falling from oppressive clouds of abject boredom. The new indoor shopping mall in town was a welcome respite from both. It was the summer of 1976; I was 12, a few months shy of 13, but I looked much older and this worked in my favor. One day, I met “Leah”, an older girl with a job at one of the mall’s anchor restaurants.
Leah was easy to talk to and very animated. She said she was 17 and attended high school in a nearby town. She had a car, was extremely sweet and kind, possessed a smile like sunshine, and had the softest curves I had ever seen, even in her dowdy work uniform. The sexual tension was like nothing I had felt before in my budding pubescence.
Over the next few weeks the mall became my second home. We weren’t in love but intensely interested in playing with each other. We flirted as heavily as we thought we could get away with while she was on the clock, avoiding the attention of the manager and customers. I would lurk outside and try to speak with her after work but she always had to go straight home, though she always said she would call later if she could and often did.
Eventually, I introduced Leah to my parents and gained their permission for her to visit me at home, since I was not supposed to drive into town alone. (My folks were so cool!) Though her home situation was still a bit of a mystery to me, she got similar permission and we began hanging out together at my house on evenings that she had no homework or other obligations. I had my first real girlfriend.
I learned much about her in the following weeks. She was a direct cousin of Janis Joplin (the singer was raised in the area and died when I was only 7, but I knew about Janis in part through Edgar Winter – another story). Leah was also musically inclined like me, loved frilly girl stuff, and wanted children someday after college. At times it seemed she had more thoughts about such things than possible for her years. She was my first girlfriend with celebrity ties.
Most days that she visited found us in her car as the sun set behind the pine trees, tentatively brushing against each other until passion made our touch more deliberate. Leah was the most hyper-sensitive female I’ve encountered to this day, able to orgasm with only light stimulation of the areola or slight brushing of the labia – through clothing! Direct skin contact in these areas caused her virtual asphyxia and shuddering spasms. Leah was also a true “female ejaculator”, able to pump out girl juice like a Super Soaker. Her scent would follow me for days. I had now known my first “gusher.”
After a couple of months we had still never been on an actual date, so she suggested that we see a movie together. Arriving late to pick me up, she turned the wrong way on the trip into town. “I have to do something,” she said. We arrived at a very expensive new home about dusk. No one else was there. It was my 13th birthday.
We went upstairs to her room, which looked like one belonging to a high-school girl but with an extra bit of something else that I was too pre-occupied to examine. Clothes came off quickly and the mysteries I so desperately wanted to explore lay bare and open before me. I was Indiana Jones, standing at the entrance of the forbidden temple. Leah would be my guide to its inner wonders.
After much sloppy, sweaty foreplay a condom was produced, orifices were penetrated, Leah moaned and squirmed like never before. The condom disappeared inside her at some point but I was terrified to tell her it had come off. Sure enough, it unexpectedly presented itself to her the next morning, prompting a shrieking phone call. We laughed about it later though I was afraid she wouldn’t want me again after such a rookie mistake. The day became even more memorable when a neighbor witnessed our romp through the window and later advised her folks that we were “doing it” inside the house. This earned us both strong admonishment from her church-centered family; we feigned shame and never did it at her house again. I had now had sexual intercourse for the first time, complete with externally-imposed guilt and brief pregnancy concerns.
I began to realize that the connection to Joplin may have had deeper significance as I learned of Leah’s quirks. There was always something a bit off about her attraction to me, as I was younger and she seemed so much older than her years. She always had money and super-nice things but couldn’t have made that much at the restaurant job. Though we were “dating” she would be out of touch for several days at a time with no discernible reason why. It wasn’t lack of interest – that never waned for either of us. But it was weird, and she would often act strangely after these absences. A few friends even asked if she was crazy or something.
We continued to have sex for a few months but her growing weirdness precluded a more tangible relationship. By the next spring we had amicably gone separate directions, though her scent and feel and extreme sensuality remained at the front of my mind for quite awhile. The experience and confidence gained from so easily pleasing Leah was greatly enriching, sparing me much of the awkwardness of seducing and bedding new girls. Older women became my focus and I was getting way more action than anyone I knew. I had graduated from first girlfriend into a whole new world of sex.
Leah unexpectedly phoned several years later, inviting me over for dinner to meet her new husband and recount old times. I thought this strange since there really weren’t any old times that didn’t involve awkward teen sex but agreed to go anyway. My closest childhood friend, Don, volunteered to come along. I was grateful since the drive was somewhat long and I was unsure what to expect.
After the meet and greet, Leah revealed how she had been institutionalized not long after our trysts, diagnosed with Multiple Personality Disorder (now called Dissociative Identity Disorder). One of her many alter personalities was an aggressive dom lesbian who had apparently become somewhat well known in local circles; another was an expensive prostitute (which explained some of things in her room); yet another was a frightened little boy. Each alter featured some extreme sexual identity as a core characteristic. She never said which personality I got, presumably one better suited to me than the others. My heart ached from thinking of what she must have been through. Turns out I had been involved with my first psycho at 13, though I didn’t know it at the time.
The evening proceeded haltingly on through our dinner of dodgy meatloaf and Pearl beer. I kept trying to change the subject of conversation as the weirdness was making me increasingly uncomfortable. Her new husband (who coincidentally shared my birthday, height, weight, appearance, overall demeanor and, according to Leah, penis size and shape) seemed like a decent guy but we found very few things to talk about, and his attention was soon trained on the television. Before long, Leah beckoned him into the kitchen where they whispered for a couple of minutes. He returned and resumed watching TV with a fresh Pearl while she disappeared into a back room. She finally emerged wearing too-small lingerie, looked at me with a huge grin and said, “OK!”
“What?” I had no idea what she meant. “Well, it’s our first anniversary tonight and he said I could have anything I want for my gift, and I want you! And your friend, both at the same time!” Giggling and openly masturbating, Leah was mind-bendingly erotic and compelling while viscerally validating the incredible tale of psychology she had told us earlier.
After a moment of slack-jawed disbelief, the first image to enter my mind was of me on top of her with cuckold hubby targeting my head with a cheap pistol. My unflappable childhood comrade looked as if she had suggested removing his organs with a plastic spork. When I was finally able to speak I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.
“Well, I’m not sure about this.” “Now?” “What about your husband?” My old buddy Don and I had shared everything including girls but were totally unprepared for this married-woman fantasy. Leah cajoled and begged and bargained for 15 minutes until Don, who had remained uncharacteristically silent the entire evening, rescued me and got us out of there. We barely talked on the way home.
I had been in many casual sex situations by then but never one that was prefaced by details of the girl’s extended stay in the psych ward prior to obtaining permission from her new husband to have group sex with an ex that she had perved on when he was still virgin jailbait. This would have been my first foray into swinging. Don later pointed out that Leah represented a series of firsts, a stunning realization.
Not long ago, in a moment of idle curiosity, I Googled Leah to see what had become of her. Sure enough, she is still around, married at least once more. And one other thing: Leah was 7 years older than she told me when we met and was actually 24 at the time. She had been my first truly older woman – yet another, albeit hidden, first.
I don’t pretend to know if any of the stories about Janis Joplin’s sexual adventures were true, but the antics of her younger cousin are legend in my circle. You never forget your first – or all the other firsts they bring.