Finally, the volleyball match. Not much to say, but it introduces something my daughter wanted to put in the story: the rules of cool. We get to see Julie trying to figure out what it means to be cool. Some foreshadowing for...
My life so far, episode 9: Teenagers
Letters : 20954 Words : 4001
Finally, Lucy and Clark are introduced! These are 2 non-resident teenage naturists who help Julie form a template as to what being a teenager and being in a relationship is like.
They do not live at the resort, and initially, they are never seen outside of the resort, so that we don't see them often. But they are important for Julie's development, and are based on a textile teenager that helped my daughter grow up.
PS: the pinball machine is all fictional.
We put on more sunscreen before leaving, and went on our ride, making sure we didn't leave anything behind, not even apple cores. This was a condition of coming here, leaving it as you found it.
As we got on our bikes, I looked at the pristine place and was glad that such small wonders existed.
Granted, it shouldn't be that exciting. It's like gossip. Some pieces of gossip are hot because they are so secret. Like a crush only you and one other person knows. It doesn't even matter if it's true or not. That only you and one friend knows makes it feel exclusive.
This little piece of heaven is only known and visited by naturists from Mindy's resort. In fact, not everyone at the resort even knows about it.
On the ride back, we stopped a few times, to give a chance for the mothers to catch up and for us to drink some water. It was a lot warmer in the afternoon than in the morning and the sun seemed to hit harder.
I also quickly realized that the reason the creek flowed this way was a slight slope going downhill when going to our destination, making it a little easier to go than to get back.
At one stop, between rows of corn, my father showed me the area where there is one of the steepest slopes, which is still almost nothing.
"This is where big rocks were on either side, for about what, 200 feet?"
"Oh, perhaps 250", said Peter
"We have to get off our bikes, and walk alongside them, but it wasn't very wide and you could step on them and slip. Plus, the slope makes it worse"
"About two years after you stopped coming, they used a tractor after harvest to pull them out. They were huge"
"I wonder why they were there?"
"Oh, they were everywhere, but the rest were removed decades or centuries ago. These were too big to be moved without a tractor, and not in a decent place to plant so they were just left them there"
I look and feel like they worry too much. I have ridden by bicycle in a little forest to cut through it and get to a friend's house and had no issues other than occasional branches hitting me. Not big ones, just small one that you easily push and bend away.
It felt like Carla and mom were slowing down. Not that they were being lazy, but it took longer and longer for them to catch up.
I suspect we were going faster between each stop, not that they were going slower. I think my dad was in a rush to get back.
He wanted his ribs!
When we made it back to the resort gate, Peter proposed that Mindy and I go back to her house to stow our bikes and go play while they wait for our mothers.
For a pair of 12-year-old girls being given freedom to leave your parents is something you rarely pass by so we went back to her house and decided to go to the common room.
I didn't know what a common room was, but apparently, it's like this internal place at the resort with a few tables and benches, with a ping pong table and even a pool table.
On the walls were various sports implements, like pool cues and ping pong tables, but also the horse shoes and even some bowling pins?
Two couples barely older than our parents were sitting at one of the tables, playing a board game. A teenage girl, perhaps 15, was playing ping pong with a boy roughly her age and they were smiling.
What surprised me was that she was obviously fully developed, with fully formed breasts, wide hips, a narrow waist and long hair. Very long hair. But her Venus mound was bare! Even me had a few hairs, but she had none whatsoever. Could she have a defect or a problem?
Mindy paid no attention to them, and went to the back of the room.
And at the back of the room was a glorious thing.
I had heard about them, I had seen one in passing, but this was the first time I actually played one.
The naturist resort has a pinball machine. A freaking pinball machine!
It doesn't seem to be working, however. The one I saw has flashing lights. This one seemed dead, but Mindy went straight to it.
"This is the best. I suck at it, and don't even try to play on rainy days or Friday evenings, but on a hot Saturday afternoon, when almost everyone is at the pool, I come here."
"There are people around", I say, looking at the six naturists present.
"Pfft, Lucy and Clark don't play pinball during the day. He has the record right now, but she is number two. They probably played all evening yesterday. Their parents had to restrict them or they would spend all day here"
So even teenagers had rules. Bummer.
"It must cost a lot", I say, while Mindy leans under the machine to flip a switch which brings it to life.
She presses a blue button in the front twice, each with a beep.
"Nope, it's free to play!", she says, pressing a red button which brings the machine to life.
The music starts, the lights no longer all flash and I lean on the side to observe.
Mindy pulls the lever, and the ball flies to the upper part, hitting a ton of things on the way down.
Mindy pressed on the two buttons on the side to move the flippers. Not just those on the front, but also smaller ones near the back to keep the ball up.
But she misses and it drops to the lower field. She does send the ball back up, but it quickly returns, where she juggles with it to hit targets.
A light saying "x2" turns on.
"Yes!", she screams, but soon enough, the ball arrives right in the middle of the two flippers and she loses it.
The "x2" turns off, and she moves aside.
"Huh?", I say
"It's your turn. We alternate between balls"
"You pull the plunger to launch your ball, and try to keep it up as long as you can, to make as many points as you can"
Nervously, I pull it and the ball jumps. I hit the paddles frantically, but missed the ball and it fell in the hole.
I barely hit anything, but there is a light flashing at the bottom, as I move aside
"It's still you, you have a do-over"
She laughs. "Your first ball sucked so much, the game took pity on you", she says
So, I go again. But this time, I get more into the rhythm.
Because it's not really random. Sure, the various bumpers have a motor or something in them which hits the ball, but it's still somewhat predictable.
But, predictable and easy are not synonymous and after a few good saves, I lose my ball. No do-overs.
"Wow, you did more than I did on my first ball!", she says
It's her turn, and she concentrates a lot more this time around. I notice that the 2x was lit from the start, and she manages to light the 3x instead.
She does it by hitting specific targets on the right, where each time the 4 lights are lit, the X marker moves one spot, and they turn off again.
There is also a ramp, but when the ball climbs it, it makes a sort of "losing" sound and it drops on the mushrooms at the top, where you can rack up a ton of points.
How is that losing?
But she loses her ball again, and it's my turn.
Surprised, I notice that I start at 3x! So, that means that I hit the right target twice?
I also notice that when the ball hits on the bottom, away from the flipped, it rolls on my flipper and I have more control over where I send the ball. Not full, but more.
If I hit on the right spot on the right flipper, the ball hits the multiplier targets, and then bounces to the left.
I can then flip the ball to the targets on the left reliably. I don't know what they do, but when I hit all of them, I hear a sort of motor sound filling up.
"Wow", just says Mindy, as I aim for the multiplier next.
It's like juggling. If on the right, hit before the end so it goes on the right targets, bouncing on the left section at the bottom. Do the same for the left targets, which send to the right section of the bottom.
I make it to 8x!, but Mindy tells me to aim for the ramp.
I try to hit later when the ball slides on the paddle, and miss it by little. I try again, and make it, but instead of having a losing sound, I get the sound of a rocket boosting up, the LCD panel shows a launch, and lights all flash.
My ball meanwhile, is nowhere to be found.
All the lights turn off, and then, just the lights where you launch the ball.
"You captured your ball. Good job!", she says, almost jumping in place.
"Huh? So, how do I play?"
"You launch another one, but you racked up almost a million points", she says, impressed.
"Just go. You did good", she says
"But isn't it your turn?"
"No, you didn't lose a ball. It got captured. Just, play", she says, all excited.
So, I launch the ball, but honestly? My mind was all confused. I barely did anything, and it was Mindy's turn.
My ball didn't return.
But she focused and tried my technique, with less efficiency, but she managed to get the gas filler sound.
I noticed a light, in front of the ramp, flashing. Under it, it says "Hit all targets to fill up!"
So, to light up that ramp, you need to hit all 8 side targets. Got it.
I check the left ones, those on the right are the score multipliers, while those on the left are the blockers.
Each time you hit them, a little door closes to keep your ball in play longer. Neat, but unlike the multipliers, they don't persist between balls.
After some work, Mindy captures a ball too, and even manages to stay alive longer than I did on the second ball.
She even managed to get the 8x and surpass my score. Way to go Mindy!
But she still missed it once, while trying to aim and pressed too late.
She wasn't sad, instead, she was almost glowing. She captured a ball! She was excited.
I repeated my left-right dance, and got both the 8x and the 2x lights on.
"What does it mean?"
"I think it means you get ten times the points"
But then, I aim for the ramp.. Would I get ten million points?
When I get it, Mindy screams of joy and the machine plays a new song, with a lot more bass and a lot more pressing beat.
The lights flicker, and it's as if the machine screams. The LCD goes crazy, and then, I hear three loud clicks, one after the other.
Mindy yells at the top of her lungs. "Multi-ball!"
One by one, the three balls begin falling.
"What do I do? What do I do?"
"Keep them in play!", she yells.
So, I try, but forget aiming. Forget timing. Forget trying to figure out where the balls would go.
Not only are there 3 to follow, but they bounce against each other like crazy.
I end up just frantically pressing each button, going as wild as I can, but then, I lose one. The music keeps going and it's a little easier.
For a while, I have a ball at the top, and another at the bottom, but I aim to try to keep them at the top. When both are in the mushroom area, however, it's hard to keep them there.
I see a person in my peripheral vision, but I can't deal with this now. Instead, I focus and when I lose my second ball, the music returns to normal.
Almost giving up, I barely make an effort, and eventually, lose it.
I look around, and both Lucy and Clark are on either side of me.
"Good job", says Clark
"Clark, this is Julie, my friend"
Clark and Lucy each present themselves and shake my hand.
"Multi ball is tough, but makes so many points"
I look and my score is now in the 12 millions.
"The ramp points are not multiplied?", I say, shy and nervous
"N'ah. But the million points for each lock, and the 5 million for the release are usually what makes the most points on their own. But you probably made about 3 millions for the multiball"
Lucy explains. "You get triple bonus when you have three balls, and double when you have two, but because they bounce off each other, you hit a lot more targets per second"
"And that's important because each time they hit the flippers, you risk losing a ball"
"It's my turn", says Mindy
I move to the side, but the two teenagers are on the other side.
Lucy is so blond! Even her eyebrows are blond. If I ever bleached my hair to go blonde, it's that color I want and she naturally had it? Life is so unfair.
She had her arm around Clark's waist and he had a hand on her shoulders. They looked happy.
Mindy didn't get to lock the ball, but she got to 11x.
We get 4 balls, so that was the last one, finishing with a score of 4,5 million.
On my last ball, however, I managed to get two balls locked, but when I was trying to climb the ramp after lighting it to get my second multi-ball, I messed up the timing and ended my game, at 16 million points.
I was about to walk away, when Lucy touched my shoulder.
"You have to put your initials"
"You have a top score"
"I have the high score?", I said
But Clark laughed. "Hurry, you have 20 seconds left."
"How do I do it?"
"Press the two blue buttons to choose a letter, and the right flipper to move right"
I press the right button, and the A changes to be B. I press until it's a J, for Julie, and press the right flipper.
I only make it to i when the time runs out and it shows that Ji is number 9 in the scores.
Lucy offers me a high five, which I do, followed by one to Clark, and then, to Mindy.
Far from angry, she is happy for me.
"Would you guys want to go in the pool to chill?", says Clark.
What does a 12-year-old say when a 15 to 16-year-old offers to hang out? Yes. Undoubtedly, even if you think it might be a trap.
We had put our towels on a bench, so we retrieved them while Clark picked up his and his girlfriend's towel.
They both saluted their parents when leaving, and I could see which ones were Lucy's from their pale hair.
"Maybe we could call you Ji", says Clark, pronouncing it with like g-high
"I think Ji would sound nicer", says Lucy, pronouncing it like gee.
"I like that", says Mindy.
I thought about it. Julie, Ji. It could be a cute nickname. Spoilers, I still get called "Gee" by friends, and each time I managed to get a score saved in that pinball or any other, I signed with Ji.
We walked to the heated main pool which had more people in it. Notably families with small children, and some perhaps 5 to 6-year-old.
It was night and day compared to the first time I was in the pool. It's simple, not a lot of the residents actually live at the resort once school starts, most of the vacation residents are gone.
This means an influx of day visitors on weekends.
We couldn't have much privacy in the shallow end, due to the kids, so we went in sort of in the transition zone,
It wasn't the actual deep end, but it was a slight slope. Mindy and I turned our backs to the kids, so we would be on the shallow part of the pool, and Lucy and Clark would be on the deeper part.
"You've got instincts kid", said Clark.
Despite their feet being perhaps an inch lower than ours, they had water midway to their torsos, while Mindy and I almost had water to our armpits.
"New as a naturist, Ji?", asked Lucy, with a smile. Part of her hair was in the water, but it's like she didn't care at all.
"Yes and no."
She laughs, a nice pleasant smile. "Which is it"
"First experience I remember was this Wednesday", I said. "With Mindy, in my room"
"Wow, that's fast. I wasn't that ready", says Lucy
"The first, what, 5 times I came here, I kept my clothes."
"That's better than me, I refused to come for the longest time and I was initially raised as a naturist", says Clark
"But you are a chickenshit"
"I might be a chickenshit, but I am not pigheaded", he says, pulling his tongue out, which made Lucy laugh and splash some water at him.
Mindy fills in the rest. "But she was a naturist as a kid. We were best friends when we were 4"
"Aww. I wish I had been a naturist from birth like you, Mindy. You are so confident in yourself", Lucy said, which made Mindy blush
"You became one late?"
"What, 4 years ago? Yeah, that sounds about right. I was your age, I think. How old are you?"
"Twelve", I said, hesitant, sure I would be kicked out for being too young
"Ah, the same age. I already had all my pubic hair, but not my breast yet", she says, actually grabbing them as if it were entirely normal. It didn't feel normal to me, but no one else reacted.
"Right, I remember wondering why you had a bra", Clark says, which netted him a hit on the shoulder from Lucy.
"I had a bra because girls wear bras. It's none of your business anyway why I chose to wear one before I had breasts"
"Sorry", he says, with a hint of sarcasm.
"He had been a naturist again for about a year, and he helped me accept the lifestyle"
"I keep saying I introduced her to it", he says, but then, he moves a little away.
"Yeah, you better run. He teases me with that, but the reality is that it's our parents, individually, who introduced us. Like you, he had been since birth, they paused, and then returned to it. I came, but didn't undress at first. He just harassed me until he was lucky enough to be there when I decided to jump in, not caring about my weird pubic hair"
"But it looks like you don't have any?", I said, naively
"Of course, I shave it"
"Why?", I ask, confused
"Because it's weird. I am blonde and well, I don't know. I always found it weird. I mean, my mother is blonde and her pubic hair is darker, but not mine. And it curls", she says, with disgust.
"Mine curls a little", says Mindy
"No, yours twists a little. Mine was just.. Yuck. I don't want to think about it.
"Mine are just starting"
"When did you first get them?", Lucy asks.
"Really, we are going to talk about this?", says Clark
"If you don't want to hear it, go swim elsewhere"
"Girls", he says, rolling his eyes.
"So, Ji, a few weeks or a few days?"
"I don't know. Not months. Perhaps a week or two?"
"Ah, you'll get more soon. And eventually, your first period. You know about that, right?"
"I thought I would get my breasts first"
She puts her hand on my shoulder
"Ji, everyone knows about breasts. Everyone. Even guys, but not every girls knows about periods and some freak out"
"I know about them. Don't worry about me"
"Good. Don't go Carrie on us"
"Lucy, they are too young for that reference!"
"Fine, mister reasonable. When did you stop calling these boobies again?", she says, again holding her breasts, something which didn't really make me comfortable.
But he ended up splashing her, and for a few minutes, they played with each other, splashing each other while laughing.
They moved in the deeper end, and Lucy even ended up swimming under the water to surprise Clark who saw her coming and plunged under too to get away.
"Well, girls, help me!", Lucy asked. It was like we were grenades and she just pulled the pins on us.
We exploded into action, and began ganging up on Clark.
You'd think that having three girls splashing him would make the fight uneven, but you would be wrong!
Clark had two moves in his arsenal of mischief.
The first, was his ability to sink to the bottom, swim slowly, and jump up into action so that we never knew where or when he would pop up.
The second was his wave. He was able to move his arm in a sort of half circle, sending a sort of wave in a wide arc. This often splashed all three of us, even if Lucy was often able to go underwater quickly.
Sadly, the fun was stopped abruptly when Lucy announced she lost a contact lens.
We were sad for her, but she said it was ok. There were one-day lenses she usually didn't wear every day, but she had to stop or the walk back to get a new pair would be disagreeable.
I decided to break my shyness in a rare moment of social courage.
"I had fun. Thank you guys for making me feel welcome"
Clark ran his finger in my wet hair.
"In my book, you are cool Julie. You are about to go through major changes, but don't lose track of your chill and your cool. Unlike this girl, who became a bore", he says, splashing Mindy.
"Hey", she says insulted.
"N'ah, I am kidding. You know I like you, kid"
She was all smiles.
Lucy thanked us, but they didn't leave yet.
The subject returned to the pinball machine, and they invited us to play with them that night.
"The game supports up to four players, but it's wild, because there are only three balls. When you lock, you lock a ball for the all four players", Clark explained, almost in a conspiracy tone.
"What Lucy and I are hoping to get is a triple multi-ball. So I have a plan. Lucy starts, and locks a ball or two. You girls lock a second one, but not a third. And I release them all, to maximum points."
"He is the pro of multi-ball", says Lucy.
"But then, by the time for my second round, I get a second multi-ball, but the multiplier isn't 3 on top of everything else. It's 6."
"That's how he got his high score"
"Rumor has it that if you do a third one, it's not 9, it's 12 the multiplier, but alone, I can't do it. Will you girls help me?"
"Sure", I say, without any hesitation.
"We'll see you, at dawn, tonight", says Lucy
That's when they left, to retrieve a new contact lens for Lucy.
"On my God, Oh my God", says Mindy. "Are we actually cool kids now?", she says
"Hey, I was born cool", I try to fake. But Mindy laughs and we play a little longer in the pool. Until we realize it's probably time for supper.