Cold War, Warm Crotch


Nikki lived 7 houses up the street. I could probably get to her house in less than 2 minutes.

She was tall and pretty and even more shy than me. We had kissed a little at a pool party, but it didn’t lead to anything serious. She was definitely the closest eligible female.

The year was 1985. Reagan was the President. We were deep in The Cold War.

I had heard countless times that, if a nuclear war began, we’d have 20–30 minutes before Russia’s warheads got here. The midwest might have a little longer, but since San Diego was a military town, there was no doubt that we would be an early target. That would give me a 20 minute warning for the end of my life.

It sounds like heavy thoughts, but the threat of nuclear war was absolutely real. Or at least, it was enough a part of our cultural awareness to make nuclear war a daily possibility in my adolescent mind.

I was 14.

Mushroom clouds were a common theme in my artwork. So were screaming faces.

When we were asked to make an anthology of poems for English class, I choose the theme, “Death.”

My complexion was hit hard by puberty and I struggled to look cool while my body and thoughts were awkward as hell.

I wore turtlenecks everyday to make my neck look bigger and my ears look smaller. I wore makeup to cover the areas where I had picked at my pimples. My personal style was influenced by Duran Duran. I pegged my pants and wore Dep in my hair.

I also wore ties to school quite a bit

I remember thinking that if I was ever going to get a girlfriend it would be because my charm & personality.

I would be many years before I would have sex, but I was under the impression that it could happen any minute. This terrified me. I knew you were supposed to be good at it and last a long time. I was pretty sure I would be neither of those things. So I masterbated before every party on the off chance that game of Truth or Dare would get out of hand and lead to a sexual encounter. I knew I would be able to last longer the second time.

But with every awkward party, I became more and more baffled by co-ed interactions. Whatever smooth talk and confidence was required to lead to a sex was *way* beyond me.

Which is why I thought about Russia.

And Nikki. And those 20 minutes of lead time.

The minute I heard that nuclear missiles were on the way, I knew what I would do.

I would run up the street to Nikki’s house.

I would make a quick and impassioned speech about not wanting to die a virgin.

And we would loose our virginity as the world went up in flames.

It felt like a pretty solid plan to me.

Sure, there was a downside. The whole “end of the world” aspect of it. But I found myself fantasizing of this armageddon all the time.

My self confidence was so low, that the only scenario I could imagine where a woman would have sex with me involved the annihilation of the planet.

Well, the war never happened. And Nikki and I never hooked up. Thanks alot, Reagan.

My virginity stayed intact until my senior year on prom night.

But that is a different, and only slightly less depressing, story.

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