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Meet Rosie Gibson

September – October 1989

“Rosie, come here,” Charise Woods called out.

Rosie Gibson had left the locker room at Baltimore’s Woodrow Wilson High School, still sweating from volleyball practice.  She was the tallest girl on the freshman team, but the least coordinated.  That day, she had stepped on one girl’s foot and knocked another one over when she jumped to spike.  The coach had put her on the bench to hold down the injuries.  Rosie looked over and saw her friend, Charise, smiling from a crack in the supply room door.  “What you doing in there?” she asked.

“Shhh.  Get in here.”  Charise was the shortest girl on the team.  She had the most talent, but the least discipline, the coach had said.  Which, of course, made her the most fun.

Rosie checked to make sure no one could see her and then snuck into the supply room with Charise.

“What are we doing in here?” Rosie asked.  “This room’s like a furnace.  Let’s get out of here.”

“Shhh.  Come back here in the corner on these mats and sit down.”

“What for?”

“Sit.”

Rosie sat down in the dark.  There was a glimmer of light coming from the crack under the door.  Then, Charise gently took Rosie’s face in her hands and kissed her.

Rosie pushed her away.  “What you doing that for?”

“We’re going to practice kissing,” Charise said in Rosie’s ear.

“Why?”

“So we’ll be ready when it comes time to kiss a boy.”

“Maybe I don’t want to kiss a boy.”

“Well, then you can learn how to kiss a girl.”  Charise put a cool hand on Rosie’s cheek and lightly kissed her forehead and then her eyelids, nose and lips.

Rosie began to object, but then she stopped herself.  She was hot, dripping with sweat, sticking to the smelly wrestling mat, worried that the coach would find them, worried her mother would wonder where she was, and turned on.  She laid back and pulled Charise on top of her and they kissed and hugged until the last bell of the day announced the doors would be locked in five minutes.  The two girls scrambled to their feet and giggled all the way down the hall to the exit.  Walking home together, Rosie asked, “How’d you get in there?”

“My older sister had a key.  She gave it to me when she graduated.”

“What are you going to do with it?”

“Sneak in there with you.”

“How do you know I’ll sneak in there with you again?”

Charise lifted her chin and looked away.  “All right, don’t.  I’ll find someone else to kiss.”

“Maybe you will.”

Two days later, the girls were back in the supply room.  After an hour, Rosie said,

“We’ve got to do this somewhere else or I’m going to pass out from the heat.”

After that, the girls took to fooling around during study sessions in each other’s bedrooms, on sleepovers, in the back rows of theaters and any other semi-private nook or cranny they could find.  One day, when Rosie stayed home from school with the cramps, Charise came over and they played all morning.  After a long hot shower, they stepped out of the tub and wiped the fogged bathroom mirror clear so that they could admire their bodies.  Aretha Franklin was demanding respect at full volume on Rosie’s vintage stereo system.  Posing in front of the mirror, Charise said, “You know, we should get our picture taken like this, all artsy like.”

Rosie smiled.  “Well, which position do you think would be the sexiest?”

The two girls vamped for the mirror and then decided that demure was better than brazen.  Each girl placed a hand over the other’s crotch and smiled chastely at the fantasy camera.  It would have been a museum quality work of art, a study in contrasts and curves.  Rosie’s queenly blue-black frame entwined around Charise, a caramel-colored princess waif.

They didn’t think they were doing anything wrong, but they knew enough to keep their fun a secret.  “Does this make us lesbians?” Rosie asked Charise after one particularly steamy interlude.

“Noooo,” Charise answered.  “Lesbians are all white women.”

“Well, what does it make us then?” Rosie asked as she hooked her bra.

Charise snickered.  “Just a couple of girls from the projects having fun without the shuck and jive of the all mighty black man’s dick.”

Rosie’s mother, Eulalia, was oblivious.  “I’m so delighted Charise and you are so close and you study so much together.  She keeps you off the streets and away from all the drugs and gangbangers.”

“Yes, Momma.”

“Maybe she’d like to come with us for Christmas when we go see your daddy’s family in Pea Ridge.  Your Aunt Gladys has enough room.  You two could share a bed.  And Althea could sleep with me.”

“I’ll ask her tomorrow.  I’m sure she’d love to come.”