Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Vintage Date


 

The restaurant names in this story are fictional; I cannot remember the real names. The year was around 1984, and I was about forty years old. I felt like a kid, though. Newly divorced, I eagerly sought a soul mate.

I’ll call the guy Vin. Although we had only talked on the phone, he wanted to take me to dinner on our first date. I saw it as a good sign; the man was willing to pay for a meal. As a gentleman should, he asked, “Where would you like to eat?”  He added, “We’ll go wherever you want.”

“Little China,” I suggested. “I like Chinese food.”

“How about The Portico?” he said.

“I’ve never been to The Portico,” I said. I hesitated before I admitted, “I’ve heard it’s a place only old people go.”

“I’ve been there once or twice. It’s pretty good.”

“Okay, if you recommend it, let’s go there,” I said. When I hung up, I pondered what had taken place. He said we would go anywhere I wanted, but he chose the restaurant. I shrugged. I wasn’t adamant about Chinese food, and I didn’t mind trying places new to me.

On the evening of our date I drove twenty minutes into town to meet him. When I was a mile from the restaurant, two cars sped past me, one on each side of me on a six-lane road. The drivers looked at each other when they passed, laughed, and sped even faster down the busy street. I slowed down and let the crazy drivers get farther ahead. I’m glad I did. To the right a car pulled out of Bob Jones University and drove directly into the path of the speeders. Both speeders slammed on their brakes. One driver veered left into oncoming traffic, and cars swerved in crazy ways to avoid hitting him. The car on my right spun his steering wheel and smacked into a fire hydrant. His head almost crashed into the windshield, and the end of his car shot into the air before the vehicle settled to a stop. Water burst out of the hydrant, blasted dozens of feet into the air, and showered the road and the passing cars. The driver who had pulled out of the university exit drove off as if he had nothing to do with the accident, but the speeding drivers were equally as guilty.

I did not know if the driver that hit the hydrant was okay. I’m not a medic, though, so I would have only been in the way if I had stopped. Worse, I could have caused another accident by trying to stop from the middle lane. I drove on, but my hands shook and I could barely catch my breath. When I got out of my car at the restaurant, my knees quivered, but I managed to walk in and meet the man waiting for me in the lobby.

He greeted me with a handshake. I would have preferred a comforting hug. I could feel my insides still quaking from the shock of what I had witnessed.

“I’m Vin,” he said, as if I couldn’t have guessed. “Let’s get seated.”

The hostess beamed when we walked up to her together. “Hi, Vin,” she said. “Good to see you again.”

My insides lurched. Was he a liar? I turned to him. “I thought you said you’d been here only one or two times.”

“Yeah, well, anyway  . . . ” he said, not finishing his sentence.

“Your usual spot?” the hostess asked.

“Uh, yeah, that’s good,” Vin mumbled.

We walked into a quiet restaurant filled with gray-headed people eating silently, confirming the rumors I had heard about the age of the patrons. I needed to vent, so when we sat down, I blurted, “I can’t believe what happened on my way here.”

I must have been visibly shaken, but Vin either didn’t notice or didn’t care. Instead he asked, “What do you like to eat?”

“On the way here—” I began, still needing to unload.

“Let’s order first. We can talk later,” Vin suggested.

I tried to look at the menu. It was a blur. Even with blurred vision, though, I noticed he wore his watch pushed uncomfortably high on his arm, about halfway between his wrist and elbow. Odd.

The server came by and said, “Vin, the usual? Pork chops and applesauce?”

“Uh, sure,” he answered. He looked at me. “What do you want?”

I don’t recall what I ordered. I don’t remember much more about that evening except that we too ate silently. The man had no interest in taking me to the restaurant of my choice or listening to me when I needed to talk. In addition, at about age forty-two, he was already an old man, self-involved and set in his ways.

By the time I drove home, my nerves had settled. I chalked up the evening to another failed attempt to find a decent man, but at least I tried.

We did not have cell phones at that time, so when I got home I called the police department to report that I was a witness to the accident, if the police or highway departments were looking for witnesses.

The officer gave me interesting news. “The drivers are fine. They probably lost their jobs, though.”

“What?”

“You weren’t the only witness, and we’ve learned that the drivers who were racing down Pleasantburg Drive worked together and were in company cars. They both got ticketed for speeding and reckless driving, plus the car that hit the hydrant was totaled. The owner of the company almost lost two cars out of his fleet. He was lucky only one of them wrecked. Anyway, he’s going to fire both men.”

The police officer and I laughed together, and at last I felt some of the tension leaving my body.

Hm. Maybe I should have asked the police officer for a date.

 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Harry Up

As I write this, I’m still reeling from one of my worst dates ever. Nothing horrible happened, thank goodness, but by far this date felt like one of the longest forty-five minutes in history.

Oh, for sure I had clues beforehand that the prospects weren’t ideal, but determined to kiss every frog to find my prince, I ignored the signs. Harry contacted me through an online dating site, and while I didn’t care for the macho identification he used on his profile, the gist of his lengthy, in-depth profile impressed me. He said, “I am a kind, caring, passionate, and independent thinker, in some ways not your typical man…the conversation has no limits,” adding that he was “quite intuitive” and believed in abundance. Abundance is an issue I used to struggle with, before I accepted that there is an abundance of all that we need in life. His word choices made me think the guy may be someone with depth who leaned toward the metaphysical, as I do, so I responded to his brief first message to me.

We wrote back and forth a while, although he wrote mostly one-liners, nothing like his extensive and lyrical profile. After only a few notes from him, I knew someone else had written his profile. Oh, well. I hoped the content was correct, anyway.

Time passed with one-liners from him almost every day, sometimes several a day, mostly simply saying, “Hi.” I asked him to write to me through my regular e-mail address, rather than through the dating website, which I did not check often, and he responded, “If I remember.” He continued to write through the dating website, though.

By the time Harry suggested we meet, I had lost interest, but my “kiss every frog” attitude prevailed. I suggested a nearby Starbucks, where we could sit, converse, and get to know each other. I clearly described where the coffee shop was located.

He responded, “I don’t know where it is. Let’s meet at the thrift store at Highway 5 and 92.”

“Do you mean Park Avenue Thrift?” I asked.

“I don’t know the name,” his note said.

How was I to know for sure which store was the right one? I told him to give me his cell number, in case I was late or in the wrong place. He did, but said, “No text messages.” Hm. The guy didn’t own a phone that would accept a text message? What kind of person believes in abundance but carries a phone so limited that he can’t receive a text message? I chose to ignore the hints.

On the dot I arrived at the thrift store, but no one was waiting outside, although we had said we would meet outside the store. I went inside and looked around, but saw no one who matched the unsmiling photo he had posted on his profile. After a few minutes I walked back outside and called his cell. He answered and said he was there. Where? I looked left and right. No one who looked like his photo was standing in front of the store.

Instead he stepped out of a car in a handicapped spot in front of the building. His car had a handicap sign hanging from the rearview mirror, so he had the legal right to park there, but he strode up to me easily, clearly not physically challenged. I decided not to question him regarding his parking or his health; I had my own issues that I wasn’t willing to disclose.

Like his photo, he didn’t smile. He simply said, “Let’s go inside.”

Once in the store, he fingered some of the purses that were the first items we reached. “Not good ones,” he said. He stopped for a moment, moved a little closer, and conspiratorially whispered, “The best thrift shops are in Buckhead and Sandy Springs, where you can find Coach, Gucci, and other name-brand handbags worth hundreds of dollars for only five dollars.”

Why would he care about women’s purses? I said nothing. The stench of his bad breath made me not want to hear more, anyway. I inched away.

Next he pulled out a pair of women’s pants on a hanger and shook his head. “You can find Ann Taylor, Ralph Lauren, and stuff like that at those other stores.”

First of all, we were in Woodstock, an almost rural area near Atlanta, not Buckhead, a thriving, upscale part of Atlanta. Second of all, I don’t wear designer clothes, but I said nothing.

He finally asked me a question. “Do you ever buy or sell anything on eBay?”

I answered, “I’ve bought things on eBay, but I’ve never sold anything there.”

He pursed his lips and shook his head as if I should know better. “You can make lots of money selling things on eBay.”

“So I’ve heard, but it depends on how you want to spend your time. That’s not how I want to spend mine. Have you ever sold anything on eBay?”

“Not yet, but I’m thinking about it.” He looked off in the distance, as if envisioning his future. “I heard of a woman who sold used purses on eBay. She made as much as twenty thousand dollars in a year.” He continued with several similar stories, ending each one with something such as “He made twenty-five thousand dollars.”

“It depends on how you want to spend your time,” I reiterated.

“Do you like to make money?” Hey! He asked a second question, although again, one that could be answered “yes” or “no.”

“I do, but . . .” I stopped. I didn’t want to repeat myself. I didn’t explain that I hate shopping and that I have no interest in spending my time shopping for and selling tangible items. I don’t want to store and track inventory, fill orders, pack them up, and take them to the post office. I love my career as an editor, selling my expertise without a great deal of scut work. In addition, why is he impressed with twenty-five thousand dollars? How much did it cost for the people to buy and store inventory and post it for sale? How much time did it take the person to locate items, buy them, post them for sale, and fill orders? It could tie up a great deal of money in inventory, be a full-time job, and pay only twenty thousand dollars a year. Ugh.

“So you’re hoping to find things at thrift shops that you can sell on eBay?” I asked.

“I’ve already bought lots of things, mostly car parts for older-model cars, but I haven’t posted anything for sale yet.”

Uh-oh. Do I spot a hoarder? I had already dealt with a prior boyfriend who bought everything from building supplies to office supplies in bulk, stored items from floor to ceiling in his house, and never got rid of or used any of the stuff. Visiting his chaotic, cluttered house used to make me fear I might go insane.

Okay, I digressed. Harry and I were maybe fifteen feet inside the store by that time, and I was ready to go home. How can a couple carry on a meaningful conversation in a thrift store? How do I make a graceful but quick exit? I increased my pace; we had a lot of store to cover, if I was going to make it through the store and out the door. He scurried up behind me. I tried to walk away, pretending to show interest in something he wasn’t interested in and also skipping over an aisle or two, but along he came, still talking about how people made money reselling items on eBay. I realized he had asked me only two questions and appeared to care nothing about getting to know me. Instead he had kept up a steady banter about how to make money selling things on eBay, even though I clearly had expressed no interest.

On through the store we went, my feet getting progressively sore and my mind repeating, “Get me the hell out of here, please, God.” Before we reached the door, he had asked me three questions. The third was, “What’s the name of your dog?” When he told me the name of his dog, it turned out to be the he-man name he’d used for his profile. Okay, that was cute.

The door was in sight. All I had to do was traverse the final disorderly aisle and freedom would be mine. I tried to rush past the toys, but he stopped me at a large bin of model cars, mostly Hot Wheels. He sorted through the pile saying, “Collectors’ll pay big bucks for some of these.”

“But they’re just toys, toys manufactured in the hundreds of thousands, probably.”

He ignored my protest. “This is a nineteen-seventy Camaro Z-twenty-eight. It had a three-fifty cubic engine.” He lifted another. “This is a nineteen-eighty Corvette three-oh-five. I’m surprised they turned this model into a Hot Wheels car. The Corvette didn’t sell well that year. It came out during bad economic times.” He put down the package and grabbed yet another, ignoring my glazed look. “Ah, a two-thousand-four Ford Mustang GT convertible. Cool. This was the fortieth anniversary edition.”

“The only think I care about cars is if they start and run,” I said, turning with longing toward the door.

He held up another bubble pack, pointed to some specific feature, and jabbered on. I no longer could hear anything he said. I was in my own world, my feet and my mind screaming for relief.

Oh God, kill me now. The display stand held dozens more cars. I glanced at my watch and stared achingly at the exit only feet away. Finally I managed to inch forward and reach the door, where I was about to say good-bye, when he spotted a consignment shop next door. It actually interested me, too, so when he suggested we go there, I agreed, wishing I could go without him.

Inside I took a quick trek around, between, and among the cluttered and useless merchandise before popping out the door again.

Out front he said, “Let’s look over there and see what they have.” He pointed to an outdoor flea market in the parking lot.

“I’ve seen enough,” I said, meaning much more than I expressed. I was careful not to say anything encouraging.

“Maybe I’ll see you again,” he offered.

I may have rolled my eyes, but I said nothing and walked toward my car. He started to walk me there, but fell away. Maybe at long last his alleged intuition kicked in.

Why, if he was caring, as his profile claimed, did he not meet me where I first suggested, where we could sit comfortably and have a two-way conversation? Why in heaven’s name would he want to meet a woman for the first time at a thrift store? Why would he prattle on relentlessly about eBay, cars, and car parts, when I showed no interest? Why would he ask almost nothing about me or my interests? In what world did he think that his behavior could attract a woman?

I’ve called him Harry because I desperately wanted to “harry up” and get out of there, and now I’ve bored my readers as much as he bored me.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Cleavage Connection

The year was 2011, and I’d been working on losing weight for the hundredth time in my life. At that time I was blogging about my food plan and intentions to lose weight, and the process was working for me. I dropped sixty unwanted pounds before I hit a plateau, and although I gained some of the weight back over the years, I never hit that top weight again.

When I was nearing my lowest weight on that plan, though, I was working out regularly as well as watching my food intake. After a particularly stringent workout one day, I prepared for my reward: a soak in the hot, bubbling spa at the gym. I pulled an old bathing suit out of the bottom of my bag. I hadn’t worn it in ages, because it had always been tight on me. That day not only did it fit well, but it also emphasized my boobs by pulling them together and showing a little cleavage through an open panel down the front. I laughed at my image, because I usually had what my brother-in-law called “clea,” not enough to be considered cleavage.

I thought about a book I was reading about how differently the sexes think. It emphasized that men are wired to size up a woman by her appearance, no matter how much we women may protest that we want to be loved for our brains and our character. Men see large boobs, small noses, a good hips-to-waist ratio, and shapely legs as the most important attributes a woman can have. I looked in the mirror at my body. Ha! I had almost no waist, compared to my hips; I’d always looked more like a fireplug than an hourglass. In the mirror I could see my Jewish nose, cottage-cheese thighs, and boobs that were farther apart than the two sides on the Middle East peace talks, but at least that old, faded, formerly too-small suit smashed my boobs together and gave me cleavage. I sighed and thanked elastic for the assistance. I wasn’t on my way to a fashion show; I was on my way to swim and then soak in the hot tub.

In the pool I swam for twenty minutes without taking a break, and but when I glanced over at the hot tub, my usual reward for being a good girl and working out, four men were in it having a lively conversation. I decided to wait them out. My ideal situation was to have the hot tub to myself, so I could back up to the strong jets for a quiet bubble massage. I didn’t want to hear those men’s conversation or get involved in it. Conversation wasn’t easy over the noise of the jets, and I preferred to be silent and relax after a workout. To wait out the males, I stayed in the pool and did water aerobic exercises for another ten minutes. At last three of the men left the hot tub. I figured the fourth one wouldn’t be far behind, so I waddled my fireplug-shaped, cottage-cheese-riddled body over to the hot tub for my reward and quiet time.

The remaining guy nodded recognition of my presence when I stepped in. I nodded back, but otherwise ignored him and went to my favorite spot in front of one of the strongest jets in the pool. I slid into the hot water, closed my eyes, and released an uninhibited sigh of relief and ecstasy as the bubbles rolled up my back like warm fingers rubbing my well-worked muscles. Through the sound of the bubble jets I heard the guy say something.

“Feels good, don’t it?” he had said.

“Yes, like a massage,” I agreed. I opened my eyes. He wasn’t looking at my face. He was looking at my cleavage. Men!

“Would you like a massage?” he asked, still glancing lower than my chin. [Man talk for “I’d love to get my hands on those tits.”]

I glimpsed at him again. Muscled and fit, probably in his late forties, early fifties, with a large but faded tattoo on his arm of a dog holding heavy dumbbells. Apparently he had been lifting weights for years.

Because we were sitting on a bench, the water hit us both at nipple height. His chest was smooth, tight, and hairless, the way I like a man’s chest, and he had a tan, even though it was early February. His eyes twinkled, and he had a charming smile, but all those physical attributes were canceled out by the fact that he had said “Feels good, don’t it?” I can’t tolerate poor English. Women!

What a quandary! The man had offered me a free massage. I love massages, and with his strong muscles, he would probably give me a good, strong massage, but should I say yes to a complete stranger, and in a hot tub? My mind went a mile a minute. First I felt flattered; so few men flirt with a woman who is overweight and in her sixties. I had evolved, worked on my body, improved it a great deal, even if I had much further to go, and as a result, a man was flirting with me. Flattered. Next, though, I felt insulted. He had no interest in my mental acuity, my character, my skills as an editor, my accomplishments as an entrepreneur. All he could see was my cleavage, which took precedence over all else, and it was falsely created by wearing a suit with a peek-a-boo panel. Lastly, I felt a little afraid. What if I let him rub my shoulders? Would his hands stray to my cleavage? That’s all he seemed interested in, anyway. How should I respond? I answered in an indirect way and said, “I don’t think that’s a part of what this gym has to offer.” [Woman talk for “I’m saying no, but in a way that won’t offend you.”]

He grinned and dropped his head coyly, but he didn’t pursue the issue. Instead he asked, “Do you work out with anybody?” [Man talk for “Are you available?”]

“I usually come alone, although I sometimes join friends,” I answered. “I’m used to doing things alone.” [Woman talk for “Yes, I’m available.”] I’m human; I couldn’t resist his flirtations completely.

“I saw you swimming. I swam for twelve years when I hurt my back and couldn’t lift weights, but I’m better now.” [Man talk for “I’m virile and ready to stand at stud.”]

“I noticed your tattoos. You must be a weightlifter.” [Woman talk for “I can see that you are virile and strong.”]

He lifted his well-endowed bicep and pointed to the vicious-looking dog. “Yeah, I’ve had this tattoo so long the dog’s turned into a poodle.” [Man talk for “I’m old enough for you, babe, and I can be gentle, like a poodle. You’ll love it.”]

I responded, “Hey, I have a poodle, and when you have a poodle, you’re never alone.” [Woman talk for “Love me, love my dog.”]

“I like dogs.” [Man talk for “I’ll tolerate your little yap-yap if it gets me what I want.”] He giggled and added, “I don’t know what happened, but since you walked into this hot tub, my shorts started acting up.” [Man talk for “I have gotten an erection from looking at your breasts.”]

“I know,” I answered. “My suit fills with air, too.” [Woman talk for “I don’t want to know about your darned erection; keep that information to yourself.”]

He blatantly glared at my bosom, grinned sheepishly, and said, “Those ain’t air. I can tell they’re real.” [Man talk for exactly what he said, without any regard for or knowledge of the fact that he has insulted the woman.] He then stood, raising his body out of the water and displaying the vast difference between the broad width of his shoulders and the narrowness of his waist. [The male display/mating dance.] He adjusted his waistband and sat back down.

Although shocked that he would say something so blatant about my boobs, I laughed inwardly at what turned out to be a typical male. After his display, if I stood, he’d see that I have almost no waistline. He’d see the blubbered Bobbie. I didn’t stand. [The female attempt at hiding anything that isn’t an asset.]

We talked a little more; I learned he’s a bricklayer, which explained the tan. He learned almost nothing about me; men fail to ask personal questions when their focus is strictly on cleavage. He finally rose and left the hot tub, saying he enjoyed talking to me, and I was left to relax into the harmless bubble massage I had earned.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Cavern Kisser

High school doesn’t offer classes in kissing; we’re all supposed to learn on our own and decide the perfect kiss for ourselves . I had a good teacher in Soldier Boy when I was sixteen, so I spent my lifetime searching for men who kissed the way he did.

 
Here’s the thing; Soldier Boy lightly pressed his lips to mine and then gradually increased the pressure as our mutual interest rose. If there was any tongue action, it was lightly done, mostly on my lips. Everything was tender, soft, and inviting. Few men after him had the same technique, though. Cavern Kisser, or CK, comes to mind. I met him when I was eighteen and a freshman in college.

 
My dorm mate fixed me up with her friend CK, and we were going to double date. Since we were all Jewish, it seemed like the situation could be promising. The family mantra kept repeating in the back of my mind, “Marry a nice Jewish boy, and you’ll always be happy.”  

 
When I first met CK, though, I did not think of him as nice. I found him to be abrupt and demanding, but hey, he was Jewish, and he invited me to Charleston for New Year’s Eve. I would stay with my dorm mate’s family for the weekend.

 
I was already committed, already in Charleston, the first time CK kissed me. He came at me like a 200-pound grouper, mouth open wide, and planted his cavernous mouth over what felt like half my face. All I could do was wait until he eventually withdrew like a ship pulling away from its dock.

 
We could find no common ground to talk about, since he wanted to talk about himself exclusively. At least he took me out to a fine restaurant, and we ate a good meal. For dessert I ordered something I’d never tasted—cherries jubilee. It arrived in flames, and when it cooled down, I took one mouthful of the absolute best dessert I had ever tasted. As soon as I swallowed, CK stood, grabbed my elbow, and said, “You’ve eaten enough; let’s go.” I reluctantly abandoned my delicious dessert and dutifully followed. He was, after all, my date, and girls complied with men, back then. While walking away, my mouth still watering for more cherries jubilee, I thought things could not get worse.

 
I was wrong.

 
I don’t recall how we got separated from my roommate and her date, but CK took me back to my roommate’s house, and the door was unlocked, even though her parents were asleep. I wanted him to leave, but midnight had not struck yet, so we turned on the TV and waited for my dorm mate and her date to arrive. When I sat down beside CK, he leaned over with his huge mouth open as wide as possible and sucked my face. As soon as I could peel him off me, I did. Rejected, he put his head in my lap while we watched everyone else having raucous New Year’s celebrations. I could not figure out how to get him to leave. I was only eighteen years old and had not yet gained the courage to speak my mind.

 
Sometime after one o’clock, he grabbed my hand and said, “I need cigarettes. Come with me.”

 
I did something I never did before and have never done again. I left without my purse, which meant I left without any contact phone numbers, ID, or money. We were simply going a mile or so to get cigarettes, anyway. We drove a few blocks before he saw flashing lights ahead. “Ooh, an accident. Maybe we can see some blood,” he said, his body jerking with joy.

 
“Let’s not go there,” I said, but he swerved the steering wheel and drove in the direction of the smashed cars and flashing blue lights.

 
“We’ve gotta see. Somebody could be dead,” he said, filled with excitement.

 
As we drew closer, indeed we could see a lifeless body flat out on the road face down. He pulled up as close as he could, rolled down his window, and peered over. “Shit!” he said. “I know who that is.” He jerked the car to the curb and leaped out.

 
I sat in the car alone, not knowing what to do. I needed to get back to my friend’s house and go to sleep, but I was stuck. I was in an unfamiliar city. I had no money to call anyone from a pay phone and no pay phone in sight. In 1963 no one had even heard of cell phones. While I worried about what my roommate and her parents might think about my absence, the hours dragged on. After sitting in the car alone for more than an hour, I had to ride with CK to the hospital. There I sat alone for many more hours while CK hovered over his friend who, it turned out, was not dead but was severely injured.

 
Frankly I don’t recall when I finally got back to my friend’s house and got some rest, but my entire weekend was a bust, punctuated by several cavernous, unenthusiastic, and barely tolerable kisses. Thankfully I never saw or heard from CK again.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Gorilla Back

           “I want you to meet my brother,” my friend Dawn told me. “I’ll bet the two of you will really get along.”

“Oh, please don’t try fixing me up,” I begged her. “Those things never work out, and I don’t want to hurt my friendship with you.”

I was sitting in Dawn’s office. She and I had been both friends and business colleagues for about a year, yet I had not known she had a brother, much less one who was single.

“Don’t worry,” she assured me. “He’s barely getting over his divorce; he just needs a friend.”

“If that’s the case, I could always use more friends,” I told her.

“Come over to my house for tea this weekend, and we’ll sit around and talk. No pressure, okay?”

“Sounds good,” I admitted.

 

While I don’t recall much about that evening other than the warm ambiance of her house and the easy way our three-way conversation flowed, I do recall that I fell under Alvin’s spell. His quirky sense of humor appealed to me, and his looks did, too.

Because Alvin and Dawn shared a house, I found myself hanging around with my girlfriend more than ever, especially when it meant her brother might be there.

Months flew by, months of raucous laughter and fun together. After a few months, I felt a little disappointed that Alvin never asked me out on a date, so when he invited me to the zoo, I could hardly contain my excitement.

On the day of our alleged date, Alvin showed up with his three-year-old son in tow, a kink I had not expected. The kid was adorable, though, and as much fun as the father. Soon we three were enjoying the animals as if we were a family. After we had walked through the zoo, we reached a playground, where the three-year-old insisted on trying out the equipment. Alvin, not a lightweight man, climbed onto one of the animals suspended on a heavy spring. While small children could bounce back and forth on such a toy, under Alvin’s weight it groaned and bent almost to the ground. He held on for dear life, and his surprised, embarrassed, and humorous expression is still emblazoned on my brain. It was at that moment that I decided I wanted to make the guy my own.

Alvin obviously had different ideas, but he failed to let me know. When he moved into his own place and invited me over, I washed up, primped, and prepared myself for what surely would be a romantic evening.

Instead he served tea, something he, my friend, and I had done often, and we sat and talked. And talked and talked, until I finally tired of waiting for him to make a move on me and said goodnight.

The same routine took place several times, until one day I noticed he had a mini trampoline stored in one corner of his living room. I pointed to it. “I’ve always wanted one of those,” I said. I’d heard they were useful for people wanting to lose weight. All my life I have always wanted to lose weight.

He looked over sat the trampoline. “I don’t use it. I don’t even know why I keep it.”

“Would you sell it to me?”

“No, but I’d barter for it.”

Intrigued, I asked, “What would you want?”

“Back rubs. My ex-wife used to rub my back. I miss that.”

Excitement ran up my spine. Every woman knows where back rubs lead, and I was ready. “Sure,” I said.

“Three back rubs,” he offered, “and the trampoline is yours.”

“Want to start now?”

“No, wait till the next time you come over.”

“Okay, name the day.”

 

When the day arrived, I felt more certain than ever that once Alvin took off his shirt, he would make his move on me. I spent even more time than usual getting myself pretty and prepped.

At his residence he once again offered tea, and we launched into our usual plentiful conversation. Part of me relaxed, knowing he wouldn’t leap into sex; the other part wanted the conversation to end and the sex to begin. Surely that night was the one we would consummate what had become a warm relationship.

He finished his last sip of tea, placed his cup on his coffee table, leaned closer than usual to my face, and said, “There’s something I haven’t told you.”

My heartbeat accelerated. “What?”

“You can’t share this with anyone.”

“Of course not. What is it?”

“I’m celibate.”

“What? Celibate? But-but you were married. You have a kid—”

“I mean outside of marriage I’m celibate. I don’t believe in extramarital sex.”

“Uh, okay,” I said. I gulped. I had no intention of ever remarrying, so there went my dreams of hot sex with Alvin. I intended for all my sex to be extramarital. Kind of a deal breaker, huh?

He sat back. “As long as you understand that, I’ll take my shirt off, and you can give me the first back rub.”

I tried not to sound disappointed. “Sure,” I mumbled. “The first of three backrubs. Let’s get started.”

As Alvin slowly slid each button open, chest hairs popped out, more and more, all the way down his downy chest. While I like goose down, I’m not fond of chest hair. My father had none, and when I read Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying years earlier, I agreed with her that hairless men’s bodies. were ideal. Obviously Alvin’s chest looked far from ideal, but thankfully I had to rub his back, not his chest.

The shirt came off and Alvin turned his back to me.

Egad! Horrors! Imagine screeching sounds from an Alfred Hitchcock movie, because I think I heard them that night. Alvin’s entire back was covered in hair, and I’m not talking about a soft, thin fuzz. I’m talking a thick, stiff, revolting gorilla pelt. Eww!

The trampoline of my desires sat in the corner, urging me on, plus my friend, who obviously had no intention of being anything more to me, was waiting. I follow through on my commitments, as anyone who knows me will tell you, so fighting back the urge to regurgitate, I thrust my fingers into the dark fleece that coated Alvin’s back.

As I rubbed, he talked. It helped me keep my dinner down to hear his voice, so I listened, but if I tried to respond, my meal rose in my throat. I kept most of my thoughts to myself.

“That feels good,” he said. “Right there. That’s always a sore spot. Good.”

Rub, rub, rub; try not to think, I told myself.

“When I was married, my wife used to rub my back all the time. I miss that.”

Oh, dear God, his poor wife did this all the time?

“She had a routine.”

I’ll bet she zoned out like I’m having to do.

“First I’d take a hot shower, and then she’d pluck my back.”

What? What did I just hear? My words came out involuntarily. “She plucked your back?”

“Yes, she’d take tweezers and pluck my back, and then she’d give me a back massage.”

Now I understand how she put up with rubbing his back, but . . . “Wasn’t it painful to have your back plucked with tweezers?”

“Oh, yes, but the back rubs were good.”

I think I know now why she divorced you.

 

We continued the back-rub routine for the number of times required for me to take his exercise trampoline home, but using it gave me a terrible headache, and I gave it to charity after a while.

The story of Alvin and his celibacy did not end there, however. A few months later my friend Jennifer told me she had offered Alvin a free trip to Paris, and he had accepted.

“First of all, how’d you get a free trip to Paris?” I asked her.

“I won it through work, and it’s a trip for two. Alvin and I have been friends for a while, but I figure if I take him to Paris, things will heat up between us.”

Thoughts raced through my mind, but I recalled that Alvin had asked me to keep his celibacy a secret. I had to keep my lips zipped, but oh, how I wanted to warn Jennifer! Instead I said, “I hope you have a wonderful trip. He’s a great guy.”

“I know,” she said with a giggle. “We’ll be sharing a room in Paris. What could be more romantic?”

“I can’t think of anything more romantic,” I admitted, but I had to stop there.

 

Weeks later I saw Jennifer again. “How was your vacation in Paris?” I asked.

“Don’t even ask.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m never speaking to Alvin again,” she said. She pursed her lips and walked away. I knew I’d never hear the full story, but I had a fairly good idea of what took place: nothing.

 

Not everyone hates hairy bodies the way I do. I continued to enjoy Alvin’s friendship, as long as he kept his shirt on. Alvin eventually remarried and had a long and happy marriage until he passed away recently in his late seventies. Good-bye, my furry friend.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Bruce, You Brute!

            “Is it okay if I drop by for a little while?”

Allen did not answer right away, so I explained, “Ruth and I dropped by Mother’s nursing home, but Mother isn’t lucid right now. I was hoping that if we waited an hour and went back, she might be a little better.”

When Mother had entered the facility near my friend Allen’s house, he told me I could use his house for just such an occasion. I wondered why he hesitated, though, when I was asking to do exactly what he had offered. Finally he admitted, “I have a few friends over for a brunch, but of course you can come by.”

“We’ve already eaten, so food isn’t a problem,” I said.

I sensed more indecision, but then Allen said, “At least you’ll get to meet Bruce. I’ve wanted you two to meet, and he’s here with his partner.”

“Great! I’ll see you in a few minutes.”

 

Allen’s front door flew open only seconds after I rang the bell. An effusive greeter raised his hands and declared, “You must be Bobbie. I’m Bruce, and Allen’s told me all about you.”

“So glad to meet you at last,” I told him. “This is my friend Ruth.”

We walked into the house, and I noted that we had interrupted not just any brunch, but an all-male, all-gay, all-couples brunch. In addition, everyone was much younger than Ruth and me. She and I were in our fifties at the time. Allen was my junior by more than ten years, too, but none of our dissimilarities had ever affected our decades-long friendship.

Regardless of our differences, Allen’s friends quickly absorbed Ruth and me into their conversations while we all stood around sipping various drinks. Several of the couples held hands or kept their arms around each other, without being intimidated by Ruth’s and my presence, too. I felt quite welcome.

Allen had been right about Bruce. He and I fell into an easy banter that did not stop. Ruth, a little quieter than most of my friends, did not talk much, but I watched her observing the men.

One man wore a tight shirt that accentuated his unusually pointy nipples. After a long silence, Ruth turned to Bruce and me and said, “I wish I had breasts that stood out as well as his do.”

Without hesitating, Bruce blurted, “Well, I’m sure Bobbie at least lets you feel her breasts all the time.”

Ruth pulled herself up to her full height and declared, “Wrong assumption!”

Several men turned toward her to see what was going on.

My face must have gone bright red for Ruth’s embarrassment, but soon I burst out laughing. Through my laughter I stammered, “I’m not—I mean we’re not a couple. We’re not gay.”

Everyone within earshot erupted in laughter, and it was Ruth’s turn to blush.

Under the circumstances, Bruce had made an automatic supposition.  Ruth got over the incident quickly. Bruce and I became close friends, and he continued to make me laugh until his sudden death about a dozen years later. Allen and I are still friends to this day.

Although I’ve lost both Ruth and Bruce to early deaths, I still giggle to myself whenever I think of the phrase “Wrong assumption.”

Friday, November 6, 2015

Mushy Lips

          My sister and I were young teenagers when our parents befriended a married couple quite a few years our parents’ juniors. The younger brother of a family friend, the man owned a local shop that specialized in children’s and teens’ clothing. Naturally mother took me to his store to buy my outfits.

The wife, possibly in her thirties, looked like a teen herself. Perky and petite, she usually remained quiet, while her husband did most of the talking. The couple attended many of my parents’ parties, where liquor always flowed freely.

Whenever adults visited our house, we kids were expected to hug them and sometimes kiss them on their cheeks. The man in question, however, did not greet us in the way we were accustomed. Instead of giving us the typical peck on the cheek or forehead, he insisted on kissing us on the mouth, and he did it with soft lips. As a fourteen-year-old, I did not grasp why he gave me the creeps, but my sixteen-year-old sister nicknamed him Mushy Lips.

At around the same time, I finally sprouted the bare beginnings of breasts, so downtown Mother and I went, in search of my first brassiere. We naturally went to Mushy Lips’s store.

Mushy Lips greeted us effusively. “Hello, there! How are my favorite customers?”

Mother said, “Fine.”

“And how’s my little Bobbie today?” he asked. “Got a big kiss for me?”

I stepped back.

Mother pushed me forward. “Give him a kiss, Bobbie. He’s glad to see you.”

His soft, fat lips pressed mine. Yuck.

He held his face close to mine while he asked, “And to what do I owe the pleasure of seeing you today?”

“Um, er,” I stammered, unable to speak while his dragon breath huffed in my face.

Mother spoke up. “It’s time for Bobbie’s first bra.”

“Ah.” Mushy Lips looked down at my practically flat chest. “A training bra, I presume?”

“Yes, a training bra,” Mother agreed.

Mushy Lips led us over to a counter and gleefully pulled out an array of teen-appropriate bras with their little stretchy cups. Practically dying of embarrassment, I picked out a beige one and a white one that I liked.

“Only two?” Mushy Lips asked. “You’ll want to try on more than that.” He pulled out a few lacy numbers and even a see-through net bra that I would never have picked. “Try all these on. You never know which one you’ll like best.”

Mother agreed. “Do what he says, dear. Try on as many bras as you’d like.”

I held up two pieces of underwear. “These are the only ones I like.”

Mother contended, “Try on all the others, too. I’m not coming all the way back downtown just on your whim.”

Mushy Lips handed me five or six bras. “Now go over there to the dressing room. Take your time and try them all on,” he instructed. He turned to Mother. “Bernice, make yourself comfortable here.” He pointed to a chair near the left side of the narrow store, while I walked toward the dressing room on the far right. Before I entered the dressing room, Mushy Lips excused himself and ducked through a dark doorway under a sign that said Stockroom: Do Not Enter. 

I locked the dressing room door, hung the bras on a hook, stripped off my dress, and peered into the full-length mirror. It reflected my barely noticeable breasts. I felt silly buying a bra, but I felt a little grown up, too. I admired my body in the mirror awhile before I took the first bra off the hook.

While I tried on one bra after another, I heard shuffling footsteps outside the room, but when I peeked out the door, I saw Mother still sitting in the same place. Each time I tried on a new bra, I heard shuffles behind the wall, but with no windows to worry about, I decided not to concern myself. Mushy Lips had a store to run, and I knew he was probably at work in the stockroom.

As soon as I dressed and emerged from the dressing room, the shopkeeper popped back into the store area, even more gushing than he had been when we walked in. “So what do you think?” he asked.

“I still like only these two,” I said.

“Okay,” he said, smiling. He took Mother’s money, gave her a receipt, hugged her good-bye, and leaned down for a good-bye kiss from me, again with his mushy lips.

 

A few months later, a boy from another school invited me to his high school formal. We did not call the events proms, back then.

On the night of the occasion, I dressed in a new taffeta frock. While I stood in the foyer waiting for my date to arrive, Daddy took photos of me and then went back to doing whatever he was doing.

Mother, however, told me I could not leave until Mr. and Mrs. Mushy Lips dropped by. “He wants to see you in your first gown.”

“Why?” I asked. “We didn’t buy the dress at his store.”

“I think he has a little crush on you.”

“A crush? Why would he have a crush on me?”

Mother scoffed, as if I should understand.

I didn’t.

Still, I had to wait for Mushy Lips to appear. My date arrived with the couple that was our double date. We all stood around, shifting from one foot to the other, until Mushy Lips came bounding up the front steps two at a time.

“Where’s your wife?” Mother asked.

“She couldn’t make it,” Mushy Lips said breathlessly, “but I wouldn’t miss this.” He turned to me. “Let me see the whole picture,” he insisted, indicating that I should twirl around.

Right there in front of my date and another couple, I had to twirl like a beauty queen on display, while he ogled me with more appreciation than even my parents had shown. I tugged at the strapless gown and felt embarrassed.

“Approve?” my mother asked.

“Maybe,” the man said. “One more twirl for good measure.”

Again I turned around like a jewelry-box ballerina. When I finished I pleaded, “May I please go now?”

“Okay,” Mushy Lips said. “Now you be good.” He leaned over and mashed his lips on mine, right there in front of everyone. I wanted to disappear.

 

I learned to avoid being home when my parents gave a party if Mushy Lips was attending, so I did not see him again after that last embarrassing encounter. He continued to be friends with my parents, though, so they mentioned him occasionally. Four years or so passed before Mother told me the man had closed his clothing shop and opened a hangout for teens, complete with music, video games, and other entertainment. My baby sister, by then a teen herself, frequented the alluring haunt and spoke of it with enthusiasm.

Another year passed before I learned that a young patron had charged Mushy Lips with molestation. When I heard of the charges, the Mushy Lips picture came together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Years earlier, when I had tried on bras as a young teen, he had ducked into the dark “stockroom,” and from there he probably watched me like a Peeping Tom. Maybe the mirror was a one-way, or perhaps he had drilled inconspicuous holes in the wall. No doubt he was a predator when he insisted on scrutinizing me in my first strapless gown. Without any question, he kissed my sister and me like we were his lovers, not the naive teenagers we were.

One more piece fell into place, as well. His petite wife looked like a teenager. Of course!

Right before Mushy Lips went on trial, he died of what I was told was a heart attack. I now suspect it may have been a well-timed, covered-up suicide, but I’ll never know. When I saw his widow shortly after his death, though, she seemed happily independent.

Parents today have more awareness of pedophiles, but I grew up in a time of innocence. Thankfully for me, Mushy Lips did nothing worse than kiss me inappropriately and scrutinize me. I’ll never know what he did to the girl who filed charges against him, but I’m proud of her for standing up for herself. I wish I had done the same many years earlier.

 

 For more stories about my many encounters with the opposite sex, subscribe to this blog by clicking on the Follow button next to my photo. Watch for the book Neurotica: One Woman's Lifetime of Lust, Love, and Letting Go. Most of the stories in the book will not appear in this blog and vice versa. Disclaimer: Many names have been changed to protect people’s privacy. While these stories are true, I have resurrected dialogue as best as I can recall it.

Book Doctor Bobbie Christmas is also the author of Write In Style: How to Use Your Computer to Improve Your Writing.