Saturday, March 26, 2005

News Flash: excerpt from BY&M accepted by MOIST

This just in from the email ether: An excerpted love scene has been accepted by the literary magazine MOIST for publication later in 2005 or 2006 (to learn more about the magazine, click on the appropriate link in the "links" section to the right). Part of selling any book is convincing agents and editors there's a market (i.e., readers) for that book. Other chapters are out with different literary magazines in this lengthy process. Stay tuned for updates.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Let us know what you think

Are you a fan of Beyond You & Me? Would you be interested in buying a copy? What is it about the story that interests you? Please take a moment to tell us what you think of the novel, its heroine and this site.


1. Why did you write this book? A close friend loaned me a diary she’d written years ago about a traumatic affair with a handsome foreign student. The story seemed both timeless and timely, since it takes place at the dawn of the Women’s Movement and at the height of the Sexual Revolution. The story was both timeless and timely. Her experiences spoke to me. partly because we’re still struggling with many of the same questions.

2. Such as? Well, sexual fidelity vs. sexual freedom for one. Despite all the talk about the New Morality, "hooking up" and casual sex, relationships are still an emotional minefield, and after all is said and done, most of us want to be happy in a relationship. Questions raised by her story are still important today: for example, is it possible to be in love with more than one person at the same time? And the role of women in our culture is still evolving. Lawrence Summers, the president of Harvard of all places, is advancing a theory that women are genetically unsuited to do well in math and science.

3. Is it a novel of ideas? Not particularly, just a good story that happens to be about smart, passionate people who believe they can change the world with their ideas and passion. It’s a novel of experience, loss and growth. With some good sex scenes.

4. Did you write the original journal? No.

5. But you claim the story is true? It has been faithfully adapted from the journal my friend loaned me. I fleshed out the details to make it more readable. Remember, the original was never intended to be read by anyone but its author, much less published in book form. This was in the days before blogging!

6. Is the novel autobiographical? Definitely not! I believe the phrase in movies and on TV is “based on a true story.”

7. If the journal’s author doesn’t want her identity revealed, why did she allow it to be made into a novel? She has led a happy and successful life since then, but feels there are countless people who struggle to find themselves, and others who will remember passing through that stage. I convinced her that it’s a really good story, too, a "Love Story" for today's world, with none of that movie's simpering, sugary nonsense about two-dimensional, perfect people never saying they're sorry. Love's more complex than that, and to say otherwise is to cheat those who are looking for answers in books.

9. Is the novel “chick lit”? Not really. Cassie is a beautiful innocent who finds herself in an erotic funhouse without a map. Men will enjoy watching her navigate the shoals of the Sexual Revolution. In the course of a few chapters, she moves from wife to active explorer in all the sexual possibilities. There’s also a bit of voyeur in each of us. And did I mention the hot sex scenes?

10. Why is the story set at Yale and in 1975? It’s not just when and where the journal was written, but reflects the passionate ideas of the time and place, along with the social and sexual upheaval of the era. The 1970s are now officially “cool,” with VH-1 style nostalgia and a longing for what seems like a pre-AIDS paradise of supercharged eroticism. Remember that sex with a condom was referred to disparagingly then as “showering with a raincoat.” No one thought about disease. It was excessively naive, but that's how people thought.

11. Aren't the 70s ancient history to today's readers? Do you really think that someone as remarkable as Cassie won't find fans today? There’s a bit of her in every woman I’ve ever met, and some even wish they were more like her: impulsive, headstrong, vibrant and alive. If Cassie were going through her ordeal today, she’d be writing a blog. Her story could happen in any age.

12. Who is the audience for this book? Primarily women, but then women buy most fiction. Young people will be intrigued by the AIDS-free eroticism. Older women will identify with Cassie’s struggle as they recall their own march to independence. Men will be intrigued by the erotic elements of the plot. There’s even a world of blogs devoted to those on the fringes of academe (see the “The Invisible Adjunct” in the “links” section).

13. But aren’t people eager to forget the Women’s Movement and the Sexual Revolution? Cassie never refers to herself as a feminist because she doesn’t know she is one. Remember, women still earn less than men, and the furor over the president of Harvard's outrageous suggestions proves Cassie’s struggles are still very much with us.

14. Why is the writing, especially at the beginning of the book, sometimes so shallow and superficial? The narrator is 24 years-old, give her a break! Spare me the sage MFA-generated narrator who is impossibly wise. As the story develops, she grows in depth and perceptiveness (isn’t that the point of a novel?). Cassie is stumbling along, discovering herself in spite of her problems (or perhaps because of them?). The reader will root for an underdog, especially one who's pretty and really very decent at heart. Readers love to peek behind the scenes of someone else’s life.

15. What about the discussions of literary theory in the book? Actually, that takes up part of one chapter and leads to the novel’s first sex scene (even if it is a dream). You can’t have a movie about Mozart unless you show him composing; equally you can’t have a novel about bright young people who think they can change the world with their ideas (and whose passions are fueled by their head trips) unless you show those passions, too. Kids are learning about Deconstruction in high school English classes now, this was the era when Deconstruction was brand-new, controversial and therefore highly-seductive.

16. Are real persons named in the book? With the exception of public figures active during the time period when the story takes place, any similarities to persons living or dead are purely coincidental.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

A love scene from "Beyond You & Me"


July 27, 1975

They say in the springtime a (wo)man’s fancy turns to love. Does the same thing happen in the depths of Summer’s doldrums? I do believe that is so.

In the Spring, it was S. Perhaps now it can happen again? I could so benefit from another human’s touch! So sweetly, so simply in love I am, I begin to think I’m destined to fall in love again and again. Can relationships work like methadone, substituting one addiction for another? So be it. I shudder at, yet crave the fierce, sudden bolts of lightning striking the innocent bystander, wantonly it would seem, seeking to destroy me in one blow, quickening my senses to an exhilarating height, I’m ready to chance failure or even disaster, my ears are humming from the blood pounding in my brain. It has been over 3 weeks since P. left and there are limits to what a vibrator can accomplish.

I awoke this morning alone again, awoke with that vague, dull insistence tugging at me, which became less vague so quickly, like speeding through a tunnel with the light racing towards you: is it the other side or a massive truck in your lane? A sense of nervous tension clutched at my stomach this morning and wrenched me fully awake with one name on my lips: Sydney.

So fresh, yet so strong, so passionate in the mouth and eyes, so intent, trusting, yet wary as the young emerging into their 20s always seem to be, breaking out from simple teenage rebellion into the full bloom of adulthood. I wouldn’t want to spoil such a lovely, beautiful thing. Well, maybe.

How did we meet? Ah, the music blaring from numerous loudspeakers in a state-of-the-art sound system urged the dancers and those sitting around the tables to “turn the beat around, you know that rhythm carries all the action.” The crowd was as far from Yale as I could imagine and still be in New Haven, the local glitter mob having proclaimed the Neuter Rooster as the center of New Haven’s nightlife. I presume the ridiculously absurd name is meant to attract the gay crowd; if so, it has worked. The building is a former strip club— I used to wonder what it would be like to audition, though P. would’ve killed me if I’d gotten the job. At that point I was a keypunch operator at Yale’s window-less computer center and taking off my clothes to dance in front of drunks seemed a better option. All that’s long gone. The crowd’s a mix of gay men, straight women and the odd dyke cruising with the boys. A few words of casual conversation and I discover she’s a Yalie— which says it all: ambitious, self-sufficient, busy and eventually they leave. Sydney will move on after graduation, while I will stay put. What again? Ah, Cassie, surely you can do better than that? Tsk, child, when will you ever learn?

More scraped knees?

I’m sitting at the bar drinking club soda when Sydney drifts up to me like a whiff of familiar perfume, so delicately beautiful and hopelessly alluring to my too-open senses. The O’Jays are telling the world “I Love Music,” and love is certainly on many minds here tonight.

“Dance?” was all she asked, the blare of the music would have made any deeper wisdom or clever lines a waste of breath.

She danced as I imagined she would: in rhythm but a little jerkily and without much style. Somehow that was quite naturally her style of dancing, perfect to her: tall and slender, with small breasts and narrow, boyish hips she skillfully, deliberately emphasized with tight white pants and a gold lame halter top. She doesn’t need good moves on the dance floor to get her way with men or women, when she took my arm after the first set and led me back to the bar, I was hooked and a throng of eyes followed our every step. As the song says, “it only takes a minute, girl, to fall in love.” During the second set, my eyes were on only her, though around the edges I could see many others watching us, we made such a perfect couple. I watched us as well, barely able to keep from pulling her to me as a man does when he wants to dance closer with a woman. I resisted the urge, I don’t know why, but I resisted. Protection I’m sure: to resist something one has never had is so much easier than once one has had a sweet—too sweet—taste. I found that out with S. So I’m heading into danger once more; I watch myself, so docile and un-aggressive, the complete opposite of with S. or Jessica. What could explain the change?

Surely not caution. No, was I afraid, perhaps, of marring her delicacy with desires I could hardly put into words? All I can think about is sleeping with her, I watch her movements with delight so naked it’s apparent I’m sure to Sydney and the entire club— at least when she opens her eyes. Most of the time she’s dancing with her eyes closed, shaking her head as her little boy cropped hair bounces to the beat of the throbbing base. My crotch is so wet at this point I wish I had a tampon in my purse, I’m glad I wore black pants instead of white. I detect in her movement and looks in my direction a sleeping vibe I want so much to awaken. I’m playing with matches and I don’t care if I set us both on fire, I’m a few degrees this side of spontaneous combustion already. Absorbing her shape, I can no longer resist, I reach out and plant my hands gingerly on her hips as we dance ‘round and ’round, I can feel the heat of her body beneath the shiny fabric of pants so tight I’m sure she’s wearing nothing underneath.

She takes my hand when the song finishes, something about “You’ve got me where you want me,” weaving herself into my self with her darting eyes, so piercing and lacking in the innocence I’d imagined they possessed, with smiles that make me feel as lightheaded as the balloons pinned to the “grand opening” sign stretched across the club’s support columns.

“Let’s get the fuck out of here,” she giggles, “and go somewhere quieter, more romantic.”

“Good, I think I need some air.”

We found the ’65 Mustang (P. gave it to me for a wedding present) in the parking lot, and once inside, I bent over to make sure her cranky seat belt was latched. She kissed me straight on the mouth, and my face flushed as hot as a sunburn, but still I can’t let myself go, though her darting tongue found mine tender and responsive. One kiss is all she’s after, and we drive away. I parked on Chapel Street and we walked down to a place I’d seen along the Green, an espresso bar called La Machinetta. Between the dancing, the kiss and the caffeine, I knew there’d be no sleep tonight! I didn’t care at all, being with her made me feel alive again. We talked about this and that, I can’t really remember what, she held my hand, stroking it along the knuckles, occasionally brushing the back of her hand along my cheek. I was aroused with her to an extent surprising even to myself: seductive, playful, feminine, gentle but strong, willful, leading me as well as my leading her. Then just as suddenly as at the Neuter Rooster, she wanted to leave, and I felt my heart pounding with fear she’d want to go back home to Mother Yale. Outside on the street, she pulled a joint from her bag and lit it up in plain sight.

“Here, this is great shit.”

She was right. The caffeine and the pot collided in my head at once, I no longer felt any sensations except a sense of pleasure and possibility, I could have floated away if she hadn’t held my arm. It was 2 AM, we ambled down to Book World and its racks of magazines, where the sign declares “we never close, including Christmas.” She wanted to show me the fashion mags she reads— without telling her roommates and friends, they look down on her, both for her gorgeous body and the way she adorns it with stylish clothes.
“I knew you’d be different— it was the halter top and the loose-fitting pants, they just said someone who understands style.” I didn’t tell her they were the only things I felt comfortable in after the pounds I’d put on moping around over the Summer. Gradually we moved from Vogue and Glamour to Oui and her favorite, Viva. Not what I expected from a fashion-conscious Yalie: lots of photos of beautiful women in little and less clothing. The pictures made me feel impatient with the unattainable; as I stared at Sydney, she smiled and stared back. The late night denizens gave us disapproving looks, but we were high enough I didn’t care, somehow I felt she liked their disapproval. One black dude looked me over, looked at Sydney in her abbreviated, clinging outfit as she held my arm, then looked back at me, muttering under his breath “nasty woman.” I wasn’t sure whether he meant it as a put-down or a compliment, but it made me feel bolder, and I took her hand, entwining my fingers with hers.

“Ever fuck a black guy?” she giggled once more leaning against me the way she’d lean against a man. I don’t know why, but I remembered a line from Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own that was entirely appropriate, if completely different than the original meaning: “The truth is, I often like women. I like their unconventionality. I like their completeness. I like their anonymity.” De Man’s writings and P.’s tutoring taught me it wasn’t what Woolf intension that mattered, it was the meaning her words conveyed. Right now they seemed intentionally making me think of sex. KC and The Sunshine Band’s song was playing full-tilt in my head: “do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight.” I put my arms around her neck and pulled her lips to me in one of the most passionate kisses I’ve ever given anyone.

The entire store of seven or eight guys broke into applause and cheers.

“Thank you, thank you all!” I blurted out, with a broad grin, then grabbed Sydney’s hand and headed for the exit.

I can still feel her riding my fingers like a surfer on a sea of desire, the wetness I felt on my palm made me feel powerful. Unlike with Alex, I didn’t care she was lying back letting me pleasure her, it was an aphrodisiac playing the conductor driving her train to orgasm, I wanted her to come, to beg me, when she’s almost there I slow down, and yes, as I imagined it, she pleads, “please!”

“Tell me to fuck you,” I whisper, hoarse from my own irresistible desire.

“Oh, yes, fuck me! Girl-fuck me!” She’s coming now, I can still feel the electricity and spasms of her cunt surrounding my fingers days later, her sex juices were on my fingers, squishy and slippery, and I could feel the thrill she’s feeling in my own body, lips so swollen I can only hope she’ll know what to do once I’ve finished pleasuring her.

My fears about spoiling innocence prove totally, I mean TOTALLY groundless— Sydney seems virginal and sweet, yet her mouth is old beyond its years, in naughty words and sensual desire. Experienced in the ways of Sapphic love, she begins with her tongue on my labia, then when I’m breathing harder than I can ever remember, she slips fingers inside of me, moving her mouth up to the hood and beneath it, my clit. I can’t tell how many digits are inside me, it doesn’t matter, either, the long time between sex, the build-up of tension, the excitement of a night spent dancing and flirting are more than my self-control can or will handle. I let it go until I’ve nearly passed out from the intensity of my pleasure. Spent, I tell her that if I never see her again, she will always be in my heart, a melody, an aria, she is Delibes’ “Flower Song” from “Lakme” (I saw a production by the Metropolitan Opera when they visited Philadelphia junior year of high school).

I kissed her face the next morning as we parted, I could have floated out the window of her dorm room, not even finding my car had been towed away could drive out the magic of our night together. There was no time to walk back to my apartment, so I shocked the poor denizens of the library one additional time, arriving for work in my dancing clothes. The revealing halter top, so prone to show off the outer contours of the sides of my breasts if I bent over too far, was, well, inconvenient that day. The temperature was heading for the high 80s, yet I found an old sweater in the back to drape over my shoulders. Then Ellen made a sneering gesture, and I simply let the sweater fall to the floor and walked into the back in my click-click-click high heeled dancing shoes. They’d make sure everyone knows I was coming, knows I had fun last night, knows how I was decked out.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Chapter 1


Day 1: A Spring day, any day, 1975

Temptation has been my undoing. Its fulfillment has been my downfall. And so I am left in its aftermath, too conscious of time’s passage. Painfully, so very excruciatingly aware of each day, each moment, I wish they would all pass more quickly and with them the pain. Time ticks away within my body like a pounding clock, I feel each second racing down the nerves of my legs, knotting my stomach, piercing my head which reverberates in stereo from lack of sleep. Who can remember the last time I slept through the night? Ah, Child, you feel compelled to run somewhere, but you don't know where, to do something, but you don’t know what to do. Or rather, you know where to go, but do not know how. It’s true, I want to run— fast and far— to scream and shout, loudly and unrestrained— to cry with violent shrieks and sobbings until my body is totally shaken into weakness, in a state where it can no longer want anything! To lie in quiet and peace, feeling no urgency, only stillness and weariness falling over me!

And where was it that I did go? Why to Graduation. Drab, soul-less Yale, the scene of my crime burst into activity today as he and the rest of the senior class desert the smother-love of Mother Yale for their new lives outside those clichéd ivy-covered walls. I couldn’t stay away, instead of riding out the storm from the safety of my desk at work, I called in sick— since sick is how I feel— then lost the will to stay home where I’m writing from tonight. The “bright college years” are ending for him, while I stay behind, a Cinderella with no glass slipper in sight, time stretching out before me like a wide lake, the memories of what came before hanging around my neck like a stone.

The crowd I’m sure measured 15,000, the yard of Old Campus swapping its Frisbees and sunbathers for a sea of folding chairs as Yale President Kingman Brewster and the other grandees pranced about in their ridiculous robes and funny caps, each residential college marching in while parents cheered. The bells of Harkness Tower pealed constantly, while silver flasks and joints in a profusion were passed around. One woman in the Saybrook contingent hiked up the hem of her graduation gown to flash a glimpse of stockings, garter belt and no panties. I’ll have to remember that when it’s my turn up there.

What possibly could have brought me there? Did I really think I’d see him? And then suddenly there he was, marching in with the rest of his classmates. Would it look especially tacky if I sat on his lap? Do I care? What about a good-bye kiss? This is, after all, probably the last time we’ll ever see one another. I could lift up my dress and make love to him right here on what’s left of the grass, I’m not wearing panties. That would be a Yale graduation they’d talk about for years.

“Cassie!” he waves with a smile. It looks a bit forced to me, tight around the mouth, as though he’s seen someone he’d rather avoid. Ah, Child, who would not be gracious today? He steps out of the group, motioning me toward a German-looking couple on the edge of the spectators. His parents, of course, the mother dressed in a sober, eminently sensible two-piece suit made of green wool, expensive and well-tailored, yet hopelessly old-fashioned. She’s handsome, I can see where he gets his good looks, she’s commanding the way she carries herself, she’ll be a formidable mother-in-law (not mine, thank God). The father’s nationality isn’t as obvious, he’s dressed in a snappy blazer and slacks, an outfit that doesn’t scream out “Deutschland über alles” like the wife’s.

“Cassie, I’d like you to meet my parents.” He says something in German to them I don’t quite catch in all the noise and tumult.

What’s the proper German thing for me to do? Curtsey? Or offer my hand? Is it Teutonic reserve or frostiness I detect from his mom when she doesn’t smile? What has he told her about me? She can see I’m not one of her son’s classmates— no cap and gown, a bit long in the tooth for a senior’s girlfriend, no slouch in the looks department, yet no obvious cultural refinements? Education? Mostly self-taught. A mere secretary? No “catch” for the male heir. Can she guess the truth? What should I say, it’s such a drag being Eyeore in the midst of all this happiness— no, not Eyeore, I’m Pooh’s little black rain cloud, drifting aimlessly across an otherwise perfect “Yale blue” sky. Having been an honorary Yalie these four years, I know God won’t allow it to rain on His alma mater’s graduation ceremonies. How much more awkward can it be as the two of them look me up and down?

“Who is this woman?” she must be asking herself. “Does she have no pride showing up after things are definitely over?”

Before I have a chance to stick my foot in my mouth or even say a single word, S. has stepped back into the flowing river of seniors heading for their chairs. Heraclitus was right, you can’t step into the same river of graduating Yalies twice. All the voices around me are drowned out by the damned Harkness bells, but I don’t want to hear anyone but him. His parents nod without saying anything more, then dissolve into the mass of spectators, too. It’s all so much like the one time I took acid, P. and I were still living in California then. The trees are breathing as audibly as the people, and all of us are bathed in a light breeze swirling about, with rustling of new leaves, graduation programs and clothes as everyone takes their seats like sighs of pleasure, or murmurs of scandalous disapproval directed my way, the foliage and their faces white and glowing like a photo taken with infrared film.

Kingman has called the commencement for the class of 1975 to order, and suddenly I feel more out of place than at any time in my life. Sadly, no hole obligingly opens up to swallow my utterly shameless form, this isn’t a dream where I can awaken somewhere else, I couldn’t feel more awkward if I was standing here naked. I have no choice but to slink out the Durfee gate. I start running, I know I’m running because I can feel the hem of my dress lifting away from my legs with air flowing over my thighs. I know so well I don’t belong here, don’t belong to Yale, any more than a servant belongs to the family she attends. I want to get as far away from the prying eyes of his parents and friends and classmates and all the thousands of strangers who must be wondering “who is that woman?”

Tears are burning my eyes, I hear a car honk and the driver curse me, “what the fuck, lady, you wanna get run over?” I don’t know where I am, until suddenly I can recognize the red sandstone façade of the gate of the Grove Street Cemetery, its familiar shape breaking through my desperation. Why did I come here?

I walk inside feeling compelled to revisit another scene of my crimes. This is insane, get yourself together, Child, P. will get home before you. What will he think if you show up in this state, disheveled, eyes red with crying. But I pay no attention to myself, no more than I did when paying attention might’ve saved me from all this.

I stand before some of the headstones with their grim, expressionless faces. They don’t need voices to condemn me. I turn to leave, but something stops me and I look around. Is there something on the wind? Am I recalling sounds or actually hearing them? Did someone whisper or call out my name? Calling me to do what? I can hear her, it’s a woman’s voice, husky with ecstasy, sounding like my own, the realization robbing me of all self-control and resolve.

I lean against a mausoleum wall, sliding down its rough exterior, uncaring of the abrasions it will leave on my back even through my dress. My skirt sticks to the wall as I sink onto my ass, bunching up around my waist, my legs spread apart like the careless little girl I was 20 years ago. I can feel the ground on my cheeks, the grass is poking me, but my hand is already between my legs, I close my eyes and I hear only my own voice moaning the same words and shapeless sounds that pour from my mouth when I’m climaxing. It’s wrong, it’s depraved, it’s the only thing that will drive off my demons for a little while.

Fortunately P. is not home when I get back to the apartment on Clark Street where I’m writing tonight. I crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head, the last time I slept in the afternoon I was 12. It’s my first sleep in two days, broken with scenes from a movie now almost forgotten—

We rocked back and forth to a rhythm I set, I felt like the conductor of this orchestra now, he would play to my tempo. It was liquid oxygen poured onto the smoldering flame of my orgasm. Fuck me, fuck me, fuck me. I knew it better than I knew my name, I willed it with every thought, every mental trick I could think of, sending him telepathic “fuck-me-grams,” I was a snake charmer playing a mental melody trying to get that beautiful white snake between his legs to rise up and strike me with its delicious, deadly sting.

Finally I hear P.’s key in the door. Was the whole thing a dream?

“He’s gone!” I think I hear myself think I scream, I can’t be sure. It felt as if I did, but like the tree falling in the forest or the sound of one hand clapping, I can’t know. I can only hope P. didn’t hear me.

“Cassie, are you all right?” P.’S holding me in his arms. Oh, God, it’s the first time in how long since he’s held me or asked about me in the usual tender way he once did? Has it been two weeks? Or two years already? So much has changed, and so quickly.

“I’m OK,” I lie.

I’m sweating like I’ve got a fever of 104, and I feel dehydrated. Shit, I can feel another urinary tract infection coming on. But who’s had the presence of mind to think about drinking? I look around the bedroom and see it’s getting dark outside— how long have I been asleep? P. offers to go get pizza from The Spot, our favorite, and I’m glad to have the time alone to get my head back on straight. Can’t be moping around this way, it invites questions— and with questions, the risk of revelations. That’s when I see this journal on the dresser where it’s been since my birthday last November, I pick it up and the pen on my nightstand. This is my chance to pour all inside me onto these pages. I will master this! I must.

Where should I begin?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Music referenced in the novel

1.) The Doors, “Strange Days”
2.) John Lennon, “Whatever Gets You Through the Night”
3.) Yale Glee Club, “Bright College Years” (listen on-line in the "links" section)
4.) The Byrds, "Chestnut Mare"
5.) Theme from “Monty Python & the Holy Grail”
6.) Simon & Garfunkel, “I Am a Rock”
7.) Music from “Behind the Green Door”
8.) Patty Labelle, “Lady Marmalade”
9.) Albert King, “Born Under a Bad Sign”
10.) John Lennon, “No. 9 Dream”
11.) Antonio Vivaldi, “Gloria”
12.) Earth, Wind & Fire, “Shining Star”
13.) Barbra Streisand, “My Man”
14.) Vicki Sue Robinson, “Turn the Beat Around”
15.) The O’Jays, “I Love Music”
16.) Tavares, “It Only Takes a Minute, Girl”
17.) The Ritchie Family, “Brazil”
18.) KC & the Sunshine Band, “Get Down Tonight”
19.) Nat King Cole, “Fascination”
20.) Lou Reed, “Sweet Jane” (live version)
21.) Joan Baez, “Diamonds & Rust”

Cassie's Top Ten Tips for Flirting

1. Look over your shoulder, you never know who’s gaining on you: this gesture is universally recognized for framing your face well; it means you’re looking at him, there’s no mistaking your interest, and you’ll have a stiff neck if he doesn’t pick up on the move pretty soon;

2. Be relaxed and “go with the flirt”: OK, for me, that’s like telling me “be tall,” I’m 5’3”, what you see is what you get, and it’s no different in the relaxation department. I’m usually too tense around a stranger, I guess it’s why so much flirting goes accompanied by alcohol, either in bars or at parties. If you’re tense or nervous around a guy, you can do one of the two following tips:

3. Smile, it could be worse— you could be trapped in “The Stepford Wives”: Stepford is in Connecticut. Fucking Connecticut. Where fucking Yale is. Guys like happy girls, they don’t want to be around a sourpuss. Be happy, why shouldn't you put his happiness ahead of yours? It's the way men expect things, right? Right;

4. Listen to him even though he’s boring: One way to seem relaxed is to listen a lot, you can lower your gaze and pretend he’s the most interesting thing on earth. Guys are genetically-programmed to talk about themselves, and usually what he has to say is more interesting than your life, right? Right! Yeah.

5. Ask him what he thinks: You don’t really have to care, questions are both a good way to elicit information and solicit his interest. It shows you find him attractive, even if it’s just a physical turn-on, and isn’t that all that guys really care about? Isn't that all YOU care about?

6. Look at him, but not too intensely: Start by staring at him across the room, or if you’re already acquainted, then make sure you rivet him with your gaze several times over the course of the evening. Drop your head a bit so you’re looking up from beneath your lashes (didn’t I already say that?). Staring without saying anything can be too powerful, use that variation with extreme caution, it says “I’m ready to take you higher";

7. Playful banter is good: don’t intimidate him with your intellect— unless your intellect is wearing black stockings and a garter belt, he’s not looking to fuck that part of your anatomy;

8. Touch him, but easy does it: a nice light touch on the arm, brushing his hand, putting your hand on his shoulder while you bend over to whisper some innocuous detail in his ear, just don’t rub your hands on his ass or other erogenous zones-- unless you're ready for more;

9. Whisper: Guys are crazy about girls with low, husky voices— if God didn’t bless you with one, keep the volume down. Tell him a deep, dark secret— it doesn’t have to be “I want to suck your cock,” you can make it playful like “I think you’re a good candidate for Sterling Professor,” or “Want to know my favorite Deconstructionist?” And lastly…

10. Don’t be married, it limits your options: I didn’t pay attention to that one, and you can see how it turned out for me. Still, what's life without flirting?