Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Book Tagged!

I was "book tagged" by Red at “The Red Sneaker Diaries.” It's one of the hotter sex blogs out there (and a fan of BY & M). The idea is to answer four questions and tag 5 other people (a literary chain letter, if you will).

Shall I answer for myself or Cassie? How about a two-fer?

1.) Total number of books you’ve owned:

a.) W. S. Cross: Thousands. Writers always own too many books.

b.) Cassie DiMarco: Probably hundreds. Reading is her #1 favorite pasttime (well, at least with the lights on)

2.) The Last Book I Bought:

a.) W. S. Cross: Great Expectations

b.) Cassie: The Pure and the Impure by Colette

3.) Last Book I Read:

a.) W. S. Cross: Ginny Good by Gerard Jones, the enfant terrible of publishing because of his notorious web site "Everyone Who’s Anyone In Publishing". His novel is set in San Francisco during the 60s. Very sweet, very tragic, and I went to high school with Ginny Goods.

b.) Cassie: Portrait of a Marriage is the last important book in Cassie’s life that’s mentioned in the novel. Check out the links section here to see the many other books that are mentioned.

4.) 5 Books that Mean Something to Me:

a.) W. S. Cross:

i.) First Book: Goodnight Moon
ii.) First Read: Stegosaurus of Cricket Creek
iii.) Most Times Read: Never read books more than once (not entirely true: Great Expectations because it comes up in the novel)
iv.) Largest Impact: The Sound & the Fury (tooks years to stop trying to write like Faulkner)
v.) Biggest Page Turner: The real Cassie’s Journal (finished it in one night)

b.) Cassie:

i.) First Book: We don’t meet Cassie until she’s 24 and she doesn’t talk about things that early in her life
ii.) First Read: either Tom Swift or Nancy Drew
iii.) Most Times Read: Probably Wuthering Heights
iv.) Largest Impact: The Feminine Mystique
v.) Biggest Page Turner: Portrait of a Marriage (she reads it in one continuous sitting after the BIG NIGHT that is the turning point in the novel-- can't say too much about it, you'll have to buy the book when it comes out)

5.) Tag Five People:

a.) Edge of Desire
b.) RG
c.) Stephanie Ellis
d.) Katie
e.) A Girl From Home


Part of the excitement in my relationship with S. was his unpredictability.

I could never be sure if he’d show up outside Manuscripts & Archives after work wanting to walk me home, or appear at any hour outside my apartment with a sheaf of papers, all with the avowed purpose of pushing the Senior thesis closer to completion. He’d tell me he was coming over early to avoid finding P. at home, then spend the evening bullshitting with him over Scotch if he was there. I couldn’t tell, either, if he was serious about all the details of his past he’d tell me, or if he was lying for effect. There were hookers he’d slept with while living in New York before starting at Yale, or the Arab girls in Beirut before that. One day he would insist he was mad for Ellen and couldn’t sleep because she’d stood him up, then say the next he was dating her only to have an excuse to be near me. Was it all teasing, or was there a shred of truth to it? All lies about his past, or a kernel of reality? Of course I was flattered by the idea he might really be interested in me-- what woman isn’t tickled to have a man smitten with her like some little puppy dog, even if she is married? It pumped helium into my ego when he confessed he’d been scouting me before he asked if I’d type his paper.

Would it have changed anything if I’d known?

Probably not.

“You realize, don’t you, that I had my eye on you even before I started doing research here?”

“You’re not going to start with the B.S. about ‘kindred souls’ again, are you?”

“No, really, I’m utter-ly serious. I picked you out as a fellow seeker of pleasure weeks before I met you or knew it was you in that photo.”

Ah, yes, THAT photo. See, I already had a reputation around the library as a flirt. For one thing, I’d posed for a photo in the Yale Daily News of me sitting on the lap of the statue of Theodore Dwight Woolsey, Yale’s 11th president, over on Old Campus. All I was wearing at the time were some gold hoop earrings. That picture raised a few eyebrows around the Library, though fortunately for me, the editor picked one that didn’t show my face, so my boss could shield me from those who were “convinced” I was the model. There were office pools about the identity of the lap-sitter, and my name was always one of the possibilties.

My boss could've fired me on suspicions alone, hey, this is Yale for God's sake. But he’s a gentleman, and wasn't going to make any moves on rumors or office pools (I learned afterwards he put $5 on me being the one). I begged him for the job in the first place when word got out his previous secretary was retiring. I was working at the Computer Center entering data on punch cards, and would’ve done almost anything to get out of there. At the end of the interview, he looked at me and said “you’re a bit young, but I think you’ll grow into it.”

Why’d I take such a chance of losing my job by posing nude for the Yale newspaper, on campus no less? I don’t know. It wasn’t trouble I went looking for, it sorta found me, nothing I planned on doing-— see what I mean about just letting things happen to me? I fell into it (again) by answering an ad for a photographer’s model on a card posted down in Cross Campus Library’s snack bar offering $50. I almost missed the card, too, it was nearly covered over by a flurry of notices selling stereos or used bikes, in search of roommates for apartments off campus, or offers to type papers, tutor math or earn money in your spare time as a subject for an experiment over in the Pysch Lab (no violence or pain, promise). Of course, P. was angry with me for taking the risk and (worse) letting other guys ogle my flabby ass. The $50 I was paid got spent on some outrageous flats I saw at Macy’s, but the money didn’t mean a thing to me in comparison to the gas I got from tweaking the campus scolds—- or seeing my photo tacked up in the dorms next to the usual Playboy pin-ups. I don’t have a body like those women, so, sure, I was happy to know they were getting hard-ons from my good looks. I don’t know why I told S. it was me kissing Woolsey’s iron face, but he immediately started pressuring me to autograph a copy of the paper.

See how I can never leave well enough alone?

“No chance, Stefan Retter, not even in your dreams!”

“Why not?” He looked actually hurt by my refusal.

“Because you’ll tack it up in your room and Robert will immediately tell Ellen.” The third of his suite mates at Ezra Stiles College hung out in M & A even more than he did-— to the point we called him “Miss Robert” because he seemed so comfortable around that pack of female jackals working there. Good thing for me he wasn’t around that time I went over in my micro-mini! “Besides, you don’t need to look at naked pictures of me, it will only fuel your already overheated imagination.”

“Im-possible,” he grinned, splitting the word for that extra ounce of precision that only made sense because he was thinking in German-— or thinking like a German. “I assure you, Mis-sus Campbell, my imagination could not be more overheated than when I’m around you. It is like a car laboring up an impossibly steep hill with a monstrously heavy load on a scorching Summer afternoon! Which by the way, you look positively scorching in the photo. It is just one more nail in the coffin of my undoing. No, our paths had already crossed...."

(to be continued)

Saturday, May 21, 2005

A closer look at some of our fans

Ex-Millennial Girl

Stephanie Ellis is also telling a woman's story about something that happened in the past: in this case, her adventures as a stripper during the wild "" days. It's anything but the Internet cliché it sounds like, with none of the usual salacious baloney that comes over as fictional because it is. That's not to say the subject matter and Stephanie's photos don't reward the voyeuristic impulse. Check out her account of a trip to New York (sans boyfriend) where she wishes amid her loneliness that one of her co-workers would put some moves on her (and boyfriend "wouldn't count it as cheating"). That's something Cassie could relate to! Yet Stephanie's impulse to reveal all, whether flattering or embarrassing, is something you don't find on the other stripper blogs. Her accounts of female hecklers or errant tampon strings (bad when you're a nude dancer) are part of a down-to-earth, honest voice that looks-- without blinking-- at herself and those around her.

Tara Tainton

Tara Tainton also has a frank, earthy persona that she combines with erotic writing. Are her escapades fiction or confessional? She never quite says, but the implication (accompanied by much heavy breathing) is that it's a "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" British-style naughty voyeur's eye view we're getting. And it's a pleasing view, too, accompanied by photographs of the lovely Tara that are titillating without over-exposure, and which leave the viewer with a desire to see more (not something one can say about most of the Internet). Few of the photos are much wilder than a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, but their small size and grainy detail leave a lot to the imagination-- with the exception of one showing a very attractive bare bottom. Her site and its motif of frank confession of course find favor here.

The Hot Wife

And finally our thanks to Trash at "The Hot Wife," who has been among our earliest fans and most ardent supporters. The name about says it all: swingers with a focus on the woman playing and the man watching. There's nothing subtle here, and it's not meant any other way than as a primal celebration of the polyamorous lifestyle. Cassie's adventures brought up-to-date. Primarily a conduit to pay sites where couples and singles flaunt their natural gifts and uninhibited lust, the joy in frank sexuality sets this site apart from those who simply peddle porn.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Chapter 4 (Part V)

The flirting didn’t seem any more serious for S. than with me. It wasn’t like he was trying hard to get me into bed— OK, maybe just hard enough to make me push back and put him in his place, sorta like verbal arm-wrestling. It was exciting and maybe a little dangerous only because mom always taught me men are men and can’t really control their urges. As long as I was on guard, it was dangerous without being too dangerous. Plus I was convinced (or convinced myself?) I didn’t have any worry, I could handle it all. S. and I didn’t spend a lot of time talking about our friendship, either, we were creatures of the moment, making the whole thing up as we caromed along down a road neither of us had ever traveled.

It’s easy to see why I found him attractive, too. On the simplest, most basic level, I’d never met anyone like him before. Not a lot of European men hang out in South Philly. There were a few real Italian guys growing up— Italian-Italian, as in from the old country, but most of them were greasy hicks dressed in clothes that looked like they came from the closet in my father’s basement where he kept the suits he bought after he came home from World War II. I never met anyone with “Old World charm,” he was Maximilian in “Cabaret,” right down to the moustache and sleek black hair.

That's so ironic— and I never thought about it until now— but “Cabaret” was the first film P. and I saw after we moved to New Haven!

Not since getting married had anyone with any sophistication made a play for me, even a playful play. Nobody flirts with graduate student wives. And nobody at all had flirted in the same self-mocking way he did, reminding me of the bobbing and weaving Muhammad Ali used to lull his opponents before delivering the knockout punch. S. would complement my looks or intimate he’d like us to be more than “just friends,” never really putting the make on me in a direct, unambiguous way, then back away and tell me how Ellen distracted him from his studies because she wouldn’t give in. If I scolded him— or worse, if I played along and stared intently into his eyes, putting my hand on his knee and moving it slowly up his thigh an inch or two— he would always, I mean always retreat, as if it shocked him my being so forward.

— It was nothing more than friendly teasing.

— Nothing serious, I mean, who’s kidding whom?

— You’re married, there’s no pos-sibility!

If I flirted with him, he would dissolve in a puddle, his façade of jokes, put-downs and flippant denials transformed into a hollow, empty laugh.

“Ah, but you’re married, Mis-sus Campbell,” he would purr in that throaty accent and oily grin, implying it was I who had a dirty mind for even thinking he meant our conversation had an erotic component. Flirting, after all, is what Europeans excel at, right? I’ve read all the magazine articles, seen all the movies with dashing Frenchmen armed with charm and the attentive ways women can’t resist. No, things with S. just stumbled ahead the same way my relations with boys had when I was growing up: I let them lead me, all the time keeping my foot on the brake. What I never counted on was my inability control events— and the others who were part of them. There were two other human beings in this besides me, along with my own emotions— which became uncontrollable by the end.

Funny, I always thought of myself as the girl who could be in command of any situation. When I was dating, I never drank alcohol, never smoked a joint until I got married, all because I didn’t want anyone “taking advantage of me.” Sure some of that was my mother’s preaching all those years, but I’m no prude when it comes to sex. I didn’t “lose” my virginity in 12th grade, I chose the time and place, I wasn’t about to be “swept away” like other girls I knew, there was no way I’d let any man get me pregnant and wreck all the plans I had to become a doctor or save the world. Unlike most of the other women I know, I didn’t even mind oral sex with whatever guy I was seeing at the time. Sex in any form is natural if I’m in love. I can let down my guard if I’m comfortable; I can’t give up control of a situation, can’t bear the thought of a guy getting me to do anything unless it’s what I want.

What I didn’t realize is that with S., I couldn’t dictate the course of events the way I’m writing them down now— they were writing me— still are. My dad taught me to play cards when I was only nine; my favorite game is still blackjack. He says I’m pretty good, though way too aggressive. He’s right, I take chances. He always cautions me not to overplay my hand: you don’t want to go over the magic number of 21. Well, I thought I was in control of the game S. and I had dreamed up— remember it was nothing but a game at first. It’s just I didn’t know there were wild cards in the deck.

to be continued

Monday, May 02, 2005

Chapter 4 (part IV)

So much of what I thought was a suave bon vivant in S. turned out to be a put-on. He’s Catholic— in the worst sense, occasionally going on and on about “redemption” and “suffering,” and most of all, the forgiveness of sin. Seems the more he worries about sin, the more irresistible it is to him. My father’s Catholic, but my mom and her relatives snuck me out to church to be baptized Protestant while he was at work (and before her in-laws could bring the priest by the house). No, there’s no redemption in the DiMarco house: you bring your suffering on yourself through the choices you make and it’s your responsibility to clean up any mess.

Despite his shortcomings, I enjoyed the verbal sparring— so much that I would fidget in the morning waiting for S. to walk in the door of M & A. Keeping things lively and risky, without actually crossing any real line, was a delightful challenge to my bored brain; my terribly unchallenged boring life found an outlet in him for my pent-up dreams and ambitions to be more than just a secretary in the Yale Library and a mental door-stop for the people using it— and me.

“What do you think the nature of attraction between men and women is?”
I had to keep on my toes, his questions were thought-provoking and he acted like my answers mattered.

“Sex, of course! No seriously, it has to be a meeting of souls.”

“Souls and a good figure,” he looked me up and down with the same comic broadness I’d always laughed at with Art Carney and Jackie Gleason in "The Honeymooners.”

“You’ve never been attracted to someone that wasn’t good-looking?”

“Well, the French do have an expression: laide mais merveilleuse, it means 'ugly but marvelous,' they use it for women who aren’t good-looking, yet have style and sexual animal magnetism.”

“Ah, yes, S.A.M. Should I change your name to Sam?”

“Ah, flattery will get you many places, Mis-sus Campbell.” He always divided the “Mrs.” that way for emphasis, it was one of the little German things I found adorable about him.

“But let me ask you this? Would you choose to be alone on a deserted island, or with someone you actually disliked?”

“I don’t know, would you prefer to be on that island with somebody who was good looking and obnoxious, or unattractive yet pleasant and compatible?”

“I would have to be with someone who turned me on physically. There is, after all, a mechanical difference between men and women: my equipment has a mind of its own when it comes to performing.”

“Is that why it leads you around by the nose? I’ve always suspected a man’s mind dangles between his legs?”

“Hmm, I don’t recall a woman ever giving me mind! Come on, women are different from men, they look at the face first and through the eyes, into the soul.”

“That’s bullshit! A woman will just a likely respond to a hunk in tight jeans as an intellectual with a bouquet of flowers.”

“You’re a sage, Mis-sus Campbell, a veritable sage!” and he winked with the a leer and a knowing nod, then we both laughed to the point of tears. Did I want to sleep with him? I wasn't thinking about it, at least not on any conscious level. Not then.

to be continued (check back often)