My first vacation as a divorced woman. A woman, I’ll put this kindly, of mature middle age. A woman, mind you, of reserve and discretion, the furthest from a vixen you could imagine, whose dear friends invited her to join them on their annual winter trek to Zihuatenejo, Mexico. A little sun, good cheap drinks and food, beach and ocean time, laughs and fun. Tonic for a grieving heart.
The night hundreds of men kissed me was also the night I slept in the bed of one of the wealthiest men in the world.
Both adventures descended upon me as a college student from the American heartland. Far from home for the first time, my long legs, barely covered by tiny skirts and black tights, carried me confidently through the streets and into the lecture halls of Cambridge University. For my short life, my family’s love and the courtesy of Midwesterners protected me. Now, while my open gaze, wide gestures and long strides may have bemused the residents of this university town, their sense of class consciousness and button-downed reserve protected me just as effectively.
The bartender was the catalyst. Of course, he was tattooed. Aren’t they all? Our waitresses, waiters, bartenders, don’t they all sport permanent body art?
This bartender’s right arm was branded with a single word spreading down its length. Surrounding it in random patterns were cross hatches, as if he were keeping score; sets of four vertical parallel lines,
each set with one diagonal line crossing over it.
The year is 1968. I’m late for a date, hurrying down a long line of people waiting outside the civic center. This is the teenage virgin ice princess Georgia, searching all these faces for the one belonging to my escort. He’s older than I am, a college boy who holds out the promise of initiation into mysterious secrets of adulthood.
The people in the crowd are between 16 and 25 years old. They wear broadly flared jeans with brilliantly colored patches, woven headbands holding back their long hair, peasant dresses, beaded necklaces, feather earrings and bells. I wear a canary yellow mini dress, high-heeled sandals, pink toe nails, and giant gold hoop earrings bobbing out from my long hair.
As I scan the faces, seeking the familiar eyes and smile of my young man, I’m met with glances of unsettling hunger. Although I don’t fully understand the desire in the eyes of these men, I read it as one of the mysterious secrets of adulthood.
After a lifetime of poking into the cobwebby, secret corners of the human heart, Sigmund Freud had this to say about women: “The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is ‘What does a woman want?’”
Too bad he died before he and I could explore this question over cups of coffee at Café Central in Vienna. I’d have some answers for him. Pretty simple ones at that.
No, I haven’t gone back to the comedy club for another night of humiliation (Public Humiliation). Since I’m not seeing Bennett anymore (Bennett Bites the Dust), who else would be up for this adventure with me?
Instead, I’m sharing bits of trivia with you that I’ve been saving for just such a night, starting with Oscar Wilde, my favorite Irish writer.
Everything is about sex, except sex, which is about power.
Oscar was the master at boiling the truths of life down to one or two pity sentences.
My first experience with internet dating began and ended with a phone call. The same call.
This was a short relationship.
He (name soon lost in the cobwebs of my memory) described himself as an engineer, in his late 50’s, recently retired from a long and successful career at one of our major manufacturing firms.
That sounded promising.
He named the suburb in which he lived, one of the more affluent addresses in my town.
He said he loved going to art museums and told me a sweet tale of being moved as an adolescent, almost to the point of tears, by a painting of a beautiful woman. I thought I knew the painting he meant. Alan, my ex, grew watery eyed as we sat on a bench looking at it, our first visit to the museum.
“Time to take your own advice, Georgia”. That’s what Brenda said when she showed up at my door one recent Sunday morning.
Eons ago – well, make that six years ago – I showed up at her door with the latest issue of The Atlantic Monthly clutched in my hot little hand. ) A foolish, weak man had tromped on her aorta big time. That wound needed major suturing.
Why did I think The Atlantic Monthly held the cure? Because the cover article was one of their thoroughly researched delvings into a topic, this one being the science and psychology behind the matchmaking processes of Match.com and EHarmony.
I handed the magazine to her and said, “ I’ve read this article. If I were single, this is what I’d do. How about giving it a try?”
One of my best friends is at the wheel of her car, listening to my story of the end of my relationship with Bennett (Bennett Bites the Dust). Susie is a long-married woman who relishes all the diverting details of my single life. Every time we get together, she gets that gleam in her eye, the one that says, “Time for some vicarious pleasure.” Then she asks, “What’s up?”
She’s the friend who gave me the book, Getting Naked Again. This means she has insider information on my angst wrapped around that topic.
When I finish telling her about his last email, she turns her head away from the road, toward me, and says, “Why don’t you just…”
Picture him lying on his back on a dusty road, naked from the waist up. I’m standing over him, in a short, tight black dress and black shoes with monstrously thin high heels. One of those stilettos is on his chest, pressing into his heart. A drop of blood seeps from his chest and rolls down to the heel of my shoe.
His head is turned toward you. His expression pleads
with you. “Make it stop. What did I do to deserve this?”
Here’s another of those sketches I wrote while living in Paris back in the 1980’s. (The previous ones were April in Paris and The Men of Paris.
I didn’t get much sleep last night thinking about
Have you ever stopped to consider underwear in the
When you really dig into it
some shocking problems are raised
Underwear is something we all have to deal with
some kind of underwear….
From the poem, Underwear, by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
What kind of underwear people do, or don’t wear never used to interest me much. Until I went to the Club Gymnase in Paris. Three times weekly, after my aerobics class, I find myself jammed into a steamy room with sweating women from a culture very different from my own. What’s the biggest difference between them and me?
Their undergarments. No, I correct myself. That utilitarian word, undergarment, doesn’t work here at all. Their lingerie.
Frothy bits of lace for bras. Low cut or sheer, black, red, or pink. Panties that always coordinate with the bra, little ruffled bits cut high on the hips, or thongs. Satiny camisoles with lace-edged tap pants. Garter belts holding up white lace stockings. Silk. Lots of silk.