Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: Chapter 8

Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: One Chapter A Day


Chapter 8

“Can you stay after rehearsal? I need to chat with you a minute,” she said. I sat on the floor of the dance studio against the wall, waiting for Risa, my salsa teacher to join me. “What’s going on, Vicki Marie? You’ve got no meat—you’re all bones.” I’d been hearing that a lot. “You’re not eating, are you?”

“No, no it’s just my metabolism. Everything burns right through me. I’m fine, really. I know I’ve lost a little—but I’m OK. A little sad, but I’m OK—I’m eating.”

Salsa caliente in Cartagena while writing The Bachelor Chapters, 2012

Salsa caliente in Cartagena while writing The Bachelor Chapters, 2012

“I know the divorce has been hard on you. But, I’m worried—and selfish. There’s nothing sexy about a salsa dancing skeleton.” She put her arms around me. “Eat, chica. Eat. We need you healthy.”

Everyone assumed my busted marriage was to blame for my shrinking body. And it was true; leaving Jon had been traumatic in ways I could never have imagined. Because I was so independent, I didn’t understood how deeply I had needed him to feel whole. And then there was the guilt. I was ravaged by shame. I could not forgive myself for that final betrayal: the breaking of our vows.

Looking back, I can see that the only consistent source of nutrition in those days was the cream in my coffee. But at the time I was blind to what others saw. After all, people were always telling skinny girls to eat. And besides, I didn’t see how I could have lost any weight since there were so many calories in gin. In reality, the blues that conspired to leach inches off my frame and drive despair through my veins had found a fresh source. The stars had uncrossed and the fairy tale had been relegated to fraud; Toni had left me. Her promise of forever had lasted a whopping one hundred and seventeen days.

I was driving south on the interstate when I called her, and she destroyed what was left of my heart. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I just don’t feel the same.” “I don’t understand.” My confusion was absolute. “What are you saying?” “I’m sorry, Vic. I’m really sorry.” Shock swelled my brain. She didn’t sound sorry. She didn’t sound like the woman I knew. “No. No!” You’re not making sense! You can’t do this!” Panic consumed me. We’d been in Paris just that past month. There was no way she didn’t love me. I knew she did. I yelled into the phone, desperate for her to take it back, insisting that she remember what was true.

“You said you were going to love me forever! You always say it. You said it when you were here last weekend!” I pounded the line with questions; I had to know what had happened. Had she met someone else? Was it something I had done? When could we get together, I demanded, when could we get together and figure this out? There was nothing to figure out, she informed me, calm against my hysteria. She just felt different. She said it again andagain, failing to give me anything I would ever understand.

“What about our friendship?” I finally begged, when all hope had drained from my heart, leaving only dread in its place. I could not imagine life without her. She was like family. We’d been friends forever. “I know it’s messed up. I can’t explain it. I can’t be your friend. I can’t see you again.”

TOMORROW: Chapter 9

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Copyright Vicki Marie Stolsen, 2014, Forever Forty-Four Publications, Publicity Rare Bird Lit, Tyson Cornell,, Distribution by Ingram, Available online and in bookstores in paperback, eBook, and audio format.

Until July 11th, I’m asking you to contribute to this Kickstarter campaign to PAY FOR TRANSLATING THE BOOK INTO SPANISH: so we can offer this liberating story to Spanish language readers all over the globe. When you donate online, you’ll get a copy of the book, in English or Spanish, and of course, there are other fabulous rewards! 13 DAYS LEFT TO RAISE $3000!

He called me fat

or more specifically, “gorda,” because his language is Spanish. We were in front of the vanity after sex, the mirror reflecting the shining skin of tropical heat. My skin used to be pale, the evidence reduced to the twin territories that mark the bikini I wear everyday now that I have a pool on my roof. The new color I carry is toast—exactly the shade of browned white bread that my brother and I would smear with butter, before Saturday morning cartoons, after mom went to work.

His color is always the same: toward coffee, with cream, smooth on the eyes in the same way that milk interrupts the sharp bite of black. The sun bears down everyday on the coast of Colombia, but the wardrobe of my lover, and the millions who’ve always lived here, elevates fashion over temperature. Blue jeans, long sleeves, and even skullcaps defy the elements when the mind considers style. Clothes and hair—personal style transcends poverty in Cartagena Las Indias. People care about appearance and they celebrate it in others—you know you’re on when your chico’s shout, “bacaaaannnnooooo!”

superman vista

I’d been in Bogota for only a quick trip, but the days on either side added up to a week without contact. We’d reunited in a fierce embrace that began at the entry next to the washing machine, pushed through the long kitchen and into the front room, before shaking the wall behind the bed. Reunion sex is conflated with the reacquisition of territory. People will say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but what I know for sure, is that it makes the dick stand harder.

 I had splashed water on my face, bent over the bowl, slick beyond capacity in a climate where a body can’t compete against the twin assault of humidity and anaerobic passion. When I stood up again, the adoration in his eyes matched the white smile that split his face. The reverence was non-verbal and blessedly familiar; it was almost a year since we first discovered that bilingual communication had been narrowly defined to language. It was in that afterglow moment, our eyes locked in the mirror, when, “eres gorda,” left his lips and pierced my lungs with that breath-stopping reflex.

He called me fat!

In my culture that’s a slur equal to the offense intended with bitch, cunt, slut or whore. The fact that his smile was lit with love, or that his culture held nothing but authentic desire for every pound of flesh that took female shape, failed to register against fifty-four years of  American fat-phobia. The previous hour of adult-rated choreography evaporated like vapor, as I pursued a panicked inventory of my naked reflection.

I’m an athlete by most standards, driven toward self-competition over a lifetime, with a catalog of solo sports. I’ve taken toward pole fitness recently, and the reality that reflected back at me was tough strands of abdominal strength. I carry the pride of a six-pack, female version, where my belly is framed with the clear diagonal tracks of tissue. When I’d had medical treatment in December, the weight loss had almost hollowed my gut, and rigidly defined every muscle that I’m made of.

I had filled out since then, and the hard angles had softened. That had been true for several months, and I looked healthier with the re-sculpting of meat. I’m writing a memoir, The Bachelor Chapters, so I know that memory is arbitrary, and even inaccurate behind the veil of time. I looked no different than I had the prior week; but there was indeed change since February, when the combination of aggressive weight training, and the consequences of treatment, had dramatized my figure. It seemed clear from his comment, that during our separation, my lover’s memory had pulled the February file.

There are many things that haunt woman’s psyche and self-image. So many of us are friggin’ smart—intellectually conscious of our cultural mind-fucks—yet still at war with them in the streets, in our happy hour laments, and in our language on the page. At middle age, I carry wisdom as my trophy; a vessel of accumulation from a life lived paying attention to each lesson. I command the desire of young lovers in multiple countries; I cultivate a lifestyle that reverberates the so-called youthful endeavors of dance, adventure, and creativity; I am more authentic and more satisfied in my fifth decade than ever before.

The fact that a finger pointed to flesh can preempt more than fifty years of common sense, supersede the radiance that follows sexual satisfaction, and challenge the veracity of my own eyes, illustrates more than anything I know, the weight of culture. It’s my terminal luggage. My best bet is to keep it stowed in that locked bag, where it trips me up occasionally, until I push it once again into the corner, and out of my way.

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I gave him a pole dance for his thirty-seventh birthday

last Friday night. I worked it for three weeks, after picking his romantic favorite from my playlist. Bianca did the choreography, my pole teacher from Holland, whom everyone believes is my twin sister. Well, I won’t argue we’re not sisters—the best kind—separated at birth until the stars lined up for us once again in the streets of Cartagena.

I took on pole when I was living in Medellin. Catalina Tobon’s studio is fine-tuned for fitness, and I learned the inversions with names like Géminis, Escorpio, El Libro, and Superman. The classes were in Spanish, and “pero, me duele!” entered my vocabulary. It was tough and it hurt in ways I could not believe I agreed to endure. The bare skin on the pole is a safety device, the slow drag of flesh on steel brakes downward momentum, and can even imitate Spiderman suction. The consequences are broadcast in purple and black, on thighs and biceps. Blood can be drawn; the face of my foot sprung open again and again from the repetition of climbing a twelve-foot rod.

Gemini Over Cartagena

I keep a strong body; so a few things came easy, which sucked me into the rest without a second thought. The impossible positions were even more satisfying; beating it up, day after day, until finally—those stars again—everything lined up and I pinned a new badge on my chest.

In Cartagena my progress was interrupted by ninety percent humidity in a gym with two windows and a fan. Tough was now swimming in sweat. I was eight feet from the floor, and threw my legs into Gemini when my flesh failed to grip and I dropped like an egg from a countertop, gravity working faster than reflex, nothing left to do but wait the sound of the break. There was luck in that fall, and when Bianca and I locked eyes from my position on the floor we gave thanks to the Angel de Tube de Gymnasio Atlantis.

I live in the small and elegant studio apartment that overlooks the old city of Cartagena, and her Caribbean coastline. This is the highest floor, twelve stories above the street that feeds Puente Roman, the bridge to Getsemani and Cartagena’s walled city. The sky-rises of Bocagrande tower the horizon on the left, and the sixteenth century fortress of San Felipe dominates the view to my right. The two hundred and forty degree view is easily described as breathtaking, and when I moved here in March to finish the revision of The Bachelor Chapters, I planned my days around puesta del sol—the sunset that amazes every evening after six. This is where we moved the pole: to the entrance of my balcony, between the two-meter gap of the sliding glass doors.

With a camera and a tabletop tripod, I repeated the routine, again and again, moving from awkward mimicry to personal style. New bruises erupted, faded, and were replaced by fresh markers. When it was too hot, which was every eight to ten minutes, I closed the doors and blasted the air conditioning, bringing my body temperature down, evaporating sweat, and reviewing the fresh video, the honest mirror of my progress.

Finally, on the eve of his birthday, my young lover found himself in a transformed apartment; an elegant and sophisticated lounge I had created by rearranging furniture and lighting on the balcony. I cued the playlist for the performance, left the room to mix his drink, and returned in my costume of bra and panties to deliver it to his hand, a soft kiss meeting his smiling lips. With my back against the glass railing, the sea wind lifting my hair, I faced the pole with the attitude of a seasoned entertainer, my ear alert for the cue to enter the open-air stage, present Bianca’s invention and my labor; and premiere the sensual athletics of my new sport that fooled as dance.

There was a grace that led me through the following four minutes; the athletics of body memory, united with the soaring soundtrack, against the backdrop of his eager eyes and applause. I found my flow, and connected the transitions between the inversions and spins as spontaneous punctuation and not the well-rehearsed details of footfall and hand positions. It was more fun than I had expected—motivated by love I fell easily over to joy. In a world full of stuff, I had elevated experience as the gift worth giving. In a world obsessed with instant gratification, I had revived the practice of practice: of moving from the unknown, through the sweat of failure, toward the acquisition of skill.

Feliz cumpleaños a mi amante de Cartagena, con todo mi agradecimiento por nuestras vidas y por todos los que nos hemos atrevido a compartir. Que Dios te bendiga, mi amor. 

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There are 88,642 words

in the revised edition of The Bachelor Chapters, and yesterday, I read every one. Out loud—and to myself. I know now that it takes nine hours to read 88,642 words. My mouth was dry and my spirits were high. The book sounds good.   

.Vicki Marie Reads The Revised Manuscript

I added 16,703 words to this edition—started in the mountains of Medellin on February 19th, and finished yesterday, on the coast in Cartagena. I also deleted distracting scenes, re-sequenced several chapters, conflated a few characters, and gave birth to a few more. I’m a writer. That’s what I do. My job is to lead you to turn the page: again, then again, because you can’t wait to discover what happens next. I know there are other places you could be. My work moves to art when I’ve designed a world where you have no desire but to stay.

On Tuesday, the manuscript is due. Stacey Donovan, the formidable editor I drafted to edit the first manuscript, will have a second shot. Her sharp commentary and forensic detail guided me to mine deeper, and overturn a few boulders, so I could find the story that takes more risks, reveals more depth, and shines with more heart. If Stacey Donovan needed fresh evidence of her value and expertise, the revised manuscript delivers.

Thank you, Stacey, for challenging The Bachelor Chapters to be the story it could be. And in the process, daring me, to become a better writer. Meet you on the backside.

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for six months now

August 2012. ….I’ve been writing. It’s my job. I’m a writer, living and working in South America. I’m amazed and grateful and I’m kicking ass living a dream I didn’t know I had. The writing is complicated and elegant and constantly satisfying. Bless me with a good editor, and this story will fly. All the way. You heard it here first: The Bachelor Chapters will be a bestseller. I can’t wait for you to read it.

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I was latina in a past life

June 2012. I left the winter of Buenos Aires in search of the sun, and I found magic in Cartagena Las Indias, on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia. The heat nourishes me, and I thrive on the music that radiates in the streets and the plazas. I’m still studying language everyday, and I’m still writing The Bachelor Chapters. My life is richer here. I’m dancing. En las calles y los clubs. Everyday. Subscribe to The Bachelor Blog and never miss a post.