Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: Chapter 71

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

THE BACHELOR CHAPTERS: A THINKING WOMAN’S ROMANCE

Chapter 71

In Seattle, the thermostat never hits seventy-two degrees at midnight, but that August, for one night in my life, climate records were broken during the Annual Forever Forty- Four—Finally Fifty—Birthday Bash and Western Roundup.

The horseshoe-shaped yard that surrounded my house was decorated with thousands of tiny white lights, and filled with more that eighty cowboys and cowgirls, plus at least two saloon dames. It was my birthday, but it was really a reunion of my lifelong community, most who’d known one another through the legacy of the endless parties I had hosted in my home for more than twenty years.

Turning fifty in 2008 was the beginning of a bold new decade. Looking for adventure in Cartagena, 2012

Turning fifty in 2008 was the beginning of a bold new decade. Looking for adventure in Cartagena, 2012

From the start, the energy of the crowd was high, with many guests rekindling bonds, and everyone making new ones. I was a fan of every person there. These were my witnesses and my influencers: my soul mates and my partners in crime. They had been with me during my different eras, all of them significant to my life, some for a season and others for a lifetime, all of them on site that night to root me on one more time.

My bone-white chaps were a hit, and so was my butt, celebrated by everyone as a symbol of the flamboyant chutzpah of Vicki Marie. Playful ass grabbing and bum bumping infected everyone, and I saw how my boldness simply made people happy. Love was in the air, and hedonism infiltrated the crowd. Before the night was through, I witnessed straight girlfriends making out with lesbian friends, and my lesbian friends stealing kisses from my straight boyfriends. There were friends who never smoke pot, toking away with those who do. And there were friends who never dance, shaking their stuff with abandon.

Many of the men in my life made an appearance, including Shaun, Lamar, Jason, Paul, and of course Dion. When I saw Andre on the back deck I didn’t even flinch.

“Happy Birthday, Vicki Marie! Look at you—fifty! And still the most interesting and beautiful woman in the room!”

“That’s my good fortune, and my lifetime plan. And don’t you ever forget that—loser!

“There you go, telling the truth again—and I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I’m regretful-ever after.”

We couldn’t possibly have smiled any broader as we locked into each other’s eyes and I sat down beside him.

It had been two years since he walked out of my life without a word, when I had retooled my heart to believe I didn’t need to know why.

“Why did you do that? Why did you never call me again?”

His answer was as surprising as my question. “It wasn’t what I wanted. But, I knew it was what you wanted.” I looked into his face, clueless and curious. “You’re going to have to give me more, Andre. That just doesn’t make sense.”

“It was your friend, Trish. When you went to the ladies room, she told me you weren’t interested in just one guy.”

In one sweeping flashback, I remembered how hurt I had felt, how confused and how mind-fucked. I had made up my own reasons in the void, and struggled to accept that strange way men just moved on. But I couldn’t help but laugh. It was too absurd.

“Andre Cassidy—you’re telling me that after six weeks of our enchanted courtship—you disappeared from my life because of something you heard when I left the room to pee?”

There were a million things I could have said next; a flood of reactions, swirled in protest, and threatened to swamp me. I was stunned by the truth, but I didn’t need to rehash the details. Instead, I went to what mattered.

“You don’t do that.” I leaned into his face, my eyes insistent that he understand every word. “You don’t open your heart, and draw another heart in, and then leave without a word.” I looked away, realizing that I felt like a teacher, not a jilted lover. When I turned to face him again, I could see that he’d been touched in some way, because his face was soft, and his eyes were kind. He was patient. Like he was waiting for me. He made it simple for me to say what came next.

“You broke my heart, Andre. I loved you.” It was the truth and I felt stronger for saying it. “I loved you for no reason that made sense, I didn’t even know you, but I felt—I knew—that you wanted to know me and that went right to my core.” He didn’t flinch. He just looked at me silently, and I could feel how much he cared. I put my hand on his thigh. The tenderness between us was urgent, and I went for the next thing that mattered, “So, this is the moment—because you now have my story—this is the moment where you tell me how sorry you are. And that you didn’t mean to hurt me.”

He looked into my eyes as he apologized, and then he put his arms around me. Andre Cassidy was a good man. That had always been true, and that hadn’t changed. He’d had every right to leave me, but he had no right not to tell me. I understood at last, that he really hadn’t meant to hurt me. It had been a misunderstanding: an unspoken assumption, and a heartbreaking mistake.

It was just before dark when I saw Wouter next to the bar, talking to Paul Sever. Wearing a hot pink T-shirt and white jeans, he had forsaken the western theme, but there he was. I was too far away to hear them, but the body language said it all—both men were laughing. Paul Sever’s plan that I invite my complete cast of lovers suddenly seemed precarious. I didn’t want Wouter talking with anyone who still adored me. It was ridiculous, but it crossed my mind that Paul Sever was at risk. Vaporization might be contagious.

I waited until he was alone to approach him. “Wouter Wilson,” I said. “Look at you.” He was still beautiful, that’s for sure. But, it looked like he’d put on a pound or two; I could see just the slightest bulge of a hot pink belly. Of course it was small of me that I found that satisfying, but why deny it? My ass was hanging out. I was still hot.

“Vicki Marie! Happy Birthday, girl!” His smile splashed a huge white banner across his dark face. I was taken aback by his radiance. He was genuinely happy to see me.

I’d had a lot of practice managing the after effects of vapor-behavior. Men were in, until they were out. It’s what happened. I don’t know how many times I’d told Cisco: “Four days. I need four days to get over a man.” Day one was shock; day two was heartache; day three was anger; and day four was depression. On the fifth day I reveled in acceptance and was free of self-doubt and the discomfort of rejection. I’m not kidding. I had this down. It helped that whenever I was dumped, there were always other men enthralled with me; and of course, I’d avoided getting too close. But the key was to force my focus to the present. When a guy was gone, he could only occupy the past. I had trained myself not to look back.

It had taken much more than four days with Wouter, of course, but as we made small talk under the tiny white lights, I learned I was over wanting him. That wound had healed. But I still felt the tug toward rejection, the nagging remnant of my questionable worth. He had left me, without a word, after loving me. Why was that so common?

I didn’t know the answer any more at that moment than I had when Toni split. I only knew that it happened, and no matter what I did, that would never change. The only way to stop it would be to pull out entirely, and for me that would never be an option. But I finally understood, that not understanding was something worth hanging on to. It was a sign of my humanity; it was a sign I had a heart.

I also understood that I was too much—too much to contain inside my own thick skin. I wanted out, because I wanted to find my people. I had left my husband and the worthy comfort of domestic love, to take my chance in the wild. I had invented my grand bachelor plan, I had pushed the experiment into a lifestyle, and I had thrived under its influence. I had planned for all contingencies, drawn on a lifetime of experience, and every variable of emotion in a one-on-one exchange. I had managed to blow the myth of monogamy out of my zone of desire. But, there had still been love, and of course, the heartache. There was loss. Always there was loss. That wasn’t going to change either.

TOMORROW: Chapter 72

Subscribe to Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series at The Bachelor Blog and never miss a chapter! Or follow on twitter @vickimarie44

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

Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: Chapter 69

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

THE BACHELOR CHAPTERS: A THINKING WOMAN’S ROMANCE

Chapter 69

“Of course you should invite all your lovers to your fiftieth—why the hell not?” Paul Sever and I were having dinner at his place, and he was adamant. Impossible, I thought. I had bachelor rules, after all, and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was my gospel.

“So, you’re telling me, you’ve got no problem coming to my party, and breaking bread with the other guys?” Paul and I had been dating since April, the same time I started to see Wouter again. I dug the hell out of him.

“It’s your party, sweetie. It’s your life. I don’t have a problem with it, and fuck anyone who does!” I’d been thinking about inviting all my former lovers, but the current ones? Could I do that?

Johnny and Vicki Marie pose for The Forever Forty-Four—Finally Fifty—Birthday Bash and Western Round-Up Invitation, 2008

Johnny and Vicki Marie pose for The Forever Forty-Four—Finally Fifty—Birthday Bash and Western Round-Up Invitation, 2008

The idea grew on me. It was a milestone moment, not just another birthday, but an anniversary of my first fifty years. Of course I wanted all my guys to celebrate with me. My birthday party had always been a gift to my friends, an appreciation of their importance in my life. My lovers were substantially significant in my journey, and I had a lot of appreciation for every one of them. After all, they were the reason I had the confidence to wear the bloody chaps.

I made an inventory of the men I was seeing at that moment: Lamar Taylor, Paul Sever, and Kyle Ross. My list of retired lovers was loaded with outstanding men. Did I think any of these men would be uncomfortable or awkward? Not a chance. My collection represented male confidence at its best. The real question then was this: would I be comfortable? I didn’t take long to answer. This was my Fiftieth Birthday—and this was my life. I invited them all—even Andre Cassidy and Wouter Wilson.

TOMORROW: Chapter 70

Subscribe to Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series at The Bachelor Blog and never miss a chapter! Or follow on twitter @vickimarie44

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

Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: Chapter 68

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

THE BACHELOR CHAPTERS: A THINKING WOMAN’S ROMANCE

Chapter 68

“We have a job to do.” It was Wednesday morning with Cisco, the last week in June.

“Speak to me, my queen.” He took a bow, drafted for the challenge.

“It’s almost July, and as you know, The Roundup is the last weekend in August.”

“The Annual Forever Forty-Four Birthday Bash and Western Roundup? I think we should make it a national holiday.”

“I love you, Cisco, but first, two things: number one—I’m going to wear chaps.”

“Assless?” The young man was so on it.

“You know it, baby—so we have seven short weeks to make sure we can bounce a dime off each cheek.”

“You got it—I can do this.”

“This is serious. Now—second thing—I think I’m going for a big change this year.” I swept my arms above my head, framing the words on a marquee. “The Annual Forever Forty-Four— FINALLY FIFTY—Birthday Bash and Western Roundup!”

“No way!” He was stunned. The man was a believer in my brand. “What about Forever Forty-Four?”

“Here’s what I’m thinking, baby. Back in the day, I started Forever Forty-Four to make a point about women and aging— about me aging. Women lie about age because of the BS that our value decreases. I chose forty-four because it was already over-the-hill,” I copped a cover girl pose with one hand behind my head, “when clearly I wasn’t.”

Still aging, but with guns like these, I'm not complaining! My 56th birthday, NY, NY 2014

Still aging, but with guns like these, I’m not complaining! My 56th birthday, NY, NY 2014

“Body by Cisco!” His arm lifted his index finger into the air with pride.

“I think I need to own fifty for the same reason I owned forty-four. I’m not going to lie; fifty sounds fucking scary, Cisco, you have no idea.” He was barely twenty-six. He could have been my son.

“But the truth is—I’m in the best shape of my life. Plus, I’m crazy successful in my work, I’ve got a schedule to die for, and, my sex-life is a how-to on having fun! I’m dating four men—or maybe five—who knows? I lose track! Look at me, Cisco, look at everything I have going—fifty rocks!

The truth was suddenly more significant than my brand. I was pumping myself up. I could do this. I had to. “Fifty isn’t fifty! Fifty is the new thirty! Tell me I’m right!”

“I like it, and you’re right. Now let’s get on it. Station One: forty lunges with dumbbells. We got work to do.”

Fifty is scary because this culture got it wrong. Opportunity, adventure, and future did not expire at forty or fifty, or even sixty. Plus, that little glory list ignores the crown jewel of post-youth, the incomparable sparkle of wisdom. Wisdom is only available with age, and those of us who’ve aged, and paid attention, can’t help but reek of wisdom. Some acquire more than others and some faster than others. But it is optional; no one forces wisdom on us, and the unwise are everywhere. But not me, not now: I had arrived at this milestone with wisdom.

What did I know about my life on the south side of fifty? It was mine. I’d been self-cast as the leading lady in my lifelong script, and I’d crafted a role where I played my kind of heroine, hardwired for my style of adventure. I was born poor, and female, but still fortunate beyond measure, born in a nation with a blueprint for equality at a moment when it was uniquely possible.

As a kid, I joined millions to protest the war in Vietnam, became radical as a young feminist, came out as a lesbian, and nudged that cart along the road to civil rights. I had been married to a kind man who had held my heart, and I’d had a good run in a mature partnership. I had known deep love, more than once, and spent my fair share of time with her evil twin, heartache.

Art was my lifelong career, and it taught me how to make something from nothing. Business was my income career, and it taught me how to hear No, and not stop on my way to the next Yes; it taught me how to read people and listen closely so I could create plans and foster success.

I produced events to promote my art and donated the proceeds where it was needed. I had been given so much, and had learned the richness of giving back. With a community of caring people, I raised money and awareness for kids at risk, homeless women and families, and the health of the planet. I had joined millions of citizens to elect our country’s first black president on a platform of hope, and I had my ticket to Chicago for the historic election night results.

I hosted dinner parties for my expanding community of diverse Americans and outstanding immigrants. I sheltered friends in transition. I cared for a grandmother stricken with Alzheimer’s. I weathered an estrangement with an alcohol-dependent father, and then ached as I watched him wither and die. I buried friends during the AIDS crisis, and sat bedside with the friends who had pulled the cancer card. I celebrated a lot. There was so much, and there were so many to honor.

The view over my shoulder was nothing short of awesome. I was put on the planet to have a good time, to share my good fortune, and leave my mark. I knew what could be done in fifty years, and I was ready to own every minute of it. Looking ahead, I was not short on dreams, I was not short on fun, and I had the wisdom to know that would never end. Hell yes! Bring on the big five-o—and the leather chaps. It was time to show my fifty-year-old ass the bright light of day.

TOMORROW: Chapter 69

Subscribe to Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series at The Bachelor Blog and never miss a chapter! Or follow on twitter @vickimarie44

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

Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: Chapter 66

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

THE BACHELOR CHAPTERS: A THINKING WOMAN’S ROMANCE

Chapter 66

After our midnight reunion, Wouter and I began dating. We were a duet wired for adult city-fun, and I didn’t just have sex with this man—we did stuff. There had been hikes in the Cascade Mountains, a black tie fundraiser, the high school graduation party of a best friend’s son, and the happy hour concerts in the park. My friends and colleagues adored him, and so did I. It was springtime, and a fever had infected me with a long dormant virus; there was something like love in my blood. Wouter made me feel naughty and cherished, plus we made each other laugh all the time. I had no trust for love, but there was no one way I was going to miss the joy he brought to my life.

Manifesting success with guerrilla product placement at Powell's Books in Portland, 2014

Manifesting success with guerrilla product placement at Powell’s Books in Portland, 2014

On the Fourth of July weekend, Wouter and I made the trip down south for the Portland Blues Festival. I went every year by myself, and I was thrilled when he answered yes to the three days of live music on the downtown seawall of Portland’s Willamette River.

“Happy Birthday, baby,” I said, handing him the small box that I’d kept hidden in my suitcase since we arrived.

“Sweetie, really?” He looked like a big kid, smiling from ear to ear. “My girl got me something? I’m a lucky man!” He cracked the lid, and the Michael Kors watch with the mother-of-pearl face, shimmered in the sunlight of our Portland hotel room.

“Vicki Marie, look at this,” he cooed, taking it out and holding it in his right hand. “It’s a, it’s a . . . ” he stumbled with his words, “. . . Baby—? Is it a lady’s watch?”

Damn it! It was too small! I thought it might be, but I had picked it anyway, captivated by the subtle, iridescent face, and the lug nuts on the radius of the dial. He was flying out early the next morning to see his mom for his birthday, and I wanted him to have something special, from me, on his visit to Cleveland. It was unlike me, but I wanted him to think about me, and talk about me, while he was away from me.

“I’ve got the receipt, baby. We can find you a better style at Nordstrom when you get back.”

“It’s great, sugar, but I do think it’s too small.” He leaned over and kissed me. “Thank you so much, Vicki Marie, you are so-o-o sugar-pussy-sweet.”

“And you are the sexiest man on the I-5 corridor!” I spoke the truth, leaning into his radiant face. “Now let’s go! We’ve got a date with a blues legend! It’s Koko Taylor time!”

It was our last night, the Fourth of July, and there would be fireworks before Koko’s set. We had left our blanket and cooler on the lawn—the informal reservation policy that had been working all weekend—and it was best to re-occupy our territory before the sun went down. Our time so far had been nothing short of adult Disneyland: with romance, live music, dancing, great restaurants and outstanding sex. I was all about living in the present, but that didn’t stop me from relishing his return to Seattle, and eight more weeks of summer fun with the man from Ohio.

Our blanket was as we had left it, and our lawn neighbors welcomed us back. The river-edge became a temporary neighborhood over the life of the event, and I loved that Wouter was as social with strangers as I was. My reasons to adore him just kept adding up. He treated me like his girlfriend when we were together, and paid me no mind when we weren’t. I was in bachelor heaven, feeling the love without the contract.

After the sun went down, we listened to another great band in the lead-up to the fireworks and Koko’s headline show. Wouter had been holding a pose as human lawn furniture through most of the set, sitting in the ground-level lawn chair, and I was propped up in his lap, between his legs, with my head on his chest, a light blanket deflecting the chill. I was digging the delta-blue guitar sound with my eyes closed, and my head keeping time with the bass. His hands had been resting on my belly, but when the solo broke, he moved his hand under my blanket and inside the waistband of my jean skirt. He wasted no time and pushed aside the panties, and found my clit with his middle finger. My body froze, in spite of the fire he’d set off with the spark of a single digit. He kept up a steady pace with his stroke, and I felt my pussy weep into my panties, and my mind light up with fear. He was one bold bastard, making me want his fucking finger, while our new neighbors were on all sides. He was messing with my good manners; he was making me want more.

“Don’t stop,” I urged silently, unable to speak, “don’t stop for a second!” I was afraid of being caught; I was afraid he might stop. I couldn’t move and I couldn’t moan, and I couldn’t let anyone know the truth. I shouted mutely; I had to make myself heard, but my pleas were held hostage, and my silence made me his accomplice.

“You started this—don’t leave me, I need you; don’t let anyone see—you can’t let anyone see—just don’t stop; don’t stop till I’m done!” When I came, it rolled through me like a wave, breaking fast, everywhere, all at once; my body not moving, my lungs barely breathing, just coming and coming with the force of a flood. In the surge, I became the flood, until like a wave, I was swept back to sea; washed away from his touch; left still and changed under the night sky and the tender shield of his vigilant eye.

“Wake up, baby, and give me a kiss. I’m leaving now.” It was morning, and I didn’t want to hear the sound of his voice. The clock on the nightstand read 5:00 a.m.

My head was thick, and my body was sore. We had only ended our night a few hours earlier, after some kind of mind altering sex marathon.

“Hush, baby. You’re too loud,” I said softly, closing my eyes again.

“I want you to sleep that off, angel, and fall back to dreamland. I’ll be outta your hair. I got a date with mama.” He sat next to me on the bed. I felt the warmth of his hand on my hip.

“Give her my love, Mister Wilson, and happy birthday. You’re a great date.” I almost said, “I love you.” It would have been true.

“And you’re the best date ever, sugar pussy. Now, back to sleep. I’ll talk to you soon.”

TOMORROW: Chapter 67

Subscribe to Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series at The Bachelor Blog and never miss a chapter! Or follow on twitter @vickimarie44

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

Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: Chapter 57

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

THE BACHELOR CHAPTERS: A THINKING WOMAN’S ROMANCE

Chapter 57

The first time Andre had hard-on failure, I dismissed it as the result of liquor abuse. Everyone knew that liquor could lead to limp.

The second time it happened I was annoyed. Not because he was limp, but because I was rubbed the wrong way—literally. His strategy for re-arousal was to rub and to mash his soft dick into my pussy lips, forever. He just kept at it, and at it, and at it. I tried my best to be helpful, pushing back, breathing heavy, moaning, like I had a rock hard dick between my legs, to try and inspire a rock hard dick between my legs. I couldn’t believe he didn’t try self-stimulation. I wondered why he didn’t try a different position. I thought he must be a fool not to ask me for a blowjob. You know the sex is bad when you have time to think about all that.

"Limp" is a problem: on a pole and in between the sheets.

Limp is a problem: on a pole and in between the sheets. Panama City, Panama, 2014

I had landed in some kind of brutal comedy and I was not amused. Andre Cassidy could melt me with his touch and make me tremble in his proximity: he was tugging on my love cords for Gods sake. How could the man who was luring me into Loveland not deliver on what I can’t live without?

And to make matters even more miserable, when he did finally dismount, there was not a word about the soldier that had failed at his post. How could it be that we didn’t talk about the dick that didn’t?

I had been talking, however. I had talked with Lamar, and I had also talked with Steve and Dion, and my best girls at the office. I was talking to everyone except the man who could actually make a difference. Sex was for fun and ours was a drag, which led me to the two obvious options: solve it or lose it.

The situation with Andre was a major wrinkle in my pussy paradise. I had rules about sexual activity. My partner and I had to be naturally complementary with our desires, or it wasn’t a match. I was not a fan of the, “Do this for me and I’ll do this for you,” method of sex. I wasn’t the type to assume any position that didn’t serve me, and I never wanted a partner who wasn’t equally self-serving. I simply believed that sex provided so many possible positions for satisfaction; there was no need to spend a single second in one that didn’t light me up. In my world, sex was not about charity or negotiation. It was about the greedy business of gratification. My preference is to be led, and my newest partner seemed only interested in a position where he failed to lead.

And that was why I hadn’t talked to Andre yet. His limp dick wasn’t my business: it was his business. I wasn’t going to ask him to solve his dysfunction for me; I believe I had made it clear what he could do for me when I spread my legs. At the end of the day, I didn’t want to be with a man who didn’t make his pleasure a priority, which led to the second reason I kept my mouth shut. I was avoiding the very real possibility that Andre Cassidy and Vicki Marie might not be a match.

TOMORROW: Chapter 58

Subscribe to Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series at The Bachelor Blog and never miss a chapter! Or follow on twitter @vickimarie44

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

Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: Chapter 53

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

THE BACHELOR CHAPTERS: A THINKING WOMAN’S ROMANCE

Chapter 53

“Hola, girlfriends, que pasa?” I said as I walked into Cara’s house. She and Trish were in the kitchen. They both looked spooked. “What’s up?” I asked.

“Nothing,” Cara said, turning her back to me, and wiping the counter with a sponge.

“Where do you want to have dinner?” I walked over to Trish, and gave her a hug. She held on a little too long. Now I was certain something was off. “Seriously, what’s up? What’s this?”

We unlocked our bodies and I saw the open book on the counter. Cara had gotten her Masters in Clinical Psychology before the baby, I was reminded, when I saw the page header. It was the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. “What’s with the DSM?”

Was I too much? Or did I want too much? And exactly who decides? Seattle, 2010, The Erotic Art Festival

Was I too much? Or did I want too much? And exactly who decides? Seattle, 2010, The Erotic Art Festival

“Vic—listen, we need to talk,” Trish said, and I didn’t like her tone. She was clearly bugged. She turned back to the book, and I followed her eyes. The open pages were definitions of various psychological disorders, alphabetized, for easy reference. “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” leaped off the page. I looked up at Trish.

“Why are you reading about NPD?” I asked.

Trish told me that she had asked to borrow Cara’s book because she was worried about me. She thought I had a problem; that I might be sick. Based on a glossary of terms, she had diagnosed the problem, and told me I suffered from narcissistic personality disorder, and that I needed help. My ears burned. My best friend on the planet had just called me crazy.

The room contracted. I heard her voice, but I felt my brain leave my body, and track the scene from a safer place. The feeling of betrayal was absolute and overwhelming. This could not be happening. My oldest and dearest friend—my sister— the woman who I had known for thirty years, the woman I came out with, the woman who spent every Christmas with me, the woman who was the beneficiary to my estate, the woman who I trusted more than any person on the planet was calling me a narcissist? She was convinced I had an untreatable mental disorder? I was numb. I could see in her eyes that she believed it.

“Tell me you’re kidding.” My voice was low, almost a whisper, holding back the hurt. “I think it’s something you need to look at, Vic.” She looked at me, her face stern and steel-jawed, but her eyes soft and patronizing. That was Trish. Fucking judge and jury. When she was convinced of something, stubborn couldn’t come close to describing her. And now, armed with her self-selected evidence, she was playing doctor? I was doomed.

“Trish! Don’t even go there—you have no right—who the fuck are you to accuse me of a personality disorder?”

I turned my attention to the book, and she watched as I read the diagnosis. I was startled by the first few sentences. OK, so there was no argument that I enjoyed attention, and that I held my own at center stage. And yes, I could cop to vanity, for crying out loud—but come on—it wasn’t complicated for me to go to the grocery store in my sweats with no makeup. But as I read on, the characteristics lost any resemblance to me. The anti-social symptoms of NPD were cruel and predatory: taking advantage of others to reach own goals; displaying dominance, arrogance, showing superiority, and seeking power; lacking empathy and disregarding the feelings of others; becoming easily hurt and rejected; trouble keeping healthy relationships; belittling or disparaging others in an attempt to validate their own self-worth. 

I stopped reading. I was nauseated. I was none of those things. If anything, that list described the exact opposite of my intentions and actions. I was a team builder and a cheerleader; in my job I fostered responsibility and initiative among my colleagues; in my charity work I was constantly advocating through awareness and fundraising; and I had fallen into a mentor role with both young men and women in my cultural and professional circles. I was beyond hurt. I felt crushed and smothered, like there was no air in the room, and no way out of her false accusation. But I was stubborn, too, and I was not going to defend myself. She, more than anyone, knew who I was, and where my heart lay. I wasn’t going to explain myself to Trish, of all people. That would be insane.

“Trish—I can’t believe you think even a sliver of this describes me. Did you read the whole fucking thing?” I was mad, now. Humiliation and heartbreak would have to wait. “Are you trying to tell me that because I’m confident, and because I go for the limelight at a party, and because I give a shit that I look hot for a date, that I’m certifiable?” She looked at me, and her body language said it all. I couldn’t bear it.

I was out the door in search of oxygen. I could not live with her view of me, and was not willing to fight her on it. I wanted her out of my sight and out of my life, but she followed me back to my place and cornered me in my kitchen.

“This is a real problem, Vic. It’s your ego. You need to deal with it.” She was dead serious.

“There’s nothing you can say right now that I want to hear, except that you’re sorry and you don’t think I’m crazy.” She met my gaze without flinching, saying nothing. We stood frozen until I broke the standoff, and made it clear what was at stake, “We’ve loved deeper than family for more than thirty years. I can’t believe you won’t give me that.”

It was my final appeal, but I already knew it was hopeless. I felt the barricades surround my heart. Her silence gave me no choice. “Then there’s nothing left to say, Trish, except we’re done. Finished. Now, get the fuck out of my house.”

A few weeks later, I got a letter from my brother. Only a year apart in age, Rick and I had been close most of our lives, but since his latest girlfriend, I’d been kicked off the A-list. Or, that’s what I’d assumed.

He wanted to let me know that he’d had something on his mind for a long time, and could no longer keep it to himself. The letter explained that he didn’t approve of my lifestyle, and he found me difficult to be around. He accused me of being self-absorbed. And furthermore, since my divorce, he had lost the family of friends I had included him in, the great tribe that always showed up for Thanksgiving and my birthday. No matter that most of the couples from those days were now divorced as well. His gripe made no sense, but he was adamant; I was at fault for every broken bond.

The truth was that I actually entertained more since the divorce. In the past three years, I had gained a reputation for fabulous dinner parties. I met vital, interesting, and creative people all the time—and took it upon myself to facilitate connections among them. I had invited my brother and his girlfriend to all of the soirées. I wanted them there, because I knew they would find connections among my eclectic web of people, and I also wanted the addition of their spice and charisma. I hadn’t understood why they never came. Well, that was no mystery, now.

Just like with Trish, I was shell-shocked by the depth of his accusations. And I hadn’t seen it coming. This nightmare reminded me of that moment in my twenties, years after I had come out, when my mom had disowned me for being a lesbian. She had called me on the phone to tell me, under the influence of her born-again, Christian rapture, that moving forward she could love me as a daughter, but never as a lesbian. I let her know that she didn’t have that option, and it was a painfully long time before we ever spoke again.

And now, my brother felt compelled to weigh in with his own condemnations? Once again, I didn’t understand what was really going on. My lifestyle. They had problems with my lifestyle: my live out loud, sexually significant, look-at-me, I’m- Vicki Marie lifestyle. They had problems with my philanthropic, business-driven, and art-making lifestyle. They had problems with my salsa dancing, roller-blading, and global hiking lifestyle; and problems with my entertaining, networking, and socially rich lifestyle. That pretty much summed up my life. What was the fucking problem?

It was an unbelievable hit: another ambush to survive. He ended the letter by saying he loved me very much. I wasn’t convinced. I threw the letter in a drawer and left the house for the beach.

Alki Beach became my refuge after I quit smoking. I’d traded tobacco for roller blading, and with my Walkman strapped to my waist, I traversed the seven-mile strip every dry day of the week. I had given up running years earlier, wanting to preserve my knees for high altitude trekking, and rollerblading had brought back that thrill of moving through space. On a clear day, with the Olympic Mountains on the horizon, and the blue expanse of the Puget Sound, I had the feeling of being on the edge of the natural world. With my music, that amazing view, and the endorphins of exercise, I could always count on an attitude adjustment when I hit the beach with my blades.

As I rolled along the beach, and felt the physical transition from effort to grace, I thought about what I knew to be true. I had never felt more alive, more centered, more fortunate or more generous. I had built an exciting and dynamic life for myself, and it had taken my entire life to get to this moment. I had grown up poor, been dealt the disadvantage of teenage parents, but had won big with a lifetime of lucky breaks. More than ever, I was committed to giving back. I had the resources and the desire to add more joy to the universe through my philanthropic work and the bridges I built in my social networks. I had a world of new people in my life—who appreciated my work and my vitality—and I met more all the time. I had never been more outspoken and active in my life, but I was merely operating at a higher level; I had been outspoken and active for my entire life. Yet the two people I loved the most—and who had loved me the longest—didn’t like what they saw.

When I tried to make sense of it, I was convinced that they didn’t see me at all. Or they didn’t see all of me. It seemed that they magnified the slices of my life that they didn’t approve of, and then judged me on those parts alone. Because I trusted and loved them both, I gave their criticisms the light of day. But I couldn’t see anything close to what I was accused of. They both agreed, though, that I was out of line. The only thing I could see that was different about my life in the last few years was that I was no longer coupled, and I was a Chatty-Cathy about my sex life. I was outspoken, and I talked about my bachelor-style of dating, and my constant jungle hunt to lure another worthy man. Because I was a storyteller, I entertained with my experiences, and made comedy out of the episodes. It was true I could be accused of being a braggart; my skill in snagging trophies had totally eclipsed my vapor dates. I was promiscuous, all right, and I had passed over to proud. Sergio’s words echoed in my mind. Was I just too damn much?

TOMORROW: Chapter 54

Subscribe to Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series at The Bachelor Blog and never miss a chapter! Or follow on twitter @vickimarie44

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

Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: Chapter 47

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

THE BACHELOR CHAPTERS: A THINKING WOMAN’S ROMANCE

Chapter 47

“You’re dating a defensive back?” Steve sounded incredulous. We were in my kitchen, on a Saturday morning.

“Former defensive back, baby. The man is my age, but he looks like he could still be playing. What’s a DB do, anyway?” I’d been watching football, but hadn’t mastered the positions.

“Holy shit, girlfriend, those guys are just plain mean!

Reading The Bachelor Chapters to university students in Medellín, Colombia, 2013

Reading The Bachelor Chapters to university students in Medellín, Colombia, 2013

What I liked about football was the intense athleticism and the ferocious competition. To me it seemed like an audacious and elite sport, with players who were supremely gifted, and training that was heroically extreme. The commitment required to move the ball down the field was superman-severe, and I was thrilled to watch any well-executed play, regardless of the team.

I wanted to learn about the game and the culture, and with Lamar, I had found an insider with the expertise to field my questions. He taught me that the sport required more than physical excellence; it was a smart man’s game. A playbook contained hundreds of plays, and the strategy for each one was a script of precise execution. It proscribed the exact footfall of eleven men, while measuring the anticipated response of the opposing players. To me, it looked like chess on steroids.

“Did you play mean?” I asked.

“Got to. You find the weak spot and you pick at it.” There was shrewdness on the field that operated man-to-man, impossible to broadcast on the screen. He described the calculated progression of comments and slurs, aimed to unnerve his target, disrupt their concentration, and provoke errors from the offensive side. Nothing was off-limits in this tactical mind-fuck, and goading an opponent’s insecurity was key. Slandering a player’s girlfriend, his family, or evoking memories of game-losing errors from the past were all fair play.

“But what about sportsmanship?” It sounded unethical; I didn’t understand how it wasn’t cheating. Lamar looked at me sideways, as if I’d arrived from another planet.

“You do what you gotta do, woman. It’s the game.”

TOMORROW: Chapter 48

Subscribe to Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series at The Bachelor Blog and never miss a chapter! Or follow on twitter @vickimarie44

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