Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: One Chapter A Day
THE BACHELOR CHAPTERS: A THINKING WOMAN’S ROMANCE
I was on a business trip in the Big Apple, and I had packed for a New York City spring climate. Instead, it was snowing, and several inches had already accumulated. My dress shoes would be ruined in the slush, and my gym shoes seemed hardly appropriate for my Madison Avenue appointment with BBDO, Amazon’s new advertising agency.
I picked the James Hotel for the five-day trip, one of the rare hotels offering four-star accommodations in SoHo in 2006. I convinced my boss I should make a call on our new client, BBDO, who would be handling all print for Amazon by the end of the year. We had already pulled off several projects with them. This was my first business experience in New York City, and I was going to be meeting with the agency’s Amazon team, including the vice president of Global Brands. I had been managing the fear that I would come across like a West Coast country bumpkin, and I needed my wardrobe like a knight needed his armor. It separated me from the philistines and projected immediate savvy. I was unnerved. I picked up the phone and made a call to BBDO.
Rachael, the project manager for the account, assured me that casual clothes were perfect for the unexpected weather conditions. She confessed to wearing jeans and a fleece vest. Knowledge is power, I remembered, and so is honesty. By admitting I was unprepared for the weather, I had learned my fears were unfounded, and my angst evaporated. Plus, I had a chance to bond with Rachael, my primary contact on the projects. I got dressed for my morning and prepared for my Sex and the City-style errand. I had to buy boots, in New York City. I loved my life.
The meeting went supremely well. I was treated like an honored guest and strategic insider. The team was grateful for the work my company had completed, and they confirmed more business was on the way. I spent time alone with the account VP, who confided the logistical challenges of the Amazon account, and we discussed solutions to the issues. I bounded out of their offices and into the afternoon slush of Madison Avenue, thrilled with my virgin victory in New York City. That went well, I complimented myself as I walked toward Fifth Avenue and the New York Public Library. Yes, I repeated, yes, yes, yes. My work was done, I had won, and it was almost Friday night in New York City.
Anxiety free, I could now savor the thought of my dinner date with the intriguing young stranger I had met online. We would drink champagne; we would exchange stories; we would laugh, and flirt, and measure our chemistry. In the course of one evening, we would move from strangers into different terrain. Would we be lovers? Fans? Or merely move along in our lives, leaving a small souvenir of memory behind? This was my life. I was middle-aged, un-coupled, successful, and ambitious. I found adventure in other people. I made dates in search of a connection. I was patient, I was satisfied, and contrary to popular opinion, I was not alone; I had never felt more together and less alone in my life.
Reggie Simmon’s career was in marketing, and he worked for Wrigley in New Jersey, handling national campaigns for a few of their brands. Over dinner, I dug for the details, fascinated by the consumer lab analysts that tested flavor and desire. Reggie, in person, echoed the handsome photo he had placed on Black People Meet, where we had connected a few weeks before. He was fit and held his look well, sporting a designer style common for his thirty-something generation: pressed jeans—check; button-down shirt, tails out—check; off-the-hook leather soles—double check. The shoes, of course, were the double check that led to the double take; the dead giveaway that the man was styling with Friday night footwear.
By now I knew a few things about black style, and the stature of footwear in the hearts of the male species. Kyle had introduced me to the club, and since our first shopping trip at Kenneth Cole, I had seen audacious shoe collections in black men’s closets that put Carrie Bradshaw’s passion to shame. Python, alligator, lizard and eel: skin was in, when stepping out, for the urban black man. The colors of choice went beyond basic black and brown and crossed over to blue, purple, red and yellow; two-tone and tri-tone, boots and loafers, tie-ups and buckle-ups. This cult for fine footwear was inherited by Reggie’s generation from fathers and uncles and grandpas, who learned from the generation before them. The superstar sneaker cult promoted by Nike and others was merely a contemporary piggyback on the legacy of the shoe-as-status-symbol in Black America.
It was rare that I initiated seduction with a new man, but I was no stranger to it, and fully capable. Back in my hotel room after dinner Reggie Simmons seemed tentative. I was certain, though. My life that day vibrated with success and power. Maybe I was a country bumpkin, because the experience of capping an outstanding business meeting, with a hot dinner date, in the center of the financial universe, was a diva-dream come true. I was more than “in the mood” when I poured the cognac, and took a seat beside him on the couch. I was on fire with my own script that called for super-star sex before I closed my eyes on that day. I crossed my legs and lifted my long Gaultier dress to reveal my winter-white skin, struck a shapely pose with my legs, and leaned into him with my torso. But Reggie didn’t make a move.
I took his hand and invited him to lie beside me on the bed. All my energy from the day was being redirected; I revived my own sensuality in my exploration for his. I traced his firm torso with wonder; I scanned an inventory of the unseen contours, and inhaled deeper his delicious scent. Soon I could feel him submitting to the pleasure of my attention, responding to the surveillance of my hand. I added the dexterity of a dancer’s leg and trailed my toes up his ankle, past his knee, to his hip and back down again. I teased a close perimeter to the bulge in his pants, moving my hand from abdomen, past groin, down thigh, to knee and back again. I had started this dance, but I intended to only lead the prelude. My seduction was intended to inspire, to activate the fire in his belly, to remind the hesitant Reggie Simmons, that the pleasure of being a man was felt most acutely in the taking of a woman. When his breathing deepened, and his body shifted, we both knew it was only a matter of time before he made his move, and proved me right.
Assertive and relentless in my pursuit of eligible men, it might seem odd that I needed a man to make the first move. I was a formidable force in business, but I just wasn’t wired for the same ambition in sex. My drive aimed for setting the stage: the wardrobe and lingerie, the hairstyle and makeup, the music and lighting. Turning Him On was the job I signed up for; Taking Me Down was the goal of my solicitation.
Since I was downright conventional when it came to sexual roles in my straight life, you’d think it would be easy to determine over a drink or a dance if there was compatibility between my date and me. That proved true with black men, but white men tended to be illusive. It was easy to misread their intentions, because they so often broadcast neutrality.
Meanwhile, in lesbian culture, slang had been invented to describe the nuances of female same-sex attraction, and the nuts and bolts of sex practice. In the beginning, there were butches and femmes—titles that described a fashion style, but also included expectations between the sheets. In search of more accuracy, identity in the Lesbian Nation sharpened and exploded: butch-tops and butch-bottoms; stone butches and pillow queens; lipstick-lesbians and Chapstick-lesbians; bois and studs; soft butches and girly-girls—the list goes on.
What I found liberating about the range of lesbian sexual identities was the recognition that sexual desire was not universal. There was no absolute way to practice lesbian sex. The scope kept expanding, because the sub-culture provided permission to forge one’s own route. Being a part of a culture that heralded female sexuality at an early age gave me a significant advantage in overcoming the twin demons of shame and self-loathing that have undermined women’s sexual satisfaction for eons. In another ironic twist of my life story, I was convinced that I was capable of outstanding and liberated sex with men, because I spent so many years having sex with women.
TOMORROW: Chapter 43
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.