Friday, May 18, 2012

Love in the Nineties

  I slid my hand down her back and drew her crotch to mine. Her eyes opened wide as I rubbed my cock against the black velvet skirt. Whatever she was supposed to say came out as a whispered “Uff ta.” I stroked her hair, took her head in both hands, and lowered my lips to hers, forced her lips opened and stuck my tongue in there. After a moment, she moved her tongue and soon we were twirling tongues and slobbering together for a lot longer than we should have. Then she pushed away, swayed, came to herself, put both hands to my hips, and turned our bodies so no one could see my boner. She held out her hand to mine, and pulled me away from the picnic lunch on the living room floor, away from the wine glasses and sandwiches, away from the candles in their china holders, to the open door leading to the bedroom. We moved slowly looking meaningfully into each others eyes, exactly as we were supposed to. Once through the door, she smashed it shut, nearly tipping the wall over. Then she slapped my face. Hard.
     I could hear her Aunt Agatha shrieking in the audience. “He’s only 19!” I think she was about to faint. My mother was coming up behind the scenery. Fast.
     Wait until the guys hear about this, I thought. I couldn’t wait to start sending out e-mails.

                                                             * * * * *
     The old lady was right. I was only nineteen. My leading lady was forty something. We were on a community theater stage, playing the leads in 6 Rms Rv Vu, a 70’s comedy so out of date it was tragic. I was there because Mom was directing it and couldn’t come up with a guy to play the part of the 30 year old businessman. 
     “Who else is going to be in this thing?” 
     "There’s only three roles. Jacob is going to play the janitor."
     "“He is a janitor, down at the high school.” 
     “Yeah,” she said. “I figure he can handle the part. He only gets five lines.” 
     “Who else?” 
     “Sheila. She’s never been in a play either, so you can be amateurs together.” 
     Sheila was there because Mom who was her best friend was directing. Mom said Sheila needed to get out of herself, whatever that means. She said Sheila hadn't had any fun in her life since her husband left her for another woman. 
     “All she has is her teaching, her garden, her books and an old television. She never goes out. She needs to move on.”
     We were both supposed to be 30 years old in the play, but hey, I’m nineteen, what did those women expect was going to happen? Mom gave me a bunch of bull about Method Acting but I didn’t believe it. You just said the words, that’s all. It wasn’t Broadway or anything. 
      Sheila was always hot, I knew that even when I was eight years old and she was my third grade teacher. I mean, those great tits in the push up bras and the low cut shirts. Those long legs in high cut skirts with slits on the sides. That blond hair. I started thinking of her as hot then, and it didn’t get any better when puberty hit. I figured a blond divorcee must be as frustrated as I was. From what I read on the Internet we were both at our sexual peaks.
     Besides, my mother said to throw myself into the role, and damn, it was easy.
     Sheila wanted it, too. The spit down her silk blouse wasn’t all mine. 
    “What the hell was that all about?” Mom said. 
     “Use your soft words,” I started to say, but she wasn’t yelling at me. She was yelling at Sheila. She was going to blame Sheila, just like she blamed everyone else when I got into trouble. That’s one thing about my mom, you could count on her to get everything wrong.
     I tried to look natural and leaned against the scenery but it swayed. You tend to forget the stuff is not solid. The boards behind the fake living room walls looked stable but they weren’t. They’re just holding everything together. This side of the wall, it was just old paint from an old play, maybe Oklahoma. At least there was an old weeping willow and a hawk up there, something painted by the high school art classes, so it wasn’t all that good. Pretty shitty, actually. Why paint a bird that can’t move on a set? The dried paint was coming off on the sleeve of the tux Mom rented for the part. She’d be pissed about that.
     I straightened up. Maybe she wouldn’t notice and blame it on the costume department, which was Edgar, the French teacher who loved to dress up himself, so when he wasn’t in a play, he dressed everyone else up. He’d measured me for the tux and done the inseam twice. If I got any grief about the paint, I would mention that to my mom. But no, that would get me involved in a court case likely. That happened to a friend of mine, and pretty soon he had a reputation. I would pin the ruined tux on the stage crew. They were all just kids. No one would take that seriously. In our town, nobody ever blamed anything on the kids. That’s why so many wound up in jail . We furnished the county lock up with prisoners and that upped the real estate taxes and that was another thing my mother was pissed about. That would never happen to me, though. I was too smart for that.
     “Hey,” I said. “Isn’t there a third act?” That got Mom off Sheila’s back. We had to change clothes and we only had five minutes.
     It wasn’t like Sheila wasn’t to blame, too. We went through the rehearsals knowing there was going to be a kiss, it said so right in the script. She was nervous about that and I was, too. When you dream about getting into someone’s pants for years, you want to approach it the right way. I practiced in my bedroom. I bet my mother wondered why I was getting so interested in eating such a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, trying to find the exact one that would take my tongue and serve as a surrogate mouth. Mom probably thought I was turning into a vegetarian or vegan, not sure which one, I could never get that straight, you know? Oranges were right for the juice, I thought. If you ate out most of the pulp, shaped the skin in an oval, it seemed pretty good. Just stick your tongue in there and let it slime around.
     We went through rehearsals like that, me wondering when I could try out my technique, God knows what she was thinking. Then one week before the dress rehearsal, she walked into the gym, came right up to me and said, “Sean, make my toes curl!” It was enough to cure my acne. Scared me a little, but we got right to it, got that kiss right out of the way. No tongue that night though, I was saving that for the right time. Even so, I think she liked it.
    Sheila started dressing even sluttier, though maybe that was Edgar and my mom dressing her, I don’t know. They went off to the Salvation Army with her and had her try on clothes. Nothing new, community theater didn’t have that kind of budget. She showed up one night and told Mom she’d had her hair done at the Cutter’s Boutique. It was even blonder than before, and pushed up with pins or something. First time I knew she colored her hair. I didn’t get the rented tux until the dress rehearsal, but Angie wore that cut down blouse every night, said she had to get used to it, but maybe it was the bra she was trying to get used to, a red push up job out of the Victoria’s Secret catalog, I saw it there when I pulled it out to look at it late at night. The winter catalog, with the red bras, you know the one.
     We were both on the stage for the entire play but when we weren’t on the stage she went off and walked around in the back of the gym, muttering to herself, learning her lines, she said, but I think she was getting hot, if you know what I mean. Lines were a problem for me, too. Like the play was a real bore. It wasn’t until three days before the play that I learned them and then we didn’t get it right. For some reason, we messed up a bunch of dialog in the second act, circling around the words and losing them, ten minutes of them. I didn’t see that it made much difference, but Mom kept at it, coaching me and working on it. We finally figured out that Sheila was the one who made the mistake that lost those words. Mom couldn’t figure it out, but I figured that Sheila was in a hurry to get to the end of the scene and the big kiss.
     “I don’t know what the problem is with you two,” Mom said, but I figure she was catching on. “You don’t have to really kiss her on the lips,” she said to me after the tech rehearsal. “Just sort of kiss her on the neck.” Tech rehearsal is when you get the lights and scenery all fixed up. My buddy Eric was on the stage crew and I told him to mess up the end up of Act II a couple of times so we could do the kiss even more.
     “What kind of method acting would that be,” I said. “I don’t think the James Lipton would approve. We have to get it right.” I’d caught Actor’s Studio on cable vision once. The kiss stayed.
     I began to think about going beyond kissing. Like how we would get away from the theater and into her bedroom. Mom started talking about the cast party and I wondered how much booze there would be. Not for me, though I could always steal some or use a fake ID. Just enough to get Sheila all relaxed. Even better, it turned out the cast party would be at Sheila’s. Everyone would bring food and there would be lots of drinking. I knew that because Mom always came home from cast parties all sloshed.
                                                             * * * * *
     The kiss stayed the same with some Frenching, but it was shorter now. We had two more nights and two kisses and that was it. We had the bugs ironed out by night three and had our parts almost perfect. It was the first time that a community play was sold out, Mom said. I think word about The Kiss brought everyone in. I know all my buddies were there plus a bunch of disapproving old broads from the Lutheran church. I'm surprised the cops didn't show up to get us in a morals charge. Geez, it was just a kiss. 
     In the end we got a mostly standing ovation.
     Then it was the cast party. We all piled into vans and cars and drove over to Sheila’s. Her sister was there setting out the food. Sheila’s sister had gray hair and chubby thighs. Older, I thought. Sheila must be the baby of the family. There were gobs of food, but I stuck with Coke and a handful of potato chips. I had other things on my mind. Everyone was excited, talking about the play, about plays they had been in, and plays they would like to be in.
     The three of us in the 6 Rms cast didn’t have much to say. The guy that played the janitor only had five lines, and like Sheila and me, was in his first play. He’d only got through those lines with a lot of whispered promptings from my mother. He was never going to be in another play and he knew it. Sheila didn’t have much to say either. She handed around food, filled glasses and smiled. I offered her a beer. She said no. I poured her some wine. “You shouldn’t be drinking that,” she said and passed it on to the light guy.
     These were community theater people so most of them had jobs to go to the next day. I usually had to go to the gas station to work the midnight shift, but I had arranged for my buddy Chuck to take over for me. I had all the time in the world. I had studied the Joy of Sex I stole from the adult section of the public library and knew it better than the lines from the play. I tore some of the pages but it was in ratty shape already. I wondered what the brown stains were on the pages then thought I didn’t want to know.
     The tech crew in their flannel shirts were watching World Wrestling on the old television set until one of their girlfriends complained and shoved a video tape into the player, a chick flick with Julia Roberts in a blond wig. She kind of looked like Sheila. I stayed away from them. I was wearing the tux from the play and still had stage makeup on. Sophistication, that's what I wanted.
     I let everyone talk and wandered around checking out her house. Geez, she had a lot of books, they were everywhere. You'd think she was teaching lit at the high school instead of teaching snot nosed third graders. She even had her own copy of the Joy of Sex, the Kama Sutra, too. I wanted to take them down but Mom was watching me. I wandered off to the bathroom and by opening a couple of doors, found out where the bedroom was.
     People started peeling off, going home to their boring families and their boring lives. This theater business was all that kept them sane, I thought. When the tech crew left, I turned off the TV and put a cassette tape in the player, something cool and sexy, Celine Dion singing love songs. Sheila’s sister went home, then my mom called to me.
     "I can walk home,” I said. “It’s less than a mile.” 
     “Are you sure?” 
     “Yeah, the night is young. First time I’ve ever done anything like this and I want it to remember it forever.” 
     She thought I was talking about the play. “Well, you’re 19 and not driving,” she said and left.
     Edgar and a friend were still there, still talking about costumes, something about muslin vs. cotton for blouses.
     Sheila was washing dishes in the kitchen.
     “Can I help?” I reached for a dish cloth.
     She raised her head. “Listen,” she said. I couldn’t hear anything.
     She rinsed off her hands, took the towel from me and wiped her hands. “Come on,” she said.
     I followed her through the living room, down the hall and into her bedroom. I was excited. I reached out to rub her back, looking for the bra hook and wondering how to get my pants down quick.
     But she passed the bed and went to a shadowy alcove. She reached down and pulled a baby out of a crib. “Do you remember Artie?” she asked.
     “Well, no.”  Maybe her ex-husband?
     “Artie. You know. My son.”  Oh, she had a kid. Well, I was mature enough to understand that.
     “That’s him?” 
     “No, that’s Artie’s baby. My grandson. I’m watching him this week. Here. Hold him for a minute.” She pushed the kid into my arms. The little rodent was squirming and cooing. Grandson. Sheila was a grandmother?
     Sheila sat down at her night table and reached for a jar. “I can’t wait to get this gunk off my face,” she said. “Theater makeup is horrible, don’t you think so?”
     She swabbed white stuff all over her face . Her blue eyes peered out at me through the mask. “Sean,” she said. “I enjoyed being in the play with you, I want you to know that. And the dialog was so romantic. I even made myself a little in love with you….or at least your character. As old as I am it was nice to have a little magic in my life again. ”
     The baby was spitting up on the tux, but I don’t suppose it made much difference.
     “The play’s over,” Sheila said. With the first damp paper washcloths, she carefully wiped around her eyes and the crows feet around the eyes. The next paper showed the lines around her mouth. Soon the wrinkles on her neck were there.
     “The play’s over,” she said. “This is who I really am. But thanks for the magic. Thanks for the kiss.” She smiled at me as she took the baby and showed me to the front door.
     “You really are the best kisser I’ve ever known,” she said as she closed the door. That was the only time I was in a play

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