Archive for March, 2009

Lovely on the Water, Part I, Entry 5

March 9, 2009

“What are your favorite colors?”

I wrote, “My favorite colors are yellow, gold, black, red, nut-brown, and dark red, not necessarily in that order.”

“What season of the year do you like best?”

“What are your favorite foods?”

“Desserts and anything spicy.”

“Do you have a favorite animal?”

“Cats,” I wrote, then crossed it out when I saw the smaller print reading “except for dogs or cats.” I thought for a few seconds more, then wrote, “turtles.”

“What is your favorite time of day?”

“Sunset/early twilight.”

The next one, after all the pleasant pop-psych, came as a bit of a shock.

“What would be your reaction if we recommended something for you that you hadn’t previously tried and that sounded a little strange to you?”

“Depends,” I wrote. “I am not a pain addict and I don’t approve of violence.”

As if in answer to my questions, the next page boomed out in large type:

WELCOME TO ETANA. WE, YOUR STAFF, ARE DEDICATED TO MAKING YOUR STAY A MEMORABLE ONE.  IF WE CAN ASSIST YOU IN ANY WAY, WE HOPE YOU WILL NOT HESITATE TO INQUIRE AND INFORM US.  PLEASE NOTE:  YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED OR OBLIGED TO ENTER INTO ANY ACTIVITY, WHETHER OF YOUR OWN CHOOSING OR SUGGESTED.  YOU MAY CANCEL ANY OF YOUR REQUESTS AT ANY TIME BEFORE YOU SIGN A PERMISSION SLIP. AFTER YOU HAVE SIGNED, YOU MAY STILL CANCEL, AT THE DISCRETION OF THE DIRECTOR.

In smaller type:  Please proceed to the section you have chosen.  You may read the rest of the brochure at any time, but we recommend that you do so before you have spoken to the Director. Please remember to take your completed form and the brochure with you if this is your first time at Etana.”

As soon as I saw Bobby behind his newspaper,  I said urgently to Leslie, “Let’s go up now. I’m ready.”

“Okay.”  She rose, stretched, grunted.

Bobby grunted something like “slippiter” from behind his newspaper.

As we walked down the small bridge I had noticed earlier, the air was so cold and crisp that it could have been made of lonely high flute notes, as it almost seems to be in parts of Peru and Nepal.

There were six connected buildings of about five storeys each, although the windows were not uniform in size and placement.  They reminded me sharply of a college quad. Their facades alternated layers of sandstone and dark brick.

Elevators seemed to run down glass panes in at least two buildings, but I could not see through them.

“So,” I said, “this is it. Looks like my old dorm.”

“It is,” Leslie said, “and I think you’ll find that it’s a lot more entertaining than your old dorm.”

Lovely On The Water – Part I, Entry 4

March 6, 2009

I looked at the booklet and started to fill out the form.

I checked off childhood diseases, adult ailments, last tests for STD’s, the name of my health insurance provider.

Then things got interesting.

Please list your preferences in men – looks, background, education, style, abilities, and any other specifications you’d care to include.

A hundred replies sprang to mind.

I wrote:

Tall, broad men with dirty-blond hair and blue eyes (I did not write, “Sylvan, my best friend’s husband.”)  Men who can put things in a new and unusual light. Men who’ve done a lot and have been everywhere.

I like men in casual clothes.

“What’s the matter?” Leslie asked.  Having long since finished her returnees’ half page, she was sitting back on her chair, the picture of relaxation, her arms behind her head, her feet out in front of her, her eyes closed – or so I had thought.

“I’ve never put any of this in words before.”

“Yeah, it’s kind of wild the first time, when they throw those things at you.”

“But it’s sort of fun in a way. Where else would I get to think about all this?”

“True.” She closed her eyes again.

I wrote, “I hate it when men keep turning their heads to see who’s coming into the room.”

“But what I really want in a man is that he should like my body – and I don’t mean my body per  se, but the female body.  I want someone who really likes women, likes how they look, taste, and smell.

As a heterosexual woman, I expect a man to have an entire range of smells and tastes when we’re making love.  I want a man who will appreciate all of my complexity.”

I signed my name.

“Are you through?” Leslie was tapping her foot against the white plaster floor.

“I think so.”

Leslie looked quickly at the sheet over my shoulder. “No, you’re not.”

“My god, there’s more?” I turned the page. “Oh, no, now the short essays.”

I looked around at the women filling out the forms and walking in and out of the tent. Some were tall, some short, some heavy, some slim, dark-haired, blond, red-haired, dark-skinned, light-skinned. However, they were mostly dressed more casually than I was. I’d worn my good luck dress – gold velveteen with a wide red belt. White leather boots on my feet. Clothes for a winter lunch or date.

Leslie, as usual, was dressed in step.  She wore faded denim jeans, a faded shirt, and a pair of tan and black rubber-soled boots.

My mind wandered back to the questions.

“Do you consider yourself an adventurous person?”

Cranky, yes, adventurous, no.  That one was easy.

“What was your favorite activity when you were a child?”

Again, no sweat. My parents had been kind enough to indulge me for my birthdays, year after year, early summer after early summer.

“My favorite activity was going on rides at amusement parks, especially the rollercoasters.”

“When and why did you stop?”

Slightly more thought on this one. “I stopped because I thought of it as an activity for kids.”

“If you could,  would you resume this activity?”

I wrote, “Maybe, if someone my age was crazy enough to go with me.”

Lovely On The Water, Part I, entry 3

March 4, 2009

The walk to the registration tent was about a quarter of a mile.

As we stood in line behind six other women, I said to Leslie, “I feel as if someone is going to tell me my bunk number and introduce me to my counselors.”

The young man handing out what looked like forms and booklets was about twenty five.  Older than my students, but younger than I.

“Leslie,” I tapped her on the shoulder, “how old will they be?”

“Any age you like.”

The woman ahead of us took the form and booklet and sat down in an unfinished pine chair with a goosedown cushion.

“Hey, Leslie,” the young man said, “how’s it going?”

“Fine, Bobby. How’s everything with you?”

“Fine.”

“I’ve brought a first-time guest with me,” Leslie said. “Bobby, this is Freddie.”

“Pleased to meet you.”  He shook my hand and handed me what appeared to be a longer version of an income tax form.

“I have to fill all this out?”

“Hell, no,” he said. “Most of it’s regulations and suggestions. You just fill out the first two pages.”

“Thanks, Bobby.”

I sat down next to Leslie. “Does Bobby, uh, work here? ” I whispered.

Leslie said, “Bobby, Alfreda wants to know if you work here.”

“They pay me for this,” Bobby said, indicating the forms. “That’s all I ask.”

“No, no,” Leslie said. “She wants to know if you work inside.”

Oh.

I hid behind my booklet and started to fill the form.

Lovely on the Water, Part I, entry 2

March 3, 2009

At Leslie’s suggestion, we stopped at a motel for the night.

After a greasy but satisfying all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast at an inexpensive ma-and-pa restaurant, we started off again.

“They won’t accept me,” I said. “I must have gained ten pounds from that breakfast.”

“Then you can get two,” Leslie said. “Alfreda, when are you going to get off that losing-gaining kick? It just doesn’t matter here. I mean, at Etana.”

“If you say so.”

The air was brilliantly cold.  I kept opening the window to gulp in great draughts, which annoyed Leslie because she had the heat on.

“What is with you?”

“Slight claustrophobia.” I closed the window again. “Sorry.”

“Since when were you ever claustrophobic?” she asked, fiddling with the radio.

The first song that came in clearly was John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.”

For no apparent reason, we both burst out laughing.

The trees were tall pine, snowy birch, evergreen. We were traveling west of the Adirondacks, and the hills that rose above the forest were covered with snow.

I sang with James Taylor on the radio.

“You seem more cheerful now,” Leslie said as we passed a creek that had iced over.

“Don’t remind me,” I said. “I’m blocking it all out.”

Every now and then a hint of sun would peep through, but it never turned the sky more than a lighter grey.  For the most part, the clouds hovered thick and slate-grey above an unseen horizon, blanketing the frozen ground and trees as if they were under an arctic tundra.

Up to now we had passed a few cars on the road.  But soon the traffic began to thin until we were traveling ten, fifteen, twenty miles without passing another car.

We were now riding alone through what seemed a palace of the Snow Queen, with icicles linking one branch to the next and glittering all the more serpentine without the sun.

“We’ll be the only two there at this time of year,” I commented.

“Don’t bet on it.” Leslie turned onto a branch route and wove around a dead animal lying in the road.

“A deer,” I said. “Poor deer.”

“We’ll be there in a few minutes,” Leslie announced. “But I want you to see this first.”

She stopped on a hillside road.  We both got out.

On one side of us was a long thin straight blue line with patches of ice splayed evenly across.  Buildings faded into the distance on the far bank.  Brown and white tree trunks marched in bare clusters.

On the other side, a dark blue sheet of ice swelled and rounded into itself, spanning out at the horizon.

“It’s as if the river prepares you for the lake,” I said.

We gazed a little more, then got back into the car.

A few minutes later we reached a gate with a large sign that read, “Etana – A Resort fo Women” in the best tradition of black-markered summer camp lettering.

“Well, here we are,” Leslie said as she turned into the parking lot.

“Yeah, here we are,” I  echoed as she parked and switched off the ignition.

All around us, groups of two, three, even five women who seemed to have come out of nowhere were slamming doors, walking across the lot in parkas and furs, calling to each other.

We had arrived.

Lovely on the Water – Part I entry 1

March 3, 2009

Etana, Anu, Nergal

 

Leslie drove slowly on the Taconic.

The Taconic is infamous for its snakelike windings, the rather suddenly-appearing traffic circle at its entrance, its sharply graded turns, its poorly indicated exits and its speed traps.  Every year, as my father would motor us up to summer camp, we would see someone, sometimes someone we knew, who had been caught in an officer’s maw.

But this wasn’t the camp summer of a thousand crowded heartbreaks; this was winter, the season of silent waiting and majestic loneliness.  There was some snow on the ground, although most of it had been shoveled and bulldozed off to the sides of the road, making an already thin two-lane strip of highway thinner.

I tried to make as little conversation as possible.  I figured that we’d talk more when we got onto the Thruway, which hopefully would be clearer and less slippery.

Still, my curiosity and fears nagged at me constantly and I couldn’t resist teasing. 

“So what do they wear?” I said as we passed one of the higher edges of a Fallen Rock zone.

“Stop trying so hard to imagine,” she said. “Why do you have to know everything in advance?”

“Because I want to be prepared,” I said.

“Do you think you can be prepared for everything that comes along?” Leslie snapped as she eased up a winding hill.

“I’d like to be.”

“Well, here it’s their job to be prepared for you.”

“They’ll never be prepared for me.”

 

At Chatham we switched onto the Thruway and my questioning began again.

“So how do we choose a  – friend?”

“There are many possibilities.”

Leslie then pulled over to the shoulder.  She took her hands from the wheel. “I didn’t ask you up here to punish you.”

“I know,” I said, “but it’s just that I can’t believe that- ”

“That what?”

“That men there really want to be with someone who- ”

“Someone who isn’t a size 2 or 4?”

“Well, yes, to put it that way.”

“Look,” Leslie said, “try to take this as it comes. I promise you that it will all become clearer. But for now, just know that this is something you don’t have to worry about, for many reasons. Let your senses have a picnic.”

I laughed. “I don’t think my senses have had a picnic since college.”

“Then it’s about time they started,” she said as she started the car again.

Lovely On The Water – Prologue

March 2, 2009

Lovely on The Water

 

When I called Leslie, my best friend, she was carrying on one of her infinitely annoying cross-conversations, even as we talked.  “Sylvan, did you see Jerry’s sneaker? I was going to put it upstairs..Sylvan, did the paperboy come yet?…The bread’s still in the freezer, I didn’t take it out..”

Leslie and Sylvan had married ten years ago, when they -and I- were twenty four.  Leslie wore washable, utilitarian jeans and skirts, and her conversation with Sylvan consisted of when they would go shopping next and which day would be best to visit inlaws.

In contrast Sylvan and I had loads of fun concocting around-the-world train rides and themes for wild parties we would throw.

But Sylvan had married spare, tough-boned Leslie, not long-haired, lush, dreamy-eyed me.

I said to Leslie, “Have you been to Etana lately?”

All at once her voice became throatier, seductive.  She said, “As a matter of fact, I was going to make reservations for early in January. Why? Have you changed your mind?”

Lowering my voice, I said, “Is Sylvan around?”

“He’s upstairs now. He’s reading to Jerry.”

She added, “I hope you are starting to understand that Etana is for everyone. Not just for skinny bimbos.”

“So you keep telling me.  How much does this charming weekend run?”

“Thousand a night.”

“What!”

“But the first time you go as my guest.”

I heard children’s loud voices over the phone, then crying. Leslie sighed. “I think Jerry just pulled Serita’s hair. Or vice versa.”

“Should we continue this a little later?”

“Are you definitely coming?”

“Yeah.”

As I hung up, I felt a hollow in the pit of my stomach that I tried to think away.

New Books:)

March 2, 2009

Yes, believe it or not. And in these hard times…

One of them will be the next volume in the FatLand series – FatLand: The EarlyDays.  Am putting it here because I had finished half of the first draft, but lost the notebook in the move that is occurring from now until April.

The other one will be my contribution to the growing subfield of fat-positive erotica. I hope you enjoy it:)