Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I like Victoria’s Secret because they have good perfume, and they have these little variety boxes. For about fifty bucks, you get a box of about six or seven little bottles with names like “Dream Angel” and “Wish”. They’ve fun and odds are there’s bound to be something good in there so I can’t go wrong. Until I do. A young lady informs me they have them in the big bottles right now (she points at them) the little bottles are only at Christmas season. They just have three kinds in the big bottles and I’m pretty sure she’s got them all. Time for Plan B.
On my way out, I glance up at the life size black and white photos of Victoria Secret models, grainy shots of thin, sullen snow maidens lounging in push-em-up bras and thong panties. I get free color photo catalogs in the mail of these girls, glaring at me in their underwear like I’ve already pissed them off.
Could you Would You?
No, I kind of don’t think so. I guess I’m supposed to want to but I don’t feel it.
There’s an ancient game men play in their own imagination, and sometimes out loud with other men over beers. I suppose women play this game too.
On the downstairs escalator, I see this little store on the basement floor called “Perfume Palace.” I’ve never been there. I always go for the Victoria’s Secret or Macy’s without thinking much about it. It’s automatic. This is a little family owned place run by dark skinned people with slicked back hair. Scooting off the escalator, I pass the Dav- Vee Nails Salon. Inside are a half dozen hard working Asian ladies, hunched over people’s hands and feet. They’re sleek as greyhounds, exotic and celestial as if they’d arrived on a flying saucer.
I can’t take my eyes off them as I walk by. One of them looks up at me and smiles and I smash into a guy in a feed store cap coming the other way. Raised on water dense noodles, soup and rice, they’re as thin as the girls in the photos upstairs but for some reason the effect is completely different. They look frisky.
Could you would you?
Oh yeah. Absolutely.
In the Perfume Palace, the lady behind the counter waits patiently as I look over the goods. There’s nobody else in the store so we can’t ignore each other. There’re paper cups of coffee beans on the counter but I don’t see any coffee machines. They’ve got a lot of the big names and also a lot of novelty stuff. I don’t know what to do. Victoria's Secret is starting to look good again. She feels my hesitation and speaks. “What may I help you find, sir?” That’s an accent, India or Pakistan maybe. Her voice makes me look at her for the first time. Her skin is dark, a kind of light nut brown, and her thick straight hair is pinned back. She has a beautiful aristocratic nose and full lips, like the Creole ladies in the Cajun parishes in Louisiana. She’s by no means fat, but there’s nothing skinny about her either. Lush. She could be a model for those tantric Hindu temple statues of Krishna and his cow herd maidens. It takes an effort not to stare.
Could you would you?
She’s looking at me and I just remembered she asked me a question. “I am, yeah. My wife, she’s got this birthday. What do you think she’d like?”
“How old is your wife?”
Now that – that is very cool. The Victoria's Secret ladies upstairs never ask me shit, they just point out the bottles. I’m a little taken aback. How old? I tell her, and she thinks for a moment. “Come over here.” I follow her to the other end of the counter. She takes out a bottle of “Red Door” and spritzes a square of paper and passes it to me.
She’s no spring chicken, but no matron either. Maybe fortyish. She has very intriguing deep breasts and doesn’t need special engineering to bring them out. The paper I sniff makes her look even better and I hang on the smell a while.
“This is not a perfume for a young woman, it is a more mature scent with a soft spice in the high notes. Do you smell the lavender?” She waves her hands like a philharmonic conductor as she speaks.
I like it. I like it a lot. “It’s nice,” I say. “What else have you got?”
She turns and bends over to bring a bottle from a lower shelf. She has a big ass, a wonderful primitive fertility goddess butt. She probably got that cave woman ass from bearing the babies that gave her those breasts. She’s not some skinny androgynous girl posing for cameras, she’s somebody’s working mama. She’s a woman at that special moment in life when beauty begins its decline. There’s something powerfully erotic about perfect beauty in that moment when it starts to go to seed. Happy husband. I envy him his nights.
Could you would you?
Now the “Could you” part of this equation is very important. It’s the difference between me and say, Elliot Spitzer. Without the Could You, you’re left with Would You? Would you betray your loyal wife, burden your son with a lifetime of distrust and cynicism, blow your job and the good opinion of others for five or ten minutes hot and heavy with this woman?
Uh . . . No.
In some parallel universe, maybe in the astral plane or a lucid dream or some other way where it doesn’t count, where nobody gets hurt, sure. But this world? This reality? Nope. That’s what “Could you” means.” It means something almost impossible.
She reaches under and pulls out an odd shaped bottle, perfume bottles are always odd shaped, with something pink in it. She spritzes a paper and passes it to me.
My nose has died and gone to heaven from the other bottle. I can’t smell a thing. She hands me a cup of coffee beans. “Smell this. Then try.”
I snort some coffee beans and try again. Damn! That does the trick – I am in the hands of an expert. I love it. I wonder what other subtle things she can do.
This second bottle, “Sensual” is definitely it. I almost don’t even care if my wife likes it, it does the trick for me. This smell in the presence of this fabulous female flesh gives me the shakes.
“I’ll take it.”
While she’s wrapping it up, I sneak a lonesome glance at her bust, shifting bulkily in her soft and clinging clothes. They’re even bigger viewed from the side. She probably knows I’m watching her. What I wouldn’t give to see her in those thong panties and a see through bra on one of those posters upstairs. Why don’t they use people like her? In fact, there is a reason.
Because she’s too sexy.
Tolstoy should have said, “Skinny women are all the same. Voluptuous women are each voluptuous in their own way.” No matter what PR reps say in promotional interviews, when it comes to making money with a product, unique is not what you want. Formula is what you want. Formula sells, and that is the name of the game. That’s true for almost everything. Originality is death. That’s the secret of Victoria’s Secret, it’s a franchise, the McDonalds of sex. That’s why you want skinny when it’s about protecting your money. You can’t replace Sophia Loren, or Pamela Anderson. They can push you around. Skinny models are generic and interchangeable as mass produced industrial components, which in a serious way is exactly what they are. It makes them cheaper to hire and fire too. "Get snotty and we'll replace you with someone who looks just like you, toots. Nobody will even notice."
One day you feel like a hamburger. There are two restaurants next to each other. One is McDonalds. The other is Big Al’s Diner. At McDonald’s you know exactly what you’re going to get and how much it will cost. There are no surprises. This is comforting. This is safe. Especially if you’re dragging a kid with you. A Happy Meal with a SpongeBob toy and the kid’s squared away. With Al, you don’t know what you’re going to get. That’s not comforting. Most people will choose McDonald’s every time. Skinny girls in advertising - those are Happy Meals with tits.
Now this woman here, ringing up my credit card. This is Al.
This is big Al, he of the hairy arms, the stained apron, the wet cigar clamped in his teeth. With a grunt he puts down a heavy white china plate on the counter in front of you, with a half a pound of ground round dripping heart stopping grease mixed with cheese, steaming of fried onions and pickles. This is a burger for carnivores, for men who work with jackhammers, stride steel beams with hand tools and whistle at girls.A Happy meal? When you could have this?
Could you would you?
According to Microsoft Bookshelf 2000:
1. Giving, characterized by, or suggesting ample, unrestrained pleasure to the senses: Voluptuous sculptural forms; a voluptuous ripe fruit; a full voluptuous figure (Sounds sexy as hell to me)
2. a. Devoted to or indulging in sensual pleasures. b. Directed toward or anticipating sensual pleasure: voluptuous thoughts. c. Arising from a contributing to the satisfaction of sensuous or sensual desires. Synonyms: Sensuous, pleasurable, pleasure loving, luxurious, thrill seeking carnal, fleshy, sybaritic
Phew, all righty. Voluptuous sounds pretty damn hot to me. It also means well fleshed, curvaceous and lush. All good things. Don't you agree?
Now, when I went online and did a search for voluptuous women, I was shocked by some of the pictures I found. Thin as a rail waifs who couldn't have weighed more than a hundred pounds soaking wet.
Another showed a beautiful Jen Hunter, curves in all the right places and then a scandalously frail Jen who looks as if a stiff breeze would knock her over and possibly break her bones.
As you can see, in the picture to the left, she's a vibrant, healthy woman with the well fleshed curves of an attractive young woman. The picture on the right, in my opinion, is terrifying. She's frail and looks as if she's been deathly ill. I'm sorry, but if that's what the young women of today call attractive and the pinnacle of what they want to look at, I'm glad I'm long past it.
When I think of a beautiful woman, and as a bisexual woman I think about it quite a bit, LOL, I picture someone with curves. A woman with a little padding and lush breasts, well rounded hips, and thighs that uh... someone can hang onto.
The amazing picture to the left simply caught my breath when I saw it. The woman isn't fat, but she's got ample curves. Lovely curves, in my opinion. To me, she's more along the lines of what a beautiful woman should look like. Yes?
It seems ever since the fashion industry gained such recognition and women had access to seeing what some designer thought of as beautiful (and I still think it was a man how disliked women) we've allowed them too much power over us. Models are waif thin. I swear if many of them became ill they'd have no resources to fight it off and many of them would perish. They don't have periods, their bodies don't have the resources to allow it. They damage their health, and their possible future as mothers. How sad is that?
Remember Marilyn Monroe? She was the epitome of what womanhood should look like in the years she was in Hollywood. Now, she'd be dieting constantly and ashamed of her body.
From what I've heard, she was heading that way, in a hurry just before she died. Her looks had become so important to her, to her 'public' that if she gained or lost a pound, it was in the papers.
Can you imagine living your life like that? Such a tremendous waste of talent. ( I tell you, I would have given my eye teeth to have a figure like hers, at any time!)
Pick up a woman's magazine today. Pretty much any of them, and you'll find weight loss aids, diet pills, powders and meals to slim down by. You'll see stick thin models wearing size 2 clothes that few women will ever be able to wear. And to be completely honest, wouldn't want to fit into if they were thinking with their brains and not some misguided delusional mind.
You'll see men, who are also in this terrible travesty. Slim yes, but with chests bulging with muscles and abs that look more like a washboard than anything human. What a horrible time to raise children. Girls 9 years old dieting. Boys not much older worried they won't cut it in the circles that count at school. They don't have enough hair on their chest/genitals. Their voice is too high. They aren't well endowed enough. What on Earth are we doing to our children?
All righty, lets have a look at some incredibly sexy women. Yup, a tad well-padded, but yowssahs!
From the pages of Hips and Curves, a lovely site that offers some awesome clothing for the Voluptuous women among us. Check them out if you like your women a little more lush, a lot more sexy. The url is: http://www.hipsandcurves.com/
She's a witch... and she's amazing! Wouldn't you love to have her trick or treating at your door, or in your bedroom? Cast a spell on me, please.
The woman to the right, she's dreaming of the lover who left her earlier that morning. She's flushed and her chest heaves with her desire for him...or her.
She's amazing, she hot and her breasts are pressing against the cups of her lingerie. Her cleavage begs a tongue sliding along the delicate cleft. Her thighs are warm, abundant, and draw a hand toward them, to cup and caress.
And then there's little Miss Innocent below, who teases with a smile--draws you close with a wink and could ruin you with the
crook of her finger I'm sure.
She dangerous, she'll eat you alive, and you'd love every damn minute of it wouldn't you?
Wouldn't you love to come home to this bundle of smoldering heat? Even if you knew she'd eat you alive the moment you didn't live up to what she thought of as her rights to pleasure. You'd die trying. LOL
Answers: I wish I had some that I could guarantee would work for everyone. I myself was one of the lucky ones when it came to weight, I was too busy with other issues to think skinny or not skinny enough. I had curves and that can be its own problem. My remedy wasn't to lose the curves but to run from the situation.
My own daughter, she and I always managed to talk about important things when she was growing up. Keeping her head on straight was one of those goals I set for myself and together we managed to do it. Talking, I mean really talking was huge. It doesn't always work though and I know how incredibly lucky I was.
I guess reinforcing, from the age of 2, how important health is rather than beauty. That's gotta help.
I hope you enjoyed my little sojourn into what I think of as sexy women and the importance of not letting someone else dictate what beauty is.
Thin is only one body shape. God has made many others and they are all amazing.
I'd love to hear what you have to say, experiences you've had or your thoughts on the topic.
Monday, March 30, 2009
The twenty-first century is in an information glut, and with technology improving all the time, I'm not sure we're going to get out of it.
"Too much information, dear," I'm always telling my husband. Some things, I don't need detailed descriptions of. (I'll stop there, you can use your imagination.) I feel the same way about celebrities and the octo-mom. Last week I saw a picture of one of the octuplets, taken with an eerie, green, night vision camera. Excuse me? Why do we need to see the baby sleeping, and who's creeping around outside his window with a freaking night vision camera?
The blossoming of the internet over the past few years has exposed us to twenty-four hour information. Now, with TV, internet news and bloggers scrambling to fill their time slots and pages, the simplest stuff has become 'news'. Brangelina goes to the grocery store. Jen and John were seen at Bob's Big Boy. So what? I can't imagine how the celebrities feel, and while I realize the mere fact of being a celebrity means they've given up a certain measure of privacy, I still don't want to hear about it when Brad Pitt picks his nose. I was saddened by the death of Natasha Richardson, but I don't want to see the first pictures from her funeral. (I saw that preview- where- Entertainment Tonight, I believe?) Leave her poor family alone.
When I was a kid I enjoyed watching award shows for a glimpse of my favorite stars on the red carpet. What's he or she wearing? Who's he with? That type of stuff. It was once or twice a year. That was interesting. That was enough. Now that it's an everyday occurrence, I couldn't care less.
Some things do catch my eye. When Jessica Simpson was blasted for putting on a few pounds, I was disgusted. I didn't think it rated nightly news and front page Yahoo spots for two weeks, but no one asked me. Now one of my actress faves from years ago has put herself on display. Valerie Bertinelli is on the cover of People magazine this week, wearing a bikini.
You can't feel sorry for a star who puts herself out there. She lost some weight and feels good about it. If I could wear a bikini again, I'd feel great, too. I suspect Valerie has a little of that post-divorce-I-want-to-look-fabulous-to-find-a-new-guy-and-make-my-ex-jealous thing going on. I've seen it in my friends who were divorced. They always lost weight and started looking their best. Personally, I think I'll keep the husband and the few extra pounds.
I don't think thin is sexy. People with flat, washboard bodies are not 'all that'. For the media to hype it up so much that our daughters/nieces/granddaughters are on diets and worried about what clothes make them look fat is absurd. I believe the majority of adults feel the same way. (Teenagers and early twenty-somethings are in another world of their own, I won't go there.)
Give me a body with some meat on the bones, a few curves in all the right places, now that's sexy. And someone with a little more weight, who's healthy and feels good about herself, that's sexy, too. It's all in the attitude, and in the perception.
I also know it's subjective. Thank goodness, or we'd all be fighting over the same ten guys! Lisabet used a word yesterday that I really liked-- Zaftig. It's Yiddish for having a full, rounded figure, or pleasingly plump. I like that! Sure, there are some days I'd rather look like Valerie Bertinelli in her bikini, but mostly I'm happy being me, and I hope she's happy being her. Me, I'll probably be zaftig for the rest of my life. And that's okay. My hubby thinks I'm sexy, and that makes me feel great.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Is thin sexy? Sexual attractiveness is in the eye of the beholder, but I know from personal experience that our cultural obsession with thinness can be deadly.
In high school, I was what might be called pleasingly plump. Zaftig, as my Jewish grandmother would say, with more than ample curves for a teenager. Like many teens, I thought that I was fat. I always wanted to be thinner, but somehow, I could never manage it. I enjoyed my mom’s cooking too much.
Then, in my senior year, faced with all the stress of applying to colleges and the uncertainties of moving into the adult world, I began to lose weight. First I stopped eating bread and potatoes. Then I stopped adding milk to my coffee, drinking it black with artificial sweeteners. I ate all the salad I could put away, leaving the meat on my plate – cut into small pieces and spread around so that my mother wouldn’t notice. I’d check the scales every day, feeling pride whenever the numbers dropped, guilt and self-disgust when they didn’t. I still recall my intense flush of pleasure when I went for my annual checkup and weighed in at ninety-nine pounds. I’m just a bit over five feet tall, so my doctor was not alarmed. I was thrilled.
During my senior summer, I worked as a clerk in a grocery store, ate raw cucumbers and drank diet soda for lunch, and dropped more weight. By the time September rolled around, I was in the mid-eighties. My parents refused to let me enter university unless I gained weight. I got back up to ninety-two pounds, started school, but dropped out in a month, unable to muster the physical and emotional energy required.
My life for the next year and a half was spent in a limbo of medical and psychiatric institutions. At one point, I dropped below eighty pounds. I stopped menstruating. My limbs were grotesque sticks. My face was gaunt. My hair started to fall out. I was weak, constipated, subject to palpitations and anxiety attacks. I read voraciously during that period – that was about all that I could do. I don’t recall anything now. Zilch. My brain didn’t have enough nutrients to register new memories. In retrospect, the whole period is shrouded in a fog.
Anorexia had not yet become fashionable. I spent three months on the crisis ward of a state psychiatric hospital with suicidal housewives and drug addicts. I had to learn to trust my therapist when he told me that it was okay to eat. I had to suppress my feelings of disgust when I saw my weight climb back into a healthy range, and to deny the supposed evidence of my distorted self-image when I viewed my “fat” body in the mirror.
I was one of the lucky ones. I didn’t die. I didn’t suffer any permanent damage, other than my loss of memory. I have personally known anorexics who were not so fortunate. Without treatment, anorexia is fatal 20% of the time. Even with treatment, the mortality rate is 3%. With treatment, only about 60% of anorexics fully recover. (http://www.mirror-mirror.org). It took more than a decade for my body image and my eating habits to return to “normal”.
Can I blame my anorexia on the pervasive myth that “a woman can’t be too thin”? Not directly, of course. Research has shown that anorexia is as much about control and fear as it is about food. Still, if I hadn’t felt fat, I wouldn’t have started to diet, giving the obsession a chance to take hold. And I don’t think that I would have thought I was fat if I had not been continually bombarded by images of skinny women who were hailed as the ideal of beauty.
As the average weight of super models and movie stars has dropped, the prevalence of anorexia has risen dramatically. Is there a relationship? I think so. I was seventeen when I was diagnosed. Now ten year old anorexics are becoming increasingly common. One study found that 81% percent of ten year old girls and 46% of nine year olds dieted. The fear of being fat is so overwhelming that young girls have indicated in surveys that they are more afraid of becoming fat than they are of cancer, nuclear war or losing their parents. (National Eating Disorder Information Center, Canada)
So what, if anything, does this have to do with sex? I personally find skinny women far less sexy than ones who are more well-endowed. It occurs to me that the glorification of being thin in our culture could be an unconscious repudiation of sex. Today’s models and movie stars, with their narrow hips, flat stomachs, and A-cup breasts, look more like children or young boys than adult women. They are cool, graceful, elegant – but asexual.
They are safe. They offer no ample flesh to tempt the mind and raise the temperature, no perilous curves that lead you down the road to sin and perdition.
You may laugh, finding my thesis absurd. I have to tell you, as I watched the pounds drop off, I felt pure and clean. Virtuous. My adolescent sexual fantasies disappeared at the same time, melting away with my fat and muscle. Eating became the cardinal sin, because it nurtured the flesh, the evil blubber that threatened to consume me. Whenever the attendants in the hospital made me eat, I felt dirty, disgusting, smothered by my own body.
I’m intensely grateful that that I escaped from that madness. Even now, it’s all too vivid when I bring back the memories.
Now when I see a woman walking down the street or on the subway with the tell-tale bony knees, wasted arms and protruding cheekbones, a chill runs through me. I want to shake her, show her a mirror, strip away the hallucinations that make her believe she is still obese. When my eleven year old niece complains about how fat she is, I choke back my scream of frustration. You’re beautiful, Allie, I tell her, absolutely perfect, not fat at all.
With a sinking heart, I know that she doesn’t believe me.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
By Michelle Houston
When someone asks me what first comes to mind when they mention the word spring it isn’t college kids going on break, or trees and flowers blooming, nor is it the sudden and quick showers that the Midwest US is blessed/cursed with.
It’s animals in the mood for love. Yep, that’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone says ‘spring’.
I guess I should explain…
As any parent with a child who loves going to zoos knows, spring at a zoo is just like spring in the wild. Animals get, well, frisky, and they don’t exactly care if someone is watching. My family has visited the zoo several times a year ever since my daughter was about 3 or 4.
One really memorable event occurred a few years ago. We visited the zoo during the early spring, and animals were doing as frisky animals do. Loving the meerkats as she does, my daughter wanted to sit and watch them. Unfortunately at the time, they were “wrestling” so we had to move on.
(This is a legit picture, and that’s its tail – you naughty minded people!) *snicker*
Image copyright Michelle Houston.
The zebras were especially playful chasing and dancing all over their pen. Nice to see them moving around, not so nice when the male caught up to the female.
Thankfully, the lions were separated, and she was able to enjoy her favorite animal without nature getting in the way.
Of course, the day was filled with innocent “what are they doing?” kinds of questions as we continued through the zoo. But it wasn’t as bad for me as it was for the poor teacher who was leading her students past the meerkat habitat while there was some kind of a group orgy going on. One wide-eyed little girl seemed to have some clue, and I about died laughing at some of the chatter going on as they were heading past us.
I still remember some of the questions I fielded … and my husband’s snickering about it. Big, bad, erotica writer blushing and stammering while trying to answer, yet not answer, questions about sex. Thankfully she was easier to put off with a vague answer, unlike some of the kids in that class. I still shudder thinking about it.
Oh yes, spring brings to mind the friskiness of animals as they do what animals do.
So I guess it’s appropriate that the beginning of my latest series, Animal Attraction, got its start in spring. It’s about male shifters, who allow their inner animals to play ... in a very frisky way. This time though I shouldn’t have to explain anything to anyone. Which is nice, because I still occasionally blush and stammer.
Animal Attraction: Taming the Wolf
Gay werewolves just didn't happen naturally. Ben had accepted that he would quite possibly live the rest of his life alone. Then one day Nathan, another rogue-made werewolf, turns up on his doorstep and he finds that maybe there is a mate for him after all, if he can teach the younger man how to tame his inner wolf.
Available for purchase at:
The next two Animal Attraction stories have been accepted and scheduled. Embracing the Leopard is coming out in June, and Unleashing the Leopard in August.
Michelle’s blog: Captive Dreams of an Erotic Pen
Erotic Designs by Michelle:
Explore the Infinite Possibilities with the
Friday, March 27, 2009
By Helen E. H. Madden
Let me tell you something about Spring.
It's not about renewal or hope. It's not about flowers or fluffy bunnies or baby birds. It's not about allergies and pollen. It's not about the crazed and dazed state of fever people slip into as they slip off layers of clothing and run amok in fields of daisies and such crap.
It's about little monsters that wake up hungry and ready to feed.
You see, every year around the end of summer, beginning of fall, we get one of these in our backyard...
Pretty, isn't it? A delightful little sack of horrors waiting to hatch. This little beauty will spend all of Autumn and Winter tucked away in some tiny corner of of the house, brooding and sheltering the creepy crawly delights inside. Sometime in the Spring, that mummified papery sac will burst open and out will stream a thousand or so baby monsters, each with eight legs a piece. They grow up to look something like this...
Our yard becomes the domain of at least one of these beauties every year, sometimes two. We call them Shelobs, they're so damned huge. After sleeping so long in that egg sac, they wake up so hungry, so the first thing they do is string their webs this way and that across our back deck. I can't tell you how many times I've walked out my back door and right into their traps, nearly strangled by those thick, heavy strands of sticky silk. I've been the big dinner that got away more times than I can count.
But I love these little darlings, these eight-legged freaks. They're such artists. Each web is a wonder to behold, and the way the Shelobs wait in the center, oh so patiently, for their prey to come to them is truly chilling to behold.
It's a feeling I understand all too well, for you see, spiders aren't the only things that wake up hungry in the Spring. After months of hiding inside the house, burrowing beneath blankets, shrouding myself in heavy sweaters and woolly socks, something hatches inside of me. It's a feeling that crawls through my belly and along my limbs, an uncontrollable need to feed my inner predator. One warm afternoon, I'll pull out my silken traps - a chemise, stockings, garter belts - and patiently lie in wait for my prey to appear. When he shows, I'm quick to pounce, tie him up and suck the life out of him until he's nothing but a shrivelled husk and I'm too satiated and drowsy to move. On that day, I can't say whether I have two legs or eight, but the effect is still the same.
Come Summer, the heat and humidity will whither my desire, and the predator inside me won't wake again until Autumn. Then I'll spin my webs again one last time before Winter forces me back into hibernation, chilled body buried beneath layers of clothing, heavy sweaters, woolly socks. I'll waste away until Spring.
And then I'll wake up hungry again.
Ensnared, Work In Progress by Helen E. H. Madden
Thursday, March 26, 2009
It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! ~Mark Twain
I am either fortunate or strange, but I like every season in it's own way. Cwtching up under a patchwork blanket on cold nights through the winter. Summer dresses for the few warm days that grace the UK during the summer. The turning of the leaves in Autumn.
But spring is possibly my favourite.
This year more than any I can remember, I can feel that spring fever Mark Twain talked about bubbling away inside me. I want to do something, but I don't know what. I want a challenge, a change, a... just a something!
I want to get out pencils and start sketching again.
I want to dig out every poetry book in the house and remind myself of all the different verses I've been too busy to remember lately.
I find lyrics to a dozen different songs racing through my head at inappropriate moments, and I want to sing them out loud for no good reason.
Story ideas are flooding in too, and I want to write every single one of them - RIGHT NOW!
Patience and spring don't feel compatable right now, but do you know the most bizare thing of all? I also feel more relaxed about everything than I have for... for I don't actually know how long.
I want to do more things than I can ever get done in twenty life times. But right now, on the cusp of spring, every single one of those things seems possible. And maybe even more than that, it seems possible to do it all and still find time to just enjoy the journey.
I still haven't picked up a sketch pad, and I won't inflict my singing on you, but one of the poems I've been reminding myself of seems quite appropriate, so I will share that.
Leisure by W. H. Davies
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—
No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
Have a good spring everyone - and be sure to let me know if you are feeling the fever too :)
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
In those days in the news office, there was a ticker tape contraption that ran under a glass dome like a weird terrarium, and bells would ring on a scale of one to ten to indicate the gravity of the incoming information. By this time they knew Kennedy had been rushed to the hospital but didn’t know if he would live. As the bells solemnly dinged out everything stopped. The office was frozen in time, hushed except for moving lips whispering of numbers. "... seven ... eight... nine..." When bell number ten rang, they knew without seeing the tape the young president was dead. A few days later Dad was in the living room sipping on a can of beer and eating pickled pig’s feet watching a TV broadcast of Oswald being moved between facilities.
I know the part about the pig’s feet because I was in the kitchen with an empty glass in my hand waiting for my new super powers to appear. I'd just drank down a batch of pickled pig’s feet juice, mixed with Kool aid, something brown with green fuzz floating on it, and a gob of ketchup and was waiting for the result. I had just read “Showcase Comics #4” the origin issue of the Flash, where Barry Allen is doused with chemicals and simultaneously struck by lightning, hence becoming the Flash - "the Fastest Man Alive". Dad yelled from the living "Goddamn! They shot Oswald!" He was out the door - for a moment the fastest man alive. We didn’t see him again for two days.
Wyoming was a nice place for a kid, in the short time that I had there. It was in Wyoming I acquired a skill. I was a shy bookish kid with learning problems. I wanted to make friends; I just wasn’t good at it. In English class I discovered something. I could tell stories. My first written story ever was called "Dinosaur Island". Something like the TV show "Lost", with some assorted people shipwrecked on a volcanic island that turns out to be full of dinosaurs. The people are rescued just as the island is sinking for forgotten reasons into the ocean. The teacher had me read it in front of the class and the kids loved it and yelled for more. It was the first time I'd ever impressed anyone and I was hooked. I'd discovered something I might be good at.
Wyoming was also where they found out I needed glasses. Riding through the scrubby plains in Dad's old rambler, he would yell back over his shoulder to look at the herds of prong horned antelope which were as common as sparrows. I couldn’t see them and got headaches trying. That was when Dad got the bug for hunting. Fishing he'd done all his life, but hunting was something new.
He started out with a beginner's rifle, a mild mannered twenty two caliber Remington and practiced shooting cans until he became good. His friends from the paper took him hunting using their bigger guns, and once he came home with a winter's worth of antelope meat. I wanted to go hunting too. At ten years old I was already a gadget freak. Most modern weapons are beautiful technological instruments. A good rifle has beauty and harmony of form and function, the way a Japanese sword or an antique camera has tactile beauty you want to hold in your hands. I work with soldiers and see M16s every day, but they're different, the way a cheap ballpoint pen is different from an antique fountain pen. One you sign forms with. The other makes you want to write something brilliant, something worthy of the instrument. I wanted to use Dad's rifle, for no other reason but that it was beautiful.
On dad's part he wanted I think to pass on the ancient legacy among generations of men, going back to the days of the mammoth hunt. A boy has to know where meat comes from. It doesn’t come from women. It doesn’t come from the kitchen or the grocery. Every time you eat a chicken or a fish or a steak, something that wanted very badly to live, something gentle that was minding its own business, had to be killed. That's an important thing to know.
A twenty two isn’t the right tool for bringing down an antelope. You'll hurt it, but you won’t kill it. But it has no recoil and it's a good rifle for a kid to learn on. We began with the cans on the fence. Maybe before I was ready, we packed up early one Saturday in the spring as the snow was melting and lit out for the prairies near Medicine Bow.
We were hunting jack rabbits, a beginners’ animal. They're smart and fast on their big snowshoe feet, but a couple of them together in a pot can still make a nice stew. We trudged through field and stream, and it was nice just being somewhere with Dad, about manly work without the company of women.
Right around noon, Dad found a muddy trail of footprints near a half frozen brook lined with blooming purple flowers. As we were climbing up the creek bed, the rabbit that made them suddenly burst from behind some sagebrush and took off like a missile. Dad got off a shot but missed and the animal disappeared. We followed its tracks again, and after a moment, Dad put his hand on my shoulder and we kneeled down. He pointed at thicket of sage brush.
Squinting through my little horn rims I could barely make out where his finger was pointing, until the rabbit moved, probably scrunching down and watching us through the dry leafless branches. Dad passed me the rifle, and took the safety off. I put the stock to my shoulder as he’d taught me. It was heavy and the muzzle dipped down as I tried to lift it.
"Do you see him?" he said. "Wait till you can see him."
I made out a slightly bigger lump in a bush full of lumps and said yes.
"Don't get excited," he said. "Aim slow. Line up the bead in the front with the V in the back and look out a little past the barrel. Let your breath out a little and hold it. Squeeze, don’t pull."
I tried to line up the black barrel, and he reached out and steadied it. "Bead in the V. Take your time."
Most gunshots are single syllable sounds. A Berretta automatic pistol, Army issue, makes a single concussive "Pop!" when it goes off and your hand jumps no matter how hard you hold it. A twenty two doesn’t jar your hand at all and the gunshot is a two syllable sound.
I squeezed the trigger, everything exactly right. "BRACK - IT!" exclaimed the gun.
Nothing happened. No rabbit. "Did I get him?" I said, almost giggling with excitement.
"We'll have to go see." He said. He reached over and put on the safety. "When you walk, point the barrel down and away from people. Always know where the end of the barrel is."
We approached the sagebrush carefully, watching for the rabbit if it burst from cover.
Looking back on it, knowing the habits of animals a little better now, I think I know what happened. This jackrabbit is running from two large predators. It hides behind the nearest large bush, ready to high tail it if they catch on. Speed and alertness is all nature dealt it. A rabbit, like a fly or a deer, occupies that dismal place in the scheme of things as pure defenseless food. It exists only to reproduce and be eaten by other animals. It is watching us, facing us straight on, perpendicular, to offer the smallest profile. His belly and torso are pressed tight to the wet ground because he has been through this many times before with other predators and he knows the thing to do is hunker downwind and to make himself tactically small and sit tight. If he's spotted, his strong hind legs are coiled against the ground like a track runner in the blocks, ready to spring out and run like hell. I think the hot bullet must have entered that space between earth and bunny, skimmed along the surface of the ground against the tight pressed pelt, running the length of the animal, in a shot of such freakish precision; it could only be accomplished by accident. Annie Oakley could not pull off a shot like this.
The rabbit did not run from the bushes though it was alive and conscious. It had been sliced from cute bunny nose to cotton tail as neatly as with a veterinarian’s scalpel. It crawled, dragging its steaming entrails behind in the cold air and the spring mud, doomed but still trying to get away with its last puzzled gasp. It was the only thing it knew how to do, not to give up. Not to surrender.
I went crazy. I was dancing with the loaded rifle, crying and screaming “Kill it! Kill it!” I was too ape-shit to shoot, I could only scream. Dad snatched the rifle from me, furious, aimed and dispatched the poor thing in a shot.
A rabbit doesn't understand there is such a thing as a gun. Or that such a thing is possible. It had done everything it knew how to do, exactly right, because it understands big things want to eat it. It had won. Then, while it was doing everything exactly right, a hot whining, invisible demon sliced it's belly open from below. What would be the thoughts of such a dying animal? It must have wondered what the hell had just happened, what it had done wrong. Fear. Run. Can't run. Crawl. Then another demon put out the lights. Many creatures die without ever knowing how it happened. I wonder if it was like that for Kennedy.
As we went home, neither of us spoke. Mom cooked the rabbit but I wouldn’t eat it. Something inside between Dad and I had been damaged. I had failed some test I didn’t even realize I was taking. It would take years to get it right again.
Fiction By C. Sanchez-Garcia