Slowly Shedding That Silky Thong: Blue Christmas in Tennessee
by Buck Maelstrom, M.D. and Miss Manners With a Whip
On the old radio, Elvis was singing about a blue Christmas. Joe opened the window to get some fresh air and gazed through the open window at the rain. It was December, and he turned up the collar of his flannel-lined denim jacket against the cold air. The radiator near his chair was warm, and so were his Wolverine insulated boots. He contemplated the glass of Jack Daniels on his wooden desk as the soft sounds of ole Merle began to emanate from the radio:
“Could be holding you tonight
Could be doing wrong or doing right
You don’t care about what I think
I think I’ll just stay here and drink.”
Joe snapped the ancient Zippo shut. The Camel glowed in the twilight. He looked outside at the drumming rain and wondered if writing another song would depress him or fill him with a sense of purpose.
If what he wrote was mediocre, another lyric he never wanted to record or even publish, it might cast him into an abyss of grouchiness; conversely, if his muse came through, he might not have to work for another two months. His agent was getting antsy, but lately Joe just hadn’t had the motivation. He needed a starting point. As it was, he was sick of turning on the radio and hearing about being a celebrity or America seeking revenge against terrorists or getting cheap lingerie deals at Wal-Mart. What had happened to country music in the new milennium? Joe often wondered.
Joe thought about a skinny, uneducated country fellow who had heard the mournful sound of a departing train. And been so lonesome he could cry. Hank Williams hadn’t given up.
Joe thought about another singer, fallen from grace, battling substance addiction, and living out of the trunk of his car. His reputation was in tatters. He was at the end of his rope. Until asked to sing a song entitled “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”
Was it F. Scott who had said that, in the dark night of the soul, it was always 3 in the morning? Joe sipped the whiskey, swirling the liquid idly in the glass.
Joe’s mood of late had matched that in Hopper’s “Night Hawks.” He felt estranged, separated from the warmth of society. It was arguably the creative edge he needed to maintain his status as a songwriter.
But was there a market? As Strait pointed out, there had been “murder on music row” and the heart of country music had been lost. But, at those moments when Joe’s faith was dry, he summoned up remembrance of things past.
Whining fiddles. The feel of sawdust on the dance floor. Cowboys tilting longnecks. There would always be a place for it. If only he could become the Kristofferson of modern country music writing. Johnny Cash was gone, so Joe had no chance to land a helicopter in his yard and beg him to read his newest songs.
Determined to prevail, his mind set on writing his first really good song, Joe looked out, past his own sloping lawn, toward the neighboring farm. The rain had another unfortunate effect; it kept the woman on that farm from hanging out her laundry to dry, and that had become a highlight of every few days for him. He’d noticed the laundry first, but it had taken days for him to wonder about the garments clipped to the line that ran from the house to the tulip poplar ten yards away. One day, idly sipping coffee and eying distant clouds to check for oncoming rain, Joe had realized that the laundry dancing in the breeze wasn’t tiny because the items were so far away; they were really tiny. Squinting yielded the info that many of them were red, and he then made the shrewd deduction that those garments either comprised a surprisingly sumptuous lingerie wardrobe for one woman, or that there were a whole bunch of other female residents who came and went under cover of güvenilir bahis darkness.
Speaking of sumptous, that adjective could easily be applied to the wealth of curves he’d noticed on his new neighbor. Though it was hard to observe detail from a distance, Joe had the eyes of a condor when it came to detecting voluptuous women. If she were here with him…if the rain were still beating down…if he had a snapping, crackling fire going…if lambent shadows flickered on the gold of her skin and the scarlet of the very same thongs he’d seen fluttering in the breeze…well, he could ask for no better impetus to pen his chef d’oeuvre.
The images, coupled with his own desire, fueled him with a burning need to put words on paper. He put down his glass, the pungent aroma of the bourbon a potent manifestation of his solitude. He knew it was dangerous to drink alone. It was too easy to keep pouring from the bottle till it was empty, too easy to think that the garbled lyrics born of a night’s drinking were pure genius, when they were really the maudlin ramblings of a lonely man. Or worse, drink instead of writing. But tonight seemed different. His neighbor’s bare laundry line spoke to Joe. It spoke of feminine touch, pure as silk and soft as Valenciennes lace. It spoke of quiet lust on a rainy night. It spoke of whispers and caresses in a darkened room lit by intermittent headlights on the road outside. Joe found an empty notebook and a pen and began to write, not trusting the wait for his computer to boot up. He filled the lines with exquisite longings and desperate love. When he finished, he had filled up two pages, and the words seemed the perfect blend of suffering and savoring. As he read back over his lyrics, he felt stirred, aroused, even. He immersed himself in the lines and was reborn as a songwriter in the same vein as Hank or Willie or George. He could almost hear Jimmie Rodgers’ blue yodel from the far pasture.
But as gratified as he was to have the words on paper, he needed more than a chimera; no, he needed actual human touch. He cast caution to the winds, folded the papers and tucked them in his back pocket, put his glass in the sink and took his rain slicker down from the hook. There was a lone light burning in his neighbor’s back room.
Joe knew that the large room was where Kerri, his neighbor, conducted her aerobics classes. From time to time, he had heard the crunch of gravel and the sound of car doors in Kerri’s driveway. He had always intended to make another attempt to stop smoking. And so, as the steady rain splattered on his slicker, Joe strolled across his lawn, down his driveway, and on the gravel that led to the small, neat sign “Aerobics.”
As he entered the waiting room, he peered through the glass window into the small gym itself. There was Kerri instructing four young women. He watched, entranced, as their lean, fit bodies danced to the music. But why were they there? They were all extremely fit. Maintenance? With a rueful smile, Joe realized that, as he was watching, his hand was clawing, almost unconsciously, for his pack of Camels. But he had to stop smoking, and there was no time like the present.
After 15 minutes, the class, which had evidently been ending, concluded and the four students departed. As they passed, he tried to look as if he belonged. And tried not to leer at their conspicuous fitness. “Can I help you?” It was Kerri. As he stood, she recognized the craggy visitor as her neighbor, and they began to chat about the purpose of the classes.
Kerri explained that, while earning her degree in exercise physiology, she had earned tuition money as a stripper. Despite the noise and the cigarette smoke of the strip clubs, the money was good. And perhaps not every single penny of it got reported to the IRS. “But what I saw was just türkçe bahis an aerobics class,” Joe said.
As they stood talking, perhaps three feet apart, Joe noticed that tiny beads of sweat on her unlined forehead, and idly watched one as it journeyed across her cheek, down her neck, and… With a start, Joe realized that his mind was drifting. Perhaps it was his own songwriting. Perhaps the rain drumming on the green metal roof of the little gym. But he had to fight the feeling of arousal. They were almost strangers, and any gesture on his part would be premature.
Kerri appreciated the fact that the visitor in the slicker did not ask any of the usual questions as to why she had worked as a dancer. Nor did he appear to be judgmental. Perhaps, for Kerri, the dancing hadn’t been entirely for research in exercise physiology. Perhaps it wasn’t entirely for money. There was the lure of the forbidden as well. It was an opportunity to dress up in outlandish costumes and to slowly, slowly remove them while teasing viewers into lustful trances.
As she left her college classes and drove to the club, Kerri could feel her excitement mounting. Soon, instead of being a diligent student, she would be a stripper preparing to take the stage. In the neon light, she would writhe in front of strangers, teasing them until her nipples were swollen with desire, teasing them with the proximity of her lean, fit body.
As she danced, Kerri could feel the eyes of the strangers upon her. Their eyes burned. But for the constraints of society, Kerri knew that they would like to reach out and caress her lightly oiled thighs. So close, and yet so far away.
She moved around the U-shaped dance floor. With each fellow, she sought to create a private, miniature mood — some sense, albeit totally transitory, of rapport. And then, just as the guy felt as if he had to place a kiss on some particularly luscious part of her anatomy, Kerri moved on.
Lapdances were a particular challenge. In the VIP Lounge, Kerri would explain that the men could not touch. Then, as they sat in their chairs, she would dance in front of them, her body moving tantalizingly close. Directly in front of their eyes would be an engorged nipple. Dazed, some of them would move forward to kiss it. And Kerri would move slightly backward.
As they sat, Kerri would turn around and brush her hips over their knees. By then lost in lust, they would see her taut hips flexing and moving. As she turned around, they saw her tiny, shaven triangle of pubic hair. It was cut very short, nothing more than peach fuzz. And it was very high, exposing her smoothness. And it was very small, only a mockery, only a tease. There were no tattoos or piercings to mar the scenery.
At the end of such evenings, it was not merely the customers who felt as if they had jogged six miles in a Louisiana summer. So did Kerri. Because the customers changed, and because it was only a college job, she did not get jaded and bored. She relished the opportunity to seize the stolen moments of exhibitionism, the little walks on the wild side.
When Joe asked how aerobics related to stripping, Kerri began to explain the kinesiological implications. Then she stopped and said “It’ll be easier to show you.” Moving to the small stage, she motioned Joe to a nearby chair. Slipping “Black Velvet” on the CD player, Kerri began to undulate in a matter at once graceful and primal.
Although she wore very conventional (even modest) gym apparel, he sensed some undercurrent of sensuality. But she wore baggy sweatpants and a crewneck cotton sweatshirt. Her clothing was almost modest. Yet Joe’s mouth seemed suddenly dry as he watched.
As her slender fingers, with their painted nails, danced over the waistband of the sweatpants, Joe caught a glimpse of black silk. And began güvenilir bahis siteleri to realize why her line was so full of delicate, tiny lingerie. He tried to note Kerri’s fine muscular tone and sinuous grace, but he found it increasingly hard not to burn holes through her sweatpants. He couldn’t detect a panty line, so he surmised that the glimpse of black silk he’d seen was a thong. He wondered if she was wearing a matching bra, and if so, whether it was sheer.
But only Superman had x-ray vision. As a trickle of sweat began to inch its way down his forehead, he concentrated as hard as he could on not applauding, not reaching for a cigarette, and not letting an encouraging shout escape his lips. But apparently, Kerri found dancing in her sweats as trying as he did watching her. With an impatient motion, she grabbed the bottom of the sweatshirt and pulled it over her head. She shook her long dark hair loose from it, and the tresses flowed down her well-toned back. When she turned back to face Joe, he saw that her bra was sheer, with a spatter of embroidered flowers. When his neighbor untied the knot of her sweatpants and let them fall to the floor also, he was not surprised to see that the black thong was sheer and embroidered, too.
The dance took on a slower rhythm. Kerri swayed and undulated, moving deliberately around his chair. He could feel the warmth of her as she moved closer, and he could swear the entire performance took on an entirely personal, less demonstrative tone. Testing his theory, Joe reached out and stroked her hip. She responded by running her fingers up her own thighs and turning toward him. He was unable to resist the smooth skin of her tummy and bent forward to kiss it, moving to a hipbone before he placed his hands on her hips and turned her away. Her back was smooth and supple, and as he covered its curves with kisses, thoughts of Jack Daniels were the last thing on his mind. In fact, he felt much like Emily Dickinson in that he was tasting a liquor never brewed.
Aside from creative problems, Joe had also been under enormous stress related to the stock market. He recalled the scene from the novel Being There, where Chance the gardener was asked about a crashing stock market. Chance noted that growth had its season in a garden. Spring and summer arrived, but also fall and winter. Perhaps the tomes by Samuelson and Modigliani had been too much with him? He recalled that Business Week had announced the “death” of stocks in its cover story of August 13, 1979. The Dow stood at 840 at that point. Surely there was reason for hope in the new century.
Fourteen centuries ago, the Talmud advised that wealth be one third in real estate, another in merchandise, and the remainder in liquid assets. Perhaps, Joe thought, he should just learn to relax. Perhaps he shouldn’t allow external stressors to intrude upon the Zen-like peace he needed to maintain creative energy.
Such were his thoughts as his lips made contact with Kerri’s back. Her skin had a slightly salty taste as a consequence of her workout, and his sensitive tongue detected a hint of Dial soap. Joe forgot all about the economy as he pondered the obvious question, long ignored in the groves of academe, of precisely how many sex toys Emily Dickinson owned. More than a mere scintilla of the inventory at Ye Olde Amherst Marital Toy Factory, located in the giant brick building hardly more than a stone’s throw from her house.
He had always been a little bit crazy. However, as Waylon said, that kept him from going insane. And Waylon, like Willie, had to leave Nashville to find success in Austin. Hank Jr. felt he had to explain that, if he got stoned and sang all night long, it was a “family tradition.”
As the rain drummed against the roof of the exercise studio, as Joe’s lips traced her spinal column, felt none of the “malaise” Jimmy Carter found. The stark, empty feeling mentioned by Kris in “Sunday Morning Coming Down” was nowhere apparent as Joe kissed her sleek back, gently brushed aside her hair, and began to kiss her neck.