WHILE trying to figure out the Hite Report the other day, I ran smack into an old friend of mine from high school. Cheryl Stern seemed to my bulged eyes a new woman When last I had admired her comely self she had been a sweet kid in puffy sleeves with pastel flannel figures of Babar the Elephant and his wife Celeste sewn on as a running motif across the apron of her party dress. Now, svelte and shiny in her silk fishnet dress with a fishnet choker and fishnet stockings, she was quite a different item. She looked like a captive eel at the Fulton Fish Market.
She batted big lashes at me. Could this be, I wondered, the same pasteurized number who had never been involved with anything seamier than hatching tadpoles in Richter's biology lab? Who had never shown more knee than the Brobdingnagianized safety-pin on her scotch-kilts would allow? Who had never pressed more flesh than when doing the Virginia Reel at Lucy Karambelas's Holy Communion Ball?
"Why doncha come on up and check out my digs?" she wheedled.
Telling her archaeological surveillances weren't my cup of Java I graciously began my slow crawl away.
"No ya big hunk of dope! I mean c'mon see my apartment!"
Brazen! Only once before had she impressed me so: in Advanced Intermediate French she had hypnotized tous with a stunning ninety-minute discourse (du langue propre) on the preparation of Escargots avec les Fraises Flambaux which concluded with a blast the likes of which no one had seen since the Sal DiConcio family firebombed the Esso Refinery Plant in Secaucus in 1969.
"Why doncha come up for a short one toots?" she whispered huskily, raising her knee to light a Strike-Anywhere that got tangled in the netting.
Too aghast to be offended at her estimation of my potential I remarked that she wasn't the same girl whose hot snails I'd admired in the oh-so-recent past and lit her stumpy Gauloise. She snorted and beckoned me on.
Her apartment looked out on fashionable Central Park West. It was in the famous Dakota. Of course the Dakota in Hohokus, New Jersey isn't as hard to get into as the one in New York City but we were happy there. When we got inside she tried her little best at casual chatter, pointed out the local Grand Union, the Hohokus City Hall and the beautiful road the French built after World War I to help pay of war debts--the famous "HohoChemin." She also sang the town anthem, "Hoho kus Santy's Comin' Soon." We had a good laugh over that. Ah so light, so gay, so witty this one! While I rollicked with mirth she triple-padlocked the door.
Bop-eyed, I looked for means of escape. I clawed at the door like the dog I was and suddenly found myself chained with nary a stitch but my Mr. Slim plaid boxers to keep her from discovering my religion. A wild fire crossed her face, singeing her moustache. Faint moisture glistened on her quivering upper lip and she swung toward me.
I screamed and struggled, though there seemed no escape from the grinning eminence I beheld. But soft! A look of confusion began to cross her scrambled features. Henry Jekyll once more! A little breathy murmur crossed her confused lips. "What say?" I called out, yearning to catch her drift. "Don't use that dumb hippie expression with me!" she roared, the phlegm rumbling in her throat. "I forgot what to do next! I forgot the next move!" She began lumbering around the room knocking over bookcases and smashing her rare collection of African fertility statuettes which bore an eerie resemblance to the little baseball players with bobbing round heads you can pick up at highway restaurants. After she had smashed the Willie Mays and Fred Lynn figures she hurled her awesome ire blazing in my direction.
"Where is it! Where's my book!" She was hopping up and down on Don Drysdale.
"What book, dear?" I asked as pleasantly as I could, trying not to rattle my metal links and shackles.
"The Gael Greene book, vantz!" she rasped. "The Gael Greene book! It's my guide! My road map!" She began to heave up and down like the crazed Harpo Marx, baring her canines and incisors and crossing her eyes. Moving toward the wall she commenced chewing he wallpaper. "Mm, roses! I love roses!" chortled this human vegematic as she chomped on a particularly dainty pattern. Then she steamed, pirouetted thrice, keeled and passed out hissing. Exhausted by the afternoon's trifles, I too shuddered, convulsed and in a moment had made like a light.
When I awoke, she was sitting cross-legged on the floor in her newest Rudi Geinrich special--a translucent hefty bag with a hole cut in the top for her neck. "Ah, mon vieux, tu t'es leve." She laughed and threw back her pretty head. The maid brought it back to her. "And now I shall read to you. Chloe," she called, ringing a dainty cow-bell, "le livre!" "Wit' bacon and onions?" Chloe asked liltingly as she stomped out her stogie with the toe of her Converse. Cheryl laughed and threw back her head once more; Chloe double-dribbled it across the room, faked to me, made a lay-up and returned to Cheryl on the rebound. "I oughta wring your neck!" my delighted hostess cried. "I've always relied on da kindness of stranglers," Chloe riposted. "I'll go getcha yer livre."
As Cheryl waited she pulled her atomizer and liberally applied the vapor to her atmosphere. "Eau du gorille," she smiled. "Gotta keep myself natural." Chloe arrived presently with the book and Cheryl grabbed it, digits atremble. She beamed ably, "Blue Skies, No Candy." She looked up at her chained Kong. "Heavy, huh? Oh bummer, I lost my place. Here we are. Chapter One. 'Am I rushing things...beginning the scene in bed? I cannot resist. Bed is where I'm making it these days, friends, and sometimes it seems I'm only limping along elsewhere. Of course no one would ever suspect. On paper my life is beautiful, meaningful, creative, posh. Sensitive devoted husband, perhaps slightly less anxious about my success but it scarcely shows. House and Garden real estate, overlooking Central Park and on the dunes in the fiercely stylish Hamptons. Booming career. I am a screenwriter. I am the screenwriter, Katharine Wallis Alexander. Not too many hassles these days. They are talking Redford, Fonda, Coppola and $150,000 with a very nice percentage for my next script. Everyone is thinking Woman this year and I am The Woman to write it. I looked thin and not a day over thirty-two at the Zanuck-Brown party in Women's Wear two weeks ago...'"
I could feel the room twirling like a dreydl. The spinach knish I had for lunch started coming up my gullet and I thought I would be sick. "Please stop...please...I'll do anything..." My wrists felt like wet won-tons. She was merciless.
"'Donald Brooks wants to dress me wholesale. Elaine never denies me a table...'" I passed out.
I nodded into consciousness. She was still reading. Her voice issued the following dialogue:
(He hands me a crystal of brown sugar from the breakfast tray.)
"Put this in your pussy and see if you can produce a pearl."
"Jamie. If I put that in my pussy all I could produce would be a mackerel."
"Kate. Bite your tongue." He hugs me studying our embrace in the bathroom mirror. "I could never leave you. You're so funny."
I passed out again.
The fifth day.
'Take it out.'
'I want it. Stop crying, Kate. I want it.'
'Don't move, you f*cking sadist.'
'I'll be gentle.'
'It's too late.'
'You loved it.'
'I. Don't. Love. It.'
In a dry croak, I begged Cheryl to read me the sports page of the New York Post. "please, my sweet. Just five minutes of Maury Allen on Dr. J..."
She glared at me with the eyes of one who had never known pain but would like to. She smiled.
"Chapter Twenty-Five...'Tonight is the first time we've gone to sleep in a bed we've not made love in... My militant feminist friends might say, if you want him, why don't you reach over and take his c*ck in your mouth. The dilemma is I want sex all the time...'"
One more sentence and I knew I was finished. I had to create a diversion to facilitate my escape from the Honeymoon Hotel. I was desperate. Thousands of question marks, tiny little things, filled out into a cloud over my head. The cloud grew darker and darker until it produced a rumble and then a flash. I had it! A clever ruse to get her out of the room while I practiced my six-story leap into a waiting convertible. In a few short hours I'd be home, where my only thoughts of sex came when my mother boiled zucchini.
This was it...I only hoped it would work. Little droplets of perspiration broke out on my forehead, ran down my neck and made it to the outside. Did I try to stop them? Nah. That's the kind of guy I am. I opened my mouth to yell out. "Telephone!"
She got up to answer but it was dead. "Another one of your tricks, eh?" she cried. "One more stunt like that and I put on 'Holly Near's Greatest Hits Volume Two.' Or maybe you'd like Helen Reddy's 'I Am Norman?"'
"Maybe it was the doorbell?" I suggested gamely.
"Doorbell, doorbell?" Her eyes began rolling around in her head like drunken slugs. It wasn't a pretty scene I can tell you.
"You Know," I warned her, "it might be the Vice Squad."
"The Vice Squad! You answer the door. Quick, before they come up through the sewer." With trembling hands she unlocked my manacles. "Go! Ouvre-le!" She stood wringing her knees until she had squeezed them dry. "Go!"
In short, it was the milkman. He was a strapping fellow with two quarts regular, four skim and a pint of buttermilk. In the ensuing tumble they made a gallon of egg nog and two ice cream bricks. Another result of the wrangle was a fine little boy who was born speaking high-school French. For respectability's sake Cheryl has always tried to claim that I was in some way responsible for little Andre's occurrence, but I know this to be a falsehood. For one thing, no one in my family has ever been interested in picking up empties on Mondays and Thursdays. Besides that, I've been saving it, you know, until I get married. If I didn't, who would want me?