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Chapter 5: A Recipe for Sex
Gertrude Morgenstern didn’t like to go home. The Crestview Memorial Library, with its antique oak tables and tiffany chandeliers was more home to her than the three room flat she rented out in Walpole. Yes, Dandy, her tuxedo cat was there, but as cats went he was about as indifferent as he could get. Oh, he liked to be stroked and fed, but other than that he slept or batted at flies on the kitchen screen.
Gertrude was forty-six and didn’t really have any idea how she got to that age. It seemed yesterday that she was sixteen and swimming with the other girls a Lake Champlain. College was spent in the library. Graduate school was in the library and after she got her MLS she had lived in libraries, one in Sudbury, one for a very short time in Philadelphia, and now one in Newton. It was a good thing she liked to read.
She read everything: histories, romance novels, poetry, science fiction, art books, almanacs. It didn’t really matter. What mattered was that she had something to occupy her mind. So, yes, it did matter on a particular day what she read because sometimes poetry was too soupy, science was too abstruse and romances too badly written.
Gertrude told herself that she didn’t need a man in her life. Curiously, men just seemed to walk right past her. This was not because she was unattractive. Oh, some might cruelly call her ‘plain’ but that was because she never wore makeup, cut her own hair and didn’t pluck her strong eyebrows. But she had clear skin and good posture, above average height, and when she glanced at herself in her mother’s old full length mirror she was surprised that the had quite a nice figure, generous breasts and firm hips, and gracefully tapering legs.
She had no flirtation skills whatsoever. Even Alexander Dunkirk, who came in every day to read the Globe, widowed, very polite, well-off—she just didn’t feel a need to know him better. It was fine that he was often there and sometimes helped move a poster stand or some such. But she gave him no encouragement. The truth of it was that he did not “ring her chimes.” No one did.
Still, her sister in law, that sweet busybody was convinced she needed someone in her life. But she refused to sign up with an Internet dating service or attend gatherings designed for “people who are looking.” The truth was, she wasn’t looking. Her books and the occasional film from the library connection provided plenty of “conversation.”
But to humor Beatrice she had agreed to meet this youngish doctor who B had said was a “relationship expert.” Well, nothing ventured, though she wasn’t really interested in the adventure. Perhaps he could suggest some good reading on social relations for mature people and she would come to know herself better.
She had just finished dusting the display cases when the appointment arrived. She knew he was the sort of person she should find attractive; tall, slim, yet muscled, a sprinkle of gray, a friendly smile. Nothing. A nice man.
“How do you do, Dr. Darden? So pleasant of you to come. I thank Beatrice for looking out for me. Yet I fear you may be here on a futile mission. I am not a lonely spinster pining for true companionship. But still, I’d be curious about your opinion of the prospects for someone like me, who, to herself, seems quite comfortable and content.”
Casey smiled. This should prove to be much more relaxing than his last couple of clients. No devils or Mafia here. He stifled a yawn. For the first time he felt like a gigolo, hired to spice up the life of a woman “past her prime.”
“I don’t know about that.”
“Excuse me? About what? I must have been wool gathering for a moment.”
“You were thinking that this assignment might be boring.”
“No, well, I…”
“Well lets just ‘start at the beginning’ as the caterpillar said to Alice. I think I have the capacity to be a rather charming and well-versed companion. We can have some good dinners on Beatrice’s dime. She and her husband are loaded. We can talk about topics all over the map and I can point you at some good reading and you can give me some tips on how to be more sociable. I don’t think I’m neurotic or psychotic, so there isn’t much work for you there.”
“You think I’m a psychotherapist?”
“Well yes. That was my natural assumption.”
“No, oh dear, I’m not ill in some way, and…”
“No, not that I know of. In fact, I checked with your PCP and your gynecologist and you are delightfully healthy and fit for…”
Casey actually blushed.
“…a woman of my age.”
“Then please, may I ask, what is your specialty?”
“Well, Miss, Ms…”
“Well, Gertrude, I could bamboozle you with euphemisms, but I think you would see through them quickly. My specialty is sex.”
“Sex? Sexual disfunction?”
“Oh I am trained in that, but actually I focus more on helping women, and their partners, have a more fulfilling sex life.”
“No. güvenilir canlı bahis siteleri I don’t think of it that way.”
“And how do you think of it, Dr. Darden?”
“Casey. Perhaps as a therapist, a sort of specialized physical therapist.”
“And Beatrice and you think that I am frigid, and need to get “sexed up” so that I can attract a man and ‘be fulfilled,’ or at least filled. And you are here to roger me until my motor kicks over.”
“I’m sorry. Perhaps we have made a mistake. Clearly some people are quite contented with little or no ‘libidinal activity.’ You may be quite comfortable pleasuring yourself and have no need for the messiness of a companion.”
“Excuse me? Perhaps I should go.”
“I’m sorry. You clearly have a lot of insight into this subject. Perhaps indeed I am one of those people who need not “stir the waters” in order to be content. But you need not hurry off. I know that Beatrice has good intentions. She is a randy soul and perhaps misses having a sister who can share her little stories. It is just that I never have found much of a place for it. If I want romance I read my books and they lift me up without a lot of fuss. So, no, I don’t practice autoeroticism and have always found the practice a waste of time that could be spent on expanding the mind.”
“The most erotic organ.”
“So they say, whoever they are.”
“Well…Gertrude, I would not presume on you.”
“Oh I’m flattered to be ‘on a date with an attractive young…ish man, but…”
“You don’t think I should try to jump your bones.”
“Now there is a colorful phrase. I wonder at its etymology. But thank you. However, why don’t I learn what I can in my own way?”
“Excellent idea. Why don’t you make yourself up a reading list, not too dry. That would not be the point, but including some works like the fascinating history of the electronic vibrator, Delta of Venus, Henry and June, Lady Chatterley, more explicit than bodice rippers. The objective is two: Discover if you truly have any curiosity about the subject and if so, what about it fascinates you. Also, be kind to your body. Schedule a massage or a pedicure. Be a little self indulgent, and if you are tempted to explore your own sensations, see if you can do it at your leisure and without guilt. Does that work?”
“Dr. Darden, Casey, it seems you have a plan that I can be comfortable with. But is that your full contribution?”
“Well Gertrude, it could be. I’ll leave that up to you, though I’ll tell you what…do you have an email address?”
“At work. I really don’t want one of those things at home. I like my home organic: plants, cat, books.”
“Good. Well here is my card. If you have any questions from your reading or just want to discuss something, send me an email. I won’t bother you otherwise.”
Gertrude Morgenstern felt just a bit wistful. Here was an opportunity to spend some time with an attractive professional man with excellent manners and she had sent him packing. Still, she had her life. Men had a way of being very demanding and expecting you to scuttle after them. Certainly her father had been that way. He treated her like a scullery maid and then after his stroke like his personal nurse. Bea had rebelled and had gotten away from it. Hmm, old baggage. Well, perhaps it was better to bring up and throw it out, better than being old baggage.
Gertrude’s mood lifted. She had a nice spicy reading list to compile beginning with the suggestions from the young doctor.
Rachel Maines published The Technology of Orgasm
Rachel Maines The Technology of Orgasm, Betty Dodson’s Pleasure for One, and Solitary Sex : A Cultural History of Masturbation by Thomas W. Laqueur.
Gertrude was curious that he had focused his reading list on autoeroticism. Surely he wished her to discover the pleasures of coital sex. Wouldn’t that be the logical objective? And why prescribe such dry tomes when there were more imaginative writings? Perhaps, yes, that must be it, perhaps, he saw her as a dried up old thing incapable of real passion. Perhaps he conceded the battle before it began.
She was disappointed, but dutiful. If he would have her read these things then she would follow his instructions to the letter. She chose to borrow the books rather than to buy them, using the little nom de guerre she had concocted for reviewing titles that the library did not currently possess, Madge Handy.
A week went by, two, three. Dr. Darden did not communicate. She had expanded her list to include a good reread of Lady Chatterly’s Lover and Delta of Venus. The Story of O, and of course, Ovid, De Sade, The Decameron and the Kama Sutra. On a whim she aquired a rather rare copy of a Japanese ‘pillow book.’
All of this was interesting but little of it actually stirred her. Perhaps she was most stimulated by a fine Japanese painting called “The Fisherman’s Wife,” which depicted a woman, clearly in the throes of ecstasy, enwrapped around the loins by a huge octopus. Clearly güvenilir illegal bahis siteleri a man’s fantasy. Still. She felt a twinge.
The following week the Doctor said nothing, but he sent her a gift package. It contained a small bottle of scented oil, a feather, and a miniature print of the corner of a garden. A cucumber vine wound around a small trellis. No suggestions, not even a greeting. It seemed her sister was wasting money hiring this man.
The feather and the oil, and the picture in its little black stand sat on the mantle above the old fireplace in her bedroom for three days. Then, on Tuesday night, a hot, humid night, she glimpsed herself in the dressing mirror as she emerged from the bath in the nice new cotton kimono she had purchased the previous weekend. She saw her gifts reflected behind her.
She smiled at herself, pleasantly surprised. Her hair she had piled on the top of her head. Of course she was not wearing her glasses. There was a definite flush in her cheeks. The kimono, with its multitude of patterns flowed nicely over her body, clinging a bit where she was still a bit damp. She felt a pleasant twinge in her belly but then was a bit abashed as she realized she was being attracted to herself. A shiver went down her back and she put a hand across her chest as she noticed her nipples tighten under the fabric.
Suddenly she realized that she had been telling herself that she was unattractive for years; telling herself that attraction wasn’t important and that passion was a silly fiction. She had taught herself that she was “above” that. A passage flickered through her mind from something she had read in choosing a book for a newly pregnant woman. The author had mentioned that some women were actually orgasmic during delivery, impossible as that seemed.
Something in Gertrude’s back and hips and belly seemed to ‘let go’ as though she was shedding a very fine invisible garment. Her being for that moment settled into her womb. Her nipples tightened again and she took her breast in her hand, something, to relieve a feeling, almost a pain, a sadness, a weakness. With eyes closed she felt dizzy and reached out to steady herself with a hand on the mantle. Her fingertips brushed the feather. She experienced, almost, a shock. A feather! That’s all.
She lifted it slowly, staring hard at it. It was simply a feather, perhaps nine inches long, soft brown and white stripes, gentle and downy where the quill began. She drew it across her cheek. Sniffed it. A very mild musk, a way to know it had once been on the body of something wild. She touched it to her lip and there was another small electric charge.
A feather, simply a feather.
The image of Leda, that ancient Greek princess, first meeting with the god Zeus, hidden in the form of a great swan.
Gertrude kept her eyes closed, fingertips of one hand on the mantle. The other drew the feather across her collarbone, up and down the side of her neck, then slowly drew it, descending on the fine damp down between her breasts.
That swan brushing Leda’s breast with the tip of a great white wing. The flexible neck curving around her throat.
Her nipples began to ache, they were puckered so tight. She yearned for a touch; a pinch, a soft, hot mouth, pressure.
The smooth beak with its fine, pointed tongue pressing into the hair behind Leda’s ear. The sight of the great winged beast lifting high against the sun.
She pulled the edge of the feather across one tight button. A feather. Simply a feather. The feeling forced a small moan from her mouth, tightened her thighs.
She opened her eyes and saw a face, close, in the mirror, mouth near enough to steam the glass. The eyes, without glasses were large, liquid, green and hungry. The mouth was strange, slightly open, the lips thick, the upper lip moist, nostrils wide. Who was this?
Her arm was out of focus, taking its own path, pulling the feather down the soft groove that crossed her navel, danced around her navel making her buttocks tighten, continued…
The soft downy chest pressing hard between her breasts. The urgent heartbeat.
Suddenly she had to look, eager to see what would happen. She saw her knees turn out, feet take a firm stance. Her ass clenched and pushed the mound, lightly covered with soft curls, forward and up. In the full length mirror a bit of swollen pink-purple flesh peeked from below the furred triangle. In the soft light coming from the bath a small gleam glanced off a droplet just clinging to that bit of plump flesh.
“Thank you.” Gertrude murmured, almost feeling the presence of the patient Doctor Darden, watching, knowing what she would do.
She lifted the feather and dipped the very tip in the precious bit of liquid, then pulled it upward slowly, oh so slowly until it brushed the little pearl that just peeked out from beneath its tender hood. Something hot exploded. Another silver bead appeared on the lip of the tissues, now raspberry pink.
The huge wings lifting, güvenilir bahis şirketleri blotting out the sun.
She gathered this droplet and again felt that warm rush. A third bead appeared and a gentle itch rose somewhere back and beneath. There were no lessons for this. Gertrude desperately needed instruction, but there was none. A voice in her head whispered, “Just let the feather dance.”
Suddenly the divine appendage plunging into her soft excited pink petals again and again, awakening a mad flutter deep in her belly.
And so she watched, from a very long distance as the feather made her hand and arm weave in front of her belly and the fine spines of the feather gradually grew dark with thick moisture as the quill painted all the surfaces of her swollen petals,
Lost in a mad flapping of feathers. The god’s electric sperm surging through every in of her body.
A cry rushed from her mouth as she crushed the feather to her, pulling her fingers hard up and into the now drenched tissues that itched and ached and sent waves of contractions back into her womb.
She could not stand. Shuddering, she sank to the floor and fell into a warm trance, with no desire to move an inch.
Quite some time later she woke, finding herself slumped against the mirror and hungry for bed. Without tidying up, clad only in her loose kimono, she pulled the covers up and slept as though dead.
The next day, staff and patrons kept asking if she had had a new haircut or bought some new dress. She hadn’t changed a thing. She was embarrassed to find Mr. Dunkirk following her with his eyes around the room. At one point she boldly went over to him and asked if he needed anything.
“Nothing.” He had replied. “I am just … appreciative of how … refreshed you appear this morning. It lifts my spirits.”
“Refreshed.” A curious compliment. But then, she did feel rested. She was also intrigued. A small package had been delivered to her office. It seemed to be a book. At first she had ignored it because friends and publishers often sent new titles they thought she might acquire for the library. But at lunch she noticed the modest label that read “Casey Darden, M.D.” Her belly jumped at the sight of the name. While she was eager to see what her ‘mentor’ had sent, she made herself wait until after closing.
She said goodnight to all the staff and retired to her office. Carefully, she peeled off the brown paper and the tissue paper. It was a very small book, graced with an illustration of a blue bowl on a yellow tablecloth filled with a white cream. The title read, “Friendly Fruits and Vegetables. She peeked inside and felt a mild wave of disappointment. It appeared to be one of those old hippie recipe books. There were recipes for Indian cucumber raita with yoghurt, cucumber salad, even cucumber soup. Each little article waxed eloquent about the salubrious properties of the vegetable.
She was eager to get home and do a bit of reading before supper, but maybe not this. But as she was putting the book into her bag a small card slipped out from between the pages. Pleased, she hoped it was a personal note from the nice Dr. Darden. However, it was simply a notation, “page 23.” She stuffed it back into the book and headed home. She was tired of his coy help. She would call Beatrice when she got home and tell her to call off her dog.
Warm Cucumber Salad
That was the recipe on page 23. An original concept, innocent enough, although Gertrude preferred her cucumbers well chilled, notching the skins with an apple parer and then slicing the rounds as thin as she could get them. She loved their transparency, the star pattern in the center of the vegetable.
“Select one or two vegetables. You will know instinctively which to choose. Wrap your fingers around the circumference. Ideally, they will not quite meet. However, you may prefer the long slim Asian variety that comes shrink wrapped.
“To make the salad, place all your ingredients in the refrigerator for at least an hour. We recommend fresh mesclun, especially that which includes pungent arugula, large beefsteak tomatoes, small hard radishes, shredded carrot. At the last minute you may want to cube some fresh toast bathed in olive oil. On the other hand, you may barely have the energy to toss the salad.
“Before you wish to dine, mix the salad ingredients in a large bowl, all except the cucumber.
“Take your cucumber(s) and peel about halfway down the vegetable leaving about three or four inches of the green skin on one end. Some like to leave ridges of skin creatively on the peeled end. We prefer a smooth surface.
“Place the cucumbers on a clean plate with a small carafe of extra virgin olive oil.
“Find a spot in front of a sunny window. Put a comfortable mat or set of large cushions there and place the plate next to it on the side where your dominant hand will be when you lie down.
“Make yourself comfortable on the mat. We prefer to do this part of the recipe in a large, loose terrycloth robe.
“When you feel relaxed, open the robe. Carefully take the cruet and pour about a tablespoon of oil into the palm of your hand. Some cooks like to massage the palms at this point. Others apply the palm directly to an appropriate part of the body. Still others pour directly from the cruet onto the body.
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