We stood on 3rd Avenue, the snow sheeting down, and I wondered how anybody could think about getting naked in this weather. Sandi and I stood on the movie line, like other couples swathed in layer after layer of clothing that almost kept the biting wind from raising goosebumps on us. Gloves, scarves, boots, hats, zipped-up coats and parkas, sweaters, and thick plaid shirts erased any evidence of sexual differentiation. We stamped our feet, stuck our hands deeper into our pockets and prayed the line would start moving faster than the frostbite that, I was sure, was rendering my fingers useless even before I got them into her panties.
Clouds of steaming breath rose into the Saturday darkness. "I hope the Chinese food's keeping you warm," I said over the top of my scarf, my breath leaving a damp spot on the edge (I wondered what other damp spots were nearby. Jiminy Christmas I was hornier than usual. Had Sandy slipped something into my General Tsao's Chicken when I was in the men's room? Maybe it was her perfume).
"Oh, that wore off a long time ago. I'm relying on internal combustion at this point," she said, only her eyes visible beneath the mummy-like wrapping.
We'd had two dates so far. We started gingerly, with a get-acquainted lunch after I answered her ad in New York magazine and she called me back. We met at a TGI Friday's in the lobby of the Empire State Building. We shared the usual first-lunch chit-chat: Her insurance job, my journalism job, my aren't the rents outrageous, she was nervous about her parents moving to Boca Raton, what'd you major in, where do you go for Passover, isn't it marvelous we both like off-off-Broadway theater? And we both liked Saturday Night Live. A lot.
"The highlight of my social life in college was Saturday Night Live," I said. "I had a little nine-inch Panasonic portable TV my mom gave me. My friends and I would sit around and watch it. This is back in the John Belushi days."
"I love that show!" she said. "Gilda Radner was my favorite. It's too bad so many of the funny people left."
"Yeah. You want to know how hard up we were for a sex life at Princeton?" I asked.
"You developed Jane Curtin fantasies?"
"No! We'd count the tampon ads. That constituted our sex lives. Pretty sick, huh?"
"Were you wild and crazy guys?"
"Frustrated and horny. We just wanted to have girlfriends."
"I would have been your girlfriend, Danny," she said. Was this a tease? I couldn't tell. "I bet we would have had fun."
I edged back in my chair. Talking about girlfriends already? I wanted to edge sex into the conversation, but something a little more serious came up. On a first lunch date!
The next Saturday, we had an early dinner then a movie, coffee and hot apple pie, then a walk to her E. 53rd Street apartment building for more coffee. I quietly scanned her studio lingering debris of a boyfriend, but saw no aftershave bottles or copies of Sports Illustrated in the magazine basket by the pull-down bed. A "Cosmopoliteddy" poster - a teddy bear on a mock Cosmo cover -- lent a daffy touch. At midnight we stood in the front door, half in, half out. We embraced, her in a sweater, me in my leather jacket still unzipped before I headed down to the cold, cold subways for the downtown train to Brooklyn. As we pulled apart she noticed a tentpole in my blue jeans.
"You did have a good time, didn't you?" Sandy said, her voice a blend of a purr and petulance.
"Can't you tell?" I grinned, pulling her closer again.
"You'll give me good dreams."
"Wet dreams, I hope."
"Naughty boy. Don't let any Brooklyn girls grab you."
"All for you my sweet."
I swooned as the train clanked downtown. Frigid New Yorkers flipped through the early edition of the "Times" and avoided eye contact. A stinky bum snored and sputtered in the corner. I didn't notice -- I was looking backward to Sandi's apartment. I could feel the curve of her body against my sweater, her perfume, holding her a foot away and looking into those hazel eyes ringed in delicate mascara. I hadn't had sex - with a woman, anyway - in over six months. I longed for the warmth, the smells, the shock of a new body before the damned complications and emotions cluttered the pure physical sensation. I liked Sandi, with her Cosmo Girl lifestyle and the Long Island honk of a voice, combined with a driving career sense. Maybe, I thought, I could manage the relationship, keep it simmering on "like a lot" without slipping a notch into "love and live together." Not yet, anyway.
At work on Monday my email binged with a message from Sandi. "Hi Danny," said the subject line. I clicked on it. She wrote, "Hi guy I really liked our date on Saturday. It was so cold but that's OK. We're tough New Yorkers, right? Oh, I forgot you're from Texas, we have to toughen you up to the winters. My parents came in for brunch yesterday and I told them we had fun (I was drinking a Mimosa and that was fun, too). Got to get back to underwriting. Kisses until NEXT SATURDAY, Sandi."
Busy workweeks kept us apart. She had client presentations, while I was busy closing the February issue of Frozen Food Focus, the trade magazine I edited. But we exchanged light, teasing emails. "I won't keep you out late, S," I wrote. "You'll be in bed by 10."
She wrote back, "Maybe EARLIER!!" That was Sandi.
Saturday came, and the express subway seemed to crawl up to Grand Central Terminal, where I hopped off and walked to her apartment and gave her a bunch of roses. "What a sweetie!" she exclaimed. I felt sheepish, but warm. And hot, wanting the evening to race by so we could get back to her apartment and . . . what? I'd had women talk a lot and then act offended when sex seemed like the next logical step in the relationship. That always threw me off balance, so I never assumed anything would happen until it happened - part of my grand theory of relationship management. Don't get in too deep or force sex with love. It's not like Sandi said, "Danny, I want to fuck your brains out, OK?" Not yet anyway. Signals flashed green, but I knew to never step on the gas until the road was clear.
We had dinner - Greek this time. I had to marvel when she squealed, "I love Greek!" (sending a message? Moussaka and then some?). She was beginning to remind me of Playboy's Little Annie Fannie, wide-eyed innocence attached to boobs and a nice ass.
"They called a moving company today," she said.
"Who did?" I asked, my attention idling on the cleavage I envisioned beneath the Alcott & Andrews blouse.
"My parents. They're closing on the townhouse next week and want to get the furniture down in six weeks. I am shocked."
"So instead of calling them in Merrick you'll call them in Boca. And you'll get warm weather vacations."
She put her fork down. "That's a very flippant attitude," she said with a hard edge in her voice that I recognized, from the past, as the sound of knees snapping shut.
"Just because your mom's dead and you don't talk to your dad doesn't mean other people don't think about their parents."
I put my fork down. How did parents replace sex? Had I wandered off the path to pleasure into a psychological cul de sac?
"That wasn't what I meant at all," I said, angry myself. "I can understand you're attached to your parents and hate to see them go. Just give yourself time to adjust. See a therapist if that would help. I did when my mom died two years ago." That was a nice recovery: revealing, truthful, but sort of a generic New York thing to do and say. "And, Sandi, what makes you think I don't think about my mother? I think about her every day. I can't believe you said that." I felt warm, but an angry, flushed warm.
Her eyes watered and she looked 15 years old then, not 25. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you. Did I? I'm just a little on edge about them leaving. We've always been close. Forgive me?"
"There's nothing to forgive," I said. The flame I felt for her flickered. I just stared at her. Who was Sandi, anyway? What was I doing with her? We sat in silence for a minute, surprised by the surge of emotion on family issues. I couldn't let the giddy happiness and anticipation slip away.
"Deep breath time, OK?" I said. We both took exaggerated deep breaths and exhaled. At the same instance we reached across the table and intertwined our fingers. The turbulence passed.
Sandi broke the silence. Tell me about that magazine you write for. French Fry Monthly? That sounds like a cool East Village arts magazine."
"I work for Frozen Food Focus. No arts coverage, just articles about frozen foods. It's not what I had in mind in college, but it's a foot in the door as a writer. Lots of fun at the food shows. I walk around with a toothpick and eat anything I want."
"Don't let me forget to give you a toothpick when we leave here," she said. "You might be hungry when we get back to my place."
We liked the movie, longing for African warmth instead of New York's blizzard. The romantic tone seeped into us, as we sat against the wall of a not-very-crowded theater. I felt her fingers trace along my palm, sending jolts straight to my crotch. I returned the favor and then some, stroking my fingernails up her wrist, slightly under her blouse. "Mmmmm," I heard her say ever so softly. I turned my head to look at her, as she looked at me from under her halo of brown hair. "I like the sound of that," I whispered.
Looking straight ahead she put my hand under the sweater in her lap, on her blue jeans. The heat rising from her crotch seemed to scald my hand. My glasses fogged. To hell with Meryl Streep and Africa, I thought, and whispered, "I like the feel of that."
"Just you wait."
Cocooned by the layers of clothing, we had total privacy. Even if we made a little noise, so what? My fingers drummed lightly on her jeans and I heard her shallow breathing, little gulps of air as she shift in her seat.
Now what? Unzip her jeans and keep going? Put her hand on my crotch? Sorry, I'd be a sticky mess in 20 seconds the way things were going, and I loved the mounting, pleasant edge of tension.
I removed my hand from her lap and slid my right arm around her shoulders, tugging her toward me. She folded against me like a Chinese fan. My hand lingered on the roundness of her shoulder through her silky peach blouse. Her rhythmic breathing pushed her breasts, in a lacy front-clasp bra, up and down. My fingers trailed down her collarbone. "Undo the top button," I whispered. She did. My hand slipped lower, looping around her bra strap, giving the bra cup a friendly little tug upward.
Again she shifted, this time shrugging a little so my hand dropped lower still and easily covered her breast through the bra. The signals flashed a stronger green. "Danny, you're not in Texas anymore," I thought.
"Play with my boob, please," she whispered. Who was I to deny a lady's request? I leaned slightly so my left hand slipped lower and cupped her breast through the lacy bra. I rolled it around gently, then traced ever smaller circles until my fingers settled around the protruding nipple. I squeezed it softly between my index and middle fingers.
"Nice, nice," she murmured. The movie unspooled and I kept kneading her, almost absent-mindedly so we looked like just another huddled couple. Her left hand stroked back and forth on my thigh. I could barely keep my composure. I tightened my finger slightly and pressed her breast firmly with my palm. She gulped.
Suddenly I felt her red-tipped fingernails dig into my jeans. Her body tightened against me and her nipple swelled. She sucked in her breath, pursed her lips, then trembled against me.
"I just came," she said. "Thank you, Mr. Magic Fingers."
She put her head on my shoulder, sighed, and the rest of the movie passed in a daze. When it ended we stood up, swaddled, and passed from the theater's warmth to a frigid riot of wind-driven. "Coffee?" I asked, a little half-heartedly.
"At home," she said, pulling me down Third Avenue toward her apartment on E. 53rd Street.
"God damn it," she muttered when she dropped her keys into the slush at the front entrance to the six-story building. She yanked off a mitten to get the key maneuvered into the lock. "Finally," she said as we passed through that door, then another, then into an elevator for the trip to the fourth floor. Why are elevators so slow when I want them to go fast?
We tumbled through the door, locked it and collapsed onto her low-slung futon bed in a heap of snowy coats, cast-off gloves, damp mufflers and sweaters. Frantically we threw off the outerwear until we could tell who was the boy and who was the girl. Sandi fell back against a pillow while I settled beside her, kissing each other a million times a minute. Her head I cradled in the crook of my arm while she threw her arms around my neck.
"I think you like me," she panted.
"I think so, too," I said as I unzipped her jeans and eased them down her hips with my free hand. When they reached her knees I swung my hand back up to her pink panties on top of her cunt. The damp heat surged through the cotton, through my fingers, rocketing into a primal part of my brain.
"I've been so turned on since the movie I can't stand it," she said as she yanked at the buttons on my shirt.
"Really? I can't tell. Here, let's check," I replied. I pulled her panties aside to place my hand directly on her mound. She shivered and closed her eyes. "You're giving me goosebumps on my clit." We kissed while I worked my fingers around the sides of her clit, gently moving my fingers up and down, sometimes pressing down more firmly.
I squinted at an alarm clock beside the bed. "We've got 28 minutes until 'Saturday Night Live,' starts, and that's enough time to give you goosebumps all over," I whispered in her ear as I slipped her blouse off her shoulders and ran my fingers under her bra strap.
"Here, let me," she said. Now Sandi's hands took flight toward my unbuckled jeans. She yanked them down along with my underwear, and I kicked them off. One hand enveloped my cock and the other went back around my neck, pulling me down, down, down toward her face. While our tongues banging and probing she unclasped the front of her bra. I wanted to become a Hindu deity, with eight arms, to caress her completely, because I couldn't keep my hands off any part of her.
I gave her nipple a lick. Sandi purred like a jungle cat, so I licked again, moving my tongue in a circle around the areola. The vise-like grip around my erection relaxed, and I sensed she was beginning to focus on her own sensations. I moved my head up to nuzzle her neck, fragrant with sweat and perfume, while I added - just a little - to the pressure of my fingers around her clit.
"Ummm, what you're doing. Do they teach that at Princeton?" She squeezed her eyes shut.
"Nah, natural talent."
"Your smell is driving me crazy, Sandi."
"I've got some talents, too. Ooohh," she moaned. Her part of the knot formed by our bodies began to tense. She bit her lip and slapped a hand down on the bed, as if to brace herself. From a distant corner of our passion I felt a wave rushing toward us, a primal force God granted man and woman to remind us of what we left in Eden. From deep in her body the wave rose to her parting lips.
"Oh, ohh, ummm, oh, God hold me tight!" she screamed, as her body went rigid and then arched, tossed by the wave that swept from her to me and back again.
"There, Sandi, there. I'm here," I whispered as the room whirled around me, as I kept stroking her clit. In seconds another wave rocked her, so she grabbed the bedsheets and dug her red-tipped nails into my forearm. In a few seconds, I thought, I'll pull back and slip into her even while she's coming, and let's see what she thinks about that sensation.
But then she started crying.
The tears and sobs burst from Sandi while her cunt still spasmed under my fingers. Another dam of feeling had burst inside her. At first I thought the pleasure had blown an emotional fuse, but, no, I realized that sorrow had replaced passion. She burrowed like a frightened child against my chest, weeping.
"Sandi, Sandi, what's wrong? Did I hurt you?"
"I've never come . . . so hard before. . . I mean it," she said between sobs. "I can't describe it, I just can't." Two heartbeats of silence, then she wailed, "I'm going to miss my mom and dad so much! I can't believe they're doing this to me. It's not fair, it's just not. I want them to stay. What will I do? I'm scared."
"I'm right here. Sandi. Let me hold you." My erection deflated as she grew quiet. We lay side by side, my arms around her, her head and halo of brown hair against my chest. From the black buzz of animal sensation I emerged. Silence replaced sex in the small city apartment of a woman I had met three times. What we said and did minutes earlier seemed very far away.
She was asleep against me. Cradling her, my senses refocused. I smelled her sexiness, and felt her velvety breasts rise and fall against my chest, like boats against a dock. The hiss of a radiator, a bus grinding down Lexington Avenue in the blizzard, the hum of a refrigerator - they formed a mosaic of ordinary sounds covering the mystery of two bodies merging.
I stroked her hair, damp against her head, and pushed strands behind her ear. Let her sleep I thought, let her. And me? I could only stare at a blank future that, day by day, Sandi and I would color in. To hell with relationship management.
Then I felt her hand flex on my stomach, like a newborn kitten testing its sense of movement. I closed my eyes. She sighed.
"Who's the host tonight?" she asked.
"Will you be my wild and crazy guy?"
"Only if you'll be my wild and crazy girl."
"It's a deal."
Her eyes fluttered open. She kissed me and whispered, "Live from New York, it's Sandi and Danny!"