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This story is partially autobiographical: it draws on my memories for its time and setting, and the first section actually happened to me, more or less. The rest, however, is pure fiction.

To younger readers who note my aside about education having been affordable and compare it to their own lot: I am truly sorry. My generation failed you by allowing the greedy to take control.

You may also note that the story takes place in a time when people wrote letters to each other. On paper. Seems so long ago now, but then again it seems like just yesterday too.

All characters are over the age of 18.

Meeting her would change my life, but that first night was a slice of crazy.

I was in my usual bar late that night after work, sitting in my usual booth, well into my second beer, when she came up and asked me to dance. There was an aged jukebox on the opposite wall from the pool table and about a ten-by-ten foot hardwood dance floor beside it, empty. It was dark where I was sitting, and all I saw of her at first was a pretty face. I let her pull me out on that tiny floor while the box played “Radar Love”.

The light was better there. It showed me a dark-haired beauty with eyes to match, dressed in jeans and a tight black top, both of which she filled out with delectable curves. Her face needed no makeup. Her lips were full, beckoning. She moved sensually to the music, swaying her hips like the vixen she was.

And she was obviously very loaded. Her movements were exaggerated and she had to overcompensate to keep her balance.

I tried to ignore that and danced with her. She did have a lovely smile, and seemed to be enjoying herself. Inspired by the vision of her before me, I moved with her in a way that said “I’ll follow you wherever you go.” I got up close to her and looked into her eyes. She looked back into mine, her dark lashes fluttering.

“Radar Love” ended and the mechanical action was slowly replacing the 45 RPM platter in its slot and getting the next one. In the interim she grabbed me around the waist, put her lips to my ear and said, “Thank you. Please, one more?” I got the feeling that she was holding on to me for support as much as anything else, so I just nodded.

When the next record dropped, it was Al Green, “Let’s Stay Together”, already a classic soul track and probably the premier slow dance song of the last couple of years. Her arms went around my neck on the first note. Her chin tucked over my shoulder like it was made to fit there. I put my hands on her lower back and pulled her close, and we started to move to the song’s beat. She was wearing a light fragrance that I could not place, but it was sweet and herbal, and thankfully somewhat displaced the ambient odors of cigarette smoke and stale beer.

About halfway through, she slumped down, half using me to support her in her drunken state, but her breasts pressed against my chest and the crotch of her jeans grinding into mine at odd times made me not mind much.

When the song ended I let go of her waist. She moved back a step, but her arms clung to my shoulders.

“Can I sit with you?” she said.

“Sure.” I had no idea what I was getting into, but I wasn’t saying no.

I took her arm and started back to my booth with her. After a few steps I put my arm around her shoulders to steady her.

“My name’s Ida, what’s yours?”

“Joseph. My friends call me Joey.”

“Can I call you Joey?”

She was slurring her words, which kind of ruined the line. We had just reached the booth and were sitting down.

“Of course you can, Ida. Can I get you a drink?”

Now, that was irresponsible of me, I know. She’d had enough. But it was kind of what you said, and it just came out.

“No, I’ve probably had enough. I need to get home. I had a bad day.”

“May I ask what happened?”

“Oh, only found out the guy I was seeing was cheating on me all along.”

“I’m so sorry, Ida,” I said. “That sucks.”

The morose part of her drunk must have been kicking in; her voice was getting more quavery by the second.

“We were serious! At least I was. Then I find that all the time we were goin’ out, planning to move in together, everything, all the time he was fucking her!”

I don’t mean to sound callous here. She had good reason to be so upset. It’s just curious how some people can get really soused and cover up their troubles, even laugh through them, but then it turns on a dime.

“Why, oh why did I waste a year of my life on that little shit?”

She was dangerously close to breaking down and sobbing, right there next to me. Oh well, I hadn’t signed up for this, but my heart did go out to her, and I set about trying to comfort her.

“Ida, listen. He’s not worth it. You know what? You’re beautiful. You can do better. You can do so much better than him. Any guy who would go behind your back like that is a goddamn fool. Not worth one single tear. C’mon, it’s going to be better tomorrow. You can make a fresh start.”

I’d gotten my practice at that kind of soothing talk last semester, in the Şirinevler escort dorm at the state university, on the phone talking down distraught former girlfriends of my asshole roommate. That seemed to have been my role in life there. I was home now, taking a semester off to make money.

I went on in this manner for a while, and it seemed to be working. Ida was calming down. Sigh of relief time. Now think about how to get her home safely.

Then, out of the blue, she asked, “Joey, did you mean what you said about me?”

“What was it that I said, Ida?”

“That I was beautiful.”

Uh oh. “Of course I did. I don’t say things like that without meaning them.”

Then she started kissing me.

The thing was, she was a wonderful kisser, even as smashed as she was. All the soft lips and sweetness you could want, but also desire and passion and tongue. She got her arms around my neck while she went at me. I found myself kissing her back. I could hardly help it. I even initiated the next round after she had paused for a breather, and she responded like it was the thing she desired most in the world. This was feeling fantastic. My pants were becoming very tight.

But it was time to be responsible. I pulled back, slowly.

“You’re very sweet, Ida. Do you have a ride home?”

She looked around.

“I think everyone here who I know has left,” she said.

“May I give you a ride home? I can’t leave you here. You shouldn’t be driving.”

“I know. All right. Thank you Joey.”

Honestly, I intended just to get her safely home and leave it at that. I wasn’t about to take advantage of someone in her condition.

But I didn’t have control over what happened when we both got into the front seat of my car. Suddenly she was pulling me down on top of her, pulling her top out of her jeans and up over her bra, pulling the bra up over one large, pillowy breast, and pulling my head down to rub my mouth against the hard, brown nipple.

This was completely out of my experience. It wasn’t quite right to be doing this, but it was her breast and it was wonderful. I took her nipple between my lips and sucked on it. Her skin smelled of talcum powder and honey. It was intoxicating. I licked a circle around her nipple, along the brown oval surrounding it. She was shuddering and moaning my name. I closed my lips around it again for one more taste of her.

Then I pulled away, reluctantly.

“Ida, honey, you’re beautiful, but we can’t do this here. Let me take you home, please.”

“All right,” she said, and started to put herself back together.

I started up and got the car out to the street.

“Which way, Ida?”

“That way,” she said, pointing. I hoped she was right.

We went about half a mile, then suddenly she called, “Stop! This is it.”

I slowed down, but said “Where? I don’t see anything.” We weren’t near anything that looked like a dwelling.

“Right here,” she insisted, pointing at…something? The sidewalk?

I pulled over and stopped the car. She quickly got out and started walking down the sidewalk, a bit unsteadily, without another word.

I called to her. She didn’t answer.

I guessed she’d changed her mind and didn’t trust me to take her home now. Damned alcohol. I almost considered quitting the stuff myself, seeing what it did to her. Almost.

I turned the car around, toward my parents’ house, where I was crashing on the sofa for the summer and fall. They had gotten rid of my bed once I had left for State.

I wasn’t going to take out any loans to pay for school. This was a time when it was possible to finance a degree and support yourself, all by working. I’d gotten behind, though, and needed to pump up my bank account.

I’d gotten a job in a factory in my home town. In the interview, they gave me tests for hand-eye coordination, speed and accuracy in manipulating objects. I guess I passed. I was on second shift, three to eleven, polishing garden tools, which were the product, on a large belt sander. That was the job. It was choking hot inside. Without the shop fans blowing on us we’d be passing out from heat exhaustion. The noise of twenty machines and the clanging from the forge were a constant cacophony.

When I woke up the next morning there was a twinge in my neck from sleeping on the sofa. Even with a pillow the hard armrest would dig into me there. That would work itself out in an hour or so. There was also a gray miasma that had settled over my head. It made me wonder about bothering to get up at all. I’d only had two beers last night; it couldn’t be that. Still, this had been happening more and more these days.

Oh, there was this girl, wasn’t there? What was her name…Ida, that was it. She was seriously hot. But then she’d gotten sloppy, been all over me, then had run away when I tried to take her home to dry out. What fun. I remembered her kisses, though, and her stunning boobs when she practically forced her nipple into my mouth. Wouldn’t it be great to meet a girl like that who was sober? It could happen. Şirinevler escort bayan Maybe it was worth getting up after all.

I pulled myself to my feet, stretched, and headed to the bathroom to shower, since I hadn’t last night. That washed off some of the fog. I got dressed, said a passing hello to Mom, escaped the house and got in my car.

I tooled around town in my ’68 Rambler, looking at previous haunts from years past. There was the community college, a big Victorian era building just a few blocks off of downtown. There was little activity there during the summer session, and everything was in the process of being moved to a new modern facility at the edge of town, on a main highway.

I passed the grocery store where I’d worked part time while going to LCC. It looked dead; there were only a few cars in the parking lot. Competition had moved in a few blocks away: a flashier store with better selections. I remembered washing pots and pans back in the bakery while dreaming of doing things in life. Great things, important things.

There was the building that contained the cramped offices and studios of the local AM radio station. I had a gig there my last year of high school and the year after: a weekly three-hour show where I used my knowledge of music—gained during countless late nights tuning in the distant stations that played jazz, soul, and the avant-garde rock of the time—to spin an eclectic mix of genres for a few dozen fans in this small town grown large. Now, a year later, the playlist was solid AOR.

I got a burger and fries at a familiar diner on Main Street, then walked over to the second-run theater to catch a matinee of Blazing Saddles. A big dose of laughter to prepare me for another mind-numbing shift in the heat and noise of Gruening Tools.

When I got off at eleven I went over to the bar. It was one frequented mostly by working men and women. I had started going there with some of the guys on my shift. College kids like me would normally not do well there, but I had earned some respect by holding my own at the plant. After awhile I could go by myself and people would know I was okay and not bother me. Sometimes one of the guys would wander by and say hello. Mostly, though, I would just have a couple of drinks and watch the scene, unwinding before going home to sleep.

She was there again. Ida. I was sitting in my same booth from last night when she saw me and came over. Tonight she had on a David Bowie t-shirt.

“Joey,” she said, “I’m so sorry about last night, I was really drunk. I must have messed your mind up pretty good, huh?”

Oh, not at all, babe. Hardly a night goes by when some girl doesn’t get snockered and throw herself at me—first getting all weepy, then sucking my face and mashing it into her tit in a drunken fugue—and finally jump out of my car in the middle of the street.

I steeled myself to try to be nice about it anyway.

“Well,” I allowed, “part of it was fun. I’m glad you got home okay. Were you at least close when you got out of the car?”

“It was just a couple of blocks. I don’t really know what I was thinking.”

“You do know I was just going to drop you off, right? You were trying to convince me otherwise, but that would have been wrong. Because you were drunk.”

“I know,” she said. “That’s why I owe you an apology.”

“Sit down, Ida, please. Can I buy you a drink tonight? Just one.”

“Make it a Coke,” she said. “I need to dry out some more.”

“Sheila?” I called to my server. By luck she was just passing by. A pleasant woman, probably in her thirties, always with a good word for everyone.

“What can I get you, Joey?”

“Could you bring a Coke for my friend, and, uh, I’ll have another one of these.”

“Sure, honey,” she said with a smile before moving on. Good old Sheila. Sometimes her smile made it worth coming here all by itself.

“It must have been tough for you,” I said to Ida. “You said last night that the two of you were serious?”

“Yeah,” she answered. “We’d been going together for almost a year. Then…well, you know.”

“So, is he gone now?” I asked. “Properly kicked to the curb and forgotten?”

“Yeah,” she said. “Except his ghost is still in my head. I guess last night was me trying to fumigate him out. Didn’t work.”

“Well, it takes time for that. Or so I’ve heard.” I said that last part without thinking.

“What, you’re telling me you’ve never had a breakup?” Damn, she was sharp. I was going to be found out now.

“Uh, nope, no breakup.”

“Still with your first girlfriend, then? Married?”

“Not guilty on both counts.” I was only being clever because this hurt.

“Joey, I’m sorry again. I’m prying. That isn’t nice of me.”

“No, it’s okay,” I lied. “I’m not ashamed or anything.”

“May I ask, how old are you?”


“I’m twenty-three, just so we’re even. You do like girls, don’t you?”

“I like them very much. I’m not sure they like me all that much. Or maybe I’m just unlucky.”

And Sheila was escort şirinevler there with our drinks, which stopped our conversation for a minute.

Ida took a sip of her Coke and broke the silence. “Joey, I was a terrible tease with you last night. I wasn’t completely in control of myself, but still, that was bad of me. Would you let me make it up to you? Would you take me home tonight for real?”

There it is, my first proposition, I thought. Guess I should make a note of it in my journal. No, not bitter much.

“Look,” I said. “If this is out of pity, I don’t want that.”

“Oh, I’ve offended you now. I’m awful at these things sometimes. No, I wasn’t offering you a pity fuck. I can see how it must have sounded like it.”

“What would you call it, then? I would think you’d be sworn off guys altogether right now.”

“I guess I’m not really like that, Joey, I mean, I’m passionate, but I think I have a clear head about things, too. Like, I’m not going to hate all men just because one did me wrong. Now, it would be insulting to you for me to invite you just to get back at him, or for pity. I understand that. But what if I just like you and want to be with someone nice after all that? And I did make things difficult for you last night.”

I took a big slug of my beer. She was not making things easier for me with this line.

“I’m sorry,” I said, “but I have a hard time believing that. No woman has ever told me she’d like to go to bed with me just because she liked me.”

“That’s another way I’m different, Joey. I don’t play games.”

“What if that’s just another game?”

“What do you mean?”

“What if you’re playing ‘oh, I’m fine, I got hurt but I’m clear-headed, I can just get somebody else for the meantime’, but underneath you still have the baggage?”

“All right,” she said, “I guess that’s fair. I could tell you anything, but why should you believe me? You’ve only seen me for like an hour last night, and then tonight. And I wasn’t at my best last night, I admit.”

“I was kind of holding you up on the dance floor for a while there.”

We both laughed at that.

“I know, I know. I was terrible. I could tell you I rarely drink at all, and never that much, but you’d have to believe that too.”

“That’s not so hard to believe,” I said. “You did have a really bad day.”

“Yeah…Hey, here’s something I bet you will let me make up to you. I’ve got a quarter. I can play that song again. Would you dance with me again, Joey? I promise not to fall down or anything.”

Something inside me opened, just a little. “Okay. I mean, yes, I’d be delighted.”

She got up and reached for my hand. I gave it to her and stood. We walked over to the jukebox, hand in hand. She fished a quarter out of her pocket. Feeding it into the machine, she punched the buttons for “Let’s Stay Together”.

She melted into my arms as the song started. We swayed together, her head resting on my shoulder, her breasts once again pressed against me. Desire for her coursed through me like a fever, a sensitivity to touch that demanded to have her body against me. It settled into my groin and became a pressure, a hardness. I wanted her. I couldn’t deny it. I pulled her more firmly into me as Al’s sinuous, seductive vocal filled our ears, floating over that sweet groove that kept us moving together.

When the music ended she pulled back slightly to look me in the eyes, then kissed me, sweetly, softly. I held her a beat longer.

She gazed at me again. “Thanks for the dance,” she said, with a sly smile.

Back in the booth, seated opposite each other, we sat in silence, sipping our drinks. It was strange: I had always thought that when it came time to happen, I would be ready and eager. Instead I was filled with questions and doubt. I wondered if I even deserved someone like her.

“Ida,” I said finally, “I…I just don’t know if I’m ready.”

“That’s all right, Joey. I’m not in a big hurry. We can just talk for a while. I had a first time too, you know. It’s not always as easy as you might think.”

“What was it like for you? May I ask?”

That impish smile returned to her face. “I’ll tell you later, if you’d like. But not here.”

“All right.”

“You went to high school here, right?” she went on, changing the subject

“Yes,” I replied.

“You must have started right after I graduated, then.”

“That’s right.”

“How was it for you?” she asked.

“I hated it. My parents had just moved here. My father had just gotten out of the army. I was put down here right in the middle of school, everything. I didn’t fit in. I didn’t belong with any of the cliques, and when I looked around, I couldn’t see one that I wanted to be in much anyway.”

“So you were like a lone wolf, then,” she surmised.

“Maybe something like that. Oh, I hung around with a few people, but nothing much ever happened with them. I just decided to get through it with the least trouble I could. I was going to go to college and I figured that could be my liberation.”

“And was it?”

“Maybe some. I did feel like I could breathe easier. I went to LCC for a year because I got a scholarship there. Then I went to State for a year. Came back here this summer to make some money to go back with. I’m going to stay through the holidays and go back in January. I’m working at the Gruening plant now.”

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