By Susannah Indigo
Things are not always as they seem: India ink does not come from India; rice paper is not made from rice; the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire. And just because I'm strapped onto this snowboard pretending to look cool and confident at the top of the Mad Hatter Run doesn't mean I know what I'm doing and wouldn't much rather be back in bed with Annie Braverman's strong legs wrapped high around my waist.
"Getting high, Sam," Annie had said to me, "that's what the three day seminar is all about. The art of high sex, skydancing, sensual massages. Learning the yoga of love, as they say."
"Snowboarding," my friend Jack had added. "Sam, you'll have to try it while we're there, it will keep you young." He'd smiled. "Plus, people will get naked on the floor all around you." So I signed up.
But Jack is young and I'm not and I'd just as soon not go down this hill without two planks on my feet and two poles for balance. Six feet three inches is a long way down to the snow. "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you really were?" is one of Annie's favorite questions. At 10,000 feet with teenagers flying past me, I'd say about sixty-two and aging fast. In bed with Annie riding me like a wave, I am seventeen. Ordinary days I show up as forty-three and try to get by.
At least the high-sex class is not here at full altitude where I can barely breathe -- 8,000 feet high at the hotel is bad enough. In the first session last night we breathed together a lot. We "awakened our inner voices," "saluted each others' hearts" and talked on and on about the mysteries of tantric sex. I'm not convinced yet that any of this is better than a great blow job, but I did get to see Jack's girlfriend China topless under all that gorgeous red hair. Not to mention Annie stripping down to one of those black lacy things that can make men stupid.
The snow is falling harder. I keep saying to myself over and over again like a mantra, "I know how to ski, I know how to ski." My inner voice, slightly nervous, replies, "So what? It's not related. You have to go down the hill sideways on this snowboard." Then it offers, "Don't worry, only thirty-two people a year die in skiing accidents compared to ninety-nine by lightning." My inner-voice knows way too much; I'd prefer that it stay asleep.
This is a defining moment here -- in a half hour people will be getting naked all over the soft blue carpeting of the Grand Ballroom at the Top of the Rockies Hotel, and all I have to do to get there is lean into the mountain and carve the way Jack showed me. In my younger days when I was struggling and new to The Program, they taught me to go through life acting "as if." Act as if you have faith and hope, and maybe it will come. I dig as deep as I can and try to find the feeling, as if I am brave, as if I am young, as if this board will not flip me on my ass any minute, and I begin to slide down.
An hour later I make it to the ballroom, but nobody's naked yet.
"Where have you been?" asks Annie.
"Oh, I was just enjoying the view up there too much to come down."
Jack laughs. "As if."
They're all discussing today's question on the chalkboard. "Where does the white go when the snow melts?"
I sigh. When you've been a journalist for twenty years you just know too many things, even things you'd rather not, and there's not a lot of magic left in the world.
Last night's koan was "Does any snowflake ever fall in an inappropriate place?" I hear enough of these things and it starts sounding like Yogi Berra saying things like "If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up somewhere else." Baseball's easily got as much crazy-wisdom as all this Zen stuff.
Nita deLosReyes, one of the seminar leaders, gets up and talks about snow. I'm sure this is related to sex somehow. Hopefully soon. I'd much prefer to think of anything hot rather than the snowbank I was just in.
"Get comfortable while Nita starts us off," Nita's partner Ruby says. These two seem like one of those couples who must have been born together, or met shortly after birth, the kind of couple you try to avoid unless you're madly in love yourself. Annie, whose kids go to school with their kids, is crazy about both of them.
I look around. It seems to me that "comfortable" has a lot of definitions. Some people are wearing sweats, some strip down, some just look nervous. Nita is jazzing about snowflakes and I can't help but notice that the woman wears two gold snowflake earrings pierced in each ear. I wonder what her fetish might be.
"Each of us is going to capture their own unique experience in this session," Nita says. "This afternoon we will work on touching, honoring our inner man and inner woman, and rediscovering our senses one at a time."
Annie sits back between my legs and sighs with pleasure. She has something new on to make me pay attention today, a little white and blue frilly thing that covers as much of her body as a swimsuit does, but I swear it's not the same. My inner-man knows what it wants from her.
I touch Annie's shoulders. They are freckled and strong and sometimes it is enough to just touch them when she's wearing one of her sexy summer dresses. But this class may be tough for me. My grandparents came from Russia, a country that never even had a word for "sex" before they adopted the American word in this century, because they believed in showing, not telling, and in privacy. I've always believed that peoples' sex lives should not be discussed in the office, on the streets, and God knows, not in the newspaper.
Annie moves back against my belly and pulls my arms around her to hold her tight and I change my mind. Stupid and easy, that's me. Just the scent of her hair can make me hard. Why not do this for her? I will act as if it is quite possible that someone can teach me better ways to have sex.
"We're going to pass out some equipment," Nita says up in front. "There are small bags of honey dust with a feather-brush for each couple and one of these black satin blindfolds."
What did my grandparents know? They were pretty old anyway. Maybe they would have been right here beside me on the carpet if they lived in the nineties, brushing and touching and making up new words for sex as they went, perfect words, dozens of words for sex like the Eskimos are supposed to have for snow.
My hands are over the white lace on Annie's breasts and I'd swear she slid them there. I have wanted to own Annie since the day that I met her -- control her, surprise her, delight her, keep her laughing and sexy and hot -- and most days I think I do, but just before dawn sometimes it occurs to me that I know who owns whom. There can be no limits here. This is what I want, this is what I need, this may be what will save me -- to sit in a room skin to skin with beautiful Annie and begin to learn again.
Things are not always as they seem: the white of snow doesn't exist except as a reflection off the crystals; an ordinary scarf takes on great eroticism when you know it's a blindfold; honey dust is made from real honey but feels like silk.
"Partners," Ruby is saying, walking around the room, lighting all the candles. "We have the same choices as last night. Those who are here without a partner may practice these skills by themselves, they may double up with another single, or triple with a couple. Nita and I will work together with one of you also."
I look around the room. I had no problem saluting the heart of the pretty blond woman next to us last night. On the other hand, I may have some guy problems with this touching session. I'm afraid to look at Annie -- she's a little more open and free with her body than I am. I can't imagine coming to something like this alone, but people do. There's quite a mix in the eighty people in this room --there's even an inspiring couple who look to be in their sixties. May I live to blindfold Annie when I'm old and turning gray.
"Hey Flan," Annie says to a guy that she knows from Boulder who is lounging around comfortably with his honey dust not far from us. "Come join us."
Oh man, not Erick Flanagan. He's young.
Flan wanders over to us with a smile and his long hair pulled back in a ponytail band, looking for all the world like he's just strolling around Alfalfa's, the health food store he works in. Except that when he's there, they make him wear more than red flannel boxers.
"Is it ok, Sam?" he asks. Annie's watching me, and though I think I might go alpha-male and smack him if he touches her, I act 'as if' and say "sure."
The lights are lowered, there is candlelight everywhere, the music is on. At least it's not Yanni. Drumming and exotic African dance music fill the room.
We make our "sacred circle." We start the breathing together as instructed.
"Start with one person stretched out on the pillows and then take turns when it feels right," Ruby says. "Orgasms are not important here. We're going for something different. Skydancing is the ancient term for reaching an ecstatic state through many different methods. We're trying just one."
Annie goes first, stretching out like a cat, with me positioned between her legs and Flan positioned by her head. The butterfly position, Ruby calls it. Annie's hands are behind her neck, a blindfold tight around her eyes. I like watching her with some of her senses muffled. It makes me want to do more.
Flan and I begin to brush her as instructed, tiny strokes of honey dust in circles from her head to her toes. I don't look at any part of Flan except his hands, and my brain pretends they're not really attached to a guy. Annie is sighing and writhing beneath our hands. She asks me to take the white lace off her body and I do. Flanagan begins to brush her nipples and somehow it's okay. I start on her belly and there's a rhythm between us that reminds me of when I used to play in my band, the give and take, trading leads, finding the right changes.
I can hear other people sighing and it seems so right. I think I can paint Annie's body forever and then take all night and lick every speck of honey dust off.
Annie turns over on her belly, and I am spreading her legs and circling, just circling the brush around the inside of her thighs, over and over. I don't go near her pussy because we're not supposed to, but it doesn't seem to matter. The smell of the honey is overwhelming. Flan is holding her arms above her head and brushing up and down the inside of her arm and she begins to shudder. Her smile is so strong that she seems incapable of speaking. She is sighing, though, and she looks like she's in another world. I watch her body stiffen and her breath change and if I didn't know better I'd swear that we'd just fucked.
What a great idea this all is.
Annie rests in my arms afterward and says little while Flan and I talk quietly and agree he will go next.
He stretches out on the pillows and I can feel my brain shifting. Bodies seem to be just bodies, touch is just touch, I am wise and I am open to new things. I'm fascinated by every naked person in this room. Maybe it's true that every person is born bisexual and we just rarely get around to discovering it. I know that every man in this room is hard and I seem to find that fascinating too. Sex is the most interesting thing in the world, just like it was when I was thirteen and experimenting with my boyhood friends.
Annie sits between my legs and puts my hand in hers and we begin. I catch sight of Jack and China out of the corner of my eye and I remember that once, after many beers, Jack told me that he sucked a man's cock when he was nineteen and that he liked it. We never talked about it again, but I never thought of him quite the same way. It seemed like he had a leg up on me in things sensual.
Annie takes Flan's boxers off and it's alright. I'm here, in the moment, and it's all there is. Flan's body is shining with honey dust and beautiful, and looking openly at another man's erect cock turns me on. Watching Annie sit between his legs and circle around it, brushing honey dust on his belly, on his thighs and on his balls is like watching her in a dream.
We do this forever, breathing and brushing and circling, and Flan begins to do something I didn't know a man could do. He's shaking and moving and there's an electric energy passing between the three of us and he's sighing as though he just fucked Annie. I watch his cock start to go soft but he hasn't actually come, at least not the way I'm used to. I'll be damned if I don't feel as if it just might be true that there are other kinds of "whole body" orgasms in this world that I know nothing about.
Annie takes Flan's blindfold off and holds him tight for a few minutes and then hugs me.
"Your turn, Sam."
Things are sometimes more than they seem: people look entirely different in winter clothes than they do naked on blue carpeting; William Burroughs might have been right that you can simulate drugged ecstatic states; the tiny white lights around this ice rink reflect off the snow and make me sure that the white actually exists.
I'm not quite clear what all happened this afternoon, but I distinctly remember hands and more hands and the smell of honey and the combination of Annie's soft skin and Flan's callused hands transporting my mind somewhere else. I hadn't been blindfolded since I was a kid playing pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey.
"At the dance tonight by the skating rink," Nita said at the end of the session, "we want you to pay attention to all of your senses. Talk about what happened to you this afternoon and tell people how you feel."
I don't think I want to talk about it with Annie. I want to show her.
Some people are dancing, some skate, all to the same music, which sounds suspiciously like Yanni. It is one of those perfectly clear and still Colorado nights where you barely notice the cold.
Annie looks spectacular and different as always. She wears a long midnight blue velvet skirt that twirls when she dances, a baby blue sweater and her white furry boots. Her long hair is tied back on top little-girl style with a velvet ribbon. Every time I see Annie my first thought is "What is she wearing underneath? Lace? Leather? Nothing?"
I hold her tight while we dance and I whisper. "Reach in my pocket, Annie."
She reaches into my jeans and pulls out two of the black blindfolds from this afternoon and laughs. "What?"
"I didn't turn them back in at the end of the workshop. I think we need more practice."
"We do?" she asks.
"Definitely. My kind of practice. Do you trust me, Annie?" I say, still whispering.
She smiles. "Of course. I think."
"I want to tell you what to do tonight. Working on our senses, of course. This might be sort of a sixth sense I'd like to take away for a while -- your sense of control over me."
She leans into me and I whisper what I want. "Let's go for a ride on the chairlift."
"I can't go on the lift in my skirt, Sam."
"Sure you can. I'll help."
One lift runs for the few night skiers. I grab our jackets and I help Annie onto the lift, holding her skirt to the side. The lift attendant just grins at us. Maybe he was at the hotel this afternoon. It's hard to tell with clothes on.
The lift runs slowly at night and the view of the lights is breathtaking.
"Look at me, Annie."
She turns slightly toward me and I kiss her deeply.
"Now." I bring the black satin up to her eyes and wrap it around her hair and tie it tightly behind her head. She gasps and mumbles something about being scared.
"Don't be scared, I'm holding you. I'll describe everything on the way up."
"Can anyone see us, Sam?"
I look around but all I ever see is Annie. "Probably not, baby."
I hold her close and she's very still.
"It's beautiful this way, Sam, you're right." She kisses me in that way that sends every sense I've ever had directly to my cock.
We're almost to the top of the hill and I love that she doesn't ask how she will get off without being able to see. Or maybe she thinks we're just staying on and riding back down.
I know the top of these hills, I've spent a lot of time up here recently. I lift Annie off the chair before it bends for the return downhill and set her down in the snow.
"Sam, I can't tell if anyone else is here."
"I know. Senses, Annie, senses -- but without one the others are so keen. Tell me what you feel as we walk." I put my hand tight on her waist and lead her exactly to where I want her.
"I feel lost. But I can hear the snow crunching beneath my boots perfectly. I'm a little scared. And, ok, a little wet, and a little weak in my knees."
"Let's try some more senses." I lean her back against the big wooden trail map that I came to know so well earlier in the day. "Do you trust me, Annie?"
I pull out the other blindfold and use it to tie her hands behind her back. "No touch. Now all you have to do is stand real still for me."
I lift her long blue skirt to find only a wisp of blue lace covering her pussy and I kiss it.
"Oh god, Sam."
I can still taste traces of honey dust everywhere and it all mixes in with the taste of lace and the taste of Annie and my tongue goes for it all. I let her skirt fall down over me, and all I can think is that I would kill for one of those ski-photographers -- who are always wanting to snap your photo when you're fumbling down the hill -- to come by and snap this picture of a beautiful woman blindfolded with her hands behind her back writhing against the trail map while I work on driving her wild under her skirt.
I spread her legs with my hands and drive my tongue in and out, pausing to kiss and suck her clit, listening to her moan, not even caring myself who's around. Annie coming to the force of my tongue is the highest sex I know, and when she does I am there holding her tight and feeling her passion all the way down through my toes.
She's kissing me again and I know she wants more and I know what she needs.
"Turn around, Annie."
I untie her hands from behind and retie them around the trail post, bending her over from behind and lifting her skirt again.
"Ask me to fuck you, Annie. Right here in the snow where anyone can come by and see you like this. Maybe Flan is watching. Maybe our whole class is here. Tell me you love it."
She barely pauses, wiggling her ass against my hard cock. "God, yes, Sam. Please fuck me right here."
Blue velvet in my hands, breaths coming harder and shorter at the heights of altitude and passion, entering the only place I know that feels like home, coming into Annie so hard and so fast that I begin to lose track of where I am.
We sit together on a tree stump for a long time afterward, Annie on my lap whispering in my ear, satin scarves off, hands locked together behind my neck anyway. We come back to our senses slowly, and I notice that we sit at the top of the Mad Hatter Run. Seems to me as if I was up here once before. But I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.
Oysters Among Us: Erotic Tales of Wonder By Susannah Indigo (West Emerald Press, 2001. ISBN: 0970467729. 217 pages, softcover, $14.95)