I am thrilled and honored to present this guest post written by a dear friend of mine whose story epitomizes the clever and resourceful spirit that is inherent in the Wise Woman as she navigates her way to survival in a world that is often comically inadequate to handle true Spirit and Genius!
Thinking On My Feet
Only darkness sneaks in between the slats on my window shades, as the big hand points to the 12, the little hand to the 4. Semi-comatose on my bed, wearing my trillion-times-washed-and-faded purple-flowered cotton pajama tops from Woolworth’s inside out, I fight the visually hypnotic effect of a sound-muted Weather Channel.
Conditions at LaGuardia Airport…Friday’s Jet Stream…Local Forecast…
As I scan the big map of the country, all those little states remind me of all those guys I’ve been speaking with on the phone since 6PM—all who are now asleep, safe and sound in their little beds in each one of those little states. Suddenly, the early morning hush is broken by my refrigerator’s condenser whose relentless grinding groans bear hideous resemblance to a German tank. And thanks to Murphy’s Law of things that scare the daylights out of you, the phone rings, jump-starting my waning consciousness into the next century; my sleeping cat’s ears merely flick once.
Oh goody gumdrops. I’m about to speak with substance abuser #10. How I relish the idea of another agonizing hour of tangential thought chasing. I can hardly wait. Which colors will I need to access this time? Will I be partygirl, stupid and gushing over everything he says? Or will he want me to give real conversation, tell him who I really am and how I really look and really feel, as if he’s the one guy who’s going to be permitted backstage between acts to get the interview? Will I be mommy? Will I be mind reader? Yes and yes, probably.
Will I be able to stay awake?
My resignation to get it up for yet one more algebraic tango is rebelliously riddled with non sequitur that betrays my secret longing for the tangible. I flash on generic attorneys in poker court.
“I’ll see your affidavit and raise you a deposition.”
There’s no burn-out like fantasy burn-out. Regardless of how covertly germane to the task at hand, this concept receives virtually no examination, because it’s show time.
I hear everything. One guy wants me to make him sing pantyhose commercial theme songs.
“Nothing beats a great pair of legs!” Another guy is an animal lover.
“Operator, this is a collect call from Helena and Fido.” Another guy wants me to talk about dressing him up like Scarlet O’Hara, complete with lace-up corset which he’s usually already wearing, that waist cinched down to a teeny 34 inches. Another who’s an appellate court judge in real life, wants to be a $30 hooker. I’m his pimp, of course. There’s the investment banker who wants to be gang-banged by a coven of witches a la Rosemary’s Baby. There are actors, authors, teachers, doctors, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers. Sometimes they want me to be very young, sometimes very old. I’ve been white, black, British, French, Japanese, German, Russian, Puerto Rican, Swedish, southern, valley girl, female, male, shemale, blonde, brunette, redhead, bald, busty, flat-chested, average size, model size and plus size.
Some guys have questions. Some guys are questions.
Then there are the times when I am required to talk to a dyed in the wool, card-carrying hayseed, usually from the most obscure town in a far-off land, like Wyoming—you know, that one place in the solar system where they still use rotary phones. And wouldn’t you know, this four in the morning, this after hours club of the dog-tired-I’ll-fall-asleep-as-soon-as-my-head-hits-the-pillow-if-not-before is one of those times.
For all intents and purposes, let’s call him Ed. Ed’s been having a few hours of fun, mood altering on a combination of Jim Beam and saddle polish. And his comprehension has apparently been dulled, because his response to everything I ask is do what now?
ME: Hey cowboy, feel like taking me for a hot ride to heaven?
ED: Do what now?
And he calls me Heleeena. Worse. Heleeeeeena.
ME: (with my eyes closed) Ed, it’s Helena—Helen with an uh after it. Helen-uh.
Some things are just too difficult.
Heleeeeeena. Sounds like the lady in Brooklyn who uses hot wax to remove my Aunt Rose’s mustache every couple of months.
ME: (eyes still closed and drifting off into a dream about Aunt Rose) Hey cowboy, feel like taking me for a cab ride to Bloomingdale’s?
ED: Do what now Heleeeeeena?
The marriage of cousins creates another tragedy that in this instance has somehow managed to acquire a credit card. Lucky me. Trying to ascertain what turns Ed on is like pulling teeth—horse’s teeth to be exact, which is why I start calling him Mister Ed. Missing the point entirely he takes this as a sign of respect, the lameness of which I find very endearing. Transforming myself into the Mr. Rogers of phone fantasy, I attempt to be as non-threatening as possible.
ME: (eyes still closed) Mister Ed, can you tell me what you like to fantasize about? I know you can!
ED: (giggling) I don’t know. I’ve never done this before, Heleeeeeena.
Never done this before? Never done WHAT before?! Never used a telephone before? Never had to answer a question regarding your thought processes before? Never played with yourself before? Don’t you get passive on me! Not at 4 in the morning!
Of course, I know exactly what he’s talking about. I amend my approach.
ME: (instinctively reaching over to lightly stroke my sleeping cat) Mister Ed, would you like me to tell you what I like to fantasize about?
MY CAT: (eyes beginning to open) Purr…purr…purrrr.
Reaction from my cat, silence from Mister Ed. This could mean one of two things.
Either he didn’t hear me, or he is demonstrating a characteristic of the rural colloquial communication experience known as hat tipping. Because these folks tend to be verbally economical, to brand the calf and be done with it, schmoozing primarily occurs through a transference of brain waves, aided by visual cues such as eye blinking cadence and hat positionality, not unlike the urban language equivalent called conversation. Although very different in form they both translate to serve the same function. Unfortunately, the particular milieu in which Mister Ed and I are exchanging does not afford me the capability of easy linguistic interpretation.
When locals meet at the corner of Rte. #13 and the Coyote Cutoff in Greybull Wyoming, the actual dialogue might consist of a few yups, nopes or the branding-the-calf equivalent thereof. What the tourist will fail to realize is that much ground has actually been covered in this exchange. And there you have it: hat tipping.
When locals meet at the corner of Seventh Avenue and 23rd Street in Manhattan, the transaction might begin with passionate concurrence on the extreme heat, the extreme humidity, the extreme cold, the extreme wind or the extreme noise of late night sanitation trucks, segue into a heated shouting match about Mets versus Yankees, and end in mutual disgruntled agreement regarding the New York Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Their good-byes will usually continue even after they’ve gone off in different directions. And voila: conversation.
At this particular moment however, through a miracle of technology Manhattan is attempting conversation with the hat tipping Coyote Cutoff. Therefore, it must be out of some unfulfilled romantic longing that I would be baffled by and expect anything but silence when I ask my question.
ME: Mister Ed, would you like me to tell you what I like to fantasize about?
ED: (conversationally) I’m so glad you asked! You do realize how effective a tool that particular technique proves in de-stressing a confrontational situation, and in freeing the individual’s imagination and its subsequent expression, in this case regarding autoerotic fantasy, Helena, do you not?
ME: Do what now?
Yes, in my fantasy he pronounces my name correctly. But sadly, this isn’t my fantasy. This is reality. Sort of.
ME: (breaking the silence) Mister Ed? Are you still with me?
ED: (drinking and hat tipping) Yup. Go ahead. I’m listening, Heleeeeeena.
Why did I even bother to ask?
As if seeking her assistance, I glance over at my lazily snoozing cat. But the sleepy we are not concerned look she throws me says you’re on your own, sister.
I’m listening, Heleeeeeena.
Visions of sadistic activity involving hot wax begin to dance through my brain, and due to a process of complex thought association I feel compelled to actually become my Aunt Rose.
ME: (running my finger across my upper lip) Mister Ed, it would be such a shame if you only wanted to listen, because you could have called one of those taped phone messages that are a lot less expensive than a live fantasy service like this. But that’s okay. If you want to just listen, that’s just fine. Do whatever makes you happy, that’s all that matters.
ED: (giggling) Do what now, Heleeeeeena?
By some miracle, I censor my impulse to lecture him on chemical addiction. The Aunt Rose approach has circumnavigated his sensibilities, and any further attempts to guilt him into participation would be fruitless. My tired brain searches for a different route. Spying my brand new black patent leather four-inch high heels a few feet away turns on a lightbulb.
ME: Mmm…(always a great attention-getter) Would you like me to model my sexy new high heels for you?
Statistically speaking, 7 out of 10 men in this country are aroused at the sight of or even the thought of watching a woman wearing high heels, the higher the heel, the better. The other 3 get turned on by wearing them. That’s another story.
ED: (not giggling anymore) You got them real high ones?
(What did I tell you?)
ME: You better believe it cowboy—black patent leather with six-inch stiletto heels.
(Alright, so I exaggerate a little. In this business, lying works.)
ED: (not giggling, drinking or hat tipping) Like on the gal in this here Chick Magazine?
(He’s referring to Chic Magazine. Pronounced: SHEEK)
At last! He’s giving me information! He’s using visual aids! And I am comforted that mine isn’t the only name he mispronounces! I reward him for his contribution without missing a beat.
ME: The exact same ones cowboy. Aren’t they smokin’?
ED: Ooooweeee! I sure got lassoed in by this here little gal in the pitcher! I do believe I’d like to see you puttin’ ‘em on!
I quickly reach over and delicately grasp my new black patent leather high heels as if to tactually thank my props for the inspiration. I stand them on the rug in front of me and start to slide my feet into the stiff, shiny leather.
ME: I’m slipping my feet into the stiff shiny leather right now. Ooooh, they fit reeeeal tight cowboy.
ED: Ooooweeee! I wanna hear you puttin’ ‘em on Heleeeeeena.
ME: You want me to put the phone down by my feet?
ED: Ooooweeee sure as shootin’ girl!
ME: Okay cowboy.
To use speaker phone or not.
Opting for the latter, I withdraw my feet from the shoes and hold the phone receiver as close as possible to the action as my feet and shoes will now be joining the conversation. Pushing the toes of my right foot into the right shoe, I begin my narration.
ME: (throwing my voice down towards the phone/feet/shoes) I’m sliding my toes in…mmm…now I’m pushing in the heel…now the other foot…oooh, nice and snug. (bringing the phone back up to my face) Did you hear that, cowboy?
ED: Not too good.
ME: The shoes or my voice?
ED: Do what now Heleeeeeena?
ME: You want to hear it again?
Not to worry. This simply means that he’s hooked into a good thing, and he’s a little shy about asking for more. I repeat the process.
ME: Did you hear it that time?
ME: You want to hear it again?
ED: Sure as shootin’ girl.
What did I tell you? I repeat the process again, during which I glance up at a commercial for the Troy-Bilt Weeder-Shredder. I imagine customers turning useless leaves and yard waste into money-saving, nitrogen-rich fertilizer by day and listening to my feet slide into my shoes by night.
ME: How you doing cowboy?
ED: Sounds perdy…walk around in ‘em Heleeeeeena.
I rise, silently flinching; they didn’t feel this tight in the store. Thrust forward on the balls of my feet, I’m suddenly very aware that I possess a rear-end as I begin to move around.
ME: Like this cowboy?
ED: Yup. Walk around in ‘em Heleeeeeena.
ME: I am cowboy.
ED: I cain’t hear ‘em.
Oops! My carpeting is interfering with the story so I quickly move to the bathroom in search of a sound-producing surface. As the click-click-clicking of my high heels on the floor tiles begins to reverberate, I thank my higher power that I had the presence of mind to purchase an extra long telephone cord.
ME: You hear me walking around now cowboy?
ME: You want to hear it louder?
ED: Sure as shootin’.
I hold the phone down by my feet once again as I begin to prance around on the bathroom floor. Due to the small size of this bathroom, however, my playing area is extremely limited. Like, I can only move about 2 feet in any direction without colliding into a toilet, a bathtub or a litter box. So here I am, a reasonably sane, taxpaying registered voter, wearing my trillion-times-washed and faded purple-flowered cotton pajama tops from Woolworth’s inside out, perched on high arches, slightly bent forward, butt sticking out, holding the phone down by my feet as I click-click-click forward, click-click backward, click-click sideways, (ouch! ass hits doorknob!), and many clicks turning round and round in my little bathroom, breaking in my brand new black patent leather four-inch high heel shoes at 4:30-ish in the morning. No rush hour, no coffee breaks, no run of the mill nine to five gig is this!
ME: (bringing the phone up to my face) Sounding good cowboy?
ED: Sure as shootin’ girl.
ME: You want to hear more?
I lower the phone to my talking shoes and continue my tele-dancing. To create diversified pedi-personae, I vary the rhythm of my steps, alternating between a casual pace, (woman of nonchalance), a more urgent pace, (woman who’s preoccupied), and occasionally coming to an abrupt halt, (woman with an attitude). Spotting some panicked roaches, I seize the opportunity to practice a deranged version of tap dancing in my determined attempt to abort their flight, (woman needing a straightjacket). Although enjoying myself, I mentally cringe as I imagine my neighbors being awakened by my shuffle-off-to-Buffalo-from-hell click-click-clicking on my bathroom floor.
I perform zealously, crafting a high heel dream for the ears of some cowboy hundreds of miles away, and unbeknownst to him, I am exterminating several little beasts in the process. I marvel at the thought of making art and killing vermin at the same time, but my amusement is cut short. Suddenly, I picture my Aunt Rose who once upon a time witnessed my very first baby steps, and I hear her opine.
“Oy gevalt. And for this you got a Masters Degree?”
To allay my growing mental anguish I begin to think of myself as the sound effects person on some old radio drama.
ME: (click-click-clicking away)
NARRATOR: The woman paced nervously back and forth across the floor, waiting for what seemed to be an eternity, stopping dead in her tracks every time she thought she heard someone approaching…
…and squishing some nasty little cockroaches, to boot!
Just as my integrity is becoming restored, I suddenly catch sight of my cat who had previously drifted back into her own dreams after deserting me. Now, she is frozen upright on all fours, her tail looped in horrified disbelief, riveted by my unrecognizable behavior, as the green lasers emanating from her enormous, unblinking, outraged eyes shoot me her question.
“Have you lost your fucking mind?”
I stifle the urge to laugh and check in with Mister Ed.
ME: (breathing heavily) Having a good time cowboy?
ED: (breathing heavily) Yup. I’m really makin’ you work, ain’t I, Heleeeeeena?
ME: (wiping the perspiration off my face with my pajama tops) That’s okay cowboy. I’m having a good time too.
Not altogether untrue.
ED: (heavy breathing subsiding and resuming giggling) Ooooweeee, Heleeeeeena, you sure lassoed me in with those fancy steppin’ high heels!
ME: I’m glad you enjoyed it cowboy. You gonna get some shut-eye now?
ED: Sure as shootin’ girl. (yawning) The prospect of hittin’ the hay sounds perdy good.
Sounds perdy good to me too.
ME: Okay, happy trails cowboy. If you ever wanna mosey over to my neck of the woods again, you just ask for Helena.
ED: (giggling) Okay Hel, er, Heleeeeeen-uh.
I hang up the phone and leave the bathroom, knowing my exit will predictably cue the safe re-emergence of my tiny cohabitants. The few who were quick enough, smart enough, lucky enough to escape will now be able to once again graze in peace. I note the time for records purposes — started at 4:05AM, ended at 4:45AM. Before releasing my screaming feet, I dutifully reach for my special notebook, my sacred collection of names, phone numbers and other assorted data. These copious notes from literally years of trial and error have become a confidential Who’s Who of phone fantasy.
As I slip out of my broken-in high heel shoes, I reflect on the specifics of yet one more successful behavioral investigation. Feeling the lure of sleep, I am tempted to abbreviate my summary a la Coyote Cutoff and call it shoe fetish, but my commitment to a more humanized world presses me to write, Roy Rogers…stoned…innocuous…likes to hear you put on your high heels and dance around.
And then I include a whimsical afterthought. Heleeeeeena.
I glance enviously at my cat who is once again sleeping peacefully as I call the service to sign off. Pen still in hand, my gaze returns to all those little states on the Weather Channel map, and this time my eyes come to rest on that non-descript box known as Wyoming. Looking to the state directly north impels me to add the obvious final postscript. Next time ask him to pronounce the capital of Montana.
The German tank has temporarily ceased its torturous growl, restoring to the air a lullaby stillness, as the dispatcher asks for my comments. In true conversational fashion I am prepared to share a moment-to-moment depiction of everything from his humorous pronunciation of my name to my cockroach-stomping, Woolworth’s eveningwear bathroom dancing. But in the brief pause that follows, sure as shootin’ the teacher becomes the student. For lassoed in by the prospect of hittin’ the hay, I suddenly hear myself branding the calf.
ME: (hat tipping) Shoe fetish.
©1993 Virgo Rising
Thinking On My Feet
A tale from Running Fantasy Nation
Originally published under Anonymous in Penthouse Letters May 1994 Special Issue, General GMI Corp.
© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard