Avignon, the summer of 1981, a dark July night. A small car French-made car is parked in the middle of a vague expanse of greenery, on a road through a vineyard perhaps—or so I hope, because it adds an otherwise absent touch of romance. The light is on inside the car, which makes it all the better to see the show, and yes, that’s 19-year-old me in the passenger seat (I know, “that is I” is grammatically correct but it sounds stupid), leaning over to perform fellatio a blond French fireman.
I’ve been meaning to fill in the details of this story for quite some, a tale I first announced as a random and embarrassing fact about me from my wilder-than-you’d-think-by-looking-at-me past. But I’m having a strangely hard time getting down to writing down this particular going-down story.
“Only a fool mistakes memory for fact” says Stephen Elliott via Erobintica. Indeed some of the details of my French fireman fellatio story are oddly vivid in my memory, many others have dissolved forever in the mists of the vineyards of southern France. And while my international encounter may sound very much like something from Penthouse letters in outline, the only “fact” I’m very sure of is that the scene evokes feelings in me that are hardly erotic according to the popular understanding of the word.
Blogging about what really happened in that car beyond a teaser synopsis somehow forces me to come up against the question of why I write about sex, a question I’m not always able to answer for myself. I claim to aim for “truth” in my erotica, a presentation of authentic sex between partners with complex emotions and dreams and desires beyond mere physical lust. Yet most of my stories I’ve been writing recently are meant to soothe the reader with the requisite two to three sex scenes that might involve some conflict but are guaranteed to end happily, with no lingering discomfort to disrupt any follow-on amorous activity the reader might want to engage in. That’s what an erotica writer should do.
And while I complain as much about the bleak portrayal of sexuality in the literary genre as the questionable authenticity of great sex between total strangers that is so common in sexually explicit stories, I have been known to write bleakly about my own sexual experiences. I suppose the problem is that the French fireman story does belong firmly in the “what the hell was I doing?” category of sexual memoir, when I’m somehow thinking my readers expect empowering, sex-positive erotica. And I don’t like to disappoint my readers.
Another problem is that I feel compelled to explain the broader context of why I came to be sitting in that car beyond “I let a French fireman pick me up at a disco and gave him a blowjob in his car.” This will take time. And blog stories should be, say, 800 words and no more.
Where are these should’s coming from anyway?
I say fuck the should’s. Or at least give them one hell of a blowjob.
And so, I decided to write the French fireman episode in a way that feels right to me, because that’s the story I want to tell after all.
I’m going to start with a prologue, which I’ll call “Men and Breasts.”
I was with the blond French fireman because my breasts are small. Make no mistake, I love my breasts and am very happy with them for many reasons. The nipples are exquisitely sensitive (not great when I was breastfeeding, but a boon the rest of the time). I don’t have to buy bras (except, again, when I was lactating) and when I run, there’s no flopping. I’m well aware that in America the big-breasted women get all the magazine covers and centerfolds, but I never cared in the least except reluctantly and almost anthropologically for one brief period of my life. Let’s call that the “meat market” phase, when I occasionally found myself at large keg parties and discos and other dark, loud places where the only way to choose a potential partner was by looks alone.
I was reminded of these unpleasant days a few months ago at a Seventies Party fundraiser for my son’s school. Many of the attendees were dressed in period clothing, which gave the event the feel of a disco of my youth. I was not dressed up, but naturally my eyes were drawn to the women strutting around in their tight clothes and go-go boots. Of course I noticed the boobs. How could you not notice the boobs? Boobs are noticeable by design. And in this context, a woman is not and cannot be judged by her witty conversation or her artistic endeavors or even her devotion to sensual pleasure in bed. She is judged by the size of her boobs. Intellectually, I can see all the reasons why this is so, many of the same reasons why I seldom went to bars and discos, but it still makes me feel…small.
The night I met the French fireman, I was at a disco on the outskirts of Avignon (you know, where the rival French pope took up residence during the “Babylonian Captivity” in the 14th century) with two other American woman from my summer-study-abroad program. One was my home-stay roommate, a fashionably cute and perky Georgetown Foreign Service School student, the other a sweet-faced blonde from Pennsylvania. We were invited to the place by a thirty something Frenchman named Daniel whom we met at a café on the main strip in the city one Saturday night. On the way to the club in his car, he stopped to pick up another local female friend, Jaqui, and kept telling her “Parlez doucement” because les Americaines didn’t understand French well. Actually he admitted I was pretty good, but the other two, and especially my roommate, his clear target, were indeed a bit shaky.
This happened a lot that summer. French guys we’d meet always told me my French was the best then made a pass at the woman sitting next to me. I guess they didn’t want to talk? It never happened in Japan, but breasts are not such a big deal there, which is surely one reason I liked the place so much. But I digress.
Fast forward to a table in the disco, at the edge of the dance floor, where the stylishly dressed Avignonese youth didn’t really dance together except during the slow songs. The rest of the time they stood facing a large mirror, their lazy gyrations infused with a certain masturbatory quality. (This happened in Japan, too, but by then I was used to it). No sooner had he settled the three of us with drinks, then Daniel quickly whisked away my roommate, who was never to be seen again until I returned to our Madame’s apartment that night. She told me Daniel eventually took her back to his house, invited her to accompany him on a trip to the Riviera and tried—and failed—to seduce her. She resisted his attempts by acting like she had no idea what he was trying to do, pushing her “dumb American” act to its logical conclusion. Can’t talk, can’t fuck.
Actually my roommate was a pretty witty woman, but that’s another story.
There’s another gap in my memory now. I’m not sure how the remaining two of us ended up with two other Frenchman at our table. They might have been friends of Daniel or not. One was dark and crafty-looking with curly hair, the other a slim, shy blond with a trademark French nose. They were both in their very early twenties. The darker man was very courtly and talkative, while his friend just observed and smoked a Gauloise. I remember the operator’s name was Patrice, and after about four seconds, he zeroed in on my companion, the sweet blonde. Who also had big boobs.
At one point, Patrice asked my friend to slow dance, leaving me and the shy guy, Christophe, to talk—or not talk—alone.
That’s when I learned he was a fireman. “Je suis pompier,” he told me, flexing a muscle rather adorably. Here’s the thing I realize now. I was clearly the third pick, the booby prize, so to speak, as I often was in such situations. Being the last to be chosen for the team depressed me and although I tried to ignore it, it made me want to prove myself, or rather prove they were wrong for choosing as they did. In both Europe and America, if I was with other women in some pickup situation out in the "real world" (rather than the protective college world which was somehow kinder to flat-chested females), the outgoing, aggressive guy would always reach for the one with perky, evident breasts. It happened on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence when the ringleader of another threesome, a cute guy who worked in a drycleaner’s, singled out the girl with the largest breasts and I was “stuck” with the guy who’d studied in Germany, because we could both stumble through a conversation in that language. The guy who knew German was actually pretty nice.
Strange how it occurs to me only now that the quieter men I ended up with tended to be “my kind” anyway. Christophe was more handsome and much sweeter than Patrice, after all. My American friend’s story of the rest of her evening is proof as she reported later with a sneer of disgust that he mauled her and resisted taking no for an answer until she fought him off and insisted he take her home.
Hmm, maybe this isn’t such a pathetic story after all? By “losing,” I won in a way. As did Christophe, who was the only cruising dude to actually get off that night, if the other reports are accurate.
Or is this all just another trick of memory?
More to come....