by Susannah Indigo
Excerpted from the new anthology, Sex & Laughter
"What if the hokey pokey really is what it's all about?"
I. You Put Your Left Foot In
The first time you see Cassidy Wheat-Thin, she's dancing on top of a trash bin on the corner of Colfax and Pearl Streets. Black jeans, a long pink sweater belted at the waist, deep auburn hair that flows wildly beyond her shoulders, and that smile. Not a smile really, more of a silent laugh as she dances. Someone has set up music and loudspeakers down the block from a small protest at Civic Center Park, and at least a dozen people are dancing -- not in a way you usually see anyone dance on the street -- not to show off, but more to spread happiness and celebrate being alive and make you pay attention. It's like she's in the middle of an old Grateful Dead show and you're the one who can't even see the band.
You could keep walking; maybe you should. You're just an overworked guy trying to get out of his building and get some lunch. But you're mesmerized by her, and want to laugh with her. She's not a young girl, probably about your age, maybe around thirty-five -- not your usual attraction -- chasing barely-legals always makes you feel shallow, but at least it makes a man feel alive, one night at a time. But you want exactly what she has on this Tuesday afternoon in Denver. We're halfway through this first decade of the millennium that some smartass has named the "Uh-Ohs," and everything in the world is going downhill, one damn disaster after another, with everybody afraid to look around the corner. When you live in a country that is pro-torture but anti-porn, where you can put someone on a leash as long as they're not enjoying it in a sexual kind of way, laughter becomes a necessity.
You wait, you watch. You complement her on her dancing when she jumps down.
"I was born in the year of the snake," she says with a shrug, as if to explain something. You don't even know your own Chinese New Year's animal -- that might require some kind of focus, or belief in anything mystical -- but it will turn out later you were born in the year of the pig.
"Take me home with you." It's not exactly your normal bar pickup line, but it seems like the right thing to say to her.
She pulls off her pink sweater to get cool and stands there in her black sports bra, sizing you up while you size her up.
"Why?" she finally asks, reaching up and unknotting your tie, with a glint in her eye.
"Because I want to dance with you." Every girl you've ever known is laughing somewhere in the universe, since dancing is not exactly your thing. At 6'4" you never quite got over the too-tall gawky high school thing. But you say it with a straight face. A straight face that's counting the tattoos on her arms and chest while you speak. A Chinese symbol on her toned right arm. A sparkling fountain on the other. A band of flowers on her wrist. And on her beautiful, breathtaking, freckled chest, at least two tattoos that are unidentifiable without ripping her sports bra off to see the complete drawings, which is exactly what you want to do. You're suddenly jealous of the tattoo artist who got to touch her for so long, and you know you're heading for trouble, but the phrase "uh oh" somehow never reaches your brain.
"Cassidy Wheat-Thin," she says as way of introduction. "But I have roommates." She gives you a light kiss on the cheek. She smells like jazz and sweat and cinnamon and you're ready to marry her right there in front of the trash bin. But still, you have to repeat her name in a questioning manner -- you're a factual guy, and you've never yet had any luck in accepting the mysteries in life just as they are.
She laughs, even though you imagine she's been asked a million times. Your tie is off now and hung around her neck as she takes your arm and starts for a cab. "It's my porn name," she explains. "No one ever forgets it."
II. You Put Both Hands In
The past is not always prologue. You wonder who said that. You could look it up, except that you're sitting on the big brass bed in your loft with your hands tied together in front of you with your own tie. She said this was to help you focus, and you vaguely recall saying okay. But the past -- it's gone. You're going to be a new man now, the focused and soulful kind, the kind who dances in the middle of the day. People can change. This is your new belief -- new beliefs are easier to come by when you can't move your hands and a beautiful woman named after a cracker is starting to strip in front of you. She doesn't exactly dance like a stripper, though your loft does have a nice pole you hope she might wrap her legs around soon.
She's still wholesome looking, even now, with her jeans sliding down over her curvy ass -- she can't possibly be a porn star, you think, that must have been a joke. Was that a joke? She made a big deal out of your recycling bins when she came in, while she was explaining how her Dance Mob group was trying to change the world one song at a time. Do porn stars recycle? You can't be sure. All dancing is revolutionary, she explained to you, and she added that there are two primary cultures at odds in America -- one of them is inclined to dance, the other is not.
You are still fully-clothed, but your cock is almost hurting, it's so hard pressed up against your pants. You're regressing to sixteen years old when you could never quite get laid, and in spite of your best efforts all you usually had to show at the end of a long night was a wet spot on the front of your jeans. These days lots of girls seem to like you because you moved here from Manhattan and you're tall and look like you might have some money, but none of them have brought you anything resembling happiness for very long.
Janis Joplin is singing in the background about Bobby McGee and freedom being something you can't lose, or should lose, or never had or maybe wanted in the first place. Cassidy Wheat-Thin had her own CDs in her pack, of course, and is offering you a new soundtrack for your life -- she's twirling, and her jeans are starting to come down, and while you think maybe you saw a glimpse of a thong, there seems to be nothing underneath. She's touching herself and she's talking to you while she does, but you keep staring back and forth between the tease of the sports bra with the hidden tattoo and the jeans removal -- she might be saying something about recycling, or the whales, or the starving children...stopping the war...saving the trees...but you can't really see the trees for the...
...forest. There it is -- her jeans are off, no panties at all, and she has something you can't recall seeing since high school. Full, lush pubic hair. Deep auburn-colored lush curly pubic hair. There are tiny hummingbirds tattooed flying across her lower belly, surrounded by miniature leaves -- you want to be Hansel to their Gretel and enter her forest and never return. Her hips are full, her legs strong, and on the top of her left foot is another tattoo, a Hawaiian flower design in reds and oranges that curls up and around her ankle. She's dancing about a foot away from you now, almost touching but not quite, laughing, talking, and then kneeling, taking off her sports bra, releasing her full breasts. She has tiny gold rings pierced through her nipples, and a delicate complex blue drawing of a large fantasy butterfly floats between her breasts, swirling and dipping and almost touching the rings, and you're about to come just from looking.
You're staring, you can't really speak as she lifts her breasts and dances them in front of you -- that's the stuff you've got to watch...she sings along with the song now playing. And you do.
She's raw and naked and touching herself. You're ready for the lap dance of the century, but she stays on her knees, keeping a small distance, leaning back like she's doing the limbo, with her full bush waving and curling like some natural grass right in front of you. Her fingers are walking through that forest and spreading her lips and entering, opening and entering, come in, come in -- you're thinking you'll stand up and maybe just fall on her and fuck her even without the use of your hands, but she keeps telling you to just pay attention and watch.
You watch and you watch until she sinks three fingers deep inside of herself and keeps her thumb vibrating on her clit, and then she's coming, and coming, and so are you, right in your pants...uh oh...without her touch...uh o...uh o...uh O.
She sees and she knows, and she's laughing and telling you that you have to do something before you see her next time, before you can actually touch her. You're trying to speak and take some control, but words are coming out only in teenage boy fashion -- god you're hot god you're amazing -- and then she's getting dressed and talking again about revolution and empowerment and making a difference and you have no idea why she's doing this, but just before she leaves she finally unties your hands, pulls a card out of her pocket, and drops it right on the wet spot over your cock.
III. She Puts Her Backside In
Cassidy, child of countless trees, Cassidy, child of boundless seas, Cassidy, child of... Greenpeace? That's what the card says, the next day when you've recovered enough to look at it, having slept forever and then called in sick. There are words on the back of the card in pencil, but no extra phone number, so you ignore them...
...until you try to call her at Greenpeace, where of course they only laugh when you ask for Cassidy Wheat-Thin. You still ignore the back of the card while you walk the streets for a week looking for her, or for dancers on trash bins, or for anything at all that makes you laugh. You've Googled her -- try different keywords, dummy -- you've looked up all the tree-hugging groups in the area, you've checked your voice messages incessantly, but, nada.
So you get out your checkbook and follow the damned instructions on the back of the card, feeling like a sucker who was just born yesterday -- did she write this down just for you, or does she hook every guy this way? You join Greenpeace -- the "monthly giving plan," generously, as requested. You join Amnesty International, and then the ACLU, both of them as "patrons," a synonym for "more money." Finally, PETA -- you're now a proud member of the "Animal Savings Club." You notice on the Web there is another site calling itself PETA -- "People Eating Tasty Animals," which sounds more like you. At least the old you. The new improved you will make sure to save any animal that comes your way, and never call them dinner -- if only the one human animal you desperately need will come back.
Two days later she's at your door at 10 p.m. "Hi, you said you wanted to dance with me?"
Your suspicions are lost in the swirl of her short skirt, the twirly kind that makes you want to hold a girl upside down and spin her around. She's wearing sexy boots, some kind of leggings, and a glittery spaghetti strap top, but it's her face, and her eyes, she's so damned happy. How could anyone trying to save the world be so happy?
You wrap your arms around her like she's your long lost love, and at that moment you realize you'd do anything for her, even if you have to go out and plant a tree every single time you have sex.
"How did you know I did those things on the card?"
"It took you a while," she responds, "but it's good for you -- you should always use your money, and your sexuality, to save the world. Let's dance."
And just like that she's coming in and she fills up your entire loft, and your life, with her energy.
It's not easy to do the hokey-pokey with a hard-on. That's what she starts you with, the kids' dance, laughing, putting one of her CDs on your stereo, and you'll do anything she wants. You've stripped each other down and you're completely nude and vulnerable and she's putting nipples in and then taking them out, fingers in, then out, hers, and yours, and then you're moving on to the kind of dancing you always meant to do -- from the tango to dirty dancing. She talks a lot through it all, but tonight she's not talking about trees, she's talking about you, about sex, about bodies, about how other girls might know what you want, but she knows what you need. There's touching and massaging, and kissing, so much kissing -- she seems to be insatiable, and there's nothing she won't do. You're dancing, you're on the bed, you're on the floor, she's bent over your kitchen bar in your favorite position...then you're in the shower, back in the bed...and when you surface for a five minute break to get a drink of water, you feel like you've fallen into a really good porn movie.
She's bright and funny and hot and open, and she's shining on you like the sun, the moon, the stars, and every inch of her is yours, and you want it all, you want to crawl up inside of her and own her and travel with her through every one of her days. At about five in the morning it occurs to you to ask the question you usually get to long before you're sucking on a girl's toes.
"So, Cassidy...what do you do for a living?"
She laughs and pulls you closer to her. "I'm sort of a nature-girl. I save trees. And animals. And people. Some people say I'm a kind of a dream-sweeper. I work at the Butterfly Bar & Tattoo Shop over by Coors Field, sometimes. And then, I fuck for freedom."
So maybe she's a little loony -- you don't think there's a Butterfly Bar in Denver -- but in the dark of the night it sounds like a pretty good life.
"In fact," she continues, "I have a shoot tomorrow night, so I should really leave soon and get some sleep."
"A shoot? Can I come? Can I come?" You really don't care what she's shooting. Probably not animals. You'll never tell her about your macho-guy hunting trip in Grand Lake last fall.
"Can you come?" This cracks her up, and you suppose it is a redundant question, considering that she's just made you come at least three more times than any guy your age normally does.
She says to meet her in front of the Hotel Monaco at six Thursday evening, and that you can go with her, but only this once.
In the middle of the kindness and laughter and kisses that send her home into the dawn, you realize you're feeling rather Johnny Appleseed-ish in your non-meat-brain-parts, and when you watch her skirt twirl out the door there is not a single uh oh in your mind, not a single concern that you forgot to even get her phone number -- there is nothing but a sense of rising joy you didn't even know you owned, and a resounding echo from the repetition of the word yes.
....and, yes, to find out what happens in the second half of the story, you'll have to buy the book Sex & Laughter. All book sales made through the Clean Sheets bookstore benefit the magazine and keep it as a free zine for our readers!