This is an excerpt from my novel-in-progress, Ginny Bates. If you are already a familiar reader, skip down to Read More. If not, here's links to background information in the sidebar to the right, third item from top.
29 June 1986
On the morning of the Lesbian/Gay Pride March, all of Myra's friends met at Allie's apartment, where Myra made omelets and Chris made hotcakes. Allie, Ginny and Sima were hand-painting red T-shirts with slogans and art.
"Will that paint dry in time for us to wear them?" asked Myra, dropping avocado into an omelet she was about to fold over.
"Who cares?" said Ginny happily. She had woken Myra up that morning saying "This year I get to march with you!" and she hadn't stopped grinning since.
After stoking their boilers and filling the waterbottles in their packs, the group picked up drums and rhythm instruments and walked down to the corner to catch a bus.
Once they found their contingent at the march assembly area, Allie and Chris plunged into drumming with the rest of their troupe as they waited for the procession to begin. Myra had a pair of maracas and was trying to make her breasts shimmy in rhythm to the shake of her maracas, much to Ginny's entertainment. But the neck of the new T-shirt was tight and kept irritating her neck. Finally she said "Anybody got scissors? I need to cut this collar out."
Allie offered her Swiss Army knife and said "These have those itty-bitty scissors." Myra took the knife, but when she pulled out the scissors, she looked skeptical.
"Here" said Ginny, taking it from her. "I'll use the knife part, I'm good at cutting." Myra started to pull off her T-shirt, but Ginny said "No need -- just hold still" and began sawing at the fabric where she had it tented away from Myra's neck. The look of concentration on her face, and the press her body against Myra was actually rather exciting, Myra found. About halfway through, Myra leaned in for a kiss, and Ginny said "Whoa, I almost nicked ya there" before she kissed her back. The neckhole she left was jagged and lopsided. Ginny added a slice down the middle of the front, like a V-yoke.
After looking at Myra critically for a moment, she said "Those sleeves need to come off, too, for symmetry" and she began hacking at Myra's right sleeve. When Myra lifted her arm so Ginny could get at the underseam, Ginny bent down and sucked Myra's armpit hair briefly, standing back upright to look at Myra with smudgy eyes and say "Salty. But not as good as it'll be by the end of the day."
After the march was over, they found a spot on a slight slope of grass within earshot of the speeches on the main stage and sprawled out, pulses still hopping. They drained a couple of their water bottles dry, and after a little rest, Chris said she'd go get more water, she wanted to check out some of the booths. Allie went with her. Myra lay on her side, arm propping up her head, talking to Sima. Ginny sat down in the curve of Myra's body and pulled her knees into the circle of her arms, half-listening to Myra while she chatted with Jen and Poe. Women trailed by, and anybody one of them knew stopped to exchange greetings. The sun was warm, and Ginny was even warmer against Myra. She'd never had a better time at a community event. Well, except for the Dance Brigade night.
Whenever a child appeared, they rushed over to Myra and gave her an exuberant hello. She seemed to know every kid in the community, from toddlers to teenagers, and more than one of them sat down companionably on her hip to burble on at her. One eight-year-old girl was a former student of Ginny's, and it made Myra laugh to hear this girl call her "Ms. Bates" in a shy voice. Myra said "Your Ms. Bates is now my girlfriend, Caitlin, how about that?" Which Caitlin had no answer for, except to look at Ginny keenly and then look away.
One of the teenaged boys sat down on the grass next to them and showed no interest in ever leaving. A chubby, dark boy named Jeremiah, he clearly ached to talk but couldn't seem to get out more than monosyllables. Myra and Sima kept including him in their glances and comments, and Ginny followed their lead. After half an hour, he lay down on the grass, borrowing Myra's unneeded zip-up for a pillow, and closed his eyes. As his body relaxed, one of his hips came to rest against her back, and she almost imperceptibly moved closer to him, welcoming the contact. He went to sleep, then. The rest of them kept talking, but in lowered voices.
A few minutes later, Judit Pereira walked up and squatted down, her gazed fixed on Myra's face. Ginny felt Myra tense just a notch.
"Heya, Jude" said Myra, reaching out a hand to squeeze Judit's.
Judit said hi back to Myra, then Sima. She glanced over Myra's head and said "My god, is that Jeremiah?"
"He sure grew up. Last time I saw him, when you lived in that household with him, he was just a shrimp" said Judit.
"He's quite the guy" said Myra, hoping Jeremiah was listening.
Judit finally allowed herself to look at the woman cradled in Myra's bend. Her eyes showed recognition, and she stuck out her hand for a shake, saying "I know you, don't I?"
"Yes" said Ginny, introducing herself and reminding her where they'd met.
Judit looked at Myra again, her dark eyes unreadable. "I saw Carole this morning -- Carole Johnston -- and she said you were in crazy in love with somebody."
Myra squinted at her, still grinning but now a bit wary. "Carole's right, although I don't know how she heard, I haven't seen her in over a year. Me and Ginny are -- soulmates."
Judit looked back at Ginny and said "Well, congratulations." And that was it. She went back to talking with Myra about literary journals and writing programs as if Ginny wasn't there.
Myra shifted her position slightly, to relieve tightness in her shoulder, and the front of her T-shirt gaped open, revealing luscious cleavage. When Myra didn't notice, Sima reached over and gently pulled the T-shirt fabric back over the gap. Two seconds later, Ginny leaned forward and reversed what Sima had done, revealing Myra's chest again. Sima burst out laughing, and so did Myra. She gave Ginny a long look, and Ginny returned it.
Judit left a few minutes later, with pleasant goodbyes. As she walked down the slope, she met Chris and Allie returning and stopped to talk with them for a minute. They were just out of earshot, but Myra saw Judit motion in her direction as she was talking. Chris replied with her usual giant grin, making the motion of inserting a key into a lock, turning the lock, checking to make sure the hasp was tight, and then throwing the key away. Judit laughed heartily and went on her way.
Chris and Allie had cold drinks with them. Everybody sat up and ate hummus with pita and falafel, stashed in Myra's pack, plus fruit from Ginny's pack. Myra kept funneling extra food Jeremiah's way, and when they were done eating, she asked him if he would walk with her to find some toilets. He jumped up, and when she went over to kiss Ginny bye, she whispered "We'll be a while, we're gonna talk." Ginny nodded.
By the time they got home that night, exhausted and relishing silence, Myra's sunburn was bad enough to need aloe vera. Ginny applied it to her skin tenderly, asking "Do you stay in touch with all those kids?"
"I do, as best I can" said Myra. "There's never enough adult attention to go around, seems like. And they are wonderful children."
"You ever met a kid you didn't like?"
Myra laughed. "Prolly not. Ow, that place at the back of my neck feels completely raw. Is it blistering?"
"Not yet" said Ginny. "I've been wild for you all day, but I think maybe you're too banged up for us to make love tonight, angel."
Myra craned her neck, wincing a little, to look Ginny in the eyes. "Not a chance."
That July it was lovely to lie in Myra's bed until almost noon, making love and talking about everything, everything. One morning Ginny asked "Have you ever slept with anyone else in this bed?"
"Besides Alice? Oh, wait, Allie's slept over once or twice. But no, not a lover. I bought it new after I won the lottery. What about your bed?"
"I bought mine, too, after moving out from Bonnie's place."
"Well, then. Which one shall we keep for our own when we move back into your house?"
"Our house, Myra. How about neither, how about if we keep these for the guest bedrooms and get a new bed just for us?"
"A king size" said Myra with relish.
"What, you don't want to be up next to me forever?" said Ginny, teasing.
"I want the extra space so my knees don't hang off the edge at certain times."
Another morning, Myra asked "Hey, Ginny -- you keep saying you're in love with me like you've never been. Why didn't you reach that level with Bonnie? Three years is not just an infatuation."
"It was my third try, and I was more cautious. I mean, my first girlfriend, we didn't even live in the same town, so it was like dating when we saw each other. I always kinda knew it wasn't going to last. Then Jules came down to Olympia for some event, and we connected really fast, emotionally. She was five years older than me, and the Jewish sharing was profound. So we began writing, and the letters were glorious. I'm a sucker for the written word. As graduation approached, I applied for jobs all over but definitely Seattle, and when I got the job at Lowell, a really great position, I thought it was a sign. I made a trip up here and went out with Jules, and we wound up spending the night together, and I thought okay, Seattle here I come. She was all over me, emotionally, and I liked it at first. But then, after just a month, the sex was getting strained, and then at three months the fit hit the shan, so to speak -- "
"Ginny, details, for god's sake. I couldn't be more interested, I'm panting over here."
"Well, she didn't like much, shall we say, variety in bed. Basically she only liked two things, and she preferred to be the initiator -- I could, with a lot of effort, get her in the mood if she didn't think of it first, but her response was not whole-hearted. Which I took really personally. So I started feeling like maybe I was not so exciting. And then I found out she had genital herpes, after three months, and she hadn't told me -- "
"Yeah, my reaction exactly. She got all superior and said she could tell if she was about to have an outbreak, that I was being too sensitive. But I was beside myself. I went and got tested, and then I began insisting on dental dams, which, given the limited number of things she'd agree to do anyhow, was not such a loss to me but she never stopping trying to make me change my mind. And all the attention she paid to the rest of my life started feeling like control instead of interest. Then one night she came home late and stood in the living room and told me she was in love with someone else, someone mature and ambitious. She packed a bag and left, just like that. I was a wreck for a couple of days. Got some therapy, and eventually realized -- to my disgust -- that she had been a whole lot like my mother. She even looked like her a little. Creeped me out for months."
"No wonder you made me get tested."
Ginny smiled gently. "Yeah, I'd had a bad experience, but Myra, you were due for it, honey. And aren't you glad to know, now? You dodged the bullet, and you never have to worry about it again."
They kissed for a while. After a pause for air, Myra said "I kinda hate her, Ginny. It's not the jealousy I felt before -- sheesh, was I off track -- but I hate how crappy she was to you."
"You have my full permission to harbor bad feelings toward her. Just don't share them too much with me; I really don't think about her often."
"So, then, Bonnie?"
"Well, we'd working together at Lowell for a couple of years. She was a great teacher, well-respected, and we'd have long talks at lunch about work issues, gradually spreading out into more personal stuff. She was a good friend, very kind. It's not like I suddenly got the hots for her, it was more a slow decision that she would be a good person to share my life with. But -- " Ginny stopped talking suddenly, with a look of shock.
"Oh, my god, Myra, I completely forgot about Dakin."
"I can't believe I forgot about her. I mean, it wasn't long, but it was really important to my self-esteem."
"You had a fourth lover you haven't told me about?"
"I didn't tell you because, well, I don't know how I forgot her. I guess she's not an official lover, really, just a summertime fling."
"Sheesh, Ginny, this is a little upsetting. Any other flings or unofficial whatevers you've left out of the picture?"
"Calm down, Myra. We have decades to share our pasts with each other. She's not a threat to you."
"Then tell me about Dakin." Myra said her name with a shade of scorn.
"Don't make fun of her, or anything about me, Myra, or I'm shutting up" warned Ginny.
"The summer of 1980 I went to Greenham Common."
"You did? I wanted to go there so bad. I schemed for months, but there was no way I could afford it."
"You'd have loved it, Myra. Just think, I could have met you there." Ginny grinned into her face.
"I wouldn't have been ready, Ginny, and besides, what about Dakin?"
"Yeah. That was great. It was such a scene, such a tribal situation, you know? Women from all over the world, and we were doing a huge thing, we were literally saving the planet. The creativity and personal connections were off the chart. And about two weeks before I was due to come home, I met Dakin. She was from Denmark, a small town, and hilarious and sweet and outrageously daring. I went to bed with her the first night, the only time I've ever done anything like that. And she thought I was just wonderful, the best lover ever, and I so needed to feel that. We had wild nights together and wild days with the group actions, and didn't really let ourselves think about the future until ten days into this roller-coaster ride. It broke my heart to have to say goodbye. I tried to persuade Daddy to pay for my ticket to get changed, so I could stay longer, but I couldn't come up with a good excuse why and he hadn't been wild about me going over there in the first place -- "
"But he bought you a ticket in the first place, that's amazing."
"Well, no, actually Bubbe bought me the ticket. Rosa. She told Daddy what I was doing was important for Europe, that somebody in our family needed to do back to Europe and have an impact there instead of just running away, so she paid my way."
"Good for her." Myra was very moved.
"She's so important to who I am, Myra. Anyhow, I couldn't call her and ask for an extension so I could make love some more to a Danish girl, that would be pushing it. So Dakin drove me to the airport, and we sobbed and made out at the gate until I was the last person not yet on the plane. The airline attendant at the gate was, I think, sympathetic. At the last minute Dakin pulled off her shirt, the one next to her skin, and gave it to me, saying at least I'd have her smell. She didn't have anything on underneath, standing there with those magnificent breasts exposed for everybody in the airport -- "
"Ginny, maybe not so much detail in some areas."
"You asked for it, you're getting it, lover. On the long flight home, after I got done crying for hours -- the flight attendant kept trying to bring me Cokes, I guess that's the cure-all for grief -- I started thinking about what I was coming back to in Seattle. And I realized I was a good catch, after all, and Bonnie had invested a lot in getting close to me. So I thought well, let's see if she's interested. Maybe this would be a good thing, a solid, healthy thing for me. Right after I got back, I called her and invited her for the day up to Bainbridge, and we finally kissed. And I was right, Myra, it was a good thing. She was never mean to me. I learned a lot. I learned give and take, I learned about being in bed with an incest survivor, I learned how to not take things personally. I would have gone on working on things with her, getting closer, I would not have backed down from the work. But she didn't want it to be so much work. And I could even emphathize with that, after a while, and not feel like there was something wrong with me. I moved out, lived with Patty for a while who was just beginning to date Pat. When they started getting serious, I got my own place, a little apartment south of Pine, I'll show it to you sometime. And I decided to fucking buy a house, set myself up like an adult and have a real studio. Maybe I wasn't going to have a girlfriend, but I could still paint....Huh, Dakin. I don't have any way of getting in touch with her. I never told Bonnie about her, you know."
"Were you in love with Dakin?"
"Oh, no, Myra, I barely knew her. I mean, in the emotional sense. Physically I knew her completely -- "
"Enough, Ginny, I get your drift. Do you think you would have fallen in love with her, if you'd had the room?"
"I can't answer that. I didn't know her enough to speculate. And Myra, before you get more clingy -- the background of how I came to be whom I was when I arrived in front of you is just that, background. It has enormous bearing on who I am but no bearing at all in who we are."
"I'm not sure I believe that, Ginny. Aside from my insecurity -- which I am trying really hard to set aside, I hope you know that -- "
"I do. I appreciate it."
"-- I'm a writer, I think in terms of narrative and story arc. So, I wonder how these pieces of your past may reappear in the future. Here's the part that matters to me, Ginny: Honesty. Just don't lie to me. Whatever it is, find a way to tell me. I get crazy about secrets. I can't trust people who are keeping secrets."
"You do know, I hope, that I wasn't keeping Dakin a secret from you?"
"Yeah, I know, at least in my head, but I'm a little shook, still. It's close enough to the line that I'm shook."
"Can I make it better?" Ginny was melting onto her, kissing her sweetly.
"No, not really. You didn't do anything disloyal. My fear is older than you. So it's mine to deal with. But I would love you to keep heading where you're heading right now, for it's own sake, not as reassurance."
"Mmmm...If I may say, Dakin's breasts never drove me out of my mind like yours do, Myra. Everything about you drives me out of my mind, like nobody else ever has."
"You can say that, yes. It's mutual, Ginny Bates."
And then came the morning Ginny asked "Have you ever used a dildo?"
"Yeah. I've got one somewhere in a box, but I mean to throw it out."
"You don't like them? I've never tried it."
"No, I liked it okay, I just don't want that one. If you want us to have one, let's get a new one. They have them in silicone, which warms up, feels okay inside, and is not carved to look like a penis. I'm not into penis substitutes."
"I've never had a penis in bed with me, either."
"I can tell, Ginny."
"Yeah, I could always tell if a woman I was sleeping with had been with men at some point. Just like I could tell if she was an incest survivor, or if she'd borne children."
"Well, the children thing seems self-evident, Myra. But what was the tip-off about men?"
"Women who learn sexuality with men are much more goal-oriented instead of enjoying the trip for its own sake, tend to be a lot more passive or unable to think beyond the roles of do-er and do-ee, and -- how to explain this -- they're into penetration for the symbol of it, rather than knowing what pleasure it can give or not give. They like the idea of being inside you because it means, in some way, conquest or acquisition of territory -- you've given up territory to them. I think that's all learned from men. I don't think it's necessarily human sexuality, what it would look like if power hadn't been combined with sex."
"Wow, Myra, lots of ideas to follow up on there. What do you mean about the pleasure of penetration, or -- what I think you meant -- where there isn't pleasure?"
"Well, Ginny, to begin with, how many of your lovers really liked or needed penetration to reach orgasm?
"I can guess who. Jules, right?"
"Yeah. Bonnie really didn't like it, and Dakin and my first girlfriend, like me, could take it or leave it."
"I haven't noticed you being indifferent about it."
"Well, I'm with you, Myra. Whatever you do to me is different. But I don't have to have it to come, you know that. You didn't go inside me for the first several times we made love. "
"I used to not like it, either. I deliberately worked to get over it, because I was afraid the reason I didn't like it was because of being raped. But after I had enough lovers who weren't survivors but still didn't care for it, I realized it's not an automatic thing for women, wanting something inside them. Contrary to whoever it was, Germaine Greer or Erica Jong or one of those dick-fixated straight feminists, who said orgasms were of course better with a full cunt. That quote sure got picked up by the boys in the press."
"So do you think straight women are just getting off on the territory thing?"
"Oh, it's complicated, Ginny. Like most truth. I personally believe that every single thing we think we know about sexuality is open to question, needs to be examined by every woman and sorted out rigorously to find out what's true for her. Because they've lied to us so grievously, and men have an overwhelming compulsion to force their sexuality onto ours. If they don't tell us what sex is, if we figure it out for ourselves, heterosexuality is seriously threatened. So, with that caveat -- I think you can get off being fucked by a dick, you can learn to prefer an enormous variety of sexual byways, that's what fetishism is all about. But basic female anatomy doesn't lend itself to procreative sex as the most pleasurable kind."
Ginny got up on one elbow to look at Myra with a huge grin. "Tell me more. And feel free to demonstrate."
"Well -- you know the clitoris tissue is way more sensitive than any other part of the human body, right? Like, exponentially more sensitive than penile tissue. But it's not just the little nubbin that sticks out under its hood."
"I know that. It's mostly buried underneath."
"Yeah. The drawing I saw made it look like a kind of rough triangle, with the clit being one tip, going down behind the ureter to another submerged tip, then traveling up the inside wall of the vagina, the front wall, to a spot they call the G-spot. Which I think is also overrated, another way for the boys to find a button to push. It's the entirety of the tissue that is responsive. Since you offered..."
Ginny spread her legs and said "Gimme a kiss first."
"How about lots of kisses....."
A while later, Myra continued. "So, lesbian lovemaking 101, we discover that the inner labia are phenomenally sensitive, especially rubbing up and down the cleft with slow but steady pressure. Not overwhelming the clit, not moving so fast the friction causes numbness, but slow and steady. Like with the pads of my thumbs, or the flat of my tongue -- not flicking, god how I hate flicking."
"You can do that all day, Myra."
"If I do, you'll come several times. Well, okay, not if, when. But my point is, I think most of the orgasms heterosexual sex gives women comes from this kind of rubbing, happening incidental to penetration. We come a lot faster and harder when direct attention is paid."
"But I think there's a few other things that get us off indirectly, because there is this mass of exquisitely responsive tissue in the general vicinity. One, I think, is just the reaction to being entered, even by a small finger like mine -- "
"I love that finger, don't disparage it -- "
"The stretching of the muscle that holds your vagina partly closed moves it against that clitoral tissue. So you feel it up here when I go in here, right?"
"And if I go in and out, you feel that too, even though the actual nerve endings inside the vagina are astronomically fewer than those out here in the hot zone. I mean, if we had a ton of nerve endings in the vagina, having a baby would be unbearable. Just my opinion..."
"Keep going, Myra."
Myra laughed. "And a lot of women I've been with had really sensitive cervixes, so deep penetration, something banging away at the cervix, is gonna be a little painful. Again, I think women learn to expect it and focus on the parts that aren't so numb or unpleasant. We're raised to be codependent. But if I'm actually primarily interested in giving you the most pleasure, not extracting my pleasure from you -- this inner wall, running parallel to the clitoral zone or actually incorporating part of it -- if I run my thumb inside along that wall, using the pad of my thumb to exert a little pressure and a little movement side to side -- "
"Oh, god, Myra, that's what you're doing when you make me crazy this way?"
"Yes, my love. Variations on it. So if you get a smaller dildo, and if you aren't fixated on drilling for oil but instead on angle and sideways motion, and you just fucking pay attention to how that woman responds, it can be useful. Free up your hands for other things."
"Myra...Myra, I'm about to come."
"I know, Ginny. I'm going down on you while you do, okay?"
Afterward, Ginny lay on top of Myra for a while, blissfully relaxed. She finally said "I'll never complain again about you having had so many lovers."
"The truth is, Ginny, it was a crappy way to learn. Most of what I know I got from only a couple of women I seriously loved, where we could talk freely in bed. And you know all this, Ginny, you've been doing it to me with great expertise."
"I picked it up along the way, but I never thought about the anatomy that specifically. Let's see if it feels different for you, now that I have a new perspective, shall we?"
Late August 1986
The week after getting back from Michigan, one morning Myra retreated to her study to work on an unfinished poem she'd been returning to for the last six months. She had just realized that the shift in meter between the first half and the second might hold the clue to resolving her dissatisfaction with the last stanza. These sorts of hints always seemed to rise up from her unconscious after a good night's sleep. Sure enough, when she disconnected the bolts of the last stanza and reassembled it, suddenly every stroke ran true. By golly, that's it! she thought. She picked up the sheet and went looking for Ginny, to see how it read aloud.
Ginny wasn't in the living room or kitchen, but the bathroom door was shut. Myra barged in, saying "Hey, Gin -- ", only to be shocked by Ginny's short scream and the sight of her standing next to the sink with a big foamy white mustache on her upper lip.
Myra found herself unable to speak. Ginny said "Oh, shit" and turned away from her, but her reflection in the mirror caught both their faces. Myra stood for a moment, her hand on the doorknob. Then she said "What is that on your face?"
"It's bleach" said Ginny irritably. "I'm bleaching my mustache."
"You have a mustache?" said Myra in wonder. "I mean, I know you have a little bristly area above your lip, is that what you're talking about?"
Ginny sat down on the toilet lid, facing Myra defiantly. "That little bristly area is what's left after I trim it down with scissors and bleach it into non-contrast" she said.
"Really" said Myra. She was fascinated. "If you let it grow out, is it more like Snidely Whiplash or, say, barbershop quartet handlebar?"
Ginny's look was scorching. "If you're trying to make fun of me here -- "
"I'm not, I swear. I'd like it if you had a mustache, Ginny. Why don't you let it grow out?"
Ginny was searching Myra's face skeptically.
"It got really pronounced when I was around 25 and -- well, elementary school kids notice and comment on everything. I just got tired of explaining. And Bonnie suggested electrolysis, but no fucking way in hell was I going to make a permanent change in my body simply to deal with people's ideas about how I was supposed to look. Then Patty told me about this stuff, Jolene..."
"How does it work?" said Myra, crossing over to peer at Ginny's upper lip closely.
"You mix a cream with an activator, coat each hair as best you can, and wait until it's bleached out, then wash it off."
"It smells like ammonia. Does it sting?"
"Yeah, a little. I put aloe vera on afterward. Myra, back up and look at my whole face, will you?"
"Sorry. So is your opposition to permanent changes like that Ashkenazic rule about no tattoos?"
"No, it's like that feminist thing about biology is not destiny, you moron."
Myra grinned and opened the linen cupboard. On the shelf containing various toiletries was a plastic zippered bag. She unzipped it and showed Ginny a small magnifying mirror and a pair of silver tweezers. She said, with a laugh in her voice, "I have a beard."
"No way" said Ginny.
Myra leaned in close again and let Ginny inspect her chin.
"You pull the hairs out?" said Ginny. "Doesn't that hurt like hell?"
"You get used to it" said Myra. "And the removal lasts for several days. Same thing with me, came in around 23, 24. I left it for a long time. I mean, I love hairy women -- woman hair is soft and hot, you know? Judit Pereira -- "
"Yeah, I remember her mustache and sideburns" said Ginny appreciatively.
"Well, she also had a regular pelt on her chest and back. But I got so fucking tired of my beard being considered male. And I'm already fat, and buzz my hair, and let my leg and underarm hair hang out there, and don't wear make-up, and my clothes immediately identify me as white trash -- it was just one thing too many to deal with. I feel guilty about it, about leaving all my hairy sisters to deal with the public shit on their own."
"Well" said Ginny, "if we could all agree to just stop hiding it at the same time -- and that includes straight women, from the looks of the bleach and depilatory aisle, I bet maybe half of all women have facial hair -- then we could put this masculinity bullshit in the grave it belongs."
A timer on the back of the toilet went off. Ginny went back to the sink and began washing off the bleach.
"My friend Giovanna Capone in the Bay Area wrote a kick-ass article about this" said Myra. "About how Italian, Greek and Arab women -- olive-skinned women, she said -- are constantly ridiculed in American culture about not being real women because of facial hair, among other things."
"I know. So it's not just that every little place woman-hating can bubble up, it will -- and the association of facial hair with masculinity is woman-hating, given the biological reality -- but it's got this racist rider attached."
"Maybe it's the other way around, Myra. Maybe it's racism with some woman-hating attached."
Myra was struck by this. "Never thought of it that way. ... Wow, that stuff really bleached the shit out of it, didn't it?"
"The hair on my face was already blond" said Ginny. "Like my leg hair."
"But your pubes and underarms are black. And your head hair is brown with red highlights. Amazing how DNA works" said Myra, putting her arms around Ginny and kissing her.
After the kiss, Ginny looked closely at Myra's chin again. "You missed one that's gotten kinda long" she said. "Could I try using the tweezers on you, would that be weird?"
"Weird but okay" said Myra. "Do it fast, Ginny, hurts less that way."
Ginny gave a little squeal as the hair pulled out. "That was...different" she said.
"I had one girlfriend, Max, who used to tweeze her eyebrows. She said she'd have a monobrow if she didn't" said Myra.
"Does Allie know you do this?"
Ginny was struggling to not feel a little jealous about being not told. Myra giggled and said "This isn't exactly the same, but when Allie was roommates with our friend Emily Greenspan -- "
"I know her" said Ginny.
"Well, then you know she has severe environmental allergies. That's when we learned how not to use scented anything on our bodies or in our houses. So Allie went all out, she stopped using all 'product' as she referred to it. Her knees and elbows got these rusty patches on them, and her hair got nappier. I thought she looked incredible, but she grew up poor, you know, in rural Alabama, and she just couldn't take it after a while. Couldn't take the class voices in her head. That's when she found that coconut oil stuff she uses that doesn't set off Emily's reactions."
"I love how Allie smells" said Ginny.
"Mm-hm, good enough to eat" agreed Myra fervently. Ginny gave her a sharp glance, but let it ride.
"Has avoiding scents and commercial chemicals helped with your asthma?" asked Ginny.
"I think so. The main thing, though, was having enough money to buy prescription meds instead of over-the-counter stuff. I'm not hopped up on epinephrine all the time. And when I was a kid, my mom gave me this vile yellow liquid three times a day that was full of phenobarbitol. I had hallucinations for years."
"Shit, Myra." Ginny squeezed her sympathetically.
"Oh, that's not the worst of it. The worst was that they gave me systemic cortisone every day for five years. This was before they found out you should never give a kid regular cortisone. My acupuncturist says that's what hammered my adrenal system, and she can't reset it, at least not yet. She's the one who told me I should stop being a vegetarian, even if I went back on dairy -- she said I was chronically anemic because of some endocrine imbalance. My energy level and my mood shifts got way, way better when I put meat back in my diet."
"But does it have to be red meat, or pork?" argued Ginny.
"Some times in the month, I'd say yes. But otherwise, no, chicken or especially tuna do the trick. Allie used to be able to tell when I was dipping into whatever state it is, and she'd say 'Go eat a tuna fish sandwich'. And she'd be right."
Ginny had found another chin hair and said "Be still a second" as she pulled it out. "I could get into this, Myra. It's like a primate kind of bonding."
"Well, you can be my groomer if you want, Ginny. My body always says yes to your body."
9 October 1986
Ginny was sorting through the mail and said "Hey, Myra? You get catalogues from Good Vibrations?"
Myra looked up from where she was rearranging books on a shelf. "Yeah. I ordered something from them once."
"Should I ask what?"
"No." Myra grinned. "Actually, it was a gift for someone else."
"Okay if I look through this?"
Myra locked gazes with her for a moment, then said "Wanna look together?"
Ginny motioned the couch beside her, and Myra came to sit.
"Is this just prurient curiosity, or are we actually shopping today? said Myra with a smile.
"Both, I think" said Ginny. She read the index, took in a deep breath, then turned to a double page section of dildos.
"Oh, wow" she said. "Some of these look -- weird."
"Some of them are weird" said Myra. "Here, turn the page -- here, these silicone ones are soft, washable, and generic looking. The main thing you need to figure out is what you want in the way of length, girth, and single or double."
Ginny looked at the options, then said "I don't know. What would you vote for?"
"For me? I'm tight, Ginny. The smallest will work for me."
Ginny looked at her with an interested expression. "You are tight. What am I?"
"Tight. And short." Myra was trying not to show much she was enjoying this.
"These double ones look way too long, Myra."
"That's because you don't take them all the way in -- a lot of the length is used up between you. Even if you're wearing a harness."
Ginny had on a frown of concentration. "Okay, I think I can imagine that. So, where are the -- oh, here. These remind me of the old menstrual belts we used to wear, when I first got my period, you remember those?"
"Yeah. Extremely uncomfortable. The only kind of harness I've ever tried, and it wasn't mine, is this style here, that doesn't ride up your butt crack."
Ginny read the text again. "We'd have to get two different ones, Myra. One to fit you and one to fit me."
"Expense is no object" grinned Myra.
"Give me that pen in your back pocket" said Ginny with an answering grin. She marked her choices on the pages of the catalogue, asking "What's your waist size, exactly?" Then she said "Shall I call it in or do you want to?"
"Oh, I wouldn't deprive you of this experience. But Ginny, you need to order a bottle of lube as well -- go for the economy size."
"Why? We're always soaked" said Ginny.
"It's different with rubber" said Myra.
Ginny reached for the phone and dialed the 800 number. As she began talking with the clerk who answered, Myra pulled out her wallet and handed Ginny their credit card. After a couple of minutes, Ginny said "So how long does that take? And what are my other shipping options? How much extra is overnight? Yeah, let's go for that one." She winked at Myra, who shivered involuntarily.
After she hung up, she handed the catalogue to Myra and said "On its way." Myra was embarrassed, and embarrassed about being embarrassed. She opened the catalogue and turned to another section.
Ginny leaned in beside her and looked over her shoulder, saying "Did I miss something?"
"No, I'm just looking."
"At wrist restraints? Not on your life."
"I know, Ginny. I'm not shopping for us, I'm just seeing what they have."
As Myra turned the page, Ginny said "Have you ever used those?"
"What, wrist or ankle restraints? Not cuffs like these, no." As soon as it was out of her mouth, Myra knew she'd made a mistake.
"What kind have you used, then?" said Ginny in a neutral voice.
Myra tossed the catalogue aside. "Oh, Gin, we were having so much fun. I'm sorry, let's just drop it, okay?"
Ginny looked at her steadily. Myra said "Why go there? It's not part of who we are."
"I'm asking about your past, Myra, I'm aware of what I'm doing."
"Hell. Well, yeah, I've tried bondage. We used scarves."
"Just once, to see what it was like?"
"Myra, don't make me drag this out of you bit by bit. You know what I want to know."
"Am I going to be punished for being honest with you?"
"Is punishment something you're looking for?" asked Ginny.
"Oh, now that's low. Don't accuse me of things I don't do."
After a pause, Ginny said "You're right. I apologize. But I need you to be honest with me, Myra."
"Fine, then. I liked being tied up. I liked how it absolved me of all responsibility for my desire. I had rip-roaring orgasms when she did that, or even when she just held me down. I liked doing it to her, too, though not as much because there was always blowback for me, guilt, afterward. And after a few weeks, it felt like my skin was getting thicker, that it took more to get me off each time, and I started having trouble trusting her unless it was in bed and the game was on. I -- I put a stop to it. Not in a good way, because a lot of this understanding is hindsight, you know. But I needed to have my desire without -- a game attached to it. I wanted it to be possible to have my desire without recreating anything that -- without a hint of how I'd been mistreated. I didn't know if I could, but I decided I had to try." Myra's face was struggling to show defiance. "There, now you have another unsavory thing to hold against me."
"Myra...I don't hold this against you. I appreciate you telling me."
Myra didn't look convinced.
"The she you referred to..."
"Oh, fuck, Ginny, yes, it's Karin. Karin Barbaras."
Ginny's face registered sudden comprehension. "Is this why you broke up with her? Not because your mother had died -- it was because of what you two were -- "
"Yeah. I was crazy in love with her and that's why I was open to whatever came up in bed, she didn't coerce me, I would have done anything with her. Anything. And it seemed -- amazing, at first. But then when I began wanting a change -- I didn't know to talk about it with her."
"Was it you not knowing how to talk, or her not being willing to hear?" Ginny's voice was kind.
"I don't know."
"I think you can stop beating yourself up about failing with Karin. I think you've established you're not a failure. I certainly don't think you're one." Ginny grinned, but Myra was not ready to be cajoled.
"You weren't there, Ginny. You didn't know me then."
"Well -- tell me. What did you do that was so wrong?"
"I did say to her, I was scared, I needed us to back off for a while. And she wanted to know why, of course, and I couldn't say. But she didn't push, she said okay. We went on spending our nights together, and she was so sweet to me. Then -- that was a Tuesday. On Friday night, I went to a poetry reading and Judit was there. Judit Pereira. She hit on me and I went home with her. I didn't come home until Sunday, and we fucked pretty much that whole time."
Ginny was shocked, Myra could tell. After a long silence, she said "What did Karin do?"
"Once she got over being frantic about where I'd been -- nobody knew, I hadn't even called Allie -- she just got wounded. And silent. I went on fucking with Judit, several times a week. But then I'd go home and crawl into bed with Karin, and she'd hold me. She waited on me six months. Finally she gave up and moved out. And I couldn't believe it. I really thought she wouldn't give up on me. I was that clueless." Myra's voice was savage with self-loathing.
Ginny wasn't sure what to say. She lifted her arm and put it around Myra's shoulders, which remained stiff. After a minute, she said "You didn't stay clueless."
Myra gave a snort. "Thank god for small favors."
"Well, Myra...all we can ask of someone when they make a mistake, however big, is that they realize what they've done wrong and try to change it. Seems to me like you've done your work here."
Myra didn't answer. The rigidity in her shoulders might have lessened a fraction, Ginny wasn't sure.
"Thanks for telling me, Myra. How about if we put on sweaters and take Juju for a walk? Get some fresh air?"
Myra looked at her, finally, and her face softened some more. "Okay." She gave Ginny a kiss on her cheek and said again "Okay."
Ginny whispered "I love you" and stood up, pulling Myra to her feet. Juju had appeared from the other room and was wiggling her rump, having heard "Juju" and "walk" in Ginny's voice. Myra put her pen and credit card back in her pocket, and threw the Good Vibrations catalogue in the trash as she walked to get Juju's leash.
Allie arrived early on Friday night, just as Myra got home from her Al Anon meeting. Myra checked the brisket in the oven and began mixing tuna croquettes as Allie sat down at the breakfast bar.
"Shall I do something?" said Allie. "Peel potatoes or shell beans?"
"It's cream-style corn and salad tonight, plus some sourdough rolls I made earlier. Ginny's on the veggies, so you can just talk to me while I fry these patties."
"The deck out there looks good, Myra."
"Yeah, I'm so ready for the work to be finished. Once the concrete cures or whatever, we can fill the pool and then, hottub, baby, here I come."
Ginny came into the kitchen and began pulling salad items from the crisper.
"You haven't mentioned Renee lately, how are things going with her?" asked Myra.
Allie looked sad. "Well...not."
Myra stopped forming patties with her hands. "Oh, no, what happened?"
"Ah...we just derailed somewhere along the way." Allie's expression was evasive. Ginny was chopping carrots into thin coins. Myra looking at Allie, then at the back of Ginny's head. She said "Gin? Could I get you to fry these patties for me? In a medium-hot cast-iron skillet, in canola oil with a pat of butter added, until golden on both sides. Drain 'em on this plate all ready for them. They don't have to be refrigerated or kept warm."
"Sure, Myra, what are you going to do?"
"Talk with Allie." Myra kissed Ginny on the cheek, then walked around the counter and said to Allie, "Follow me."
They went upstairs to the upper deck and sat down in the metal chairs. It was cold and damp, but Myra flicked the outdoor heater behind the chairs and said, "Okay, girl, tell me the real story."
"Is Ginny going to feel excluded?"
"Not our problem if she does. I doubt it, though."
Allie straightened an imaginary crease in her khakis and breathed in and out for a few seconds.
"I liked Renee, Al. I thought things were getting serious between the two of you."
"They were. I liked her, too. A lot."
Myra just waited.
"We...began sleeping together." Allie stopped then, a full halt.
"Wow. You haven't done that in a while -- gotten to that stage, I mean."
"Yeah. We talked it over, and I -- I felt like I was ready."
After half a minute, Myra said quietly "And were you?"
"I don't even know what it means, to be ready." Allie looked up at Myra, her eyes swimming. "I wanted her, I surely did. But -- I couldn't let her touch me. Not -- "
Allie stopped again.
"That's okay, Al. No rules about what has to happen. Your way is fine."
"Well, it wasn't fine with her. She took it personally."
"Ah, crap, Allie. I thought she was savvier than that."
"So did I, obviously." Allie was crying quietly now, leaning forward with her head on her hands, drips of large tears landing on her dark red cotton shirt.
They heard new voices from below. Chris and Sima must be here. Myra scooted over to Allie and pulled her onto her shoulder: "You won't be in this place forever, I promise you, buddy. At some point it's all going to flow again."
Allie's voice, when she cried, got very high and girlish. Her face next to Myra's, she said "You have a memory of -- before. It's like a map to where you need to go. But I don't, Myra. I don't remember ever being open."
The door to the upper deck slid back, and Chris stepped out behind them. She said "Hi" quietly and pulled up a third chair, on the other side of Allie, sitting and looking at her with her hands clasped in front of her.
"You were open, Allie. You were born that way, and some part of you is intact. You'll get there. You just need someone who -- doesn't have an agenda for you." Myra pulled back so she could look into Allie's brown eyes. She kissed her forehead and said "You are so fine, Allie. You're doing everything right, you always have."
Chris said quietly "Renee?" Myra nodded. Allie pulled a bandana out of her pocket and wiped her face, then blew her nose.
"Same thing?" asked Chris.
Allie nodded, this time, with a choked laugh. "Good old Allie. Predictable in every way."
Chris laughed with her and said "Even carries her own hankies." Which really made Allie laugh.
Then Chris said "Ginny's burning those tuna patties."
"Yeah, she's not much of a fryer. It's okay, I like the flavor of carcinogens" said Myra. But she stood up, and pulled Allie to her feet, giving her a long hug. "Let's go light candles and tell god to cut you a fucking break, okay?"
"Okay. Did you make tartar sauce?"
"No, but I will. There's brisket, too, though."
They went downstairs together.
Just as Myra reached the dining room, the doorbell rang. She turned and went to answer it. A UPS driver had a package that required a signature. Myra signed before looking at the return label. Chris had wandered up behind her and read the label at the same time: Good Vibrations. She gave a low whistle, grinning wolfishly at Myra. "Overnight express?" she commented.
Myra pointed at her and said "Not a word." She carried the package into her bedroom and stuck it in the closet, then returned to the kitchen to slice the brisket.
During dinner, Allie said "My cousin Vachel is coming out for a visit in a couple of weeks."
"The gay one? Let's have him over to dinner -- I mean, if you think he'd like to hang out with us" said Myra.
"He will. Which reminds me -- he's planning to go to travel agent school starting the first of the year, and I'm going to see if the Fund wants to pick up his tuition."
"He's in Miami now, right? It would be handy for us to know a travel agent" said Myra. "Write it up, bring it in next week. We need to have a discussion about scholarships anyhow, 'cause your niece and nephews, Chris, we should plan for their graduations."
Chris looked surprised and pleased, and said "Okay."
"You never had any brothers or sisters, Allie, right?" asked Ginny. "Just cousins?"
"Weelll..." said Allie. "Family rumor says my daddy had some by-blows in another county, but I never got names out of anybody. And my mom, I don't know how she kept from getting pregnant again after having me at sixteen, but she didn't. Which is a blessing for all concerned."
"Can I ask -- when did you get adopted by your grandmother?" asked Ginny. There was a small shift in the atmosphere at the table, but Allie looked her in the eyes and said "About a month before my fourth birthday."
"And before that, you lived with your mother? But never your father?" asked Ginny.
"My parents weren't married, and no, my father never lived with my mother. Or me" said Allie.
"Did your mother give you to your grandmother, or what?" asked Ginny. Her red cheeks indicated she knew she was wading into undiscussed territory. She added "You can tell me to shut up if you want, Allie."
"No, it's okay to ask" said Allie gently. She stopped eating, and so did everyone else. "My grandmother came and got me in Mobile where I was in a foster home. I'd been taken away from my mother, and somehow they tracked down Nana -- I know for a fact Mom never told them how to get in touch with any kin. Mom wound up in jail that time, and Nana became my permanent legal guardian."
She and Ginny were looking at each other. Ginny's eyes were smudgy and brave. She asked "What did she go to jail for? Was she unjustly charged?"
Allie wanted to laugh but couldn't manage it. "No, they charged her right. They busted her for theft, then added on heroin possession and child endangerment."
Ginny took a long breath, and right before she opened her mouth to speak, Allie said "Yeah, the child endangerment was me. When she didn't have enough money to pay for her daily fix, she'd loan me out to men."
There was no rancor in her tone, no pain, no anger. Which actually made it worse, Myra thought. Ginny sat back in her chair as if struck by a blow, but she didn't stop looking at Allie. And Allie looked back at her. Myra got the sudden sense that instead of adding to Allie's pain tonight, this sharing was actually helping.
Chris broke the silence by saying "I never realized before that you and me, Al, we both been sold for the price of a high." Into the stunned silence that followed, she added "Of course, there's one big difference."
Sima said "You mean that she was a baby."
"Oh -- yeah, that too" said Chris. "No, I was thinking about her sale price was in 1950s dollars, which was worth more than my going rate twenty years later, I imagine."
Allie burst out laughing, and Myra followed. Still in shock, Ginny and Sima joined them. Laughter was the purge they needed. They began eating again, and Allie told stories about when she had lived in a household with Deb, a straight Nisei woman who worked at a veterinary clinic, and LaRouche, a black drag queen. Myra remarked "Every time I hung out with you at that house, I left covered in make-up and dog hair".
"LaRouche went back to Minneapolis, you know" said Allie. "The theater scene is really good there, he says. And since he put on weight, he's got better breasts."
"That's when she got Bearsis" Myra told Ginny. "He was a kitten someone brought in to Deb's clinic and never came back for."
"Where did you get Alice, from the animal shelter?" asked Ginny.
"Nope, I rescued her from a raccoon that was about to have her for dinner."
Ginny looked shocked. "Raccoons eat cats?"
"They're omnivorous, and Alice was only about a month old, skin and bones. Actually, I didn't rescue her so much as she ran up to me and sat on my shoe one night when I was walking home. I saw the raccoon, one of those big urban tough ones, skid to a halt a few feet way and look at me challengingly as if to say 'You gonna eat that?' I scooped her up and yelled at him to skedaddle." Myra looked around for Alice and saw her on the couch. "Ain't that right, my fur person?"
Alice hopped off the couch and came swiftly over to Myra. Myra pinched off a bit of tuna croquette and handed it down to her.
"No wonder she's so attached to you" said Ginny. "Saving her like that, I mean, not the fact that you feed her at the damned table."
Alice stood up against Myra's leg and made a little rumble in her throat. Myra gave her another bite of tuna, and said to Ginny confidentially "That's how come she calls all raccoons 'Adolf'."
Laughing, Ginny got up to pull the fruit salad from the fridge. As she walked by Allie, she kissed her on the top of her head. Allie grinned from ear to ear and winked at Myra. Myra winked back, and put the rest of her croquette on the floor under the table.
On Saturday morning, Myra woke up at 9:00 when Ginny slipped back into bed with her, holding a cup of tea.
"Didn't mean to wake you, honey. I was going to read the paper here beside you."
"S'okay. What kind of tea is that? Can I have a sip?"
Ginny handed it over.
"I'm up. I'm going to pee, but I'd like to come back and cuddle with you for a bit." said Myra.
As Myra was brushing her teeth, she suddenly remembered the package delivery from the evening before. She rinsed and went eagerly to the closet, pulling out the box.
"I forgot this came" she said, getting under the covers again. By the time she was settled, Ginny had put down her cup of tea and grabbed the box, ripping it open.
"This one is for you" she said, handing over one leather harness. "This one is mine. And here's the novelty items. Wow, that's a bright blue. And I still say this lavender one looks too damned long."
Myra got to take the bottle of Astroglide out of the box, plus the receipt. She put the lube on the bedside table and checked the receipt while Ginny pulled the dildos out of their plastic bags.
"Definitely not as nice feeling as fingers" she declared. She flopped the double around and giggled. "Are you up for checking out the merchandise?" she said.
"You need to wash those first" said Myra. "Soap and warm water."
Ginny bustled out of bed and went to the bathroom. Myra grabbed Ginny's tea and drank the last of it. When Ginny came back, she put both dildos into the harnesses and looked at them speculatively.
"What did you have in mind, Ginny?" said Myra. She was still not quite awake, and was not in the least aroused. But Ginny could always get her in the mood fast, once a certain tone entered her voice and that look of concentration came on her face.
"I wanna try out the double. Might as well go for broke. But -- which one of us should take the wheel?"
"I'd suggest you. Since I know what it feels like either way, and it's your first time, you should lead."
Ginny looked up at Myra, and the expression in her eyes gave Myra her first tingle.
"You know, Myra...we have leftover tuna croquettes. Nobody ate more than one, except you. You ate three, and left the brisket to our friends."
Myra decided not to say anything.
"I know I burned them. But you are so loyal..."
Time to be upfront. "I am loyal, Ginny. You're a gold clad bet for my loyalty."
"I am, because I work at it. I try to earn it. So, Myra...I don't want you to do anything at all in bed with me because you love me so much. I need for you to only do what you really want to do with me."
Myra hadn't seen this one coming. "So far, I have, Ginny."
"And what about this?" Ginny flopped the double dildo around again.
"I want to see what it's like with you. But yeah, if it's not up to snuff for me, I'll tell you."
"Okay then." Ginny dropped the harness onto the bed and lay beside Myra. "Let's kiss you all the way awake."
Half an hour later, Ginny came back up to kiss Myra's mouth again and said "Time to gear up. This is gonna take four hands, I think."
Ginny sat on Myra's belly and leaned back onto Myra's bent knees, her legs spread, her vulva on full view. After a couple of minutes of being distracted, Myra applied lube to the Ginny end of the double dildo and slowly stroked it up and down Ginny's cleft several times, pausing at the bottom of each transit to hover at the entrance to Ginny's vagina. Finally this pause turned into a tenative entry. Myra stopped when Ginny gasped.
"Wow. It really is different" said Ginny.
Myra used her thumbs to continue stroking Ginny and said "You tell me when. If at all."
After a minute, Ginny said "Try a little bit more." Myra pushed in slowly another inch, then stopped. Ginny's pupils were dark, and her breasts were flushed. Myra's thumb strokes were increasingly persuasive. Ginny said "A little more." At the end of this progression, she leaned her head back, exposing her throat, and gave a long sigh that made Myra's chest tighten.
"C'mere" said Myra. "Lean forward and kiss me."
Ginny shifted weight more onto her knees and met Myra halfway, crying out as the dildo went another inch inside her. Her kiss was demanding. After a minute, Myra said "Let's fasten some buckles.
"It's not all the way in."
"Doesn't have to be. A little play will mean it slides against you. Besides, tightening the straps will -- do more."
Myra kissed Ginny's neck as Ginny leaned against her so Myra could attach the clasp in the back. She pulled the straps taut very slowly, in time to Ginny's panting breath.
"Okay, Calam" said Myra. "You're ready for roundup."
Ginny laughed in her ear. She pushed Myra prone and kissed her lingeringly, straddling her. Then, sucking on Myra's breast, she eased one knee down between Myra's thighs and coaxed them apart. Switching to the other breast, she found room for her other knee between Myra's legs. She paused there for a moment, looking down into Myra's face.
"I am wildly turned on" she whispered.
"There's an ache somewhere around my cervix" Myra whispered back. "An ache with your name on it."
"I'm on my way" said Ginny. She sat back on her hips and slid one hand behind each of Myra's knees. Tenderly, smoothly, she lifted Myra's knees up and back, until Myra's hips were tilted upward. Then she lay forward on Myra's belly, one hand still between their legs, and Myra felt something round and cold push gently at her vagina. Ginny looked up and met Myra's eyes. Myra put her hands on Ginny's face and tugged at her lightly, asking her to come kiss. As Ginny moved forward, she entered Myra steadily and slowly. They both cried out as their mouths met.
"Oh, god, Myra, oh, angel, this is intense" said Ginny.
Myra locked her knees around Ginny's hips and said "Stay right there. Forever."
Ginny giggled. "I want to move my elbows a little, but more of my weight will be on you, is that okay?"
"God, yes" said Myra. As Ginny shifted, Myra moaned again, loudly.
"Myra, I really really like what it feels like when I move" Ginny whispered. "I want to move some more."
"Yes" breathed Myra. Ginny closed her eyes and moaned along with Myra as she began a gentle rocking.
In the end, Ginny came ahead of Myra, screaming raggedly onto Myra's chest, but she found a way to keep moving long enough for Myra to catch up with her. The sounds Myra made were gutteral and pleading. Afterward, Ginny had to roll off her, to stop all motion inside her and catch her breath. Myra curled up on her shoulder and kept saying "Oh lord, oh my lord."
Ginny began laughing without restraint, pounding on Myra's back a little. She said "That was just exactly the right amount of dirty. I love being a dyke."
Myra began laughing with her. "You are seriously good at it, Ginny Bates."
"Let's go make corn pancakes. With honey butter on top."
"Okay, but then -- "
"Yes, Myra, back here to product test the rest of our toys."
"You want me to help unfasten your harness?"
"Nope. I think I'll wear it to breakfast."
Myra grinned wickedly and said "This should be a memorable meal."
They got out of bed and headed for the kitchen.
A week later, Ginny came back from lunch with Patty and told Myra "She's pregnant! Or rather, they're pregnant. They just had it confirmed by a blood test."
"Wow -- that's incredible! How's Patty doing?"
"She's out of her mind, Myra. I mean -- okay, don't ever share this, but I think the whole point of her getting a partner was as much to have a coparent as it was to have someone to share her life with. Since I've known her, that's been her main criteria in dating. And I think that's why she chose Pat, because Pat wanted kids, no question about it."
Myra looked at her. "Well, that would explain a few things."
"Oh, Myra, Pat is not that bad."
"She is compared to Patty. Anyhow, I'm really glad for them. When is she due?"
"Early November, maybe. They won't be sure until ultrasound confirms their dates -- although, of course, their dates are pretty solid."
"Yeah, no accidental pregnancies with dykes, huh?"
"And Myra, they're not telling the community yet. Something could go -- wrong."
Myra looked suddenly serious. "That scares the crap out of me. Not just for them, but for us, when it comes to that."
"Here's another thing I hadn't realized: Patty couldn't have fish for lunch. At least, not the fish she wanted. Because of the mercury issue."
Myra grinned at Ginny. "Like, no salmon or tuna? Does this mean you're going to reconsider having a baby?"
Ginny grinned back. "Not quite. But it does mean I'm going to enjoy cold-water fishies while I can."
"Listen, Gin -- why don't you talk to your oogie-boogie healer woman, Nancy, and see if there isn't some kind of herb you could take to forestall mercury poisoning, as well?"
"Good idea, My. And you shouldn't call it oogie-boogie if you believe in it enough to recommend it to me."
"I can believe two things at once" said Myra.
"Is that like the White Queen, believing six impossible things before breakfast?"
"No, the White Queen is a straight feminist -- you know, trying to find a way around the idea that feminism is the theory, lesbianism is the practice? I'm more like the Red Queen. Except for the 'beat him when he sneezes part', of course."
Ginny was laughing now. "The things you choose to claim, Myra...I'm guessing you think the Red Queen must have been a Leo."
"And are you going to claim Ti-Grace is as well?"
"No" said Myra, "She's a Scorpio."
As their renovated house became completely familiar, the thrill of not going to work became ordinary and some of their sexual urgency lessened, Myra and Ginny developed a loose weekday routine. Myra liked to sleep later than Ginny, so Ginny would get herself toast and tea, retrieve the paper from the front step, and rejoin Myra in bed without waking her. By the time she was done reading, Myra would be slowly waking up. They liked to shower or bathe together. Then Myra would make herself breakfast, with a second course for Ginny. If there were household errands to be run, they did them in the mornings. If there were no errands, they visited museum, libraries, art galleries, or just went for a drive -- what they called spontaneous dating, a joke they both enjoyed.
They usually stopped somewhere for lunch, then went home to work individually through the afternoon until suppertime. Friends joined them several nights a week for dinner, followed by conversation, TV for one or two shows a week, games, shared art, or going out to a community event. On evenings not shared with friends, they returned to work after dinner. They went to bed together at ten, and if they did not make love, Myra read for an hour or more while Ginny dropped off.
The one aspect of Myra's life that did not flourish after Ginny came along was her political activism. She found she hated going to meetings now -- she still supported causes, wrote flyers and essays, showed up for events, but the thrill of arguing policy with other women she did not know had disappeared. She hated to admit that her activism had been, in part, a way to meet women and pursue romantic or sexual possibilities. She was deeply invested in the activity of the Feminist Fund, and that gave her some solace. But, aside from that, she'd much rather be with Ginny at home than out at a meeting.
One March afternoon, Myra had, as usual, asked Ginny if putting music on the stereo would bother her. As usual, Ginny said no, so Myra cued The Changer and the Changed on her turntable. Women's music was the only kind that didn't distract her when she was working on poetry.
As "Song of the Soul" went into its first chorus, Ginny appeared beside Myra's desk, dimpling, and said "May I have this dance?"
"What?" said Myra.
Ginny took Myra's hand and pulled her to her feet. "You mean, like, dancing?" said Myra. "Uh -- Ginny, I don't really dance."
"I know better, I saw you and Sima that time" said Ginny. She put Myra's right hand in her own and slid her other arm around Myra's waist.
"Well, that was folk dancing, and I only learned that because of intense work..." Myra's voice trailed off.
"Yeah, private lessons, I picked up on that. I can give you private instruction, too" said Ginny, trying to push Myra backward a step.
"No" said Myra, refusing to move. "I'm really -- I'm clumsy, Ginny. It's too hard for me."
"You are absolutely not clumsy" said Ginny gently. She noted the deep flush of Myra's face. "You move through life with grace and power, I adore how you carry your body. And there are already ways we are in flawless physical sync -- I think we can add this on to our repertoire."
But Myra stood rooted, not looking at Ginny's face. Ginny pulled her into a hug. Myra was trembling.
"Oh, angel -- I'm sorry, I didn't know you really believed you can't dance. It's okay, I won't make you."
Myra breathed in and out for a minute, pushed close to Ginny. Then she said "I -- I want to dance with you, I really do. I've always wanted to dance. I don't know why I was able to do it with Karin, I think it was because the steps were so simple."
"Likely had to do with your teacher, too" said Ginny, without any jealousy. Myra kissed her gratefully and said "Could we try -- maybe, you know, something simple? And if I can't do it, you'll still love me?"
Ginny threw her head back and laughed. "Silly girl. Okay, put 'Song of the Soul' back at the beginning -- it's a waltz, did you know that?"
Myra looked amazed. "No idea. That's a three-count, right?"
"See, you already know the main thing about waltzes. We'll go at half-speed. Let me lead at first, but if it's easier for you to lead once we've got the idea in your head, then you can lead, I don't care."
"Why does anybody have to lead? Why can't the power be shared?" asked Myra. Ginny had to look at her before she realized Myra was teasing her.
"Oh, hush up. Now, don't look at your feet, look at my face and my shoulders. Feel where I'm guiding you -- slow, remember, no rush here. 'Come to your life like a warrior, nothing will bore yer, you can be happy...' That's it, that's all there is to it."
Grinning from ear to ear, they gently waltzed up and down Myra's study, Myra keeping count just under her breath. By the end of the song, Myra was exultant. She stopped to use her inhaler, and Ginny began laughing. "Oh, Myra -- that felt so fucking good. Now we can waltz at our children's weddings!"
"Why will our children get married, if we don't believe in marriage?" said Myra.
"Because they'll rebel against us. They'll be born-again cosmetologists who want to have their marriage vows performed by G. Gordon Liddy" laughed Ginny.
"Oh, right, forgot. Let me catch my breath, and then could we do it again?"
"My absolute favorite thing to hear you say, Myra my own."
Copyright 2007 Maggie Jochild