Ennui–I feel nothing but ennui as Saturday night approaches.
I am enervated, the product of over-stimulation. Every weekend my friend Emil leads me on a tour of Boston’s fleshpots, where we sample the courtesans, the ladies of the night, the demi-mondaines who are so readily available in this city that the rest of American thinks of as “uptight.” Pah–I wish!
What do they know, the ignorant boobs. Anyone who possessed even a halting familiarity with soul hits of the ’60′s would know that “uptight” in its original usage meant the very opposite of “repressed.” No, “Uptight (Everything’s Allright)” by Little Stevie Wonder (Parts I and II) is a cry of exultation; if things are “uptight,” they’re “out of sight” and “all right.”
But too much of a good thing can leave a man exhausted–this I have learned the hard way. I am as limp as a wet dish rag and–quite frankly–bored with the prospect of another Saturday night on Beantown when I hear the knock that I know means Emil’s ready to go.
“All set, sport?” he calls out from the door. As in Seinfeld and other situation comedies set in urban areas, entry to my apartment may mysteriously be gained without the use of a key.
“I don’t know–I think I’m going to pass,” I say wearily.
“You can’t do that. You’re my wing man.”
“I’m . . . tired.”
“We’ll have dinner. Baked beans–the dish that America thinks we subsist on–have a lot of protein with very little fat. It’ll buck you right up.”
“I fear the flatulence,” I say evasively.
Emil looks squarely at me. He knows me too well, and isn’t buying what I’m selling. “C’mon–out with it.”
“I don’t know. You’ve shown me so many varieties of eroticism . . .”
“Diversity is good.”
“I feel there is nothing left for me to experience–sexually.”
Emil’s left eyebrow arches ceiling-ward, if that’s a word. “Listen, sport,” he says raffishly. “If you’ll get your be-larded butt up off the couch, I promise I’ll show you a totally new dimension of sensual pleasure tonight.”
I know him to be a man of my word, but still–I hesitate. “I really am tired,” I say.
“Here–try one of these,” Emil says as he takes a pillbox out of his vestpocket.
“What is it?”
“Fizzies Instant Sparkling Drink.”
“I thought the FDA banned them years ago,” I say as I pop one of the effervescent tablets in my mouth.
“They did–twice,” Emil says with a leer. “But they were invented by a friend of President Kennedy, and you can imagine the pressure they can put on a poor GS-14 federal bureaucrat.”
“Wowth, ah sthould thinkth tho,” I say as orange foam cascades out of my mouth.
“Let’s roll,” Emil says plopping his Winston Churchill-style Homburg hat on his head.
We make our way down to Revere Street, the back side of Beacon Hill where the Boston Brahmins’ slaves lived in days of old. The neighborhood is a rat’s maze of dark streets and alleyways that have been converted into high-priced silk purses from cobblestoned sow’s ears.
Emil ducks down one such cul-de-sac, but I hesitate.
“C’mon,” he says anxiously. “What’s the problem?”
“I . . . I don’t know how to go down an alley in French.”
He shakes his head. “So provincial,” he clucks. “I will translate as we go.”
We step carefully down the brick path, sidestepping trash set out for collection. Where I come from, the County Mental Health Department comes to check on you if you leave your Christmas tree up past Easter, but Boston is more tolerant that way.
We stop at the last door hard up against a brick wall, and Emil leans his ear towards it to listen. Hearing nothing suspicious, he raps the wood lightly, so that neighbors in this tightly-packed corridor do not hear.
A panel slides back exposing a window–a gimlet eye looks out and, seeing Emil, asks for the password.
“Swordfish,” he says, recalling a Marx Brothers gag–but he is apparently correct as the window shuts and the door opens, revealing . . .
. . . an optician’s dream.
Women. Women without contacts. Women with honking big, beautiful glasses! Many employing 5 Smart Makeup Tips for Women Who Wear Glasses they found on magforwomen.com.
I gulp involuntarily, as if I’ve been seized by the throat. Emil gives me a knowing look. “To your satisfaction, I presume?”
“Yes, yes–thank you. I never should have doubted you.”
We are approached by the madam of this four-eyed cathouse, and Emil hands her a card of introduction. She examines it with grave scrutiny, makes a little moue with her mouth, nods her head and says “Let me introduce you to some of the ladies of the spectacles.”
We enter a room that is like the vestibule to heaven–so many pairs of glasses, so little time!
“Would you like to see something in tortoise shell?” the madam asks discreetly.
Emil nods with approval as a bookish young ingenue approaches, her breasts enveloped by a armful of books. “It’s $50 extra for role-playing,” the madam says.
“Can she do . . .” Emil hesitates.
“Yes?” the madam says, inviting him to continue.
“Can she do both Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress . . . in one night?”
“The so-called ‘Around the World’?” the madam asks.
“Yes,” Emil says. “That’s what I want.”
“Using two separate library cataloging systems in one uninhibited sexual escapade can wear a girl out for the rest of the weekend,” the madam says. “I must charge you $100 plus two cents for every day she is out of commission.”
“You know . . . reshelving keeps the breasts firm.”
Emil hesitates for something less than the time it would take for a tadpole to swim across a tablespoon, nods in agreement and is escorted to a private room by a woman who looks like she got her Master of Library Science degree the hard way.
“And for you?” the madam says to me in my turn. “What is your pleasure? Super 70′s droopy drop frames? Antique store owner half-glasses? Granny glasses?”
I know what I want but . . . I’m ashamed to admit it–out loud. “Can I . . . write it on a piece of paper?” I ask hesitantly.
“Sure,” she says as she hands me a “While you were out walking the streets . . .” message pad and a pen.
I take pen and pad in hand and begin to write, only to stumble. “How do you spell ‘harlequin’?”
“I don’t know. Let me ask one of the girls. Anybody got a romance novel on ‘em?” she shouts to the assembled inventory.”
“I do,” a girl in full-bore “whore glasses” replies.
“Is it a Harlequin?” the madam asks.
“How do you spell it?”
I take down the letters, fold the note in half and pass it as unobtrusively as I can to the madam.
“Yep–I think we got one of those,” she says as she reads the note. “Vicki Steptoe–front and center!”
A gorgeously-glassed young lady emerges from the shadows with the eyeglass style that swept the nation in the fifties; so alluring and yet–so dorky. It is that combination of contrasts that stirs my passions.
“Walk this way,” the young woman says, and I cannot resist.
“If I could walk that way, I wouldn’t buy boxer shorts.”
“You–you’re a silly one,” she says as she takes me by the hand and leads me into a back room, where we’re alone.
We take off everything but our glasses. I’m into eyeglass foreplay and so as she turns to face me I lick two fingers and run them down her lenses. “That’s so you can’t see my enlarged pores,” I say and she giggles, so innocently, like Mary Pat Oehrke after she cleaned my clock in the seventh-grade spelling bee. She starts to remove the last item that separates us from a state of nature, but before she can do so I grab her firmly by the wrist and say . . .
“You can leave your glasses on.”