MARIAH. MILITARY BRAT.
I met my husband at a sex club. I was there with a fun buddy I was dating which for anyone else would be unconventional but for me, it made perfect sense. I was known for doing things my way. I was twenty-nine, living my life and enjoying doing whatever with whomever, however, and whenever. I didn’t have to answer to anyone. I was having the time of my life; living on my own, making my own money and paying my own bills. After putting in sixty hours a week as a producer for a demanding advertising agency, I hosted parties in my downtown loft, bought art and kicked it with my rotating fun buddies.
On this particular Thursday night, we decided to go to a sex club. It was down the street from my loft building called Forty Deuce. This is before the gentrification of downtown Los Angeles. Back when you had to scrape the drunks and prostitutes off the hood of your car in the morning. So my cuddle buddy and I walked over to Forty Deuce in our grown and sexy costumes. I had on a black leather bustier, red feather mask and red thigh high boots. He had on chaps with the ass out, no shirt and cowboy boots and hat.
The first thing we did upon entering Forty Deuce was meet the owners, a lesbian couple who told us the rules of the club. No men were allowed in the club unless accompanied by a woman. No men were allowed anywhere in the club unless accompanied by a woman. The last thing they wanted was a group of guys roaming around making women feel uncomfortable. After getting the rules for the establishment, we took in the lay of the land.
The club is a giant warehouse with themed rooms. The dungeon. The jail cell. The doctor’s office with an examination table. That was popular. We saw a woman with her feet in stirrups and couples wearing latex gloves examining her to an orgasm. We wandered over to the dollhouse just large enough for a couple to have missionary sex while the neighbors watched through the windows and roof. The X room had multiple cushioned platforms in the shape of Xs. The good vibrations room had every imaginable dildo and vibrator. And there were condoms and lubricants everywhere. No excuse for unsafe sex. There was even a clothing boutique in case you wanted to change your costume. Oh, and the price of entry to this cornucopia of copulation was steep, $150 for the guys. Girls got in free. It isn’t a sex club if there aren’t any women unless you were looking for a sausagefest and this wasn’t that kind of club. For the price of admission, guests could also enjoy a dance club with free top-shelf liquor, aged wines and a surf and turf buffet. Forty Deuce was more than a sex club. It was a sensual extravaganza that catered to all appetites.
At one point, my bed buddy and a raven-haired sex kitten hooked up in the dungeon leaving me to amuse myself. The only room I hadn’t explored was the Black Room. I’m terrified of the dark. I slept with the night light on until I left home. My mom called it the eternal flame because it was never turned off, not even in the daytime. I suffered from night terrors for as long as I could remember. But tonight I had on my power bustier and kick-ass boots. I was armed and ready to enter the dreaded darkness plus I was tipsy off the Patron.
The Black Room is not a euphemism. It’s pitch black. It’s so black, I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. No light at all. And I loved it! Soon as I was enveloped in darkness, all my other senses were on high alert. I was instantly sober. With outstretched hands, I felt my way along the wall. The wall would be my guide. My plan was to stick to the wall and eventually make my way out of the room. I cautiously waded deeper into the cavernous space. There were so many moans and groans and giggles, I didn’t know what my fingers would find. Eventually, I came across skin, hair and possibly a nipple? A nose? Whoever I touched, gasped and pulled me closer to him? Or her? Turns out, both. A couple was making out against the wall. One of them held me, inviting me to join them. He or she caressed my back. I wasn’t ready for anonymous monsters-in-the-dark sex so I politely rubbed whatever body part my fingers were touching and stepped away from the wall. Why did I do that? I was adrift in the abyss. No wall to anchor me. I didn’t know which way to turn so I slid to the left and didn’t crash into anyone. I slid forward and felt strangely free. No one can see me. No one can judge me. We’re all equal in the dark.
“Oooops. Trying to get out.” A man’s voice said.
“I’m caught on your… is that you I’m caught on?” I said.
“You’re on my shirt.”
“Don’t pull, I’m stuck on you.”
“Which way is out?” He asked.
“You’re making it worse.” I replied.
Right behind me, someone was quietly orgasming. I can tell because she gripped my arm with a strength that only comes from toe-curling sex. While I don’t mind being someone’s bedpost, I do mind being stuck to this guy with the deep voice. Someone else is moaning nearby. It sounds like everyone is moaning. I’m swept up in orgy tidal wave. The guy I’m attached to pulled away.
“Owww. My hair.”
“No shit, Sherlock.”
“Hey, I’m trying to help.”
“Wait. I’m … are you touching me?”
“I swear, I’m not. My hands are right where I can’t see them.” He chuckled. “I don’t know what I’m touching but it’s not you.”
“Get me out of here.”
“Yeah, well. I’m trying.”
“Ouch! You’re pulling me.”
“I’m going to feel for your hand. Don’t freak out.”
We finally emerge into the light. My hair is caught on his Swarovski crystal-studded shirt collar. We look like conjoined twins. I'm bent over and my head is facing his hairy neck so I still can’t see his face. He tried to untangle my hair for a few excruciating seconds before giving up.
“Hold on. I might need scissors.”
“You’re not going to cut my hair. Take your shirt off so you can see what you’re doing.”
“I’m not taking my shirt off.”
“Half the people in here are naked. What difference does it make?”
He takes his shirt off. The weight of the crystals yanked my neck down. “How many Swarovski crystals are on this thing?”
“A lot. And I don’t want to lose any.”
“I feel the same way about my hair.”
He finally untwists my hair, leaving a fistful of strands attached to his collar. I’m free and I’m pissed. Rubbing the tension in my neck, I look at my hair stuck to his stupid collar. Then look at him. He’s wearing a Swarovski multi-colored crystal suit.
“You’re welcome.” He said buttoning up his shirt. He’s short and pudgy. I don’t like him. Or, maybe it’s the crushing headache. I can’t distinguish between the two.
“It’s really the least you could do. Your outfit is a danger to women and animals.” I said.
“It’s ridiculous. You look like you’re going to perform in front of 50,000 people.”
I lift my shoulders up and down to help ease the cramp in my neck when he placed his palms on my shoulders and gently rolled the tension away.
“You have a lot of stress in your neck.” He said. “Sit down.”
I sat on the bench next to a bowl of cherry flavored condoms.
“You have nice hands. Are you a pianist?”
“Stop referring to me as Elton John.”
“I didn’t call you Elton John.”
“Yeah, you did. That 50,000 people quip. The crystal suit. I know who you meant.”
I smile to myself. “Well, what’s your name?” I ask.
“Clifton Ash. Nice to meet you. And you are?”
“Missing a fistful of hair.”
“Do you ever stop being tough? It was dark. I didn’t see you. I’m falling on my sword here, massaging your neck trying to make amends.”
I look up at him. “You have nice eyes.”
“Thanks. My mother gave them to me. Do you want to get a drink?”
I see my fun buddy down the hall talking to a dominatrix. “My ride is here. I have to go.”
“Who? The ass-less cowboy? He doesn’t look ready to saddle up.”
“Awkward bumping into you Clifton Ash. Thanks for the massage.” I roll my head forward. “The pain is gone. You really do have nice hands and kind eyes.”
“Wait a minute. What’s your name?”
I didn’t know why I didn’t want to tell him. “You’re reflecting light like a disco ball. I have to look away before my headache comes back.”
“Here, here’s my card if you ever want to meet again under normal circumstances.”
I read his card. “You produce porn soundtracks? You know I’m never going to call you.”
“I make a living. What do you do that’s so great?”
“I produce commercials.”
“We’re both producers. We can get together and talk shop. Or not. No pressure. Do me a favor? Don’t throw the card away in the club. I don’t want the owners to think I’m soliciting.”
I walked away from Clifton Ash thinking I couldn’t remember the last time I felt so at ease with someone. When he massaged me there was something about his hands that felt capable and reassuring. His hands reminded me of Poppa Joe. I never let strangers touch me without a grace period. The thought of his touch and his kind eyes stayed with me for a month before I called him.