There's this place I sometimes go, a retreat from the usual. Most nights it's the same story as anywhere else. Drink specials, flashing lights, dance music, barflies. People come and go, a bell rings when someone gets a good cash tip, and at a quarter to two they turn on the lights and try to shuffle people towards the door. The prices are good, the people are cool -- but when you get right down to it, it's a sleepy little bar.
Or at least it was, until the swingers found it.
There's an underground swinger's club that's been around town for years. Sort of a loose gathering of couples looking for other couples to swap and play with. The thing is, when you hear the idea -- your mind goes one of two ways with it. Either it's the sexiest, most open-minded thing you've ever heard -- or it's kinda gross.

And to be honest, when you get right up face to face with it what you get is a little bit of both.

All in all the people seem really nice -- most of them come off as upper middle class or quietly rich who are looking for a safe way to have a little fun. When you talk to them you get the impression that the majority of them are the kind of people who spent the first half of their careers breaking their backs for someone else and learning the ropes before striking out on their own and making it rich.

Interestingly enough, that seems to be the way they approach relationships as well.

From what I can tell, the group is largely made up of second marriages. Trophy wives. A lot of the couples reek of new money. The kind of rich people who busted their ass to get to a six figure income but now that they've made it they don't know what to do with it all. So a lot of them wear it. Silicone is abundant. The mens watches are ornate, made of precious metals, and are designed to survive extreme ocean depths regardless of the fact that many of them will probably never get that opportunity.
It's kind of like a country club mixer, with cleavage.
As a spectator on the sidelines, it's a fascinating thing to see. Each night has a theme to it, usually directed towards a certain brand of fantasy or clothing. So one night might be a "naughty schoolgirl" thing, while the next might require fishnets and spiked heels. Nothing's required, so the flavor comes from seeing how far individual couples are willing to go with the idea, and how they react to the others who do, and the ones that don't.

In other words, on fishnet night you saw a number of women wearing fancy fishnet stockings under varying lengths of skirts, depending on their comfort level. For some of the women, it didn't seem like a big deal at all. For others it seemed to be an odd and exciting novelty, but it was impossible to miss the looks on their faces when later in the evening one wife came in wearing a fishnet catsuit, with essentially nothing on underneath it. Her body was a work of surgical enhancements, so the results looked like they had essentially jumped off the pages of some men's magazine -- but in this odd little group, it was the equivalent of the local PTA having a pot luck where everyone is asked to bring their your own casseroles, and then one mom shows up with a plate full of lobster.

In fact, that's sort of the endearing part about the whole thing, because even though these aren't the most "normal" people you can find, there’s no way to escape the fact that these are still married couples -- and no matter how much latex and leather gear they may have on during a given evening, the fundamental rules apply.

Like this one night I was hanging out, talking with the bartenders when a guy came up and ordered a shot of Patron silver. The bartender sorta shrugged and said, "We just ran out of Patron, can I get you something else?"

The guy paused a moment to consider it, at which point I kinda jumped in and suggested he try the Cuervo 1800, which is actually (in my opinion) smoother than the Patron. It doesn't bite quite the same way, but it's actually a better tequila to sip on. I bought a round for the two of us and he sort of agreed that it was good (probably didn't change his mind, but it was a good enough introduction).

His name was Richard. His skin was a dark charcoal brown, accented around the eyes and mouth by thin lined graying hair. He owned a fitness instruction company and was doing really well with it, but his original love was playing the saxophone.

Immediately we launched into musician blather, which almost always takes the same tack. We talk about the kinds of things we like to play, yapped about equipment for a little while, and then launched into the part of the conversation I like to call "the brag" -- where one musician tries to outdo the other by listing all of the people they've worked with/played with.

All musicians do this, and what's more -- all of us lie. Not that we make up stories out of thin air, but that we take the smallest connection we might have actually had with a musician in real life and turn it into something bigger than it actually was. So that night that your band opened up for a group that featured the guy who used to play bass for Teddy Pendergrass becomes the day you jammed with Teddy Pendergrass, and if necessary -- the story about how you almost got into Teddy Pendergrass touring band, but the timing was bad. The key is to mix in just enough of your true stories so that it's hard to tell which is which.

So in short, Richard was a sax player from New York who played in a bunch of the club bands back in the day, and may or may not have played a few gigs with Marvin Gaye when he was really young. He would have stuck with it and gone pro for real, but he got married to his girlfriend and had a couple of kids. Eventually he got into personal training and started his own business, and when they saved up enough money he decided to live the dream and relocate to Florida.
It was at this point that his wife showed up.
Standing well over six feet tall with heels on, it was hard to miss Alonda walking through the crowd. She was working a tight black party dress that barely made it past her hips. Her body was lean, but her hips swayed when she walked in a way that was impossible to ignore. It also didn't hurt that she was almost a dead ringer for Khandi Alexander of CSI and News Radio fame (who I've always thought was hot) except that her hair was cropped shorter and curled into tight ringlets.

It was an incredibly sexy look, except that she wasn't wearing it as such. Women have a way of doing that sometimes -- they know how to combine elements like clothing and makeup to where it works in the mirror, but when you get out into the real world it's just an outfit.

It also didn't help that her eyes were pensive, and she seemed distracted even as she smiled and shook my hand. Richard boasted about her modeling past, and recounted highlights of our conversation as a way of endorsing me as someone worth talking to. I cracked some lame joke that got a momentary smile from her as Richard ordered another round for us all.

But just as soon as we were introduced, old friends and other conversations moved close enough to pull us in different directions and it seemed like we were gonna end up as just one of those shared-drink friendships that happens so much in places like this.

So later on when Alonda sat back down next to me I was honestly a little bit surprised. Especially since Richard was nowhere to be found. When asked about that detail, she rolled her eyes and motioned to a spot behind me, where Richard was actively talking to a young black girl sipping on a dark cocktail through two little red straws.
"She seems cute." I said
"They’re all cute." She answered.
Not being a part of the life, it seemed odd to me that there would be a problem with this sort of thing. But it was clearly weighing on her. And in one sense it was hard to argue with it. She was clearly the most striking woman in the whole place that night, decked out lot more than she probably needed to be for the event they had going on – and yet here was her husband chatting up someone who in comparison was exceptionally plain.
She was however, younger.
We started talking about it, but it seemed like she wasn’t really talking to me. It was like she was working through something in her mind, asking and answering questions of herself that I would never get to hear. She talked about their marriage with pride, of the two daughters they’d raised, of the success the business had gained. But she missed modeling, and often wondered what would have been had she stayed with it.

I told her she could go back to it, that she looked amazing. She smiled at that, and thanked me for the compliment – but you could tell her mind was somewhere else. She probably heard compliments all the time – from guys like me.
But the voice she really wanted to hear them from, the one that really
mattered – was standing across the room, complimenting someone else.
[Listening to:  Jay Brannan"Soda Shop" ]


Werdna said…
Beautiful peice of craft there.

Well executed. Looks like I've got some catching up to do. ;)
whatigotsofar said…
Hot schmot, swinging is icky.
Amanda said…
cuervo 1800 over Patron? Really?
I don't sip it though.

And yeah, swinging is gross.