Saturday, December 23, 2006

Breaking Camp

“Okay, everyone . . . everyone, please settle down,” Tristan announced from the platform. “All right, thank you for your attention . . . and thank you for a great weekend at Dark Odyssey!”

Tristan’s newly won silence gave way to hoots and cheers.

Selina leaned to me. “Where’s Marcus?”

I shrugged. We had nearly finished dinner with no sign of my boyfriend.

He had seemed so blue that afternoon as he pondered going home early. His knee injury really had him down.

“Okay,” Tristan continued, pushing her glasses up on her nose. “Keep eating if you want. If you don’t, that’s fine too, but remember, don’t blame me—I’m not the chef. I’m here to announce the winners of this year’s Dark Odyssey awards!” We applauded again. “Now, the judges had some tough choices to make . . .”

“I won’t get an award,” Lolita whispered. “I was named ‘Play Slut of the Year’ last time, and I think that bars me from winning this year.”

“Your Play Slut crown will always shine for me,” I said, patting her hand.

“Okay, so the award for ‘Person Most Likely to be Nude’ was, again, tough to decide, as, well, so many of you are so likely to be nude,” Tristan said. “But after considering the possible candidates, we knew the award just had to go to someone who must have packed light, because no one here can recall ever seeing him dressed. Of course, I’m referring to Always Naked Andy. Can he please come forward?”

I spun my head as I clapped hands to catch sight of the winner in the crowd. I had noticed him around. His only accessory was the occasional erection.

He strode to the platform, wearing only a smile.

Tristan handed him a ribbon. “I don’t know where you’re going to pin it, but . . .”

We cheered.

Selina leaned to me again. “You know, if they had an award for bravery, I’d nominate you,” she said. “I’m so impressed that you surrendered to Lolita that way this morning. It was really, really brave.”

“Ah, thanks,” I said, kissing her cheek. “You’re very sweet to say so.” I fingered my pink string choker and smiled.

Lolita caught my eye and grinned.

Selina was really feeling the love for me. Following Lolita’s lesson on wax and fire play, Selina had taken me into a long hug, holding me close and saying nothing. I didn’t move to end the hug at any time. Nor did she. The hug lingered and lingered.

“Thanks,” I said as she finally released me. “What was that for?”

“That was for taking a risk,” she said, looking deep into my eyes. “That was for letting Lolita be the one in charge.”

“Well, thanks. But I never felt at risk. Lolita knows what she’s doing.”

“Yes, but for you to allow it . . . to allow yourself to submit to her . . . well, I’m very proud of you. You were very brave.”

I rubbed her arms. “Thanks, Selina. That means a lot to me.”

It seemed that Selina had decided that she liked me.

Not that it was much in question. She had liked me since we first met. Still, her feelings about me were always mixed. On the one hand, I was a nice person who could keep up my end of a brainy conversation. On the other hand, I slept with girls barely out of their teens, even beating up on some of them.

The latter would understandably rankle feminists of a certain age (which is to say “my age,” as Selina and I are just a few birthdays apart). To some, it’s obvious that men who sleep with so many women—much less those half their age—are burying their insecurities in an imbalanced power dynamic designed to reduce women to sex objects. Obviously.

This was an idea in Selina’s mind that often seemed reinforced by her reading of my blog. That discolored the favorable impression of me as a person, causing her to wonder at times who the real “Jefferson” could be—the polite funny Southerner, or the dominant omnivore who fucked a swathe through the city.

Over the course of our weekend together, Selina began to reassemble the contradictory pieces of my personality to construct a version of “Jefferson” that, ultimately, she liked. She could now understand that I really had no interest in using anyone in a callous way, and that my concern for the people in my life was genuine.

The epiphany in that paradigm shift had been my infatuation with Lolita, a strong woman of our generation who could more than hold her own against the likes of me.

It didn’t hurt that my infatuation was so clearly reciprocated.

The weekend together had been good for my relationship with Selina. We trusted each other.

As Tristan announced the winner of the “Best Dressed” award—an honor taken by Anon, the host of our evening among the vampires—Viviane nudged my arm. I looked over to see Marcus limping into the dining hall, still wearing only his Speedo and crutches. Some people stood to help him to the buffet.

“ . . . and this year, the award for ‘Happy Camper’ goes to . . . Lolita!”

“Hey!” I shouted. “You did win something!”

Lolita grinned at me as she stood to collect her prize.

I felt a swell of pride, like my child had won a trophy. It felt silly that to feel that way, but it felt good to feel it.

“Let me see, let me see,” I begged as Lolita returned with her ribbon. She handed it to me as I kissed her.

“You done so good,” I said. “Being so happy and camping and all.”

“I’m a Happy Camper Play Slut,” she smiled.

“So cute,” I said, chucking her chin.

“There was one person this year who really stood out, in so many ways,” Tristan began, introducing the next award. “He was always an eager participant and, very often, a ringleader. Whenever something interesting was going on, you could never fail but to find him in the midst of it. When he was faced with adversity, he pressed on, letting nothing hold him back. And so this year, we’ve created a new award. The first annual award for ‘Perseverance’ goes to . . . Marcus!”

A cheer went up. I stood and clapped.

Marcus looked up from the salad bar and grinned.

“Come on up here, Marcus, and get your ribbon!” Tristan called.

Spectators cleared a path to make way. As Marcus passed, his back was slapped by many hands. He was a conquering hero among the perverts.

Tristan kissed Marcus’s cheek as she presented his ribbon.

Marcus returned to sit with us.

“Congratulations, sweetie,” Viviane smiled.

“Justly deserved,” Selina nodded.

“That’s cute, right?” Marcus said, pining the ribbon to his Speedo.

Others pressed forward to congratulate my boyfriend.

Femcar kissed him and then offered to bring his dinner. She served him, staying close to act as his personal waitress.

A stream of well-wishers left Marcus with little opportunity to chew.

A blonde woman rushed over to hug his neck. “This is that hot girl I told you about,” Marcus said to me by way of introduction. “Little Julie? The call girl? The one I met at the blowjob class?”

I couldn’t recall his mention of her, but Little Julie was indeed attractive. I shook her hand. She had a very nice smile.

Carin slinked close to kiss Marcus.

The cute artist I had admired from a distance all weekend staked out a seat beside Marcus, leaning close as he exchanged words with his admirers.

Marcus said something to the artist. She sat up and pulled off her shirt. Marcus began to rub her shoulders as she sat bare-chested at the table.

I smiled at her, willing my eyes away from her rosebud nipples.

Without missing a beat in his various conversations, Marcus asked for olive oil from the kitchen staff. He took a small bowlful and rubbed palms of oil onto the artist’s back and breasts. Her olive complexion glowed with his touch.

“Marcus is like a prince,” Viviane said.

“A prince among his subjects,” I nodded.

After dinner and the awards, we returned to the cabin to pack. Camp would continue for one last night, but Viviane, Selina and I had to return to the city. The next morning, we would awake in our respective beds to once more face the real world.

“You know,” Marcus said. “Maybe I will stay one more night.”

“Surprise, surprise,” I laughed. “Man, you’d be a fool to leave all this admiration. And your mama didn’t raise no fools.”

Neil and Windsor lingered outside our cabin, each hoping for final moments with Selina. Lolita and Selina talked as I pressed the men into service to help load our car.

“Hey, I think I fucked your sister last night,” I teased Windsor.

He blinked, not getting my joke.

Viviane made a final pass through the cabin, cleaning and collecting loose items. Lolita and I stood outside, saying goodbye under a tree.

“Well, uh, I really liked meeting you, Jefferson,” Lolita said shyly.

“Likewise,” I smiled, leaning to kiss her cheek. “I mean, yeah, let’s trade some understatements, why don’t we?”

She laughed. “I know, I know. Well, the thing is, I’d like to see you in New York, but I would understand if you don’t want to.”

I furrowed my brow. “Why wouldn’t I want to? You’re awesome.”

“Yeah, I’m awesome, you’re awesome, but I’ve got a life and you’ve got a life. I understand how these camp things are. We can just let it be what it is. That’s okay with me.”

I leaned close and scowled. “Are you breaking up with me, Lolita Wolf?”

“No, no,” she laughed. “I’m just saying . . . you know, this was nice.”

“This was very nice,” I took her hand. “Thanks for everything, Lolita. Really.”

We kissed.

A golf cart whizzed by. “Lolita made a love connection,” someone shouted. Another voice oinked.

Lolita pulled back and smiled. “Goodbye,” she said. With that, she turned and walked away.

“Later, Lolita,” I called after her.

Marcus was balanced on his crutches near the Jacuzzi, talking with two women.

“Jefferson, did you meet Amanda? She has the sweetest pussy.”

“Hi, Amanda. I believe we met briefly.”

Amanda touched my arm. “Yes, nice to finally talk.”

The other woman held out her hand. “I’m Ginger.”

“Right, Ginger,” Marcus said. “I was trying to remember your name. I didn’t want to just say ‘the girl who gives good head.’”

“Whatever works,” Ginger grinned.

“Marcus, baby, we’re off,” I said. “I see you are in good hands.”

“Come here, sweetheart.” I stepped forward to kiss my boyfriend. He opened his mouth to my lips. I held him close as our mouths embraced, our scruffy chins scraping one another.

“Aw, that’s so sweet,” Amanda said.

I pulled back, my eyes on Marcus’s. “Take good care of my baby,” I told the women.

“Don’t you worry,” Ginger said.

“I love you, Jefferson,” Marcus smiled.

“As I love you, Marcus,” I answered.

Selina and Viviane were at the car when I returned.

I looked back at Marcus as we drove off. He waved and then turned away, ambling on his crutches as the women rested their hands on his back.

“Care to make a wager?” I asked.

Viviane turned to me. “What’s that?”

“No matter what else has happened this weekend, Marcus will claim that tonight we missed the best sex ever.

“Ha!” Viviane replied. “No thanks, that’s guaranteed.”

Sure enough, Marcus would tell a couple of stories about sex camp. They primarily concerned events after we departed—and his time with Lolita.

Somewhere along the New Jersey Turnpike, I untied the pink string choker from my neck.

Back home, I put it in my nightstand for safekeeping.

I might need it again.

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