The Devil in Miss Jones Redux


Who can predict which synapses, out of the multitude, will connect and how they'll eventually fire one another in a chain reaction years later, like dominoes inexorably tipping forward once started? For whatever reason, an inamorata of years past just sprang to mind. I guess maybe strolling down the street last summer (after an absence of forty years) in which lies that illustrious den of sin where we two signed the dotted line of excess, might have something to do with it.

Or maybe mere chance brought her to mind; who knows? I find as the years go on, my memory for educational events which have so shaped me becomes ever more clear. Not what you would expect in dotage. Though I've lived my life fairly steadfastly according to certain axioms without questioning them, it's only recently that the genesis of those axioms has become clear to me.

Her name was Babs. Strictly speaking, I met her just when the Aquarian Age was writhing in its death throes; even Jimmy Carter couldn't resuscitate it. But it still makes sense to log this entry under the heading of
Aquarian Days, for in many ways our passionate time together had qualities of that era. If it feels good, do it. Not a bad motto back then, regardless of Joe Friday's admonition otherwise. And yes, he really did revile those very words in an episode. Which is no doubt why the concept caught on.

Actually, I didn't meet Babs, she met me. In particular, I was a couple years older and in harness as a graduate assistant in Mathematics. She, on the other hand, was an undergrad finishing up a degree in Biology. But we both did our things in Trafton Center. I don't recall ever noting her in the hallways, but she apparently remarked me.


One of my buddies, Kevin, was also a Biology major. I knew him from a few years earlier when we both took Calculus III and IV together. That shows a certain oomph, doesn't it? Kevin took way more mathematics than was required of him, simply because he wanted to do a good job in his field. Makes me think of the great Galileo,

Philosophy is written in this grand book — I mean the universe — which stands continually open to our gaze, but it cannot be understood unless one first learns to comprehend the language and interpret the characters in which it is written. It is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles, and other geometrical figures, without which it is humanly impossible to understand a single word of it; without these, one is wandering around in a dark labyrinth.
Since I didn't run to a car in those days, I would tread the ten blocks from campus to Norton Street, passing his house every day. He'd often be out in his family's garden eating freshly plucked peas from the trellis while we chatted. Nice guy, but square as they came. I think he was always amused at my dissipated lifestyle, but certainly not envious of it. Too scared.

Anyway, one day he mentioned his classmate Babs had been asking about me: who I was, what I did, where I lived, that sort of thing. That was the first I had even heard of her. But I found her interest provocative. And why not? As always, Oscar Wilde comes to mind,

There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.
So, I kept my eyes open in Trafton whenever I spotted Kevin, and sure enough one day I saw him in conversation with a comely girl, the two of them quite a ways down the hallway. I knew it was Babs at once, for she instantly stopped talking to him and gazed in my direction, deaf to his continuing chatter. It's amazing how literate the eyes can be.

I knew who she was now. A brunette, ever my vulnerability.


Over the next couple of weeks, as the term drew to a close that warm spring, I spotted her once or twice around town, but probably she did more so in return. Sort of like when I used to go hiking in the National Grasslands out west: I never saw a single cougar, but always wondered how many had monitored me.


Graduation weekend. I can't remember how it came to pass, but we both wound up at a beer bash at a hippie house near the high school, arriving separately, saw each other and immediately drew close. She instantly abandoned her two girlfriends with whom she had come, and apparently gave them a signal to hightail it. For the rest of the night, it was just we two.


I should perhaps mention that I was definitely a bachelor then, the wildcat Kay having orphaned me yet again a few years earlier. Oh, there was a brief fling with Plant Woman somewhere along the way (with the concomitant gonorrhea false alarm giving momentary pause) but that was just a caprice. Incidentally, Plant Woman lived in a house immediately opposite this beer party; I spotted repeated twitching curtains over the course of several hours. She apparently hadn't been invited.


Babs and I drew ever more physically close as the party wore on. We paid no heed to the other participants, and it seems to me they knew which way the wind blew and gave us our berth. That was probably way more common in the Age than now.

This was her graduation night, by the way. I guess after way too much craving, we decided to adjourn to Norton, around 1:00 a.m. or so. Now that's a good sign, I thought; the countless elementals I'd invoked there over the past three years would surely pitch in to help out in a worthy cause.

Their feelings were no doubt hurt, finding themselves redundant, their work already taken care of. Aleister should be so lucky. After just two minutes on the ghastly orange sofa, ever part and parcel of Norton Street bacchanaliae, Babs took me by the hand and led me to my alchemical laboratory consecrated much earlier but empty for too long. After a fairly lengthy courtship of some three hours previous, we stumbled upon the wisdom of the Golden Dawn:
In the Alembic of thine Heart,
Through the Athanor of Affliction,
Seek thou the true stone of the Wise.
There was definitely more to Babs than met the eye, for as it turns out, her diaphragm was already in place, shaving interminable seconds off.

To some eyes (especially the neighbors), this house was a decaying dump, its inhabitants depraved by Minnesota standards. But to those of us who learned, explored and found ecstasy there, we knew that Coleridge presciently wrote of us when he penned:
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea. 
With degree in hand, Babs decided to stay on in town, working at B. Dalton's Bookseller, as well as supervising various college workshops for visiting high school students interested in science. The bookshop gig was particularly full of fringe benefits, for she read her fool head off and also arranged many bargains in my direction. To my delight, Babs had tackled far more Oscar than I at that point, which I took as a particularly auspicious sign. I've always been ready to learn from a lover. I mean, isn't that the point?

And then there was that episode of nudity on the stoop at 249 Norton Street.

The following year Mike came to town and the three of us managed a joint visit to a beer fest on Cherry Street, one of those private $2.00 per person keggers so popular among the college students then. And it was this night that a particularly noteworthy event in our lives took place.


Mike, Babs and I consumed some sort of foul, flat brew, while getting caught up on everything, pretty much ignoring the hundred or so younger rabble circulating around us. All these years later, I still remember the obscene joke Mike told about Germans--embellished by a wonderful Colonel Klink accent--all the more funny since Babs' mother was a war bride from the Fatherland. We three laughed our heads off. 


After a bit, an MSU jock type (let's call him Duke) homed in on us, inching closer and closer as if to be part of our threesome. I'd guess him at 21 years old or so, fairly muscular, blonde hair and obviously thought he was some woman's prize. Also he never smiled.

This thug clearly had designs on Babs. I guess I should have mentioned, she was an extraordinarily handsome girl and usually drew attention.


So, Duke was growing more and more impatient, clearly not understanding the great bulk of our conversation, or why Babs found Mike and I so uproarious, or why Babs would tolerate me chewing tobacco while she and I frequently embraced or held each other's waists seductively. Like I say, he seemed like your typical controlling, male-chauvinist pig, and expected results from the weaker sex.


He grew redder and redder as the laughter continued unabated and we three paid him no mind, carrying on all manner of conversation concerning books, ideas and life.


Finally Duke couldn't stand it anymore. Still bearing a stern demeanor which to his mind would make any woman melt, he made his play to Babs. More or less saying, "let's cut this scene, and you and I can make beautiful music together, baby."


At which point, Mike said something like, "Obviously you haven't noticed that Babs and Studs are a pair."


And here comes the whopping retort from Duke:


"Obviously!? What are you, British?"

Gales of laughter ensued. Like I say, the guy was pretty tough looking, but then again I weighed 225 pounds and was pretty muscular myself. For a moment I thought I might have to prove what my muscles could do, though.


And thus was born the outrageous love of adverbs which has haunted Mike and me for almost four decades. From a tiny acorn, a mighty oak grows, as it were.

Babs eventually moved to western Colorado to work in a cancer screening clinic. After several months I went to visit and it was clear the flame still burned brightly. And then I moved to Iowa City to work in the Electronic Music Studios of the University of Iowa. Almost immediately thereafter, she came for a visit and then moved in permanently. Luckily, Babs snared another job at a book store, so still more tomes arrived regularly at bargain rates.


She truly was a fascinating person. But perhaps one of her most endearing traits was that she was in a terminal stage of chronic nymphomania. I do not exaggerate when I say Babs lived, breathed and slept thinking of carnal knowledge. I'll always remember her subscribing to a scholarly journal entitled
Human Digest. Quite a grandiose title, wouldn't you say for a rag featuring numerous advertisements for penis and breast enlargers (and the noteworthy Accu-Jack contrivance)? While it usually sported three or four feature articles on exotic sexual techniques, her favorite column was that devoted to readers' comments and questions. Babs was absolutely fascinated by the guy who wrote in to say how much he enjoys "eating beans from my old lady's crack." What a wonderful language English is!

I also benefited from this fine magazine myself, finding a most important lyric for one of my songs, Hyperba Meets the Napoleonic Radio: "Oh, I need it so bad." It appears on my first album, Move Over Demi. I'll post the tune on YouTube some day if you haven't heard it.

And then there was the time she visited my office on campus. I was talking to my work-study student about something or other, a really nice and outgoing chap, always ready to help out with whatever needed to be done in the studios. Babs walked in to collect me, since it was the end of the workday, and I introduced the two. She seemed more ebullient than usual, rather gay and chatty.

After he left, she gasped, "Did you see the size of that guy's balls? They were as big as lemons!" Apparently he was wearing formfitting jeans, but I had failed to take this in. Babs really did have a discerning taste, don't you know.

Another of my colleagues there was an engineer-to-be who failed to complete his degree (the mathematics killed him), but still thought of himself as an engineer. A nice enough guy, but as square as they came. Long-sleeved shirts in all weather, every button done up, right to the Adam's apple, multiple pens in a pocket protector, and a huge fear of the hippies who ran the University. And liver lips.


One day, I introduced him to Babs, and he got mightily flustered, while she paid him no mind at all. After she departed, he pulled me aside and (with drops of sweat running down his brow) whispered, "You know, she'd be a fun girl to take to a party."


If he only knew.


Just what is it about engineer-types? Confessing lust won't cause Newtonian mechanics to come crashing to a halt.


Twelve months later, we were back in Minnesota from where we started, together. One night at yet another beer party, we bumped into Harry and Sue. Harry, of course, was my professor, mentor and all around friend; the guy who gave me the wherewithal to pay for a life of excess with an actual salary. And revealed the beauty of the finest of the fine arts: mathematics. More about him another time.


Anyway, the four of us are at this party--seems to me it was at Sin City, the name given to the cheap apartments just off of campus--and this was when Babs and Harry first met. As I'm making the gentlemanly introductions, I said something like, "Harry, I'd like you to meet Babs; she simply adores having her buttocks raked." A bit of a genteel tee-hee all around at yet another expected bon mot from Studs.

But then, right there, in the midst of dozens of other celebrants, Harry slides his hand beneath her belt and britches, reaching way down into the rear of her jeans, while Babs' eyes went big as saucers from which depended a gigantic grin.

A little later she confided to me, chuckling,  "Damn! He was really digging into my cheeks!"

These are such weird times we live in, the neo-Victorian era as I've referred to it elsewhere. I can easily see just about everyone in this day and age of "society is God, or God is society" disdaining my write-up here as crass, or worse, if accepted at face value, then denigrating Babs' unbridled lust. But really, is it anyone else's business what sort of fun she believed in?

Do you remember Kevin from above, who in a way was responsible for bringing us together? Kevin and Babs used to have no end of arguments about how deleterious "recreational sex" (to use his term) is. If ever there was a redundant phrase, that's it.


It won't surprise you that Babs adored the Robert Graves
I, Claudius books and was especially fascinated by Emperor Claudius' wife Messalina.

Truly.

Hence the subscription to
Human Digest.

You might wonder what became of our incendiary passion. In a nutshell, I couldn't keep pace and certainly was no match for a Teutonic mother. Babs fled the country without warning, but letting me know when it was a fait accompli,  that she had taken up with a dark haired chap wearing an earring in Switzerland, and that they ate fondue every day. I never heard from her again.

Next installment: Synthesis

No comments:

Post a Comment