Hello Lovelies, 'tis a collaborative writing thing I'm launching on Friday, March 18th. The premise is simple: I'll write the intro of a story and you, good people, will finish the rest. The story will run for four weeks, with three additional authors. Think of it as bases: Betsy = first base; Writer #2 = second base; Writer #3 = third base; and Writer #4 = takes us home :)
The bases of words are open to everyone; just be creative, make sure yo
ur contribution is consistent with the overall tone of the story, and please cap your submission to ~500 words. Contributors can list their name or elect to go anonymous. C'mon, how great is that?
Our writing collaborative will post under the WORD UP tab on Fridays, so please send your contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org by noon on Wednesdays. Seriously, no CP time.
A li'l something I'm testing in addition to the recent weekly anecdote, so holler with suggestions...and stories!
THE KICK OFF STORY
PART #1: DIRTY DIGITS
I wasn’t always obsessed with hand washing. I am certain during my childhood years I vehemently protested when my mother told me to wash my hands after coming home from a long day in the third grade or running around the park in my pre-pubescent years. But as an adult, I had become a force to be reckoned with, washing my hands at almost every opportunity—and sometimes encouraging others do so as well.
“Did you wash your hands?” I said, staying Sam’s wrists. Shock was written all over his dark chocolate colored lean face.
Sam stopped kissing me. “What did you just say?”
“Um, I, ah, asked if you washed your hands since coming in the house,” I replied, pouting sheepishly.
“I can’t believe you just said that,” he replied.
I was fixated with ridding my filthy fingers of feces, fecal flora, strep viridans, and a host of other pathogens found on anything from subway hand rails, taxis, bathroom doorknobs, and even pens. While I very certain those germs were not lingering on my hand, I couldn’t express the same sentiment for Sam’s. What else had he neglected to wash? I thought. Would his nasty ways have repercussions that would affect me? Unfortunately these queries crossed my mind right before he tried to finger pop me. Instantly, I went dry. On several occasions when he made dinner, sand was still in the lettuce; I would feel the tiny pebble-like particles swirling around my mouth. Yes, washing properly was clearly not his forte.
While Sam stood staring at me aghast, I could practically feel our pheromone count rapidly decreasing, however, I was determined that our foreplay would not be quick and dirty. Who didn’t wash their hands as soon as they walked in the house? I mused. I didn’t see him enter the bathroom, nor did my ears pick up on the sound of running water from the kitchen. Eventually the standoff ended and Sam responded yes, though it was obvious he was mortified that I even inquired.
Sincerely hoping that we could salvage the last vestiges of our romantic mood, I tuned back into Sam, who was now looking at me with a mix of annoyance, lust, embarrassment, lust, confusion, and lust. My question may not have seemed apropos to him, but I had to confirm his cleanliness to continue the love play.
“It’s just that I didn’t see you go in the bathroom or kitchen,” I murmured, caressing his face. He didn’t smile, but his hands were still around my waist so that was a good sign. Yes, there’s definitely lust in his eyes.
“Well, I did and just so you know, I’m a grown man. I don’t need you to clock me about hand washing.”
He must have done a three-second wash, which wasn’t even enough time to create a good lather, I thought. A person needs a solid ten seconds of soap and warm water in order for any hand washing efforts to be effective. I guess he missed the Oprah special on germs, the local news, magazines, and every other media outlet that has talked about how effective proper hand washing is to minimizing germs. And he wants to get some? Absolutely not. Good time to plead a headache. Next time he won’t be so nasty. In fact, I’ll add it into my arsenal of foreplay—something sexy and sudsy for hand washing.
By Mel T.
“What’s wrong with you?” Regina asked.
Before I could respond, she shook her head and raised her palms in frustration, which made the almost perfect two-carat diamond solitaire on her left hand glisten and mock me. In six months, Regina would hold the title of misses. Shortly after she would trade misses for doctor upon completing her dissertation. Maybe she viewed me as a client too because she said I had emotional issues. Ha! I thought, scoffing at the notion. Deep down, however, I knew she was well qualified to make the deduction.
It had been at over a month since Regina and I had last saw each other so we decided to meet at a cozy and clean-looking bar that had recently opened around the corner from my apartment. I had been living in the neighborhood over five years and it was the first time that anything besides a liquor store or beauty supply had opened. I was willing to give this place a try, barring any dirt disasters.
“Is it wrong that I have high hygienic standards? This is New York City and Sam didn’t wash his hands properly! He acted like all the water would evaporate if he didn’t move quickly,” I said, sipping on my pineapple and cranberry juice mix. I never cared for the taste of alcohol as well as the potential to lose control because of inebriation. Regina, on the other hand, was doling out advice over her third vodka tonic.
“With Sam it was his hands, the guy before him wore shoes that leaned to the side, and guy before him… Well, it doesn’t even matter now. If no one is good enough, guess who you are going to end up with?” Regina asked, adjusting her tortoise shell glasses.
I didn’t remember her wearing glasses before. They must her new-almost-a-doctor look, I thought. Her normally youthful face even had a dash of authoritativeness.
“Please enlighten me,” I said sarcastically.
“No one!” Regina said, frowning. “You have found problems with every man, which makes me think you get rid of them before they find an issue with you.”
“Would you just be my friend instead of my clinician?”
“I am,” she said, stroking my hand. I tried not to think about where her hands had been before we met, but it was futile. She did take the subway over here. Suppose she touched the pole? I silenced my inner voice to listen to Regina again. “I just want you to find love. I want you to live.” Then, she looked at her watch.
“Really? Are you thinking about leaving?” I asked, immediately realizing that I sounded whiny.
“Haven’t you guzzled enough juice for the night?” She winked and reached for her scarf and jacket. "I have an early morning meeting, and if I don’t get out of here now, it won’t be good. I know my limits, but…” She tilted her head towards the bar, “you should stay.”
I looked thinking I would see a beautiful stranger, but instead Jean Marc raised his glass at me and nodded. Interesting, I mused, smiling at him. Regina did not know that I had already met him. Jean Marc had recently purchased the last unit available in my building.
Jean Marc surveyed the lounge until his grey eyes landed on their target. Bingo! he thought. All of his childhood days of lip reading often came in handy, whether it was in the courtroom as a corporate litigator or tonight—seeing the woman who still trickled through his thoughts to this day. And from what he discerned from the conversation with her girlfriend, she was having man-problems, which was to Jean Marc's advantage.
Sam, his frat brother, had recounted how his then-girlfriend ruined their good mood by asking if he washed his hands right before foreplay. Jean chuckled at the memory. In jest, Sam told Jean Marc that he and his ex-girlfriend could have been the perfect pair as Mr. and Mrs. Clean. Jean Marc was neat as a pin while Sam was sort of lackadaisical with his hygiene. What could Jean Marc say? His mother always told him that cleanliness was next to godliness so he was meticulousness in everything. His manicured nails were clean, short, straight and buffed—just the way he liked them. His crisp grey suit held no evidence that he had put it on eight hours earlier since in Jean Marc’s book, wrinkles were akin to cardinal sin.
So perhaps tonight, we can be the consummate couple, Jean Marc thought. He had caught a glimpse of her once in his building recently, and tonight they just happened to be in the same bar. Game on. Though Sam and Jean Marc were boys, he didn’t feel an ounce of guilt or sorrow for the mission he was about to embark on. He and Sam had been playing this “game” since they were in college. They easily stole and traded women over their many years as friends.
Jean Marc took his time drinking her in. He had an entire philosophy on what he liked and didn’t like in his women, but this one was definitely a like. The first sip was her thin, but sexy bare legs, unmarred in four-inch stiletto crocodile sling backs. Hmm, he thought, smiling to himself. He loved his woman in heels and not much else. His next sip was her figure-hugging black pencil skirt that stopped right above her knee. From his vantage point, her skirt didn’t have wrinkles either. He took another sip of his drink; scotch on the rocks was just what he needed.
He watched as she straightened her top and noted how the shimmery silk fabric fell softly off one shoulder exposing flawless chocolate brown skin. While Jean Marc was fair skinned, he was still a brother, and loved his women any shade darker than himself. The berry was definitely sweeter, he mused—and shuddered. As he took one last sip of his drink and rose from the barstool, his arm collided with something, but it wasn’t as bad as the splash on his blue suede Ferragamo shoes. Turning, he was met with the glare of what he could only graciously describe as a sloppy, big boned woman. With her wig askew, she seemed ready to brawl.
“Say something,” she threatened, “because I will pound you from the floor to the door.” Ignoring her, she rolled away in a huff. He shook off the ice from his shoes, grateful that he had Scotch Guarded them and stealthily made his way over to his aim.
She felt his presence, but took her time looking up. Regina, on the other hand, was already standing and took the opportunity to successfully block him from leaving—if only that was his intent.
“Hi, I’m Regina. Do you live in the neighborhood?” she asked. Without waiting for a response, she continued. “I sure hope you do.” Winking, she adjusted eyeglasses with her left hand, letting it linger to display her engagement ring. Ever so slightly, Regina inclined her head towards her friend, silently telling Jean Marc to introduce himself to her.
Without extending his hand, he smiled politely at Regina and replied, “I’m Jean Marc.” His deep voice resounded in the intimate space. Turning to Regina’s friend and the woman he was about to pretend not to know, he said, “And you are?”
She looked up at Jean Marc for the first time since he came over. Up close, he stole her breath and made her want to discard her golden hand-washing rule just to feel his fingers. She quickly tucked her hands under legs for fear they would betray her.
“Madison,” she replied, sharing a dance with Jean Marc’s mirthful grey eyes. No proffered hand? she noted. Wise man. He may be worth getting to know after all.
PART #4 (the conclusion)
Madison and Jean Marc left the bar arm in arm, sharing flirty glances en route to their building. Before entering, Jean Marc used his white silk pocket square to hold the door open for her, then saved it to press the seventeen button in the elevator which led to his penthouse unit.
“Can you press the four button for me as well, please?” Madison asked. She enjoyed his company, but had no intention of going to his condo. Not yet, anyway.
“Since we’re neighbors, and have yet to have a drink together, I thought we could reacquaint our friendship tonight.”
“Reacquaint?” Madison said, puzzled.
Damn! I didn’t mean to say that, Jean Marc thought.
“Yes. We met a while back. You dated my friend Sam, but that seems like eons ago, right?” He added the last few words to make sure Madison understood whatever happened between her and his boy was history.
“Ah, I see. I knew you looked familiar.” This bastard should have said that from jump! Madison thought angrily. Even though it had been over a year since she and Sam had broken up, the last thing she wanted to do was date his friend. Besides that, she knew that she had literally done him dirty in her obsession to be clean and still regretted that evening. Hygiene aside, Sam was close to her heart, though she never voiced her true feelings to anyone. Politely, she asked, “How is Sam? Married yet?”
“He’s doing well,” Jean Marc replied curtly, “and single.” Switching the subject, he said, “So, my place or yours?”
Since she had a reference point for Jean Marc, Madison agreed to stop by his condo for a drink. At the door, she noticed Jean Marc used the same pocket square to unlock his door. Covering one finger, he keyed in a numeric code and turned the doorknob with the slip of cloth. His cleanliness game is off the Richter, Madison noted, smiling to herself.
Before giving her a tour of his duplex, Jean Marc ushered her into the first floor bathroom. “I figured you would like to wash your hands first. Please be certain to use the disposable napkins. The gold monogrammed Egyptian cotton hand towels are for my use only.”
“Thank you,” Madison replied pleasantly,even though she was a bit miffed by his comment. Extremist, aren’t we, she thought. Instantly, flashes of a similar hand washing situation popped in her head, but she pushed them back into the recess of her mind, willing herself to focus on the tour Jean Marc was about to give her.
Everything was white, save for an entire wall of windows facing Manhattan, the stainless steel island kitchen, and the brown, glistening hardwood floors. There was nary a dust particle in sight.
Making herself comfortable on the white leather sofa, Madison intentionally allowed her fingers to brush Jean Marc’s as she accepted a concoction of juices.
“Where are you going?” Madison asked, surprised.
“To get a coaster for you. I don’t want the tumbler to leave a ring on my glass table. Besides that, your fingers touched mine,” he said smirking. “I prefer the option of putting my hand places, not having them fondled by some stranger.” This time, he laughed outright.
“Jean Marc,” Madison started. “Your sense of humor is offensive, and truthfully, you have been rude to me since I walked in. Sure, I’m a stickler for cleanliness, but lighten up a bit. There’s no need to be extreme.”
“Extreme? You’re over-thinking this situation, sweetheart. I gave you a new pair of Chanel flip flops to walk around my house, which you can keep. I don’t permit street shoes to touch my floors; who knows how many times your stilettos have been around the block? And, just because I prefer that you not touch anything before slipping on a pair of these sexy lace up white leather gloves,” Jean Marc said, proffering her a pair, “doesn’t mean I’m rude. I’ll even let you spank me with them later,” he said, chuckling.
“Spank you, eh?” Madison said with a wink. Sidling up to Jean Marc, she slipped the gloves on then rubbed his back. When she felt him shiver, she pulled away, and looked him directly in his eyes. She was didn't want to lead him on any further.
“I never thought I would say this, but you are even more clean, fastidious, meticulous, and anal than I am, which is highly impressive. I always thought someone like you would be my match, but you’re not.” Before he could wipe the shocked expression off his face, Madison slipped the gloves off and allowed them to slide to the floor. “Thank you for making me realize how overbearing I have been.” She kissed his cheek, ensuring traces of her rosebud-colored lipstick stained his cheek. As predicted, he was in the bathroom washing it off before she was out the door. She collected her “been around the block stilettos” and rode the elevator down to her apartment, still wearing the Chanel slippers.
Entering, Madison ditched her usual routine of washing her hands. Tonight, something more pressing occupied her mind. She rifled through her desk drawer, disheveling a mound of papers. Five minutes later, she found what she was looking for and with unwashed hands, picked up her cordless phone.
“Sam. It’s Madison.”