One of my most surprising cases was a seventy-six year old grandmother who firmly told me she didn’t plan on dying a virgin. She’d had four children and she still felt as ignorant as a bride. The anatomical mechanics were no mystery, but the rest . . .
Her husband, a cheery, quite uninhibited, and accessible man, was horrified to discover she’d been biting the bullet for fifty-two years. He’d firmly believed their sex life was better than fine. It was. For him.
The blame, in this case, can be firmly set at the lady’s door. She was afraid to hurt him by telling him she wasn’t aroused. She was ashamed of her unresponsiveness, and so, believing herself to be frigid, she faked her pleasure in order to ensure his. It was a recipe for disaster.
The loving husband laboured away happily believing she was in heaven, and she submitted with growing resentment, until she simply started to refuse him.
Their active sex life dwindled to nothing, until one of her granddaughters shattered all of her preconceptions by telling her casually that she was teaching her new boyfriend how to pleasure her. She resolutely sought out a solution, and came knocking at my door, looking for help in finding her missing orgasms.
—Sensual Secrets of a Sexual Surrogate
Cold as it was at four in the morning, Lance opted to top his outfit with a V-neck cashmere sweater in a soft charcoal grey. After his frugal breakfast and morning ablutions that included a clean shave down to his bellybutton, he set off for Glass Street and Millicent Deafly.
The London streets were empty with low fog settling on the corners and embracing the lampposts. It was still dark, with daybreak hours away, when Lance stepped onto the curb in front of Guilty Pleasures. It was a late nineteenth century building, with a grim, brick façade of narrow windows.
“Wilfred Peckerless?” The voice that grated out of the London fog was anything but feminine. It was, in fact, decidedly harsh and threatening.
“Um, Pecklise, Wilfred Pecklise, actually.”
“That’s what I said.” A large shadow loomed out of the mist and resolved itself into an odd, short silhouette. “I’m Serge Moreno—the cook.”
Lance’s gaze dropped down sharply as he studied the short man in front of him. “Oh. I was expecting a Miss Deafly.”
Serge’s dark visage stared up at him. “Yeah? Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you! I’m the one’s gonna be running you. Might as well see if you can take the heat, eh?”
Lance winced back. “Um, I’m at your service, of course, Mr. Moreno. I’m a hard worker, and I want to learn—”
“Yeah, yeah, I know that speech! I hear it at least twice a month! There’s no work, they say. Unemployment is rife, they say, but still they quit. Well!” Serge Moreno peered up from his diminutive height. “You look like you can carry a load. Let’s try you out.” He threw him a keychain with a Toyota car key. “You ever driven a box van?”
“No, sir, but I’m sure it won’t be a problem.”
“I can’t drive, see; can’t reach the pedals. Bloody things are built for beanpoles.”
Lance nodded respectfully. “It can’t be easy, sir, you being a little person . . .”
Serge Moreno gasped in outrage. “A little person? Did you just call me a little person? I’m a fucking dwarf, boy, understand? A dwarf! There ain’t nothing little about me. Nothing.”
Lance stammered out, “S-sir . . . M-mr. Moreno . . . I’m sorry, sir. I meant no disrespect.”
“You forget that polite and politically correct bullshit with me and we’ll get on better. I call a spade a spade, and a cock a cock, get it? Now then, Willie, to the fish market!”
Serge Moreno was a curious figure. He was under four feet tall, with an oversized square head dominated by a pair of large, lucent dark eyes. He was black, wrinkled, and had the soured expression of one who has discovered his half-full glass contains mule piss. His personality seemed likewise lacking in any redeeming sweetness.
Lance decided such an unpleasant demeanour must be rooted in astonishing talent and thought it might be expedient to flatter him. “From what I understand, Mr. Moreno, you are a legend in your profession.”
“Trying to butter me up already, my lad? Forget it! I grew up on board the sorriest tramp steamer that ever sailed the Indian Ocean. I’ve seen just about every sorry kind of creature put on earth by God who calls himself a man, and the sorriest of them all is an arse-licker! So now, hang a right at the next intersection, and we’ll take it from there.”
Lance wisely maintained radio silence until they arrived, then carefully manoeuvred the van into a parking space and got out.
“Come along. You get to carry the groceries home for Mama. I’ve got a bad back, you know.”
Lance nodded and followed the small, strutting figure into the bustling market. Sounds and smells overwhelmed him. Colours blossomed in the harsh neon lights. On the tables, squirming, slapping shapes tumbled over glistening ice.
“Jerry!” Serge cried, addressing a small redheaded man with a heroic handlebar moustache. “A dozen lobsters for Millie. And throw in some sea urchins, six dozen oysters, and three or four she-crabs. Make sure you tie up their claws properly this time; I nearly lost my johnson last time!”
“Wouldn’t happen if you kept it in your pants, you old perv!” Jerry grinned and peered curiously at Lance. “Who’s this, then?”
“This here is little Willie Peckerless. My brand new muscleman.” Serge smirked suggestively and giggled at Lance’s outraged expression. “Come along, little Willie, time’s a-wasting!”
Lance picked up a large green plastic box filled with ice and shifting armoured crab shapes, balancing a smaller one filled with oysters on top, while Serge took charge of a small container full of spiky sea urchins.
“Sweets for the sweet, and pricks . . .” Jerry cried out as they moved away.
Lance heard Serge reply in some guttural language, drawing a shout of laughter from the redheaded man.
Serge watched with an eagle eye as Lance carefully placed the boxes in the back of the van. “Now, little Willie, fruit and vegetables!”
“Mr. Moreno, I really would rather you called me Wilfred!”
“Ticked off already, are you?” Serge scrunched contentedly into the van. “I knew you couldn’t take no shit! Written all over you!”
Lance was indignant. “Sir, I’m not a quitter!”
“Well, Willie little, that’s what we’ll see! Right, left, left again at the third intersection, and step on it!”
Lance followed Serge’s curt instructions and drove them briskly to the greens’ wholesalers where Serge bought a great variety of vegetables and fruit. Lance had never even seen some of the colourful produce before. He disregarded Serge’s brash behaviour and immersed himself in the intoxicating new scents rising all around him. He struggled to identify them: peach, melons, sweet apples, oranges, limes, and pineapple. Other strange and exotic perfumes overwhelmed him. He turned to find Serge watching him.
“Like wine, ain’t it?”
“Yes. Like wine.” Lance smiled back, surprised by the sweetness of the dwarf’s smile.
“Come along, Willie, more to do!” They took their purchases back to the van and settled them in carefully. “Now, some coffee before sunup!” Serge directed him to a small café on the waterfront.
A plump woman greeted Serge affectionately and settled them at a small table by the window. Without asking, she brought over a large plate heaped with delicate sugar-dusted pastries and a pot of steaming coffee. She poured out the first round into small china cups and left with a smile.
Serge smacked his lips and shuddered at his first taste. “It’s crap without sugar, but if I want to eat my pastries, I’ve gotta cut down somewhere, or else Millie’ll burn my arse. Eat up, my man!”
Lance found the coffee hot and delicious, and he thought the pastries, though sugar loaded, were nonetheless delectable parcels of unidentified delights.
“Italian pastries, my boy. Good shit.” Serge swallowed the last pastry on the plate, licked his fingers, and burped hugely. “Let's go, Willie Wanker. Gotta get to Guilty Pleasures before eight.”
Lance was starting to enjoy the foulmouthed little man. His salty language was refreshing after years of sensitivity, sweet talk, and suggestive flirtation.
Parking in the loading zone, Lance opened the back doors of the van and began unloading the boxes onto the curb in front of Guilty Pleasures. Just as he was carefully manoeuvring the box of restless crustaceans out without soaking his cashmere sweater, he heard Serge address someone behind him.
“Morning, darling! Got everything you wanted! Juicy Jerry came through like always!”
“Good morning, Serge. Excellent! It’s going to be quite a day! Are you going to introduce me?”
“Miss Millie, this here is my new assistant, little Willie Peckerless.”
Lance felt a deep wash of heat rising up the back of his neck. He turned around quickly and found himself looking down at a short, pleasantly plump woman with a contrite smile he recognized as Millicent Deafly.
“Serge, behave!” she said.
Serge chortled evilly.
“It’s quite all right, Miss Deafly,” Lance said. He slanted a grin at the dwarf. “Mr. Moreno and I are coming to an understanding.”
“You wish, Willie Wanker, you wish!”
Grinning, Lance followed Serge up the oak-panelled stairway to the first floor.
“This way; I’ll show you what goes where,” Millicent said, smiling.
“Why, darling, at his age I expect he knows!” Serge smirked.
“Shush, Serge! That’s quite enough now,” Millicent scolded.
Lance grinned and followed them into the heart of Guilty Pleasures.
The kitchen was large, well lit, and with shining aluminium workstations running around three sides of it. Some of the counters had a running step alongside, which Lance immediately saw was for Serge’s benefit. The stoves, with their huge stainless steel exhausts, gleamed. A calm, tranquil atmosphere permeated the airy space.
“So, Wilfred, has Mr. Moreno discussed pay and work conditions with you?” Millicent’s voice was calm, melodious.
“No, Miss Deafly. Not yet. I think he was waiting to see if I lasted the morning.”
“I see. Well, like I said in the ad, the hours are odd, but the salary is quite reasonable, plus we offer benefits and health insurance. You will be expected to be here in the early morning to do the shopping—our daily purchase of fresh supplies—usually from four to eight. After that, you can go home until three in the afternoon when you will return to work. You will help Serge in the kitchen and to set up the meal up until whenever the dinner ends. Helping Serge entails you driving him wherever he needs to go; also you get to chop, carry, and clean for him as needed. Is this all right?”
“We do only dinners, Tuesday to Saturday. Sundays and Mondays are off. We sometimes deliver to special customers, and you’d be doing that, too. I must explain something to you: Guilty Pleasures is not a restaurant and we are not open to the public.”
Lance raised an enquiring eyebrow. “You’re not?”
“No. We are a members-only private dinner club, Wilfred. Our philosophy is to give our members an unparalleled culinary and sensory experience, in privacy. What happens at Guilty Pleasures stays in Guilty Pleasures. As I said, you will be primarily assisting Mr. Moreno. We have a maître d’, Mr. Hendricks, and he handles the waitressing staff in the dining rooms. I’m mostly involved with liaising with the club members and suppliers, and working with our decorator to create the ambiance they desire. The heavy cleaning gets done by a professional crew after hours, but the kitchen will be your province.”
Lance nodded. “That sounds just fine, Miss Deafly.”
“I’m not going to gild the pill here, Wilfred. Mr. Moreno is not an easy man to work with. He uses up a lot of assistants, and your work experience is not exactly what I was looking for, so I’d like to wait a few weeks to see how you fit in with the rest of the team before we sign a contract. Though you will still be paid, of course, but you will be on a probationary status for the first three months. Your benefits would start after you’ve completed this period. Does that seem acceptable to you?”
Lance took a deep breath and was about to agree when Millie interrupted.
“And we can hold off on doing all the hiring paperwork for now—contracts and such[e1] —just until we are all satisfied it’s going to work out for you at Guilty Pleasures.”
Lance smiled. “That seems very sensible, Miss Deafly. When do I start?” he asked.
She laughed. “Why, you already have! Be back here at three this afternoon, and please call me Millie.”
“Thank you, Millie. Please call me Will.” Lance smiled shyly and glanced down bashfully. Yikes! The entire front of his trousers, groin and inner thighs were soaked with the fishy-smelling runoff from the ice packing of the dastardly crabs. So much for a gallant exit. Backing toward the door, Lance nodded to Millie and Serge. “Three o’clock then, Miss . . . I mean Millie. Mr. Moreno.”
Millie waved good-bye, and Serge gifted him with a snarly smile.
Lance walked down the stairs. He definitely had to rethink Wilfred’s wardrobe, and wear something more suitable for the job—such as heavy duty denim—from now on.
Back at his apartment, Lance thought about his day. Hmm, not bad for the first contact. The woman was quite acceptable. Not a stunner, but her eyes were kind and her smile mischievous. Her skin was quite lovely, and she projected a sensuous warmth. Her figure was definitely on the lush side, but pleasantly so. Millie was not at all what he had been expecting from her picture. He found himself quite liking her. Things might just work out. With a bit of luck, he would worm himself into her affections, and seduce her.
Lance decided Wilfred would take up cotton boxers, and leave Lance’s silk G-string thongs in the drawer. There were a myriad of new skills to be acquired, and solutions to be found. His immediate future, it seemed, would be full of the weird and the unexpected. An immersion in a strange new world far from the rigid and rigorous structure he had created for himself. Yes, things would work out.
Lance shook his head to dispel a sudden vision of Millicent Deafly’s clear, honest gaze, and dived headfirst into writing his book, taking on the challenging task of trying to explain women to men, getting Venusians and Martians, if not onto the same planet, at least into the same bed.
“Do you think he’s going to work out, Serge?” Millie asked as Lance walked away.
“Too soon to tell, darling,” Serge said, staring at Lance’s backside. “But he sure looks yummy . . .”
Millie laughed. “I’m going home to take a nap, Serge. You behave yourself!”
From the Diary of Millicent Deafly:
I had a great morning today.
I got the confirmation for the Fifth Annual Food Fest for Fashion Victims dinner for thirty five supermodels, none of whom are anorexic or bulimic, according to their relevant psychiatric reports.
Serge actually liked the new assistant, Wilfred, and says he has a nose. Wilfred seems pleasant, but vaguely geeky, like Pee-Wee Herman on steroids! He has nice eyes, though, and a sweet smile. I hope he lasts.
In other news, I had lunch with dearest Mum. She took me to one of those horrendous places where you pick out your food from a menu that lists the calories before the price.
Mother looked splendid—perfection, as always. I’m happy to report she was in fine fettle and she weighed me to the last ounce, commenting I had gained a “little” weight.
She then proceeded to praise my perfect peach velvet skin with a distinct tone of sour grapes in her voice, then kindly advised me to be careful about my breath. But, of course, she was only telling me this out of concern for my well-being. Because she loves me, and doesn’t want me to go through the pain of rejection . . . again.
Ugh! Being with her was really unpleasant.
Ah! I nearly forgot. Our visit wouldn’t be complete without her questioning me if I had met anyone, or tried to meet anyone. She also asked me if I had considered speed dating, or maybe tried the Internet. When I sighed, she told me that a woman like me, especially at my age, couldn’t be choosy.
I told her I didn’t want anyone. But of course, she told me that the frigid facet of my personality must have been inherited from my father.
It took everything in me not to throw my drink at her and walk out, so instead, I ordered a nine-hundred calorie sundae for dessert. She sat in furious disapproval, biting at her augmented lips. I can’t tell you how good that sugar tasted.