Potion: a fantasy
“You may now turn on your cellphones, but please keep your seatbelts fastened as we are on an active taxiway. The local time is 4:23,” the flight attendant Silver informed me and the rest of the passengers, “and we will be arriving at gate P-23 in just a few minutes.”
P for Potion, I thought to myself, and discovered I had two messages. What a surprise.
“Hi, flouncy, this is Potion, I upgraded you to the honeymoon suite at the hotel – a guy I know works there and it wasn’t any problem – but it’s booked until tomorrow, so tonight you can just stay with me. Also, you don’t want to be driving, so I reserved a limo and billed it to your room. See you soon.”
Since I had never stayed in a honeymoon suite before, I saved the message rather than erasing it.
“Hi, flouncy, Potion again. Something just came up and I won’t be able to meet you at the airport, so the limo driver will just take you to my place and just make yourself at home until I get there. That will give you time to freshen up and look your best for me, oh my vain little pet.”
I saved this message too.
Silver (which is how I thought of her both because of her silver hair and her propensity for silver jewelry) laughed when I updated her on Potion’s latest twist in the first-class kitchen nook as the rest of the passengers filed out. “I’m really looking forward to meeting her.”
“Well, if you and I have dinner tomorrow night, should I invite her along?”
“flouncy, it doesn’t matter if you invite her along, she’ll find a way to invite herself.”
“Probably true. Anyhow, think about where you want to go – looks like we’ll have a limo.”
We exchanged our usual hug, and I too debarked. On the way through the airport, I quickly called my Mistress telling her that my plans were somewhat up in the air and that I’d call from Potion’s once we had things ironed out. She laughed too.
It wasn’t hard to tell which limo driver was for me: it was the good-looking guy holding a sign for C.V.P. Bird. He seemed somewhat surprised when I walked up to introduce myself, but quickly recovered and took my bag as we headed out to the limo.
“So what does C.V.P. stand for?”
“Cute, vain, and pinkish.” I was wearing hot pink jeans and nail polish, along with a lighter pink “Sassy” shirt (from Sassy Teahouse and Boutique in Redmond – generally agreed to be amongst the least sassy places in the world, but he probably didn’t know that), so I had the ‘pinkish’ part covered. Silver had told me that I was looking cute, but I wasn’t sure whether I was the guy’s type – and of course there was no way for him to know about the vain part; most people have a hard time picking that up. So I figured I should probably explain. “It’s an in-joke from the woman who arranged the limo for me. She referred to me that way once online and it kind of stuck.”
“Oh, Potion? Yeah, she’s got a great sense of humor. I’m taking you to her place, right?”
“Right, she said that something came up and we should just meet there. But she didn’t give me the address.”
“No problem,” he smiled … or smirked, really. “I know the place. Yeah, she wasn’t sure how long her date would last, so she told me to let you in – I’ve got the keys.” Just in case I had missed the point, he added, “I told her that since you were flying all the way across the country to visit her, it was a little uncool to be out on a date with another guy when you landed, but she just laughed.”
“Yeah, she’s got a great sense of humor.” I didn’t bother to mention that I was actually in town for a conference, and had just come a little early to visit Potion – it might sound defensive or something.
As we got into the car, limo guy commented that I really didn’t seem like Potion’s type. This was something I had figured out already, since she had dropped hints about this on more than one occasion; but looking forwarded to gathering some valuable information, I nonetheless quizzed him on what kinds of guys she usually went for. Coincidentally enough, his descriptions of her preferences (looks, style, favorite activities, musical tastes, etc.) all turned out to be an exact match for him. I decided maybe I should take his opinion with a grain of salt.
We got to her apartment and he let me in and showed me around. The décor radiated taste and sensuality, with many unusual pieces no doubt from exotic locations. He put my bags next to the sofa. “This is where you’ll be sleeping … several guys have told me that it’s kinda uncomfortable.” Limo guy was really starting to bug me, so instead of asking him about his experiences related to the sofa and/or sleeping at Potion’s the way he so obviously wanted me to, I made sure I had his card, and then walked him to the door.
Alone, I took a deep breath to relax, and wandered around a little more. Well, okay, I was really hoping to find a photograph of her so that I had some idea of what she looked like, but there weren’t any images of people up on the walls. Her bookshelves were packed with interesting reading – I quickly found the Baudrillard section, which we had talked about so many times online, and a quick scan revealed that we had lots of other books in common as well.
Art of Seduction was on the coffee table, next to 48 Laws of Power and a large, beautiful, hand-bound leather photo album or scrapbook with embossed script on the cover saying Victims. It was all beautifully arranged … I wondered whether I was already there. Oh well, I’d probably find out soon enough. In the meantime, I fished the copy of Pills, Thrills, Chills, and Heartache: Adventures in the First Person that I had brought as a gift out of my backpack, and put it down on top of the Victims book.
The pink wrapping paper and bow I had chosen certainly looked nice against the black leather, but perhaps this was a little unsubtle – and it might be a good idea to keep things in reserve. Putting the gift back away for the time being, I returned to her bookshelf, pulled down Baudrillard’s Seduction, opened it to the section where he talks about transvestites as the epitome of seductiveness, and positioned it on top of the Victims book, getting the right rakish-but-casual angle on my third try. Much better.
I was a little tired after the flight, and the sofa really was pretty uncomfortable, and since she had told me to make myself at home, I debated about crawling into her bed for a quick nap. It really does take me a while to get glamorous, though, so maybe this would be a mistake. How long would her date last? For that matter, I didn’t really know whether she was on a “date”; that was just limo guy’s characterization.
Now that I thought of it, it wasn’t just limo guy’s annoying and condescending personality that was bugging me; it was the way that Potion was using him to triangulate me. Unlike his personality, this was probably a solvable problem.
“Hi, Silver? Flouncy here. Hey, I was wondering, could you use a limo tonight? The driver’s really cute, and although I find him kind of annoying, that’s probably just because he’s got some kind of thing going with Potion … so if you’re interested, I wouldn’t mind getting him out of my hair.”
Silver laughed and had me describe the guy. When I was done, she thought for a second and said, “A little young, maybe, but he sounds like he might be my type. And do you remember Sirena? Blonde, gorgeous, used to do the Seattle/Portland/SF loop, usually afternoon flights, and then she switched to the O’Hare route.”
“Um … not sure ….”
“She told me that she flashed you once.”
“Oh! Sirena! Yes, I do have a vague recollection of that.”
Actually I remembered it really well. When I got down to SF that night and described what had happened (“I was in 1C, and she was in the backwards-facing flight attendant jump seat) , my Mistress’ then-current boy-toy-wannabe asked how I knew that the flashing was intentional. I admitted that there was no way to be sure, but I thought the fact that she gave me a big smile afterwards might have been an indication. Then-current boy-toy-wannabe was skeptical, or maybe jealous, so even though it was eighteen months later, it was kinda nice to know that I was right. I made a mental note that I should track him down and tell him “neener-neener.”
“Anyhow, she’s in town, and I think she’d also be delighted to take you up on your offer.”
“Great! Thanks so much!”
I gave Silver the limo guy’s number, and told her I’d call the company and let them know about the change in plans. The woman I reached at their main office, Charmaine, was very willing to help, but I heard a definite change in her tone when I mentioned that the arrangements had originally been made by Potion.
“Do you know her?”
“Yes.” Somehow I didn’t get the feeling that they were best buddies.
Hmm. Maybe there was some aji here.
“Well, tell you what … let me explain the situation and see if you have any ideas.”
Perhaps it was just my delivery, but she was very amused by what had happened so far, and quickly got into the spirit of things.
“You’re still going to need transportation, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, probably. I have no idea what her plans are for me, but she did seem pretty intent on the limo.”
“How do you think she’d react if there was a female limo driver?”
“I like how you think!”
“How do you think she’d react if the female limo driver started flirting with you?”
“How do you think she’d react if I started flirting back?”
We both laughed.
“Y’know, I’m off tonight, but sometimes I just have the urge to drive … hey look at that, we’ve got a spare car. Seems like we’re supposed to be by at 8:00, so I’ll see you and your good friend Potion them. Oh, and you can tell your friends Silver and Sirena to give me a call as well – that way I can handle all the logistics, and maybe give them a few hints about how to get the best possible experience from their driver.”
Feeling pretty good about myself, I went to take a shower and get beautiful. Unsure of exactly what the plans were for the night, I opted for a hot pink very short Catherine Coatney sleeveless dress black piping, black nylons with glitter mixed in, and four-inch pink cfm heels … yeah, a little casual by my standards, but I didn’t want to overshadow Potion. Unsurprisingly, she had an excellent makeup mirror, and so I got to work.
Not that I’m vain or anything, but I was concentrating so hard on my makeup that by the time I realized she was watching me, I had no idea how long she had been there.
“Um … hi. I must not have heard you walk in.”
She continued to look at me, and let the silence stretch on. Well, that’s a game that two can play, so I went back to my makeup, and hoped she didn’t notice me stealing glances at her in the mirror. Yeah, right. OK, I know when I’m beat.
“It’s really nice to meet you, Potion.” I realized that I didn’t need to worry about overshadowing her. “You look spectacular. I was sure you’d have gorgeous eyes but they’re even more amazing than I imagined … and I love your [perfume].” People generally tell me that it’s endearing when I babble, and I hope it’s true.
“Nice to meet you too, flouncy. You’re looking rather pinkish.”
“Yes. Well, no rush, but please let me know when you’re done primping.” I wasn’t quite sure how it had suddenly become my fault for keeping her waiting, but nonetheless felt a pang of guilt, and hurried to finish up my makeup while I struggled to think of a rejoinder.
“Prinking, not primping.” One of my profiles lists prinking as one of my hobbies, and helpfully contains the definition:
- prink. v. intr. 1. To adorn (oneself) in a showy manner. 2: put on special clothes to appear particularly appealing and attractive;
She shot me a “is that the best you can do?” kind of look. “flouncy, we both know that one of the definitions of ‘to prink’ is ‘to primp’. You’re primping.” She shook her head in disappointment and walked out. I wondered whether she was bluffing and hustled after her.
[When I finally got around to looking it up, I discovered that she wasn’t bluffing: an alternate definition of prink is “To dress or groom oneself with elaborate care or vanity; primp.” Drat. But I digress.]
We walked out to the living room, and she positioned herself so that the light perfectly highlighted her best features. “Let’s have a look at you,” she said, and gestured for me to twirl about. Once again she took her time before saying anything, but finally came to a conclusion: “you really are adorably cute.” Smiling hungrily (was it my imagination, or did that cause the temperature in the room to rise by ten degrees?), she added, “I am really going to enjoy you.”
Desperately trying to recover some equilibrium, I decided to buy some time by bringing out the gift I had brought. She thanked me for it, admired the wrapping paper, and put it down without even opening it. Silence fell once again.
Finally, she licked her lips. “Do you have any idea how long I’ve been anticipating this moment.”
I chuckled. “Not exactly, but my guess is at least from the time you posted to what’s-his-name, some kid, about how your potions have unbearable side effects on those who can’t meet the challenge …”
“And you replied that you’d be willing to drink one of my potions – as long as we shared it.”
“Do you remember what I posted back?”
“Yes, in fact, but only because I looked it up before my flight. ‘.....and the one that she chooses must have blood on his face and a couple of broken limbs.....’”
"Do you really think that's when it started?"
"Ill be honest -- I have no idea."
She took my hand. “Come into the bedroom, I want to show you something.”
I followed her in to a bedroom that was more sensual than I could have possibly imagined. That same saying was on a beautifully-engraved plaque over her bed.
“One of my victims, a wonderful artist, made that for me. But that’s not what I wanted to show you. Here.”
Sitting on an end table by the side of the bed were three crystal glasses, filled with liquids of different colors: bubblegum pink, blood red, and a rich deep brown.
“The pink one is for us to share now, to get us in the right mood for dinner. The red one is for us to share after we get home.”
“And the brown one?”
“That is for tomorrow morning, if you dare … and if you are worthy. I predict that by tomorrow you will be begging me to let you drink it. I haven’t decided yet whether I will or not.”
I looked at the potions, and at Potion, who was gazing at me intently. “One time when we were talking about how it’s no good when seductions or anything else comes too easily aren’t valued, you talked about how love comes in different colors: bubblegum pink, blood red, and deep brown.”
“Another time when I had asked about the effect of your potions, you told me that somebody who absorbed the right one completely would wake up as a new person and start living real life for the first time.”
“You have a good memory. Or did you look those up as well?”
I stared at the three glasses for a few seconds and then changed the subject. “Should we have the pink potion before I call my Mistress, or after?”
“Now. That way it will start to kick in while you get your call to her out of the way.” That’s not actually how I think of talking to my Mistress, but I let it pass. “And then we need to start thinking about dinner – the limo will be here soon. I’ve arranged a double date.”
“You have? How thoughtful of you!”
I once posted to the board about the fun of double dates where there are flirtations going on orthogonal to the “official” couple relationships. People in general liked the idea quite a lot. It seemed like I wasn’t the only one who had a good memory – or had looked up old postings before the weekend.
“Yes, there is a new victim who has been putting up some resistance, and so I decided that this was a good chance for you to help me finish him off. I was worried that you would feel neglected, though, and so I also asked a former victim of mine who has a fixation on transvestites – he spends a lot of time watching porn online, but you’ll be the first he’s ever gone out with in person. ”
“You sure know how to show a girl a good time.”
“Yes, he told me that he’s really looking forward to it because transvestites are so slutty – ‘much sluttier than real women’, apparently.”
“How delightful. Nothing like dinner with a Vulgarian, I always say.”
For the first time all night, Potion laughed. “You really think I would do that?”
“[Yes, of course].”
“Well, you’re right, I would … but it just so happens I didn’t. Dinner is just the two of us.”
“I’m flattered – and relieved!” I said.
Somewhat to my surprise, there was no significant ritual attached to drinking the first potion; Potion simply took my hand, and with her other hand picked up the pink glass and took a sip, then offered it to me. We alternated sips, and when we were done, she gave me a quick kiss on the lips.
“This is the warm-up, flouncy, and so there is nothing to worry about, but you will want to relax. Lie down on the bed as you call your Mistress, and close your eyes.”
I dialed the phone, and closed my eyes as instructed, but before it even started to ring, Potion took it out of my hands. “Hello, D,” she said. “This is Potion, and I wanted to let you know that flouncy is even more adorable than I had imagined. I think I may keep her.” Then she passed the phone back to me.
“Having fun?” my Mistress asked.
“You could say that,” I replied non-committally.
“What are you doing right now?”
“I’m lying on Potion’s bed with my eyes closed.”
“Hey, I’ve got my clothes on! We’re going out for dinner in just a few minutes!”
“What are you wearing?”
“That hot pink Catherine dress and …”
The preliminaries taken care of, we quickly updated each other. She was heading out to a horror movie with some friends – better them than me – and our cats had come up with some new cleverly destructive tricks. On my part, I told her of our current plans – she was amused about the non-double-date with the vulgarian – and gave her Potion’s phone number in case she needed to get ahold of me. I couldn’t tell whether Potion was in the room or not, so left out any mention of the limo games; there would be time enough for that later. We wrapped up, as usual, by telling each other how much we loved and missed each other; and then she asked me to pass the phone back to Potion … who had, in fact, been in the room all along, but now left with the phone. The two of them talked for several minutes as I lay back and relaxed. Eventually, Potion came back into the room.
“Did you have a good talk?”
“Your Mistress is a very interesting woman.”
“I think so too.”
“There are some things that you and I will need to discuss later. But for now, you are going to take me out to the best and most expensive restaurant in the state. And before that, I have a present for you.”
“You do?” Nothing perks me up like getting a present.
“Yes. Keep your eyes closed for a second more …” I felt her hands at the back of my neck, heard a click, and then felt something on my chest.
“How can you be both so flouncy and so smart? Keep your eyes closed still …” She took my hand and led me to a mirror. “And open now. Do you like it?”
The charm on the necklace was made out of garnets and spelled out “Potion”.
“Potion … it’s beautiful … but it must have cost a fortune.”
She shrugged. “I have no idea. One of my victims gave it to me. In any case, I’m glad you like it, because the clasp jammed, and I am not sure you will be able to get it off. Ever. Now, shall we go?”
We walked downstairs holding hands to where the limo was waiting.
More accurately, we walked downstairs to where the limos were waiting – as were Charmaine, limo guy, Silver, and Sirena. We quickly stopped holding hands and tried to sort out just what had happened. Actually, I’m still not completely sure, but I think it had something to do with Silver and Sirena deciding that they wanted to meet Potion, Sirena and limo guy really hitting it off, Sirena and Silver talking limo guy into showing up at the regularly scheduled time (yeah, like that must required some real arm-twisting), Charmaine and Silver discovering they had some old friends in common … it all started to sound a lot like the fourth act of a comic opera, or maybe one of the more confusing Shakespeare plays – y’know, one of the ones where one of the characters is cross-dressed.
Since it was all clearly my fault, I offered to take everybody out to dinner. It was still pretty tense for a while there, but after I managed to explain to Potion how this was a great example of a [win/win] situation and she dumped a glass of ice water over my head, things started to lighten up, and pretty soon, everybody was having a great time telling stories at my expense. It was really nice of the maitre d’ (a friend of Potion’s, Charmaine’s, and Sirena’s, as it turned out) to bring a speaker phone to the table so that we could call up my Mistress and have her share the fun … and contribute more than a few stories of her own.
In fact, everybody was enjoying themselves so much that the party was clearly going to continue without us, so even though we had two limos, Potion and I wound up taking a cab back to her place. In the back seat, we tried to figure out whether I had invented a new category of anti-seductive behavior.
“When you start referring to me on the board as ‘cute, vain, pinkish, and spectacularly incompetent,’ nobody will know what you’re talking about.”
“They will once I post about my dream date with flouncy.”
“Yeah. I sure know how to show a girl a good time.” I shook my head in chagrin. “Potion, I’m really sorry about that. You’re so much better at seduction than I am … when I try to keep up and impress you I just get way too clever … I don’t blame you for being furious at me.”
“Well, I was furious at you, and I should be still, but as long as you don’t bring up win/win again tonight, perhaps I will relent.”
“Good, because I have a present for you – for us, really.”
“Good, because I have a present for you as well.”
We went into Potion’s bedroom, where she put on some music – something that I didn’t recognize, but perhaps similar to or influenced by qawwali – and lit some candles, then dimmed the lights. She arranged some cushions on the bed, letting the tension build, and then pulled out two matching boxes from under the bed.
“I special ordered these from Agent Provacateur in London.”
“They’re matching. Except for the colors, of course.”
“Let me guess. Mine is pink … and yours isn’t.”
We ooohed and aaahed and changed into our new lingerie and I told her how much better it looked on her than on me and she told me how much better it looked on me than on her and I thanked her for saying it whether or not it was true.
My gift for her was a framed, hand-lettered poem from Hafiz of Shiraz: Hezaar nokteh gheire hosn bebayad ke ta kasi maghboole tabe bozorgaane saahebnazar shaved.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t manage to do this in Farsi …. When you posted this to the board and translated it as ‘it takes a thousand different secrets beyond physical beauty to get a worthy prey under your spell’ all I could think was that I certainly hoped you thought I was worthy.”
“If you are under my spell, perhaps I know more of those thousand secrets than I realize.”
We smiled at each other. How could her eyes be flashing and infinitely calm at the same time?
“Potion, I am having such a wonderful time with you.”
“And I am enjoying you as well, flouncy. And soon perhaps we will drink the red potions, and we will enjoy each other even more. First, though, we need to talk about my conversation with your Mistress. She asked me not to break any toys.”
“It’s a saying we have …”
“Yes, she explained to me that this meant not to hurt you. I told her that I view seduction as war, and that I would not give my word that I would not break you. I also told her it was a mistake to trust me.”
“What did she say to that?”
“She said that you trusted me, and she trusted you. She was disappointed that I would not promise not to break you, but when I asked her if she wanted you to leave, she said it was your decision. Does she think it’s a mistake for you to be here?”
“She’s not sure. Do you think it’s a mistake for me to be here?”
“I am not sure either.”
“Me either.” We sat for a while, and finally I added “One time you said that you had never had a happy seduction … and I remember thinking – I might have even told you – that I really hoped that you’d have at least one and that it would be me. But then again, you might have said that just to appeal to the Rescuer in me.”
“You see me clearly enough to know that I would do that, so you should see me clearly enough to know that you would be a fool to trust me.”
“You’re probably right … but I’ve been a fool in the past and it’s worked out incredibly well for me. Shall we share the red potion now?”
“Will you beg to drink the brown potion as well?”
“I’m not sure … it’s not just an issue of trust, it’s a lot more complex than that. You’ve said that your goal is to possess me completely, and if that comes with the illumination from the brown potion, then that’s not a tradeoff I’d make. And also … I really don’t know if I’m ready for it yet. So I haven’t made up my mind about the brown potion … but I wouldn’t be here at all, let alone trying the pink and red potions, if I didn’t trust you a lot.”
“You want to believe you trust me, but I do not think you actually do. No, I think it is just that you think you are safe because we will both drink the same potion.”
I touched the necklace she had put on me earlier in the night. “Potion … I am not under any illusions here. I know that sharing the potions doesn’t actually protect me. You could easily have built up a tolerance for whatever’s in them so that it affects you less than me; you could have taken some antidote ahead of time or after drinking it; and I’m sure there are a bunch of other possibilities that I haven’t thought of. In any case, I don’t actually think you need any potions – you’re probably stronger than me … and besides, you’re a Coquette, and you know how vulnerable I am to Coquettes. Seriously – if you’re so inclined, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re able to … what was that term you used, devour me?”
“And why do you think I will not?”
“Because I’ve told you that I don’t want to be devoured … and I think you will respect that. And, oh, who am I kidding; I also hope that there’s enough of you that’s curious enough about the possibility of a happy seduction that you’ll put the devouring on hold for once. But really what it comes down to is that I trust you.”
She picked up the red potion but still hesitated. “Very well, flouncy. I am not coercing or manipulating you to do this …”
“No, I am doing this of my own free will.”
“It is customary to recite a short saying or a verse as we drink. Would you be so kind?”
“My pleasure.” Our fingertips brushed against each other as she took the first sip, and I continued,
“In an instant, rise from time and space.
Set the world aside and become a world within yourself.”
She passed the glass to me and I took the next sip.