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Written by Charles Rammelkamp. Charles Rammelkamp’s latest book is entitled “Fusen Bakudan” (“balloon bombs” in Japanese), a sequence of poems involving missionaries in a leper colony in Vietnam during the war (Time Being Books). A chapbook is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press entitled “Mixed Signals”. For more on Jewrotica by Charles, see Kitty.
Before he grew older and less sure of himself – more circumspect, more “adult” – David Netzer had done impulsive things in a spirit of carpe diem, like the time in college that he’d tapped on Kim Morita’s door late at night, after the two of them had flirted at a party earlier in the evening. When she’d parted the curtain on the door of her studio apartment to peer out at him she’d smiled at his sheepish figure standing in the shadow and had let him in.
Kim was wearing her nightgown, a bathrobe wrapped around her, obviously getting ready for bed, but Netzer had plopped himself down in her ratty old armchair – it was a furnished student apartment – and had proceeded to be charming. His boldness amused her, and he was clearly attracted to her, and that was flattering.
In fact, within ten minutes of being there, Netzer had suggested they take a shower together. It was a sticky humid evening and they were both perspiring. Kim’s table fan had been beating at the air, futile as a moth. She blushed so adorably at his suggestion, her bright brown Japanese eyes crinkling merrily and the dimples pocking her clear tawny cheeks. Netzer had pulled at the drawstring of her bathrobe and she had swatted his hand away, playful as a kitten, but within another ten minutes they were standing naked in the shower stall, and he was soaping her breasts and between her legs. He adored her mop of black pubic hair and soon was on his knees in the streaming shower, nuzzling his nose in the luxuriant bush and then inserting his fingers and his tongue into her vagina, her clean, soapy, wet vagina, and then she was on top of him, guiding his penis into her, rising and falling on his shaft while the water streamed over them, into their eyes and onto their lips, and then he came inside her, a release that felt like a flood. But Kim continued to hump him until he softened and spilled out of her.
“Sorry,” he said, but she only shushed him.
“It’s okay,” she said, and later in bed, when he had more self-control, she got her own orgasm, and he got another. And then he got another, when they woke up later in the night.
Back then, their ethnic differences had made no difference; they were attracted to one another as young, vibrant beings of the opposite sex. But eventually Kim had met and married another Japanese-American like herself (Kim was second generation; her father was a pharmacist in Chicago), and Netzer had married a Jewish girl. In fact, he’d married two of them, both ending in divorce, one having produced a son.
“God, forty years,” Netzer said to his pal Roddy Quinn. Roddy, Netzer’s buddy in college, was a History professor at their alma mater. In fact, he was retiring, and this was the occasion of Netzer’s return, for his first class reunion ever.
“If you’d come back more often, Dave, it wouldn’t seem like such a shock.”
“I don’t know. Reunions,” he shrugged dismissively. “People you didn’t really like much at the time and whom you never really missed when you left. Why bother?”
“What, you didn’t miss me?”
“You know what I mean. So where is the big party?”
“Cocktails at the Wilsher and then dinner and dancing to follow.”
“God. Any idea who’ll be there? I suppose Becky Sheridan and her cohort?”
“They come back every year, yes.”
“Figures. Arrested development. Their glory days. Any chance Dick Zickefoose’ll show?”
“You kidding? He’s some big muckety-muck in Washington these days, a lobbyist. Way too busy.”
“Well, at least my room’s in the Wilsher, but I’m starting to regret this already, Roddy.” Netzer shook his head at a memory. “Remember when we used to buy beer at the bar in the Wilsher with our fake ID?”
That night a band was playing oldies for “our generation,” only, they were never the songs that Netzer had listened to in his youth. “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree,” “Stairway to Heaven,” “Killing Me Softly with His Song.” He felt awkward, didn’t recognize a soul. Of course, Roddy knew everybody and introduced Netzer to all his long-lost classmates – in truth, there weren’t that many; out of a graduating class of a couple thousand fewer than two hundred or so showed up, and most of them were locals. But after a quick hug or handshake of recognition and a few clumsy, embarrassing exchanges, the conversations (career, family) invariably ended with, “Hey, good to see you,” before they moved on.
But then, all at once it was, “Dave, you remember Kim Tanaka?”
“Morita,” reminded the heavy smiling lady, her hair still remarkably black, jolly now, an updated version of the giggling girl he remembered, extending her hand and then pulling Netzer toward her, a quick hug. “Tanaka’s my married name. How have you been?” she asked, and she sounded as if she cared.
Netzer stammered, taking her in, the large pendulous breasts, dipping slightly toward her midriff, propped up by her underwire brassiere, and somehow much more alluring than those high perky breasts of her youth. He hadn’t thought of Kim Morita in decades, but the memory of the shower stall came flooding back all at once, that mutual one-night stand of their carefree college years. “Geez, I –” Netzer was at a loss for words. “You look great, Kim!” he blurted, and she blushed, as she had that night he’d come knocking at her door, even if her cheeks were now too full to register a dimple.
“This is going to sound silly,” Kim gushed then, and Netzer saw several lime wedges sloshing around in her gin and tonic; she must be on her second or third, he guessed. “But I’ve always thought of you whenever the subject of Judaism’s been mentioned.” She raised her free right hand and tapped her heart, in a sign of sincerity, hoping that what she’d just confessed didn’t sound too gauche. “I mean, you taught me so much.”
“My brother Joel’s the rabbi,” Netzer shrugged, completely taken off guard. Taught her? About Judaism? What the –? A nonobservant Jew himself – he’d only ever put in an appearance at a Passover seder to please his mom, who was dead five years now, along with his father before her, and he hadn’t fasted on Yom Kippur since he could remember – Netzer was sure what he knew about Judaism could fit inside a thimble and still leave room for the Manischewitz.
But then he remembered. That night in bed, after she’d had her orgasm and he’d had the second of his three, and they lay there in their post-coital coma, what Netzer had always privately called “the truth serum,” the post-orgasmic tendency to talk without inhibition. He remembered the questions she’d shyly posed about Jewish girls. Was it true they didn’t have sex when they were menstruating? Was it true they didn’t like oral sex?
“Depends on which Jewish girl you’re talking about,” he’d joked, but then he’d explained about ritual purity and women being required to immerse themselves in the mikveh after menstruation before they were allowed to resume what was quaintly called “marital relations” with their husbands. A requirement not necessarily adhered to by everyone, he’d told her, and then he’d given a thumbnail sketch of Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Judaism, the different levels of observance, but he sure didn’t think he’d been anything like “authoritative.”
“And oral sex?”
“Now for that you really had better ask a Jewish girl!” Netzer had laughed, and then joked, “but they do keep a kosher kitchen.”
“A what?” Kim looked puzzled.
She didn’t get the joke, and Netzer had explained kashruth, though he’d probably gotten the details wrong.
“Oh, I hope I didn’t say something wrong,” Kim apologized now, thinking she really may have been gauche, from the bemused expression on Netzer’s face. He’d just been thinking about his wives and oral sex: Susan had liked it; Rachel didn’t.
“Oh, no, I just wasn’t sure what you meant –” And then, as if afraid she had been reading his thoughts, he stammered, “I mean, that’s – that’s really very flattering. I wish my mom was still alive so I could tell her what you said!”
“My husband passed away last year,” Kim murmured, as if Netzer’s mentioning his late mother had prompted the thought.
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
“It’s kind of why I came to the reunion. I live in San Francisco.”
“Wow, that’s a long way to come from out to the Midwest. Recapturing your past, sort of?”
Kim shrugged. “Are you married?”
“Not any more.” Netzer did not feel like going into the history of his marriages, and he let it slide. “My son’s a software engineer in Maryland.”
Kim’s eyes glazed over, either from the gin or from the my-son-or-daughter-is-doing-this-or-that-and-I-have-X-number-of-grandkids tendency of the conversation.
“Well, it was nice seeing you again after all these years,” she blurted, her voice suddenly false, and Netzer felt an abrupt pang of loss – just when he seemed to have recovered something valuable from his past, that he hadn’t even realized he’d lost.
Did I ever tell you about my name? It’s a Hebrew acronym for “Reform Zionist Youth” – Noar Tsioni Reformi.”
Just as she’d been about to leave, Kim turned to consider him again, and his heart leapt when he saw her bust shifting in her blouse, those heavy, substantial breasts he could not remember from college (hadn’t they been high, taut, a compact handful with puckish gumdrop nipples that hardened like marbles when he rubbed them? Or was he thinking of somebody else?). Her breasts seemed to promise comfort.
Recognizing that lovesick look of the horny older man, Kim’s eyes narrowed, as if she had decided Netzer was crazy.
“Look, I have to get up early tomorrow, but it was great seeing you, David.”
“Where are you staying?”
“I have a room here.”
“Here?” His voice went up, hopeful. “In the Wilsher? So do I!”
“Goodnight, David. It was great seeing you.” She sounded weary, and he did not pursue her when she walked out of the lounge to the lobby.
Maybe I could ask her if I could just smell it, Netzer thought with absurd desperation, tossing in his bed, working himself up at the memory of Kim’s glorious pubic bush. Just let me smell it. Just a little sniff. Maybe lick it once or twice?
David Netzer rolled over and sat up in his bed, looked at the glow of the digital alarm. All prime numbers. The hotel was completely still. The reunion party and dance had ended long ago. Pleading a headache, Netzer had left Roddy Quinn before it had really got underway, promising he’d be at Commencement ceremonies the next day, when Roddy would receive his honorary degree. Kim Tanaka had vanished long before him.
Why had he blabbered on about that Reform Zionist Youth bullshit? It’s not like he cared about it, and it had only made him look foolish to Kim, a little off his rocker. Had it been the final straw? Or was he kidding himself that he could have gone to bed with her. God, what he wouldn’t give to take that back; if he could only fondle those breasts, those big soft nipply breasts, he’d die a happy man. Bury his face in the warm, damp swamp of her thick, jungly bush. How had he ever let her get away? Not just here, not just now, but forty years ago?
Netzer. Actually a South German Ashkenazic Jewish name for a fisherman who used nets, from the Middle High German netz, meaning “net.” (Duh.) Or possibly an Eastern and Northern German name for somebody from the town of Netz, or Netzen, in northern Germany.
David Netzer had always thought of himself as a dreamcatcher, a sort of Nabokovian figure chasing butterflies in a field, those butterflies his dreams, those dreams mostly erotic, kind of like a Lacrosse player with his shaft with its netted mitt poised over his shoulder ready to strike, to swoop up the most compelling dream.
Maybe, he thought, he could go to her room now, in the wee early hours before dawn, knock as he had on her studio apartment all those years ago. She was in 341 – he’d asked at the desk before he went to his own room – only a floor above him. It could be just like it had been, except for the diaphragm and the three orgasms. Would she let him in? Would it be worth the risk to try? Remembering that long ago evening yet again, vivid as yesterday, Netzer finally fell asleep, snaring that dream in the net hoisted over his shoulder, the water streaming down over them as they lay in the shower stall.