Winter 2017 — THE POTOMAC


  Paula Willis

     "Jesus, what's this?"
     The cleaning lady's niece holds up a largish, bright purple, semi–translucent object which she has just discovered in a pot of geraniums. Her aunt guffaws.
     "Brenda, Hon, that would be a dildo." Then Vera realizes that Brenda doesn't know what a dildo is.
     "It looks like a thing." Brenda eyes the dildo with puzzled dismay. "Like, you know, a Thing."
     "It's supposed to look like a Thing," Vera laughs. "It's a vibrator. It's a pretty neat one, actually, it really does look just like a . . .Thing."
     These kids. So easily shocked. So scared of words like penis, and of course Brenda would not say "dick" or "cock" in front of her aunt.
     "And it looks like it's kind of squishy," Vera adds, chuckling a wicked chuckle. Shocking Brenda is a hobby of Vera's. Brenda involuntarily squeezes the Thing and recoils. The purple plastic really is squishy.
     "What do you think she does with it?" Brenda asks.
     "Oh, for chrissake, Brenda, what do you think she does with it?"
     "No, I mean, she's, like, sixty years old." Brenda blushes to the roots of her red–not–found–in–nature hair. Tactless! Aunt Vera must be about sixty herself. An alarming vision of Aunt Vera and the Purple Thing presents itself to Brenda. Brenda wipes it away from her forehead like sweat.
     Vera draws herself up to her full five feet and inhales, thus making her bosom look as if it's five feet around. "Hon, if there's one thing you need to learn before YOU start pushing sixty, girls just like to have fun. Like in the song. And guess what, girls come in all ages. Old girls. Rich old girls, like Miz Willis. Poor old girls like your poor old Aunt Vera. And they all like to have fun. Mark my words."
     "This doesn't look like fun to me," Brenda says, still holding the purple dildo—of which it must be said that it does look exactly like a penis if penises came in flourescent purple—and regarding it with a combination of disgust and disbelief.
     "It will, Hon. Someday. Mark my words."
     A couple of minutes of silent dusting. "So what'll I do with it?" Brenda asks.
     "Turn it on and have fun!" Vera sees the look of abject horror on Brenda's face. "Just kidding, baby. Stick it back in the flower pot. You know Miz Willis hates it when we move things around."

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