A Date with DelilahbyQuince©
Since I was 12 or 13, I've had a thing for vampires. That was the only way I knew to describe it—a "thing." As I grew up, I learned words like "obsession," and later "fetish"—this last as a result of that strangest of late 20th/early 21st Century creations, the World Wide Web. I'm 36, so my early adulthood didn't include the web, although now I can't imagine how I ever functioned without it. But as I say, the web taught me—and countless others, I'm sure—about the myriad flavors of fetishes, by providing hundreds, not to say thousands of web sites for every imaginable kink, including mine. Still, when it comes up, and it doesn't come up very often, I resort to my old word. I have a "thing" for vampires. And I had no idea how strange a part this "thing" would eventually play in my life
Now, I don't think there's any great psychological mystery about my vampire nuttiness. I'm sure I fear death and yearn for eternal youth as much as the next guy. But I'm the product of a middle class suburban upbringing, and if the web wasn't a part of puberty for me, the VCR was. By the time I was 14, I had recorded almost every Hammer Horror film off late night television. Voluptuous vixens in cleavage-bearing nightgowns wandered through my dreams with fangs bared. When Colleen, the first girl to let me make out with her, kissed my throat, I came so hard, she thought I was having a seizure. When she discovered what had actually happened, she was a bit weirded out at first, but soon she was fascinated, and she kissed and nipped at my neck every chance she got to see if she could make it happen again. If I learned nothing else from my months with Colleen, I learned how to control that particular mechanism. I never stopped loving it, but I no longer creamed my jeans after every nuzzle.
Throughout college and grad school—Lighting Design, if you please—I dated and had sex with several women, but for some reason, I never discussed my vampire "thing" with any of them. I couldn't figure out how it could be worked into a relationship. It seemed somehow harsh to say to my lover: "Yes, Honey, I love what you do to me, but would you mind pretending to be something else?" I made gestures towards it, but nothing too explicit. One example: I bought some long, flowing white lingerie for Dana, a bosomy redheaded stage manager I dated in drama school—she only wore it once--and of course all my girlfriends discovered how kissing my throat reduced me to jelly. But by the time I turned thirty, and took a resident lighting designer job at a major Midwestern regional theatre, I had discovered the web. I realized that I could indulge my vampire fantasies on my computer at home. I didn't actually have to date Carmilla Karnstein.
Not that I did much dating for the next six years. And it wasn't for lack of interest on either side of the equation. I'm an attractive man: 5'10" and burly rather than trim. I have thick black hair that's just beginning to recede, large brown eyes and a strong chin on which I usually wear a full beard. My arms and legs are thick and hard, and my chest and stomach muscles are well developed from dangling off of lighting grids to hang and focus my instruments, before I worked at places that could afford crews. I've also got a healthy sexual appetite, and plenty of attractive women work in the theatre, but somehow, nothing ever really developed. The hours make it tough of course; lots of late nights. And I am ambitious. When the Rep is dark, I take design jobs in other area theatres. Sometimes I'll even go out of state. And finally there's my "thing." Somewhere along the line, I had begun to think of time at home as fantasy time, and I was disinclined to let anything, or anybody, cut into it. So I hadn't had sex for close to a year, when I saw the ad for the contest.
"WIN A HALLOWEEN DATE WITH DELILAH" flashed in dripping blood red letters across one of my favorite websites: showfangs.com. This outfit manufactures dental prosthetics for people who actually want to wear fangs, and given that my particular fantasy involves being bitten by a vampire rather than being one myself, the site would ordinarily hold little interest for me. And yet I visited it almost every night, because of Delilah.
Delilah was the model. Showfangs produced several different fang styles, as well as contacts, make up, and a line of gothic jewelry, and Delilah wore them all. She was almost always photographed from the neck up--although the occasional shot cut her off at the waist—still, it was difficult to get an idea of the whole woman. But what was there was well worth looking at. The pictures made her look maybe 22 or 23, with a pale oval face and a complexion like cream. She wore her bleached blond hair short and spiky, occasionally covering it with a long, black wig. Her eyes, sans contacts, were the gray-green of seawater on a cloudy day, and her nose was small and delicate, but her lips! Even pulled back into her characteristic predatory snarl, her lips looked full, moist and inviting. The thought of what she must look like smiling, the thought of what those lips must taste like, how they would feel on my neck, my chest, my cock, had consumed my imagination for hours if not days. So it should come as no surprise that I almost broke a finger clicking on the link.
The contest turned out to be nothing much—a publicity stunt to draw traffic to the site. Entrants had to answer three simple questions about female vampires in the movies—you could all but read the answers off imdb.com--and email in your responses along with some contact information. The winner would be chosen by lottery from among those who answered the questions correctly. Third prize was a pair of tickets to a local haunted house, second prize was a set of custom designed showfangs in the style of your choice, and first prize was "A romantic dinner for two at a local bistro on Saturday, October 30th with our own fang-tastic fang model, Delilah!" I answered the questions, sent in my entry, and almost immediately found myself immersed in designing an Ibsen play, set to open on the 17th. I'd forgotten I'd entered at all, when I got the email telling me I'd won.
It was around 11:00 AM, and I was checking my email at the theatre. When I finally figured out what I had won, I started thinking back. I had entered the contest from my home computer some hours after midnight at the end of an absolutely bloody day, and my imagination had conjured up images of myself dancing and drinking with, and finally fucking the brains out of some goth princess in a black PVC bustier, g-string, and thigh-high rubber boots with five-inch spiked heels. And fangs, of course; mustn't forget the fangs. Now, in the business office, on a weekday morning, with watery September sunlight coming through dirty Venetian blinds, I felt like a jackass, and an overheated adolescent jackass at that. The email set forth the parameters of our meeting, and, depressing as it was, it contained nothing that I couldn't have figured out for myself, if I'd been using the big head to think with, rather than the little one.
Our date was to consist of a meal at a local restaurant—local to her, by the way, not to me, which meant that I had to drive some three or four hours to get to it in the first place. Showfangs would pay a check up to, but not exceeding $80.00. Fair enough, although I wondered where they'd come up with the figure. The meal was to last no longer than two-and-one-half hours, at the end of which time a car service would arrive to collect my companion. I could ask Delilah for an autograph if I so desired, but I was to request no personal information from her, including, but not limited to, her last name, phone number, address etc. I was to initiate no physical contact, and Delilah would be carrying a cell phone with which she could terminate the encounter at any time should I fail to abide by the regulations here set forth. Happy fucking Halloween.
The tone of the thing made my bristle a bit, but I really couldn't blame either the site or the lady. They couldn't really know anything about who would win the contest, and they were probably expecting some mawkish horror movie-geek with the social skills and sexual imagination of a thirteen year old. It came as a really unpleasant shock when I realized that, with a few minor caveats, that's exactly what they were getting.
Now I've always had a pretty good opinion of myself. It's a virtual prerequisite for a career in the arts. But as I sat staring at that email, thinking about the contest and the "prize" I'd just "won," I began to wonder how Delilah felt about the whole thing. And I began to think that she probably wasn't looking forward to it. She'd agreed to do it, of course, and I assumed—hell, I hoped—she was being paid something beyond a free dinner for participating. But a blind date is usually a pretty awful proposition, and the fact that, in this case, one of the participants was a semi-sexual celebrity, however minor, wasn't likely to make things any easier. I could certainly tell myself that I was good-looking, smart, whimsical, and what not, and I might even believe some of it, but what would any of it matter to her? What could she possibly see other than a guy who gets his rocks off looking at pictures of her wearing false teeth? At that moment, I decided that, if the subject of the site was to come up at all, she was going to have to mention it. I was going to have a pleasant meal with a pretty woman. I was going to be as pleasant and charming as I could be. And if, at the end of the evening, I felt the need of some kind of release, I would go back to my hotel by way of a video store, rent a VCR and a copy of Twins of Evil, and abuse myself to my heart's content.
The weather had turned cold by the end of October. I'd driven through some rain on the way to her city, but as I parked and walked towards the restaurant, the sky was clear, and the air was crisp. I was dressed casually—cords, a band-collared shirt and a sports jacket, and I held a small bunch of autumn flowers, mixed red and orange among the green of the stems: pleasant and charming. I was repeating it like a mantra: pleasant and charming. The place was in a small strip of businesses just off one of the major downtown arteries. I gave my name to the Maitre D and sat down in a booth facing the door. I was ten minutes early, and I could feel my heart beat high in my chest.
Twenty minutes later, I looked up from the menu to see a young woman standing beside my table. It took me several seconds to realize that this was indeed Delilah. It hadn't occurred to me that I'd almost never seen her face in repose. Now I looked closely at it as I hurriedly stood up to shake hands. It was a lovely face; perhaps a little more triangular than I had thought from the photos, but that was probably because her mouth was closed. It was snarling in all of the pictures, displaying those marvelous fangs, but it was smiling now, a little tentatively. It was a lovely mouth, and a lovely smile.
Her hair surprised me as well: thick chestnut waves gathered into a loose ponytail. The style made her look young, although, as I looked into her face—she wore almost no makeup, nor did she need it—I saw that she was probably nearer 30 than 20. Her complexion was as flawless as I remembered from her shots, but there were the faintest beginnings of laugh lines around her eyes. I was amazed to discover that she was pretty, perhaps even beautiful. Her pictures conveyed an aggressive sexuality—context, I guess, because her face in repose was sweet rather than provocative, with the exception of those luscious lips.
Even in a polite smile, her lips held my attention. They were wide and shapely, the lower slightly fuller than the upper, giving her a sexy little pout, slightly at odds with her peaches-and-cream prettiness. I wondered if another winner might not have been a little disappointed to be dining with this apparently wholesome young woman instead of the torrid temptress presented by the web site. Perhaps they would have been. She didn't seem to care. Her only concession to Halloween was in the colors of her outfit: black slacks and a blazer over an orange blouse buttoned to her throat. Tiny enamel pumpkins decorated her ears; she wore no other jewelry.
"Hello, I'm Joe," I said, trying not to stare. "You must be..."
"Delilah's a professional name," she said, breaking the handshake and moving toward her side of the booth. "I'm Peg. Very nice to meet you."
"Short for Margaret?" I asked returning to my seat.
"Yeah, but I hate 'Margaret.' Let's stick with Peg. Are you Joseph?"
"No, Jonah, if you can believe it. I hate it too, so...Joe."
"The Benevolent Brotherhood, and/or Sisterhood, of Lousy First Names," she intoned. "Be welcome to the order, Brother Joe!" We both laughed, and that was the beginning of the best dinner date I've ever had.
I think we took to each other almost instantly. For my part, I was gone before my butt hit the seat. Peg was a talker, a laugher, and a storyteller. She'd grown up in Northern California and come east for college. She'd taken a B.A. in History, and then moved to the big city to become an actress, of all things. She'd been at it for some years now—from what she told me about when she graduated, she had to have been 30 or 31—and she'd been having a little more success recently, but not enough to be able to quit either of her two money jobs. That was as close as we came to discussing her work for Showfangs. We talked about the theatre, my work at the Rep, a recent Raymond Chandler binge she'd gone on, how I managed to feed myself since I hate to cook, and the roommate she'd had to dispose of because of an incontinent cat. About an hour into our meal, Peg excused herself for a few minutes and wandered to the back of the restaurant, where a largish man in jeans and a football jersey was eating alone. They seemed to be arguing, and when she came back to the table, her face was a little flushed.
"I've just cancelled our time limit," she said, with a grim little smile. "Honest to God it's like pulling teeth with these people."
"I know I'm not supposed to ask..." I began.
"No, you're really not," she answered with a grin, "and there is some stuff I really can't tell you; business related stuff that would bore you to tears anyway, but," and here she looked at me from under her eyelashes, and drawled in a breathy little voice: "if you're very sweet and kind to me, you may get something out of me later on."
It took me a moment to catch the double entendre, but when I did, I made a great business of loosening my collar and fanning my face. "Check, please!" I squeaked, and Peg giggled.
We lingered over coffee and dessert. The place had been closed for almost an hour when we finally stood up and headed for the door. I let Peg walk in front of me to the door, which allowed me a little time to notice and enjoy her curvy little body. She was tallish, for a woman, maybe 5'7", which made her only two or three inches shorter than me. And much of her height was in her long legs, which ended in a cute little heart-shaped butt. Her shapely hips swayed a bit when she walked, and after a few steps she must have felt me staring, because she stopped, wiggled her backside at me, and turned to look over her shoulder. "Enjoying yourself?" she asked.
"Have you registered that with the police?" I responded, "You could foment civil unrest with that thing."
"Hmmm. How much did you pay for your copy of Impress the Babes by Improving Your Vocabulary?"
"Buck-and-a-half on Ebay," I shot back. "Is it working?"
I didn't get an answer to that one, but when we got outside, Peg stuck her hands in her pockets and shivered. "No car service, I'm afraid. We were in there for something like an hour longer than we were supposed to be. Want to give me a ride home?"
"Sure," I said, trying to keep the disappointment out of my voice. "You have an early day tomorrow?
"Weirdly enough, I've got tomorrow off." She turned to face me. "Look," she said, and she sounded a bit uncomfortable, "I'm really enjoying myself. I know it's late, but I don't want to say goodbye just yet. Is that OK?"
"Yeah," I said, relieved. "Me too, I mean, that's fine."
She put her arm around my waist then. "I'm freezing, Joe. How 'bout you?"
"Could be worse," I replied, delighted to have an excuse to put my arm around her. But then I hesitated. "Uh, what about...?"
"Don't worry about it," she leaned into me as she spoke. "I sent the guard dogs home, and by the way, just for the record, I'm not real keen on rules."
She leaned into me as we walked back to my car. Neither of us said anything; neither was inclined to break the mood. But as she directed me towards her place, the tension, half sexual and half social, which had been with us from very early in the evening, grew stronger. It wasn't entirely unpleasant, but it reminded me of how little we knew about one another, and of the bizarre set of circumstances that had led to our meeting. From the first, I'd found Peg attractive and desirable, and I hoped she felt the same way about me. I wanted her badly, but I also wanted to see her again. And I was trying to come up with some way to put both desires across, when we arrived at her building: a row of townhouses on a short street, which ended in a small park. I parked on the street, and she led me to the unit on the end, opened the door, and led me into her place.
A short entryway opened up onto a pleasant living room, with a couch and a sliding rocker surrounding a coffee table, and facing a fireplace. She took my coat, hung it on a hook nest to her blazer, and offered me a drink. She seemed to be feeling some tension as well, and her description of the rest of the place—office, guest bedroom and master upstairs, kitchen, laundry room and half-bath down—rushed out of her on what sounded like one breath. We sat together on the couch, facing forward with a foot-an-a-half of material between us, sipping our wine. Neither of us spoke for a long moment. Finally, Peg put down her glass and turned to me.
"Can I ask you a question?"
"You haven't mentioned the site once this evening. Why?"
I hesitated. Finally: "I wasn't sure if you wanted to talk about it. You haven't said anything about it either, you know. To tell you the truth, I'd decided not to bring it up before I got here. I wanted you to have a nice time and not feel like you had to, I don't know, gratify the curiosity of a fan, or something."
"Okay," she said, slowly, "I understand. I had a lovely time, by the way, but I'm curious. Are you a customer?"
"Not exactly," I replied. I wasn't sure I liked where this was going.
She smiled. "Do you like looking at the pictures? My pictures?"
I felt myself flushing. "Yeah," I said quietly. "That's right."
She moved a little closer to me. "It's okay. I'm not insulted or disgusted or anything. I kind of assumed the people who entered the contest would be more interested in me than in the products, although I didn't expect to meet a guy who looks and acts like you."
That sounded encouraging. "What were you expecting?" I asked.
"Younger—sorry—and less, I don't know, comfortable with themselves, charming, attractive?"
I turned to her then: "Nothing I can do about the younger but I'm really glad to hear the rest of it, because I find you incredible attractive."
"Even without the fangs and the gothy hair-do?"
"Of course, I—"
She reached out and put her index finger to my lips. Smiling, she said, very softly: "So? How did you wind up on the site?"
Here it was. I'd thought up half-a-dozen little lies to avoid this very question. Little vampire web-perv? Uh-uh, not me. I couldn't come up with one of them, so I kissed her finger, and told her the truth.