As long as I have been working as a school librarian, I have traveled every August to a convention the state's Education Department sponsors for teachers, administrators, and anyone else involved in schooling. Usually, my husband, Dan, accompanies me on these trips, and for the last eight or nine years, we have been joined by Janice, a Spanish teacher at the high school where I work, and her husband, Bill. We stay a day or two beyond the convention, take in the sights, and eat out. It may not seem like much, but for "thirty-somethings," it has been a break we all look forward to.
For our most recent trip, we did not register in time to get into the hotel where all the conferences were taking place and had to get rooms in another hotel a mile or two away, closer to the airport. We drove to the city, so the hotel offered us no added convenience. But it did change our lives and friendships with Janice and Bill.
Janice and I had returned from the convention's final meeting on a Friday afternoon. Dan and Bill were in the lounge off the lobby to meet us for drinks before we would head out for dinner. Over drinks, we talked some about the meetings, but mostly we discussed plans for the weekend. We were leaving the lounge to go upstairs to change for dinner when we bumped into a woman I vaguely recognized at the elevator.
"Hey! Hi, Marilyn," she said, apparently recognizing me as well. "Are you here for the convention?"
"Yes, we are," I answered, and I was about to add that Janice and I had had enough of business and were ready to relax after all the meetings.
Before I could go on, though, the woman said, "Great! Here, you'll need these later. Let's be sure to get together there. I know Richard will be pleased to see you." And she put four cards in my hand as she hurried off somewhere.
"Who was that? And what are the cards for?" Dan wondered.
"That mention of Richard helped. I thought I knew her from someplace. Her name is Rachel, if I recall, and her husband was a classmate when I was in grad school. He was a nice enough guy, just a bit too. . . . well, I don't know how to put it, but I'm pleasantly surprised to learn he's still married to the same woman."
"Was that a compliment or not, Dan?" Bill joked. "Sounds like you're not too something or other, and I can't tell if that's good or not."
"Dan's just fine for me," I said.
"Just? Not great, but just fine?"
Janice gave Bill an elbow in the side and then asked, "What about the cards?"
I looked at them. They looked like announcements or invitations. I read to the others, "On this side, it says, 'One Pass.' On the other side, it says, 'Meeting for Couples. Products, Demonstrations, Drinks, Dancing—and More! Conference Room and Penthouse Suite.' It's upstairs in this hotel tonight."
"More meetings?" Janice wondered.
Dan said, "They can't be all that bad if they have drinks and dancing. Can't hurt to take a look. If it's a drag, we'll go."
With that, we returned to our rooms. I washed up and exchanged my slacks and sweater for a black dress I liked to wear when we were going somewhere special. Dan was simply switching from a pull-over shirt to one with buttons. Janice and Bill were doing just about the same next door, only her dress, as we would soon see, was burgundy colored. With the weather still so warm, I was glad to see that Janice skipped the pantyhose, like me.
Out in the hall, we decided to put off dinner and go upstairs first. After all, if they were serving drinks, we could save a bit on what we might have spent at the restaurant on drinks before dinner. Another couple was on the elevator we caught going upstairs. They didn't say anything, and the woman seemed a bit anxious.
We all got off on the same floor at the top, and I lost track of the other couple when Rachel came running up to us. "Good to see you again. I told Richard to look for you, but I don't know where he is right now." I introduced Dan and our friends to her, and she said, "Let me get you name bracelets. You haven't been to our gathering before, have you? I think I would have remembered, and I know Richard would have remembered."
"No, we wouldn't be here now but for bumping into you earlier."
"Really? Not only newbies, but innocents too? I hope you weren't be too shocked when I gave you the passes. Well, I guess you weren't, or you wouldn't be here. So let me get you some green bracelets. The red ones," she held up her arm to show us hers, "are for the veterans."
Rachel hurried over to a table to get the green bracelets and write our first names on them. She was talking and rushing around so fast that I was at a loss about what we were doing there. When I gave a questioning look to Dan, he said again, "Can't hurt to look around."
I looked at Janice and Bill. She seemed as bewildered as I, but Bill agreed, "Yeah, no harm in looking around and having a drink or two."
Rachel returned with our bracelets, which we put on our wrists, and she said, "Go see all the wares and stuff," and she pointed us down the hall. "I have to stick around here to greet and coordinate some things, but I should be able to see you when the dancing starts. Have fun!"
In the conference room, I saw the couple from the elevator. They were among a small crowd watching some demonstration in curtained booth. Dan and I made our way over there. The woman turned to look at me when we approached. Seeing my green bracelet, she held up her own green ID, Lisa, and gave me an odd expression as if to say we were both in over our heads.
I clearly understood her expression right away when I could see into the booth. A man wearing only very brief underwear was massaging a woman on a table. That woman was nude except for a little towel covering not quite all of her bottom. As the man worked his hands over her body, he was explaining exactly what he was doing, and a tape with a booklet was available for sale.
Janice and Bill joined us. His eyes, like Dan's, were pretty wide. Janice's eyes were just as wide, probably like mine, for another reason. We couldn't believe what we were seeing.
Janice gave Bill an elbow in the side. "Watch that they don't fall out and leave you blind."
Bill responded, "Can't hurt to look."
Dan added, "Like the man said, can't hurt."
Janice and I were a bit more concerned than the men were, obviously. "I think this must be some kind of sex convention," she said.
Lisa overheard. "You didn't come here for this?"
I replied, "We're staying in this hotel, but got the invitations by some kind of mix-up, I think. Do you know what's going on here?"
"It's a swingers convention, and I'm not too sure about it myself. My husband, Marty, here persuaded me to try it. I guess you guys are even more unsure than me."
Janice asked, "You mean these people will be having sex with one another here?"
"Not here, I think. I think this room is just for demonstrations and stuff to sell, and the suite will be just for socializing. But a lot of these people have rooms at the other end of the hall, and they may entertain friends, so to speak, down there."
The massage was ending. The woman sat up, showing her breasts, before she put on a robe and left through the back of the booth. Lisa moved on with her husband, saying, "Maybe we'll see you around. I don't know."
Dan and I walked further into the room. Another booth had a table with several strange sex toys on display, and a woman in a skimpy outfit was there to offer instructions on their use. Dan joked, "See, she's like you behind the reference desk."
Despite Janice's and my nervousness, neither Dan nor Bill was headed for the door. Janice looked at me for help, but all I could say was, "I guess it can't hurt to look around." At that, we laughed.
While Dan lingered by the toys booth and Janice looked at a brochure about a resort for adults only, Bill and I moved around the room. At a booth selling lingerie, we were approached by a young woman asking if we would like to volunteer as models for a couples fashion show.
"Oh, we're not together," I quickly stated.
The woman seemed not to get the relevance of my remark, but Bill held up his arm and mine to show our green IDs. "Not this time," he said, and she seemed to understand him.
"We don't have to leave just because we're not part of the show," he said. After a few minutes, two couples did indeed step out from behind a curtain. Both of the men wore little g-strings, one made of leather, the other more of a cotton mesh. You could see plenty, either way. The women's outfits showed more variety. One wore sort of the usual sexy gear, a demi-bra that showed half her nipples, thong panties, and a black lace garter with stockings. The other wore a simple nightgown that came to her ankles, but was so thin as to be completely see-through.
"Just think," Bill sighed, "that could have been us up there."
This time I gave him the elbow in the side, but I was actually thinking about how I would have looked in that gown, about how I would have looked to everyone there. The thought gave me a shudder that mixed shame with excitement.
Janice and Dan caught up with us, and we all toured the entire room. We didn't buy anything, but I was a little surprised to learn that Janice picked up a couple brochures about clothing-optional resorts. When she saw my surprise, she said, "Like the guys say, can't hurt to look."
We moved down the hall to the penthouse suite. I had to admit that the people there all seemed nice enough. No one acted in a manner that struck me as forward, much less perverse. The men generally wore sport jackets or dress shirts and slacks, like Dan and Bill, and the women all wore dresses or skirts. Some of these outfits were a little sexy, with a revealing neckline or a raised hem, but nothing you couldn't see lots of places where they wouldn't be out of place.
Lisa and Marty were near the bar, and she waved to us. "I think I might need the moral support from other newbies and not just some drinks if I'm going to stay here."
"I don't know how moral our support can be under the circumstances," Dan said, "but we'd be happy to talk with you folks and enjoy a drink."
So the six of us sat and talked about where we were from and how we came to be there. When Lisa told me that Marty persuaded her to come, I thought he might be the kind of man who takes advantage of a submissive wife. From talking with them, I learned they were not really that much different from Dan and me, or Janice and Bill. They had been married more that ten years, loved each other, but didn't have any thrilling times anymore.
Coincidentally, when Marty was talking about why he suggested they try coming to this convention, he spoke in terms of physical pleasures that did not necessarily entail emotional pleasures or commitments, and concluded, "I just figured, if it felt good, it couldn't hurt."
Lisa added, "I agree with that, but thinking something and doing something are not the same. I guess I'm testing my courage here."
"Love takes courage," Janice said, and we all agreed. Unlike Lisa and Marty, we did not come there with the purpose they had in mind, but none of us wanted to pass judgment on them. In fact, we liked them. Our husbands, I think, understood Marty's desire to spark their marriage without ruining it, and Janice and I understood Lisa's vulnerability.
We were interrupted by Rachel, who had Richard in tow this time. She did the introductions all around. I noticed that Richard, while still a good looking man, retained the habit of looking me and other women as if trying to imagine them naked. Even so, he had a nice way of engaging people in conversation too, and he was making us all feel welcome at the party.
As they left to chat up other guests, Richard said, "I hope you'll stay for some dancing. It's always good to see more newbies on the dance floor, and with you here," looking at me now, "I'm especially looking forward to it."
Then Rachel hesitated a moment, saying, "Oh, I forgot. You're newbies, but you wouldn't have gotten the letter of invitation. It explains about the dance." Richard was pulling her away, and she finally said, "Not to worry. You'll get the idea."
I suppose we might have asked Lisa and Marty what Rachel was talking about, but they had gotten up. Dance music was beginning, and they were off by themselves talking, probably about working up some courage.
In the center of the suite, conversation groups either moved or broke up into dance partners. Dan stood and offered me his hand. I got up and took it, and Janice and Bill came along too.
Moving onto the floor, I asked, "Are we the only ones dancing with our spouses?"
Janice said, "I don't know these people, so I can't tell."
Then Bill pointed out Lisa and Marty, so we were like at least one other couple.
The music was slow and romantic, not at all brassy or loud, which further put us at ease after what we had seen in the conference room. This kind of music might play at a club we would visit for a night out, and these people seemed like an evening crowd we would enjoy being around. Maybe all the others were there to swap sex partners, but we could not have guessed from the atmosphere in this room
The change in that atmosphere should have struck me as obvious, but it felt more subtle. For the most part, I kept my head nuzzled against Dan as we moved gently around. Occasionally, I would look at Janice and Bill near us, and I would see other couples, yet nothing really took my attention from Dan and the music.
That was true even when I saw this one couple several feet away. The man was lifting his partner's dress in the back and held it above her waist to expose her panties, a skimpy bikini. Dan was looking too, and then Bill and finally Janice saw her as well. The four of us exchanged looks that conveyed no more than simple curiosity.
Then we saw another couple with the woman's panties exposed in the same manner, and then another couple, this woman with a thong that left her bottom mostly uncovered. Again we all looked at each other. "Are we missing some kind of signal here?" I asked. "Is that how they show they're willing to be with another couple?"
Dan looked around more. "I don't think so. There's Marty pulling Lisa's skirt up in the back." Sure enough, her slender bottom was clearly visible through her thin panties. She had her face buried in Marty's shoulder, unable to look around at the people who were looking at her.
"I think I get it," Dan said. "It's the green bracelets."
Bill looked around again and agreed.
I wasn't paying close attention, I suppose, so I didn't immediately grasp what the green bracelets had to do with the couples. My attention soon focused sharply, however. I felt Dan's hands at the waist of my dress, and his fingers gathered a bit of it up in the back. I lifted my head sharply and looked him right in the eyes. His face was placid, and he said again, "It can't hurt."
I held his calm gaze with my anxious look, but when his fingers gathered more of my dress up, I said nothing and kept dancing with him. He must have taken my silence as permission, which I suppose it was, even if I wouldn't have admitted as much at the time. I could feel the cool air on more of my legs and then across my bottom. My panties were rather unexciting, pink cotton cut smaller than briefs but larger than a string bikini. Dan's hands rested on my back just above the waistband, holding the back of my dress up so everyone could see what I wore under it.
When I managed to look around me, I first saw Bill smiling at me as he studied my bottom. Then he spun around slowly so I could see that he was holding Janice's dress up enough to show her lace panties. Richard and Rachel passed by, coming from behind me, so he obviously saw my exposed rear. They smiled at us, and Richard quietly said, "Lovely."
Janice and I were not exposed that long compared to some others. When the music stopped, the men let go of their partners' clothes, and everyone looked normal again. We did not leave the floor, though. Another piece started to play, and we resumed dancing. Janice and Bill remained next to us, and she admitted, "I guess that didn't hurt. The guys were right."
I laughed a bit, but then I saw Lisa and Marty leaving the room. Of course, they might have been taking a break, although it looked like they were leaving the party altogether.
As before, I let myself get lost in the music and the swaying with Dan. This time, when he noticed what must have been the next initiating task for the newbies, he did not wait to follow. Once again, I felt my dress being raised in the back. I checked around me and saw Bill lifting Janice's dress also. I also saw a man holding his lady's dress up with one hand while his other hand was lowering her panties in the back. He did not stop until they were at the tops of her thighs and her bottom was bare to the room.
Other newbie couples were just waiting to see who would go next, so I could not tell if they would all go that far. If they were wondering the same thing, Dan and Bill seemed willing to take the next step before them. I turned to see Janice's panties partially down over her bottom. Bill was pausing to see what Dan would do. Dan and I looked each other in the eye again, and again I said nothing.
With tacit permission, Dan moved one hand to the waistband of my panties. Slipping a thumb inside, he moved it back and forth to work my panties down gradually. He did not pause and kept slipping them down until my bottom was bare and on display. I couldn't look at Bill at first, or anyone else, but I did look at Dan and see a pleasant smile on his face. I squeezed him tighter and then let myself look around.
Bill, of course, was smiling widely, and Janice had a contented look now that her bottom was bared as well. I saw more couples getting into the act, baring more skin for all to see, and I saw Richard and Rachel moving in such a way as to keep themselves behind me as much as possible. I smiled at him when I caught his eye away from my bottom for a moment.
Janice and I were on the dance floor for probably ten minutes like that before the music ended. This time we sat down between numbers. Janice said, "I think the guys have seen enough for one night. Why don't we get some dinner?"
Bill and Dan might have been disappointed. I would not have insisted on leaving, but I also wasn't thinking about what the next dance might have involved, so I was not going to disagree with Janice. On the way out, we were met by Richard and Rachel. "Going so soon?" she asked. "That's okay. Everyone needs to go at their own speed, but I hope you'll come back."
Richard said, "Right, don't forget that we'll be here tomorrow night too. Not everyone here will be back, and some will come who couldn't make it tonight, but Rachel and I will be back and looking forward to seeing you if you'd like."
We thanked them and left without making any commitments, and that's what we talked about over dinner. Why didn't we simply say we couldn't come back?
Dan said, "I'm open to going back tomorrow night. I don't think it would mean we'd have to do anything."
Bill agreed, "It can't hurt, like we keep saying. And tonight certainly didn't hurt."
"You two are just excited because you got to see some women's bottoms," Janice said.
"Don't forget we got to see yours too," Dan replied, and Janice blushed a little. So did I when Bill caught my eye. I knew he was remembering my exposure too.
"Okay," I said, "it didn't hurt. I admit it was a bit of unusual fun."
Janice had to admit the same feeling, and then she asked, "Was that the most daring thing you've ever done?"
Dan and I told them about a canoe float we once took shortly after we married. "The river didn't have that many other people on it that day, and it was taking us past woods and generally deserted areas. We occasionally noticed couples were taking the opportunity to get nude in their canoes. I guess it was tolerated in that part of the river away from civilization. Of course, Dan started trying to talk me into taking off my swimsuit."