Carol Ch. 01


Chapter 1: In which Carol begins her dress code

Carol in a a snapshot:

She is holding my hand as we exit a building into a brisk summer breeze. Her dress is barely-legal: Too short on her ass by about half an inch, too low off her chest by about two inches. Thin enough to be almost sheer when she enters the full sunlight streaming down between the buildings.

The pink fabric dances around her legs. It wraps itself over her torso like a plastic bag blown up against a greek statue. She doesn't notice the people gawking at her in the streets: She's too busy telling me how she aced her exam.

I dated Carol in college. I was young and innocent (innocentish), and I hadn't figured out that girlfriends could be more than just kissy-dolls or "a partner in life." Carol was the first girl -- first woman -- who showed me a girlfriend could also be a partner in crime. A partner in depravity.

So this is the story of how far we went, and how weird we got. When we started dating, I was looking for an extrovert, a sorta-tease, a hot girl with a little exhibitionism in her blood. By the time we broke up (amicably), we had gone waaay too far and gotten waaay too intense, and I needed six months to decompress before I finally started dating again. Carol wasn't ready to stop, and as far as I know, is still as crazy today as she was by the time we split.

* * * * *

I'd met Carol in class my Sophomore year. We had a string of great conversations, and I started walking her out of class. Then we began hooking up before class at the nearby coffee shop.

I was stupid-happy to have a friend like her. Guys would stop in the street when she walked past, and there I was, picking fuzz off her sweater, making her giggle, letting her re-button my shirt. Talking to her was a mix of joy and anxiety -- I didn't want to lose this privileged place in her routine, but I never felt solid or balanced: What were we? A couple?

Then, once, when I was late, I saw her scanning the crowds for me. It gave my heart a lurch. I realized I might already have a space in her life. So that's when I asked her up to my apartment. (Carol later confessed, she felt like I'd been testing her, before I finally relaxed and became the 'real' me. People are so weird.)

One summer day, we were standing in line at the coffee shop. Carol was wearing a cut-off jean skirt and a cut-up t-shirt. She had trimmed it into a cross between a half-shirt and a tank-top. It was a very relaxed and casual outfit, not dissimilar to the summer outfits of most other coeds. But on Carol, it generated a six-foot lust field all around her.

Carol flubbed her order: Half-Caff double blah-blah. She broke down in the middle, and nearly died from embarrassment.

"Oh, jeez," she said to the guy behind the counter. She leaned toward him endearingly. The bottom of her shirt slid well above her ribs. "I'm sorry! Don't take me to coffee jail! You don't know what they do to girls like me in jail!"

I had perfected the look-but-not-looking thing, and sort of leaned back so I could take her all in. Strong runner's legs capped by a nice ass, ass covered by a miniskirt that seemed designed to show rather than cover, tight tummy stretched thin as she craned forward, breasts pushing forward as she shrugged her shoulders. And all of it rendered even more interesting by the gaping holes in her chopped-up tee.

"No big," the coffee-guy shrugged, struggling to maintain his cool. His half of the conversation was directed towards her breasts. "You want to try again, or what?"

For the rest of the day, I had to hear about Carol's mortification. She'd ordered her latte inefficiently, and now she felt like crawling into a hole.

Another girl would have been mortified by how the guy behind the counter stood on his tippy-toes to look down her top. About how he purposefully dropped her change on the floor, so she'd have to bend over and get it. About how he'd never once met her eyes.

For myself, I found it hard to reconcile her embarrassment with the vision that was burned into my retinas from the class earlier that day:

During our first class that morning, she had been in front of the class, marking on the blackboard, giving a presentation she wasn't really prepared for (and her class partner had skipped).

Every time she took the chalk and reached up, her shirt slid down her shoulder. When she stood on her tippy-toes, her skirt bobbled up, showing the bottom curves of her ass. The class was dead-quiet, watching her. It was surreal. The only sound in the room was Carol's chirpy, up-beat voice, spewing made-up nonsense that nobody ever questioned.

Dancing around half naked in front of her college class: Too easy. Ordering coffee: Too hard.

That was Carol. Great raw material. When I told her, after her presentation, that we could all see her panties under the skirt, she joked, "Yeah, right. Like I'm wearing panties."

* * * * *

Fast forward to next semester. I was taking Carol back to my apartment for the first time. We were "friends," we agreed, but we were also holding hands. I was being a bit familiar with her -- a hand on her back to guide her around a line of garbage cans, a squeeze on her hand when I laughed. We were having that conversation -- discussing what we liked about various things. Movies, coffee, lovers, clothes.

For several blocks, we'd been walking behind a twenty-something woman going our direction, into the East Village. We were keeping pace with her, and I was staring hard enough to knock her over. I finally had to point her out to Carol, because if I didn't talk about her, I just wouldn't be able to talk.

"For example, about clothes," I said, "Those jeans are totally cool."

"They are?"

"Yeah. I think ripped-up jeans is a style that will last forever," I said.

This was the early nineties. By 1995, they would be gone, despite what men universally wanted. (They're finally back.) The woman ahead of us had two gaping tears in the seat of her pants. As she moved, her butt-checks winked in and out of the sunlight. It was mesmerizing. If I'd been alone, I might have followed her like a lost dog.

Carol wasn't volunteering anything, so I asked, "What do you think?"

"I think they're cool too." Her voice was unadorned. I had her words, but I couldn't tell what she had actually said.

"I think we should get you some torn up jeans," I teased.

"Me too," she said in the same voice.

"No, really," I said. "Every second that you're walking down the street, and the world can't see your ass -- it's a second that you're committing a crime."

This finally made her smirk.

Encouraged, I went on: "I think from now on, you should think of your ass as a responsibility to the world. I mean, look at you! Your clothes require entirely too much imagination. Every guy we pass should be able to see everything about your ass." I glanced at her. She was in loose, thready blue jeans, with heavy clogs and a stretchy cotton blouse.

"So therefore I should make some holes in my jeans?"

Did her voice hold some amusement? I knew the risks I was taking -- I was talking dirty to a girl during the most precarious phase of a relationship. We had known each other for a while, but this was the first moment verging on romantic... and I was sleazing over her ass. Actually I was trying to compliment her, maybe challenge her a little. To see if she'd push back. I wanted to establish myself as not quite a nice guy. After all, there was always the remote chance she liked sleazebags.

I said, "Don't you get the sense that guys like your ass?"

"Oh yes," she said, with a short laugh. "I get that sense."

"What about your legs?"

"They say I have great legs," she said. "Guys in general say that."

"I agree," I said. "If you're not wearing jeans with holes, you should be wearing short skirts."

"Like, how short?"

"Hmmm," I said, pretending to consider. "My definition of short is probably different from your definition of short."

"Well, we are talking about what you want," she said.

"If a girl is going to wear a short skirt, it should be short. As short as it can go. And the skirt should fly up when you're walking, and the wind should shove it around."

"I don't know if I could get used to that," she said.

"I think you could," I said encouragingly. I was getting less jokey now, and more earnest. (A little too pleading?) "Just try it. Wear nothing but short skirts for a few weeks. You'll stop thinking about it."

"I'm imagining stairways. I'm thinking of when I sit down."

"You'll get used to it. Just remember: If guys can't see your ass, then you're committing a crime."

The woman in front of us turned off our path at a corner. I had to struggle not to stare after her. A part of me thought about following the woman anyway, but how pathetic would that be? Dragging a girl away from my apartment to ogle a woman?

"I'll tell you what the crime is," I said. "Guys are gonna lust after you, no matter what. You're built. You're blonde. Big chest (sorry)."

"But why is it a crime?" she insisted. "Why is it wrong to cover up?"

"Because you're stealing from them," I said simply. "You're stealing from their fantasies. They're gonna think about you later... that's a given. But you're stealing all the details they should have in their thoughts. Those details -- they cost you nothing. On a different day, you'd be wearing a different outfit, and maybe those guys would get those details. Why not every day?"

"So... I'm committing a crime if I don't show up in their jack-off fantasies?"

"Yeah," I said. It sounded less stupid when she said it for me. But it still sounded stupid.

"Why should I care about being a criminal?"

We turned onto my street, and I suddenly realized again that I was leading a girl up to my apartment. We weren't going there to hang out. We were going to make out. And this was our foreplay. We were on the cusp -- our friendship was becoming something romantic.

Or something more matter-of-fact than a romance. Carol certainly liked romantic stuff, but (I later found out) she felt, like me, that this was very mature talk. We were measuring compatibilities, like grown-ups. In our early conversations, we were covering miles, whereas two shy and sweaty-handed kids would have crawled along with blushes and stammers.

I said, "Because I don't date girls who commit crimes."

There. I'd layed it out. I could still get rejected, and at that point, it would hurt more than a little. She didn't even know my favorite color yet. But she knew one thing for sure -- I finished by blurting: "That's my thing. I like girls who are a little slutty."

It hadn't been official, even to me, until I said it. I like slutty-looking girls. I guess I did, huh! It didn't seem so bad when I put it that way, either. A little perverse, but self-honest. Cutely lascivious. I tried to look rakish.

Carol seemed to be taking it well enough. Her hand in mine was relaxed, her stride was even. She didn't break away and flee.

"Um, how will I know if I'm looking 'slutty' enough?"

I had answers ready, fresh from my midnight store of imagination. "At least once per day, some guy asks you out. Or whistles at you. Or makes a comment. Then you know you're hot. That's a requirement. Do you think you can do that?"

"That happens enough already," she said without inflection.

"And guys start talking to you. Like, they remember your schedule, and keep an eye out for you when you're supposed to show up. Then you know you're making an impression on them."

We entered my building, and waited for the elevator. What she said next froze me to the core.

"And when do I start?"

I met her eyes, raising my sun-glasses. She was watching me expressionlessly. I couldn't tell if she was with the program or not. But, somehow, the conversation had drifted from my preferences to what we would do about them.

I gulped, and tried to sound nonchalant, as if this was the most natural thing in the world. "Well, first, we should get upstairs. Then I'll get you out of all your clothes."

She nodded.

"Then, later, we'll take some scissors to your jeans."

"Okay," she said. And I noticed she was breathing a little hard.

To show her it wasn't all about me, I added, "And meanwhile, we'll talk about what you like."

She gave a little shrug. "I'm still figuring that out. I don't have a bunch of ideas, like you. But give me time. Is that okay? Can we just do you for now?"

The elevator door pinged open, and I impulsively grabbed her in an embrace, as if the sound had freed me to move. I walked her into the elevator, and we were already kissing.

I said, "I'm going to make you into a wet dream."

"Now that I like," she giggled. "But a wet dream for who?"

"I'm not selfish," I said.

"I figured that out," she said drily.

"You're going to be a wet dream for everybody."

* * * * *

By the next day, I'd forgotten what we talked about. Forgotten the whole thing. If you ever want to remember something, don't have a 6-hour make-out session with Carol. She blew out the back of my head.

I said "Hi!" as Carol entered the math lab. Then I did a double-take.

Carol caught me staring. "Was today not the day?"

"Not the day for what?"

"That I'm supposed to start wearing short skirts, and nothing but, for weeks?" She cocked her head to the side, and threw out a hip.

She was in a single-piece dress, with straps over the shoulders and two Vs of fabric covering her breasts. Her skirt ended at the top of her thighs. She couldn't have shown more leg if she'd been wearing tiny jogging shorts. The skirt was ruffled, and flounced away from her legs when she moved.

"You look fucking lovely," I breathed.

"'Slutty' enough? Is 'slutty' the word?"

"Slutty is my word. And you just look innocent. Drive-me-mad innocent." I shook my head, and she smiled. "How has your day been going so far?"

She ticked off her fingers: "I got looks on the subway. I got looks in my classes. I got looks on the way to the lab. I got propositioned in the coffee shop."

"It's going well, then," I said. I was a little off balance.

"The Great Experiment," she intoned, dimpling charmingly. "And now we're going to hang out, when you're done?"

"Yeah. Here," I stood up, offering her the computer I'd been fixing. It was right by the door, the first place people passed when they walked in. "Take this station. Rule one: always get the most prominent place in every room."

"Why's that?" She slid into the seat, the hem of her skirt playing over her thighs. Oh boy, did I want to run my hand over them. (Then I realized, with a flush of joy, that I could. We were official.)

"So nobody will miss you as they walk in. And if you're by the door, people can stare at you from the halls. And if they're looking out the door, they have to look past you."

"Everybody will see everything I do?"

"Mm-hm. You're on display, always."

"I'll remember that," she grinned. Standing above her, I could look down the front of her dress, to the smooth brown skin in the cleft between her breasts.

"The goal is, to stop remembering. That it becomes second nature." I lingered over the view down her front.

"Yes, that's what they did, too."


"The guys on the train, staring down my top. Someone gave me his seat, and after a few stops I looked up, and I had all these people sort of ringed around me. I noticed them looking."

"Tell me," I leaned in and whispered, "Are you wearing underwear?"

"Yes." Her eyes were fixed on mine. "Should I not be wearing any?"

I shrugged. "Try it this way for four weeks. By week number five, you'll go without."


That's all there was. Simple as that: Okay. That was all there was to it. I said it, and she said okay.

I studied her, wondering exactly how real this all was. By week five, we could be broken up. Or we could be madly in love, angrily possessive of each other. "Okay" was pretty safe, all things considered.

So what the hell. I continued, "But that's for the future. For now, four weeks with underwear. Just so you don't learn any bad habits, like how to bend over gracefully, or avoid stairs."

This made her smirk.

"Let me finish up, give me ten minutes."

As I moved through the lab, I glanced back at her frequently. She was checking email, and was engrossed with it. She unselfconsciously crossed and uncrossed her legs, to move the seat around. Her toned, bare arms reached out to the keyboard. She leaned forward, or leaned back. Her knees were mostly together, but they parted occasionally when she moved. She was a natural. Any girl in a short skirt is a natural.

The people drifting into the lab noticed her, too. Their glances lingered as they moved past. She quickly accrued a raft of guys around her. All of them were staring studiously at their monitors... but all of them were tilted towards her. And when she moved, they all would casually glance over at the same time. The tempo and length of the looks were obvious to me, a man. Men may hunt differently, but we share a hunting language.

As we all watched, she slowly reached up and scratched her chest, just under the collar bone. Her french manicured nails slid over the welling curve of her left breast, but her fingers were under the strap. That alone was the hottest thing I'd ever seen her do. And I'd been staring at her for months.

Yep, great raw material.

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