Showstopper Ch. 01byStardog Champion©
Looking straight into a camera and talking to upwards of 100,000 people on live TV would be a nightmare scenario for most people. Doing it with a producer yelling in one ear, having to keep one eye on a clock, another on a product counter and a third on a guest or the product itself was a talent only a rare few could ever fathom. For 41 year old Cathy Northfield, the organized chaos of being on television had become a labor of love for the past 12 years. One with a lot of hard work, passion and dedication she'd become quite proficient at.
One of the better known and successful hosts on the Shop Anytime home shopping channel, Cathy had met many more celebrities, attended a lot more swanky parties and garnered much more name recognition than she could have ever imagined growing up on a small farm in Northern Iowa.
Located in Orlando, it and been quite a bold move to leave her job as a weekend news anchor for a station back home for a chance to host overnights at Shop Anytime. The weather had certainly been a plus, and the fact she could tell her then very young sons they could literally live across town from Epcot and Universal made the move a rather easy sell even though for Cathy she didn't quite know what she was getting herself into.
Thankfully with her Husband's background in construction management, he took quite nicely to the booming region at the time which made Cathy's transition that much easier. After impressing her bosses with her late night stints for a year or so, gradually she found herself with more daytime and evening slots until Cathy eventually found herself one of the 4 or 5 most popular hosts on the network's roster.
Her only real brush with fame before then being the time she was the third runner up in the Miss Iowa pageant back in 1987, Cathy was flabbergasted at the amount of famous people she came into contact through her job. It certainly helped at home when she was able to get an autograph for her kids from an athlete that might have been on air selling some memorabilia, or be able to send her Mom and Dad back home a picture of her with the various celebrities who hawked their wares with her.
Never in her wildest dreams did Cathy think her life would have turned out like this when she was driving the tractor on the family farm as a teenaged girl.
That's not to say that all was peaches and cream in the Northfield's household. Cathy's 19 year old Son was home from college on academic suspension with a pot charge hanging over his head. Her 16 year old Son also had a court date set for a minor shop lifting and vandalism charge. On top of that, Cathy's Husband, Stan had just admitted to her that he'd had another affair, the second since they got married 21 years earlier.
Thankfully for the family, Stan Northfield didn't have a habit of shitting where he ate. To the best of Cathy's knowledge, if she could believe the bastard, the two times he'd strayed Stan had done it well away from home on business trips, away from the gawking eyes of all the people they knew around the Central Florida area. His strong Catholic faith combined with the inevitable guilt had been what had driven him to admit his indiscretion to Cathy, even if she'd probably never found out on her own.
That same strong faith, along with the questions she would have to face over 'why' was just too much for Cathy to think about, thus divorcing him wasn't a real option. Instead, it was their dirty little secret and somehow they'd soldier on pretending to be the perfect upper middle class couple.
That's not to say there wasn't a significant amount of bitterness and unresolved feelings brewing inside Cathy. Like anyone with a good base of self esteem and plenty of access to self help books, Cathy did her best to channel all the angst from her marital disillusionment to doing what she could to get her kids back on the straight and narrow along with immersing herself into becoming the best TV host she could be.
If nothing else, Stan's infidelity had put a damper on the couple's sex life. After the first admission several years earlier, Cathy made it a point to make sure Stan wore a condom each time they made love. She wasn't of any mind to have another child, not to mention worried what she might contract if Stan had caught something from his hourly rate mistress. As time went on, the sex had dried up completely and in the back of her mind Cathy knew that was probably what had driven him to having the second affair.
Not to say the lack of sex was easy on her either. A beautiful woman in her sexual prime roaming the streets of Florida, Cathy knew it wouldn't take two seconds to find a line of quality men that would have been glad to give her what she wasn't getting at home. Between her high profile job and reputation in the community, her faith and the nagging weight of her marital vows, Cathy just couldn't bring herself to pull the trigger. She simply just internalized all that building energy.
She just didn't know how close it was to exploding.
The first crack in Cathy Northfield's moral reservoir came one afternoon when she returned home from running some errands. Her oldest Son, Steven, had a few of his longtime friends over to the house. The first thing Cathy noticed as she wheeled into the driveway however was Steven pacing back and forth with his cell phone pressed against his ear, oblivious to the fact that his Mom was parking right beside him.
"Don't guess he'll be too much help carrying in the groceries," Cathy thought to herself, assuming from Steven's tone he was having it out once again with his on again/off again girlfriend.
Lugging a big bag of food with her right arm, Cathy closed the door to her car and headed for the sliding glass door of the kitchen that Steven had neglected to close. Once inside, she could hear the muffled voices of Steven's friends in the living room adjacent to the kitchen, but didnt give any thought to going in and interrupting them. Part of her was glad in fact that they were over. They'd known Steven for quite a few years and Cathy knew they were good boys from good families. She'd come to the conclusion that Steven had simply fallen in with the wrong crowd during his Freshman year at school and was hopeful maybe spending some time back home around some good influences might help him regain his bearings.
Peeking back out the kitchen window, Cathy could see Steven was still in heated discussion as he stomped and sighed in the driveway. Shaking her head, Cathy turned to start putting the groceries away.
If the sun hadn't been shining just right through the house, Cathy would have never seen what she accidentally saw next. There was a reflection on one of the pictures hanging in the hallway connecting the living room to the kitchen and Cathy happened to look in that direction as she reached to open a cabinet. Even though the image was distorted, she could see two of Steven's friends standing in the living room, right in front of a shelf with several family pictures. Her blood pounding in her ears as she proceeded to watch, the unmistakable truth of what she saw caused her hand to slip from the cabinet's handle as a sick tremor swept through her stomach.
One of the boys was looking directly at a large photograph of her and had reached down and playfully squeezed his crotch while the other boy stood beside him nodding. With the TV on there was no way to hear what they were saying, but the visual would play over and over in Cathy's head for days to come as she tried to make some sense of such a crude gesture.
Cathy's hypnotic haze was shattered when Steven stormed back in from outside, took about a half second to acknowledge her then disappeared into the living room to rejoin his friends, completely unaware that a few seconds earlier they'd been ogling a picture of his Mom.
Modest to a fault, even though she knew she was somewhat desirable for her age, Cathy generally preferred to put those thoughts way out of her mind. She's worked hard over the years to cultivate an image of poise, professionalism and competence on air and off, and with the help of good genes and a little nip and tuck the network had paid for, deep down Cathy knew the men she encountered usually perked up when she walked into a room, both for her brains and her beauty.
With the proliferation of the internet, Cathy along with all the other female hosts, had also come to know many men out in the world were paying attention as well, even if they never had any intention of buying a single thing the network was selling. Thankfully the hosts had interns and lower level employees who filtered through the obscene and questionable emails, leaving only the ones from serious fans for Cathy to read and respond to. She'd been tempted to venture out into cyber-space on her own several times just to see what popped up if she Googled her name, but decided some things were better left unseen.
All that changed when she caught the glimpse of two of her Son's longtime friends leering at that picture of her. If they'd felt comfortable enough to do that in her own home, what type of stuff had they done in the privacy of their's. It was a perspective shifting image Cathy would find hard shaking over the following weeks.
The same way you can't help but think about a pink elephant when someone tells you not to, the harder Cathy Northfield tried putting the image of all those young men leering at her when she was on TV out of her mind, the more she wore herself out thinking about it.
It didn't seem to bother Cathy quite as much when she had a guest on set with her, or was busy doing a cooking show where she constantly kept herself on task. Where it really seemed to bother her were the lazy jewelry shows where she sat in the same chair for an hour or two with nothing but the camera, the product and her own calm and well rehearsed delivery. Every so often when she'd stare straight into the camera, Cathy found herself suddenly inundated with the acid-stained image of men staring back at her from their living room, dorm room and a variety of other places, each in a various stage of undress and arousal as they leered back at her through the television.
The studios were generally rather chilly and each time that particular image would sprout inside Cathy's head, she couldn't help but feel a strange warmth course through her body until she was finally able to focus on something else.
In her heart of hearts, she knew 99.99% of the people watching were shop-o-holics ladies fighting the urge to order their 500th piece of costume jewlery, but Cathy couldn't deny the seat below her started getting a little slick each time she contemplated why the other .01% were watching.
Such a professional at what she did, hardly anyone watching would have had a clue anything unusual was swirling inside Cathy while she was on air, but by the end of most shifts when she would retire back to her private cubicle of unwind, she did so with soaked panties.
For her own sanity, Cathy blamed her Husband's infidelity for her burgeoning sexual appetite. If they'd been having sex with each other like a normal couple should, she'd have the outlet any normal and healthy person needs. Sadly, that hadn't been the case in well over a year. Add in the innate psychological desire for revenge, and to prove her own worth, and just like that you had a very complex brew of emotions and want fermenting deep inside Cathy.
After what she'd seen them do, Cathy did her best to avoid her Son's friends when they were over. All were of age by then, but it was just too creepy thinking about any of them in those terms. With her reputation and modest celebrity around town, pulling off any sort of normal affair was out of the question as well, even if her conscious would allow such a thing. Cathy had put herself in quite a box, and the pressure just continued to build.
The next tipping point came during an on-air presentation for some new exercise equipment the network was selling.
Cathy had done dozens and dozens of shows just like that over the years. It was one of the cooler perks of the job getting to try out all the new machines to prep for the presentations, providing her with a wonderful way to stay in shape without ever having to join a gym. She also took a great deal of pride being in good enough shape at 41 to work out on those treadmills, stairclimbers and ellipticals while still having the breath to go through all the specs for the products on live television.
The toughest part about the exercise shows was often stifling all her laughter when she was working on air with workout gurus like Richard Simmons or Tony Little. For this day however it was just Cathy, and two of the regular exercise models, one young man and one young woman and all they were basically doing was highlighting some older equipment at clearance price to get it out of the warehouse.
As stated earlier, the studios were rather chilly which was a huge blessing for Cathy during the workout shows when she might be on the move for an hour straight. As usual Cathy had become so engrossed in her presentation, the first half hour flew by. The interaction between her, the camera, the product and the models was going along swimmingly, and she probably wouldn't have given anything other than her task at hand a second thought if she hadn't looked down.
"My nipples are hard as rocks," Cathy cringed to herself, her voice temporarily breaking in mid-sentence as she showed off the fancy display of the treadmill she was presenting for the whole world to see.
It wasn't the first time something like that had happened considering how cold they kept the sound stage at times, but this was the only time Cathy could recall she had been wearing one of those form fitting lycra exercise tops. Usually one of the producers was keen enough to see what was going on and made a point not to zoom in for any embarrassing close-ups until the 'headlights' were off. Without any way of knowing just how long her nipples had been like that however, Cathy felt a rush of anxiety sweep through her as she tried to soldier on. Taking special care to keep her chest away from the camera until the two prominent protrusions disappeared, Cathy spent the remainder of the hour trying to keep the presentation on track.
For whatever reason, that proved to be more difficult than normal.
Feeling totally discombobulated, Cathy found herself watching the clock out of the corner of her eye, desperate to get the hour over with. She realized from experience after studying hour after hour of videotape to make herself better, often times when she felt she was bumbling her way through a presentation that it wasn't always as bad as she thought. Then there were times she thought she did great only to discover flaw after flaw on tape.
This time she didn't have her producer squawking any more than normal in her ear and once she looked down and saw that her nipples had retreated to a much more presentable state, Cathy felt comfortable and confident enough to hop up on the last treadmill for sale and finish the show with an energetic rush.
Slipping into her office with a diet soda in one hand and her post-show notes in the other, it was times like these Cathy patted herself on the back for being with the company long enough to have earned her own private, albeit modest, office. The space was cramped but it served as a wonderful place to decompress after a long shift on-air.
Just like most nights Cathy allowed the adrenaline rush to work its way out, but there was still a nagging feeling hanging over her about how the last half hour of her evening presentation went. She'd equipped the room with a small TV and a DVR so she could go back and re-watch her shows for whatever reason and against her better judgment that evening, Cathy did just that. What she saw first heartened her, but the longer she watched suddenly she became more and more confused.
Fast forwarding through the early parts of the show, Cathy slowed it down and started watching around the time she's noticed her nipples were showing. A wave of relief washed through her when she didn't see a hint of her nips showing on TV. Between the distance of the camera, the lighting and the dark material of her workout top, Cathy was relieved to see her headlights weren't beaming out for the whole world to see.
Her curiosity satisfied, Cathy leaned forward in her seat and prepared to switch the DVR off. Before she could however, something on the screen caused her settle awkwardly backwards. The male model who was working during the presentation was staring directly at her chest as he worked out on the equipment. She'd been so absorbed in trying to muddle her way through the demonstration, Cathy hadn't noticed the young man stealing several extended peeks as he jogged on the treadmill.
Racking her brain trying to remember the guy's name, Cathy thought she recalled reading a few weeks back in the company's internal newsletter he was a Kinesiology major at one of the local universities, who also did some part time modeling.
"Kevin maybe..or Kyle?" she muttered under her breath, her insides stewing at the brazen way his eyes every so often seemed to lock on her raised nipples.
If that wasn't bad enough, something else quickly jumped off the screen.
Not only did it seem the male model was scoping out her chest but Cathy was sure the female model helping out with the presentation had caught a peek as well from her perch on the other treadmill. Cathy could see a sheepish smile crack across the young blonde's face when her eyes went to the same place her male cohort's were. Seeing herself on screen tucked between the two, all Cathy could see was shake her head and cringe as she watched the way she went on with the presentation, totally oblivious to the private show she was giving the two models almost half her age.
"At least the girl could sympathize with my situation," Cathy re-assuredly thought to herself.
When the camera panned out briefly, what Cathy saw next made it feel like icicles were piercing into her spine. It looked just like the male and female model stole a subtle, cat quick snicker to one another, as if affirming what the other had saw.
"Oh..My..God," Cathy gasped, cursing under her breath when the camera shot changed before she was 100% sure of what she saw.
"I just need to go down and take a shower and wash this night off of me," Cathy said to herself, still in her sweaty workout attire.
Swiveling side to side in her cushy office chair, Cathy tried settling herself before she stood up as the blood pounded in her head. The closest thing she could compare to the feeling she currently had was when she was doing cocaine about seven years earlier. Her and her Husband, once they'd established themselves in Central Florida through business dealings and another connections found they had become part of the local jet set. For a small town farm girl with very modest sensibilities, the blow certainly helped Cathy loosen up and be more social, not to mention it really helped keep her weight down as she crept closer to middle age.
It took one of the people in their circle of friends to get arrested on possession charges to wake Cathy and her Husband up to the chances they might wind up in the same boat and lose everything they had worked so hard for. It had been that long however since Cathy felt such a glorious and maniacal rush in her head and chest as she contemplated her next move. Grabbing her towel and bag of toiletries, Cathy finally flipped off the TV and headed down to the employee gym where they had separate men's and women's locker rooms, hoping a long and hot shower would settle her nerves.