tagMind ControlThe Continuing Education of Susan Ch. 02

The Continuing Education of Susan Ch. 02

byTMaskedWriter©

"It doesn't matter what I say,v as long as I sing with inflection,
that makes you feel I'll convey
some inner truth or sad reflection.

But I've said nothing so far,
and I can keep it up for as long as it takes.
And it don't matter who you are.
If I'm doing my job, it's your resolve that breaks."
-Blues Traveler, "Hook"


Hey, hon, how're you doing tonight? I'm Sue. What can I get for ya?

Sorry, that's a reflex from dropping out of school at 16 to begin waitressing and being stuck in the same all-night greasy spoon for twelve years. I know the term for it these days is "service industry," but fuck 'em: It was a shitty highway diner and my ass is hard enough to deflect bullets from getting pinched and slapped by drunks and meth-ed up truckers all those years; I was a fuckin' waitress.

Like Suzy-Ho, I also live in Susan's head. If we want to get all Freud here, you might say I represent her survival instinct. I helped her power through all the shit Chad used to do to us and keep going. Today's not as bad as that, she's just going around trying to put up flyers for the yoga studios, which requires a lot of dealing with getting hit on by creepy assholes, and that's shaking her confidence. (We have to stop at a lot of gyms, and muscle-bound assholes with tiny 'roid dicks who think they can Alpha Male their way into our pants remind her of Chad.) So that's why I'm here.

Well, that and to keep Suzy-Q away from them. You haven't met her, and I hope you don't. She's the "Chad's Whipped Mule" of the gang in here, and she makes my job a lot harder. If I let her take charge, she'd say yes and go along with them and get us gang-raped in an alley just to feel some kind of validation. God, I can't wait to get the hang of this thing Troy & Julie have been teaching us. Not dealing with that shit is just one of the ways it's going to make life a lot better.

Oh, wait. There's a guy who's not being a jerk and going to let us put one up? And give us a free coffee without hitting on us? All right, Susan's feeling better now. Back to you in the studio, Susan.

* * *

Hi. My name's Susan. Sorry I stepped out for a minute, there. "Tread the Boards Day" tends to suck.

Oh, most people are ok with us putting up the flyers, but then there are the dicks who say things like "I'll do it for your number" or "So, yoga, you're really flexible, then?" Those are the less-annoying ones. The more explicit requests and people going on about that "hippie crap" are the ones that bring Sue out. (My favorite comeback of hers is "I've GOT a boyfriend, AND a girlfriend, and you're not man enough to replace either.")

My work clothes don't help at all. Part of Claire's business plan is that we all dress in a way that suggests "This is a place to get some healthy exercise," so workout clothes are encouraged; as long as they look nice and aren't wrinkled and sweaty from having just BEEN working out. I think it makes me look like I'm running late for teaching an aerobics class in 1986, but she says it's a good look for me and she pays me, so there we are. After our "lunch meeting," I was grateful that I work in a place with shower facilities before going out and dealing with people dressed like this.

The guy at this last coffee shop before I could comfortably call it a day had been great, though. Said yes right away, had a few legitimate questions about the studio and what we teach there; even asked for a flyer for himself and gave me a mocha on the house after seeing the toll that an afternoon of driving around Pierce and southern King Counties had taken on me. If Troy weren't the only man for me and he'd asked, this guy could've gotten my number. I'll have to remember this place.

I took a seat at one of the tables and looked at the people around me. Just the act of doing that was far more liberating than you might think. Going anywhere out of the house with Chad had been a minefield and the knowledge that the world wasn't like that no longer surprised me, but was still an unfamiliar feeling. With him, I had to look down and not make eye contact or initiate a conversation with anyone. If I was looking at a man, I was "thinking about cheating on him." If I was looking at a woman, she was going to "poison me against him," (Of course, if HE was looking at a woman, it was "Go home, Suzy-Q.") and God help me if anyone came up and started TALKING to me! My only hope then was that he'd either hook up with the other woman or that he'd get drunk enough to pass out before we got home and forget about it in the morning.

Just being able to sit down in a public place with a drink of my choosing and watch the people around me going about their day, knowing that if I wanted to talk to any of them, I could... if I didn't have a personal agenda to get back to, I could see sitting here for the rest of my life, just watching the world go by and having opinions on it all.

I spent a few minutes sizing up the people around me and seeing who matched all the qualities I sought. Troy & Julie had taught me that a major part of this thing was making observations about people. I was looking for someone who was on her own and didn't appear to be waiting for someone to show up; who was maybe a little bit distracted, too, so they wouldn't wonder "Why is this strange woman coming up and talking to me" too much. Someone who wasn't so busy that a stranger walking up to her and striking up a conversation would be an irritation, but also wasn't so skittish that the same idea would freak them out. An important factor was also someone who didn't seem like she had somewhere to be later, because if all went well, she'd be spending later with me.

That's when I spotted her: An extremely cute blonde in a short red dress, typing away on a laptop. Her hair was pulled back by a big, twisty hairband. A tiny metal belt around her waist and black Ugg boots completed the outfit. Suzy-Ho gave a little moan of approval from the back of my head.

Ok, the next step was finding a pretext to go over and start a conversation. Just another lifetime of conditioning for me to overcome, no problem there. Well, it WAS a really cute belt; that could work. I looked over at her and waited for her to notice. Not staring, just admiring. When she saw me and gave a little smile herself, I picked up my coffee and went over to her table.

"Sorry," I said with a smile. "Hope I wasn't staring, just, that's a really cute belt. Where'd you get it?"

She looked up from the laptop again and smiled. "Nordstrom," she replied.

"Downtown or Northgate?" I took a seat.

"Northgate," was her response. "It was a couple months ago but they had more left."

"Thanks. I live close to SeaTac Mall, so don't go that far north often, but will try to make it up there. Oh, hi. My name's Susan. Guess I should've started with that."

"Rachel, that's ok," she responded, and the little smile returned. "Honestly, I just thought it looked cute."

"Oh, it does, Rachel. I've got something at home that I know it'd go great with. Little blue dress a lot like that one."

"I can see blue working on you," Rachel replied, checking out my outfit. "Are you on your way to the gym or coming back?" It was then that I remembered how I was dressed.

"Oh, neither. Well, you might say coming back. I work at a yoga studio," I explained, handing her a flyer. She slid her laptop to the side and read it.

"Inner Claire-ity," she read out loud. "Cute name. I'm guessing the owner's name is Claire?"

"Yeah. I'm just her secretary, but Claire thinks everyone dressing like we're going to work out projects the kind of image she wants, you know?"

"Honestly, it doesn't hurt that you're hot either," she replied with a sip of her coffee. That threw me back a little. I'm not used to compliments. From Troy and Julie and our friends, sure; and getting hit on by drunks and late-night sleazeballs at the diner, but not from another woman I've just met in casual conversation. Of course, I never went out in anything that showed off my figure before. I don't talk about my appearance much because it sounds to me, at best vain; and at worst, like one of those letters in dirty magazines that always begin with "I always thought you guys made these letters up," but if someone, say, had the ability to make me answer questions about my looks truthfully, I'd have to say "All right, yeah, I guess I'm fairly hot. My boobs are big and pretty nice, anyway; proud of those."

"Thanks," I said, feeling a blush come on. "Dammit, Susan," Sue told me. "You're supposed to be the one in control here. Remember what you've learned."

"Honestly, you don't look like you need to work out much." Ok, she'd said "honestly" three times now. There was my "in-road," as Troy called it. One of the keys they'd told me was to find something that the person says often or seems to be an important thing with them and start using it back to build rapport. Julie had told me that with Claire, she used the word "nice," and with me, Troy called me Susan a lot, even though I went by Sue in those days, because I'd introduced myself as Susan before correcting myself to Sue; and he'd sensed which I really wanted to be. God, I love him.

"Well, Rachel," I replied, trying to regain control. "Honestly, you're pretty hot yourself. But workouts aren't what we're about. Not yet, anyway. Claire's business advisor has suggested that maybe expanding to include some gym equipment might bring more people in, but that probably won't be for a long time. Our focus for now is working with individuals or small groups; getting in touch with them, helping them to get in touch with themselves. Helping you find the real you, honestly. You know what I'm talking about?" Rachel was nodding her head in agreement as I spoke. I started doing the same. I wasn't completely mirroring her movements, just trying to bring her to a positive, agreeable state.

"I think I get it. So, you do one-on-one sessions? I think I'd be interested in that kind of thing. Getting in touch with my instructor better; as well as myself." She had a big smile now; it was really cute. "So, you don't teach any of those sessions? I think I'd really like to work with you."

Ok, was she coming on to me? I couldn't tell, and there was no point surveying the other women in my head because I already knew their answers. (Which are, in their usual order; "Of course she is, you're gorgeous, woman. Go get some of that!" "How could she possibly? We're nobody." And "Oh fuck, yes! Get that tongue in us now!") I've been with a number of women now, but mostly, they were friends who'd come by the house, and nobody had delusions about where things would eventually lead when they stopped by. This "social interaction in public" thing was still too new to me.

"I'd honestly be happy to instruct you, Rachel. I can see us working very closely together, getting to know the inner you." I left a mental note with Sue to ask Claire about "borrowing a room" and anything else she could tell me about instructing.

"Do you teach that Hot Yoga stuff," Rachel asked taking a drink of her coffee and setting it back down on the table close to mine. She held onto the cup, her fingers lingering against mine. "I think I'd like to try that. I hear it improves flexibility." Ok, even I can't mistake that one.

"Oh yes," I responded, completely lying. "It can get pretty sweaty in there, but it can honestly be quite rewarding." Something was different here. By now, she should have been doing the "repeat back the salient points that are going around in her head" thing that Claire and I apparently did the first time.

"You know, I'm done with work for the day, Susan. And I am feeling a bit tense. If you're not busy, maybe you could..." Rachel picked up her coffee with both hands and held it up to her mouth, looking directly into my eyes. "Take me through some positions?" She took a long sip, never breaking eye contact. I couldn't tell how much of it was my efforts at fascination and how much of it was her.

"Honestly, Rachel, as luck would have it, this was my last stop for the day." I finished my coffee and returned her gaze back at her with more intensity. Not a lot more, though. My goal was to stay on the "Wanna come back to my place" side of the line without crossing into "Hey, check out this cool thing in the back of my van; and does this wadded-up old t-shirt smell like chloroform to you" territory. "I'm only about 20 minutes away if you wanted to go through some basic..." There was nothing left in my cup, but I mirrored the thing she did anyway. "Positions."

Rachel closed her laptop and began packing it away; a bit hurriedly, but I could tell she was trying to play cool. She decided to follow me in her car and we traded phone numbers in case we got separated on the freeway. I put a little extra wiggle in my walk as we left and made sure she saw as I walked to my car, which was parked closer than hers. As I got in and she walked to her own, I saw she was giving me the same show. On the drive home, my mind raced with thoughts of what positions to teach her.

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