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Jeanie

Tags: first, lesbian
It’s funny how mothers always warn us about boys, but never about girls

I was annoyed…

At first…

Then I was amused.

- - -

I have lived in Midtown Manhattan for most of my adult life and Eugenia’s Creations just off Herald Square is my favorite boutique. I am a curvy girl and Eugenia designs specifically for ladies with a figure. I tend towards the slightly edgy side of sturdy tailored pieces, which means I don't do frilly stuff well. Nevertheless, I have a great appreciation for good design that is executed with style; wearable, functional clothing that doesn't overpower the wearer but definitely makes you stop and look.

On my last visit there, Eugenia helped me find the perfect dress for a particular occasion. It was a royal blue wrap dress. It was a bit pricey, but I knew I would wear it because I absolutely loved it. No wonder they have three locations. One in Falls Church, Virginia, one in Toronto Canada and here in New York City. The trouble is, I have to avoid walking anywhere close to the boutique because I swear it pulls me in and forces me to spend more money.

This particular visit was on a Friday afternoon, and I had taken off early from my business office downtown to sit for a final fitting for a custom-made suit. The boutique was busy that Friday, what with everyone looking for last minute weekend must-haves.

I walked into the store and waved to the staff at the front desk, then made my way to the rear of the store to find an unoccupied dressing room. Once in there I peeled off my jacket, slacks, and blouse, took my business calendar from my purse and reviewed what impending work and social obligations were pressing.

So there I am, awaiting the arrival of a sales assistant while standing in the dressing room wearing nothing but my Double-D bra and high-waist nylon knickers. What a delightful word that is, ‘knickers.’ I learned that from a good friend I have in England … But that is another story.

“I have your suit, Ma’am,” a youthful voice chirped.

Now I am usually served by one of the mature sales staff members who conscientiously go about their duties in a polite, competent fashion but on this occasion, I was being addressed by a young teenage girl. She seemed a little out of place as adolescent sales assistants are more usually found in the chain stores catering to teens, like Wet Seal or The Gap.

I thought she was attractive, in a somewhat conservative way. She was as tall as I was but very slender and wore a plain, blue, knee-length, half-sleeved dress and black flats. She had wonderfully long, shiny light brown hair that appeared to be tortured into a tightly curled Princess Lea type Danish bun on the back of her head. I thought that while not too flattering, it was perhaps practical.

The nametag on the front of her dress said, Jeanie.

Jeanie was attentive and very obliging. She fetched, carried, and fussed around me, but with this girl, it was all a bit much. I thought she was too accommodating and too fussy with everything. What was annoying me the most was that she was ‘mamming’ me to tears. “Yes Ma’am, I have your suit.”  “Very nice material Ma’am.”  “I really like the color you selected Ma’am.” “No Ma’am, Yes Ma’am, three bags full Ma’am.”

Now that was incredibly annoying.

I finally told her to knock off the ‘Ma’am.’ At that time, I was 28 years old, and she was coming across as if she were a scullery maid groveling in front of Queen Elizabeth. I told her that if she wanted to address me, then Helen was just fine with me. Eventually, she seemed to settle on, ‘Miss Helen.’

Jeanie removed my soon-to-be-finished suit from its box and hung the jacket up, then took the skirt, shook it out, knelt at my feet and held it open.  As I stepped into it Jeanie’s hands seem to be forever fussing at me. She helped me to pull the skirt up over my hips, buttoning the waistband and close the zip in back. Then she seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time kneeling at my feet and crawling around checking if the hem was hanging equally, front, back, and sides.

Ohhh-kay. I got it. New on the job, most likely her very first job and therefore a bit overly attentive,

There was a moment when Jeanie was kneeling at my feet, playing around with the hem of the skirt, when she looked up. It was an inquiring gaze, traveling slowly up my legs, across my skirt, up over my waist and breasts to where she eventually was looking me in the face. It was an interesting look. A mixture of both shyness and curiosity that made me feel that her visual appraisal was not strictly confined to my clothing.

As our eyes met, she hurriedly dropped her gaze, blushed furiously and stuttered, “Should I b-b-bring the other blouses in Ma’am? . . . I m-m-mean Miss Helen”

With that somewhat shy demonstration, I became amused.

In reply to her question, I smiled and nodded, and off she trotted to fetch the two custom blouses I had ordered. I was left standing in my bra and skirt curiously wondering what exactly was going on with Little Miss Fussy.

I am a bit busty, and most button-down off-the-rack blouses do not fit me worth a damn. For me, even something as fundamental as a simple tee shirt can be a challenge. Now blouses can be the real nightmare. You know how that goes, they fit well enough across the shoulders, but your bust stretches the front apart to where you can see flesh between the buttons, plus pulling the front up so that it comes out at your waistline. The usual solutions to that are to keep your suit jackets closed or buy those somewhat billowy pullover blouses. My answer to that was to have my business blouses custom made at Eugenia’s Boutique so that they actually fit me correctly.

Jeanie returned with my blouses, removed them from the box and held one up to facilitate my sliding my arms into the sleeves. She then commenced to button up the blouse, making sure it was tucked neatly into my skirt waistband.

Now, I usually would have taken care of that small chore myself. I am entirely self-sufficient enough to clothe myself, thank you, but by this time, Jeanie’s attentiveness was just a little more than I would expect. Nothing that obvious, but indeed were some signs there when you knew what to look for.

Her eyes, oh lordy it was her eyes. She had those large soft brown eyes that reminded you of a squirrel counting hazelnuts. You know what I mean. Somewhat like the surprised wide-eyed look you get when accidentally sitting on something sharp and pointed, or have just been handed a thousand dollar bill.

One might reason Miss Fussy could have been examining my body and clothing for stray pieces of lint. An appraisal, while not critical, did signal something a little more intimate that stopped short of being worshipful. It was something in between.

Oh my god, it finally clicked. She was enamored. In spite of all that nervous shyness, Little Miss Fussy was checking me out.

For some reason, it surprised me. Is anyone that shy and innocent anymore?


At that interesting moment, our visual tete-a-tete ended when the boutique’s tailor stepped into the dressing room to make some last minute minor adjustments to the skirt. A pin here, a tack there, along with a note to increase the length of the kick-slit in the back hem. I prefer a four-inch slit, not the two-inch they had tailored.
The tailor promised that all changes would be accomplished by the end of business and made assurances that my suit and blouses would be delivered to my townhouse on the following day.

With that accomplished, I shed my new clothing, redressed in the top and slacks I had arrived in and went to pay the bill. I settled my financial obligations by adding the charges to my account and bid the staff farewell. Farewell at least until the next time when I couldn’t resist another of Eugenia’s creations. Walking those few city blocks home I felt good about my purchases and smiled at the brief encounter with Miss Jeanie.
 
~ ~ ~

The following day introduced some drama into my life.

A few minutes after twelve noon, my front doorbell chimed. I opened the door to behold some strange young female standing on the steps of my townhome with a passing resemblance to the young missy sales assistant, Jeanie.

She was clutching a box from Eugenia’s Creations Boutique.

“Er… Miss Helen, the shop told me to deliver your suit and blouses.”

Little white lie number one. I was sure the shop did no such thing. In my experience, they always used a messenger service.

However, underneath the disguise, it was indeed, Jeanie the sales assistant, and oh my lord, what had she done to herself?

The ‘delivery person’ was wearing a small rayon tank-top that left most of her back and stomach bare and featured her small braless endowments standing out like twin peaks underneath the thin material. The top was accessorized by a light blue denim skirt so short that if she sneezed she would show her address and telephone number. That fascinating fashion statement was topped off with her long hair hanging in two large braids that hung down behind her ears making her look like a Goth version of Heidi. She added to that ensemble by using, several pounds of black and purple eyeshadow and a garish smear of cherry red lipstick.

All of that peculiar display was balanced on a pair cheap platform shoes that looked positively dangerous.
 
Where was the fresh-faced Jeanie in the plain dress and flat shoes?

She didn’t seem to be there.

I am seldom rendered speechless, but that particular apparition did a fair job of gluing my lips together. After what seemed to be enough time for the Kardashians to grow old, wrinkle and mercifully pass into oblivion, I took the parcel from her hands and placed it in the hallway. I did not invite her into my home; instead, I grabbed a cardigan sweater from the hallway coat closet and threw it around my shoulders.

“Come on Jeanie. Let’s get some coffee.”

We left my home and walked a block and a half to a small neighborhood café on the corner of Thirty-Third and Broadway.

Jeanie looked confused, desperately out of place and miserable.

I felt my heart twist and felt her fear and trepidation.

I knew, oh my god how I knew. I may never have put myself out there in quite the same questionable manner as Jeanie, but in some measure, many of us have been there. Those moments when you desperately seek to connect with someone with little idea of how to do so. You place your very heart and soul on the line, without knowing where the line is.

However, she dared to try, and I found myself admiring her for that.

I could have just accepted the package, thanked her and closed the door, but I could not in good conscience do that. Why should I punish her for being curious about me? I was not an innocent party here. I had involved myself the moment I amused myself watching her antics in the store. All right, so she was nervous, clumsy, and way out of her usual comfort zone, but I felt she was due more consideration than the sight of my backside walking away and ignoring her.

I also had to ask myself, was Jeanie too young?  The voting age is eighteen, and New York mandates the legal drinking age for alcohol to be twenty-one. The internal confusion she was wrestling with at that moment was a damn sight more important to her spirit and identity as a human being than both politics and drinking.

She was eighteen, dressed as if she were ten and wanting desperately to be thirty.

I was forced to reflect upon my own life. I had certainly experimented with other girls that were her age and younger during my own high school years, but that was among peers. Back in those days when we are all young and curious. Oh hell, you know how that goes. We always had that safety net, our built-in excuses for wrestling around, dressing up, sleepovers, girly slap, and tickle, and we played in such a manner that it could always be fobbed-off as, non-serious childish play. Deniable awareness is a phrase that comes to mind. We weren’t really doing sexual experimentations, were we? We were not, god forbid . . . lesbians?

Now Jeanie had set herself a tougher task. She wasn’t playing around with her school friends; she had cast her attention on an older woman.

Oh yes. I had been there also, and I was younger than Jeanie was then. The accompanying guilt sets in. Fear of being found out, discovered, and exposed as, ‘one of them.’ The fear of peer ostracization, and social derision, of role, and gender confusion. All of it resulting in self-doubt and recrimination, which can be devastating when you are young. All because you had the temerity to be, however briefly, attracted to another female.

It’s funny how mothers always warn us about boys, but never about girls…

Very few of us are prepared for that moment, so we stumble through it. We make a joke of it; we claim we were just acting the fool, drunk, partying or misunderstood. All of those rather pathetic rationalizations in case we made total asses of ourselves. That fear before you even start, is how do you get back?  So without guidance and emotional wings to fly with, we cast ourselves out there, and without knowing what will befall, we pray to god for a gentle landing.

I have often wondered wherein lay the more significant trauma. Feeling terrified and ashamed if your intended lover shames you and rejects you, and says, ‘No,’ or the different kind of fear if she says, ‘Yes.’

In this instance, Jeanie had just landed on my doorstep and in my lap. Damn it; like it or not, want it or not, her immediate emotional welfare was my concern and responsibility.

Jeanie sat across from me at a table, nervously biting her lip. She was anxious about what she had gotten herself into and close to panic. Her hands trembled, and small beads of perspiration glistened on her forehead. Those expressive eyes that had so lingered upon me in the dressing room, now flicked nervously from side to side as she looked around the café containing the usual mix of neighborhood residents, and business types.

Jeanie knew that she was out of place and looked as if she wanted to run away and hide.

She was close to tears. “I guess I shouldn’t have worn this skirt and top,” she murmured.

I smiled at her. “You didn’t have to wear a miniskirt to get my attention, Jeanie. I actually thought the sales assistant I met yesterday was attractive and kind of cute.”

Those eyes looked across at me. “Did you really?   I wanted to look… better for you.”

“Well, you don’t need to advertise yourself in quite that manner, Jeanie. It is unnecessary and degrading.”

She sniffled. “I screwed it up, didn’t I?  Made a real fool of myself.”

“Well you had expectations, didn’t you Jeanie?  What did you think would happen today?”

She looked embarrassed. “I wasn’t sure. I thought you might… I mean we might kinda… you know… ”

I placed my hand over hers and squeezed gently. “Relax Jeanie. I promise you that nothing, nothing is going to happen today. What we ARE going to do is sit here and drink too much latte and gorge ourselves on cinnamon buns.”

For the first time since arriving at my doorstep, she gave a rueful grin. “I screwed up, didn’t I?” Her eyes watered. “I feel so stupid, stupid, stupid. I feel like such a fool. I wanted it too much. Oh god… I just wanted to look sexy for you.”

“No Jeanie. You didn’t screw up. This was the moment when you began to grow up.”

~ ~ ~

ONE WEEK LATER:

What a difference a week can make.

It was a warm spring afternoon in the city, and I could feel a pleasant breeze coming off the East River. I had left home and walked those few blocks over to the same café where I had sat with Jeanie a week earlier. I was comfortably clothed for springtime in a short-sleeved summer dress and sandals and clutching a copy of the Village Voice newspaper. I don’t think I even glanced at a page. I was wondering if she would show up at all.

Then I saw her weaving her way through the crush of pedestrians walking down Thirty-Third Street towards the café. She was wearing blue jeans, white sneakers and a canary yellow light summer top that came down to her hips. Her hair was free flowing and swinging delightfully around her shoulders. She wore no eye makeup, no lipstick, and most importantly, she looked happy. She looked like Jeanie should look.

We shared a light hug and parked ourselves at a sidewalk table. I ordered up two mugs of coffee and a plate of French pastries, and we quietly sat and enjoyed the sunshine, the bustle of people and the endless parade of vehicles in the street.

And we talked.

How we talked. Small wonder we didn’t both go into cardiac arrest from caffeine overdose.

Jeanie talked about her parents, and that she lived with her family in a tenement apartment on East Ninety-first Street. She was eighteen years old and had just graduated from Cathedral Catholic High School for Girls in Midtown and already had her sights firmly set on attending university. She also explained how she was hired for her summer job; seems her father is the maintenance man for the building that houses Eugenia’s Boutique.

In turn, I told her a little about myself, or at least the things about myself that mattered to Jeanie at that moment.

Many lattes and pasties later our conversation slowly stilled, and we were quiet for a few moments.

We finally looked at each other.

“No expectations, Jeanie?” I asked.

“No expectations, Helen,” she responded.

I smiled and took her hand.

~ ~ ~

We walked casually through my neighborhood enjoying the warm afternoon and each other. My four-story brownstone townhouse is on a quiet tree-lined street that along with the mandatory steep front steps also manages to find room for small bushes and flower pots. Occasionally I debate with myself as to whether I should move to a modern high-rise condominium, but although all of that glass and concrete are new, it is also rarified, sterile, and unaffordable. My home has character, history and welcoming warmth. I don’t imagine I shall be moving anywhere else very soon.

After we arrived home, I poured us both some red wine. Jeanie sipped hers cautiously and carried it with her as she wandered around exploring. She was especially fond of my home office and small library. Jeanie ran her fingers across the books, many of which are classics, but containing very few that she had read. She had at least been exposed to some Charles Dickens and Alexandre Dumas thanks to her parochial schooling.

“Have you read all of these books, Helen?”

I followed her gaze across the shelves. “Yes, at one time or another, I have read them all. The ones you see up there are like old friends. I keep them close and enjoy revisiting them.”

She spent time wandering through the rooms carefully taking in the assortment of knick-knacks and memorabilia that occupied various shelves and alcoves. She paused longest at the collection of framed photographs that covered the walls. Some pictures of my family and others of yours truly in places like on the Avenue des Champs-Elysees in Paris and in various locations in Cambridge and London, England.
 
Her eyes sparkled. “Looking at your world is exciting . . . and a little bit scary.”

“Give yourself some time Jeanie. The Brooklyn Bridge wasn’t built in a day, and you won’t be either. When you finish University, you will have the whole world in front of you.”

“It’s wonderful,” she said. “I envy you because you know who you are.”

We placed our wine glasses down and looked at each other. Then I walked towards her and very gently took her into my arms.

As we hugged, Jeanie put her head on my shoulder. "I want to be with you, Helen. I have never done anything like this before, and I don’t know what to do, and I don’t care. All I know is how I feel with you. I know I’m a bit silly, but will you give me a chance to get to know you?”

I reached up and combed her hair with my fingers, then gently held her face in my hands and kissed her ears, down her checks and then finally kissed her on her mouth.

“Ah, Jeanie. What am I going to do with you?”

“Whatever you want,” she replied.

~ ~ ~

We stood in the living room, kissing and fumbling with each other, neither of us taking the lead. Jeanie laughed. “Now do you wish that I had worn that shorty little skirt for you?”

I could not help laughing. I stood back and checked out her blue jeans. 

Now I don’t care if you spend half of your adult life in a gym, you will never again have the ass you had when you were in your teens. Jeanie’s ass was round with firm cheeks like halves of an apple. I cupped my hands around both cheeks, pulled her towards me and squeezed.

“Well, I seem to recall that even tight-assed jeans can be taken off,” I whispered.

She kissed me hard and passionately, almost desperately. “Take them off me, Helen. Take them off.”

I looked into Jeanie’s face for any sign of apprehension, of nervousness or fear. There was none. Her eyes were soft, wide open and beckoning.

“Please take them off.”

She stood quietly in the center of the Livingroom as I unbuttoned the waist of her jeans, pulled the zip all the way down and eased her jeans open to reveal pastel blue bikini panties. I put my hands upon her hips, hooked my thumbs under the waistband of her jeans, and slowly pushed them over her hips, down her legs, and off her ankles. While I was pushing her jeans down, she was struggling to get out of her top. Her hastily discarded top quickly joined her jeans in a pile on the floor. She kicked off her sneakers and faced me.

She said nothing, just stood quietly, allowing me to look. There is true wonder in such a moment. Some may see such a charged encounter as psychologically complex, an emotional watershed, but it can also be the most straightforward act of faith in the entire universe. The courage to place yourself in the arms of another.

Her curiosity was more about herself than it ever was about me.

I had every reason to expect Jeanie to be cautious. For a first time, I was prepared for shyness and some timidity. At the very least, perhaps some kissing, woman-talk, and giggles. I had firmly resolved to keep the mood light and amusing, indulging her curiosity and providing whatever she needed for her comfort, and sense of safety.

That, at least, was my avowed intention, but Jeanie had her own ideas. She quickly shredded my conservative dance card and chose instead to follow the sound of her own percussionist. It seemed whatever shyness she may have possessed, had been discarded along with her jeans. Her fear and nervousness had evaporated, to be replaced by curiosity and desire and the tears in her eyes were from joy, not shame or embarrassment.

For my life, I cannot remember who led whom into my bedroom, but somewhere along the way, I had shed my dress and sandals. We collapsed, giggling onto my bed.

Jeanie was just beautiful in an understated way. Plain, unadorned, tall and willowy, she lay with her head on my shoulder, and I placed an arm around her and traced the curve of her back with my hand. 

I forced myself to remain still and allow her to explore in her own way, at her own pace and in her own time.

Jeanie surprised me. She was not what I expected. Whatever caution I expected from her quickly evaporated.
She was energetic and insatiable with laughter that retained a girlish tone, but with a body that was strong and resilient and fully mature. 

It was Jeanie’s first time… it was a first time for me also.

For the first time in my life, I held the physical and spiritual trust of someone’s emotions. No games, no pretentious egos or embarrassing quickies. Free from the predictable machinations of maturity, it was both humbling and exciting. It was pure and possessed of a quiet unassailable beauty and quality of its own.  The simple gift of trust.

Jeanie moved up across my body until her face was next to mine and pressed herself against me.

I kissed her lips and kissed her eyelids, ears, and forehead. I kissed the soft fine down on the back of her neck, I nuzzled her hair, and I could smell her shampoo. Her back glistened with a thin sheen of perspiration, and I ran my fingertips down the curves of her spine, counting vertebra, all the way down to the small of her back.

Jeanie relinquished all restraint and released me to do the same. We enveloped and submerged ourselves in each other, and when passion finally surrendered to exhaustion, we collapsed into each other’s arms. With her sweet face buried against my neck, we fell asleep.

~ ~ ~

Dusk comes early to Manhattan.

The setting sun loses its strength behind the skyscrapers, slowly relinquishing its light to make way for artificial replacements. Street lighting, neon signs, vehicle headlights and the soft glow of homes and businesses across Manhattan.

We had slept for several hours.

I felt her stirring. She looked up, and a momentary look of confusion crossed her face as if she had forgotten where she was. I looked down at her, and we met each other’s gaze. Jeanie’s look of alarm was quickly replaced with a look of relief. I reached down and stroked her hair.

“Yes, I am here Jeanie.”

She pressed herself tighter against my side. “I don’t ever want to leave,” she whispered. “I love you, Helen.”

I was afraid of hearing those words.

My initial thought was a derisive one. What does any eighteen-year-old know about love? Then I immediately erased that cynical criticism from my mind. Just who in the hell was I to criticize anyone’s feelings?  I gave myself a quick reality check by reminding myself that in the past I had not done such a hot job of love myself.

To be specific, I was married at twenty-one to a fellow student I was attending university with and was divorced by the time I was twenty-two. That piece of stupidity alone disqualifies me as being any great judge into the intricacies of love. Thankfully, however, it did no lasting harm aside from my being a tad cynical. However, I am not disillusioned, and the one thing I do know is, that love requires courage and comes along comes when you least expect it.

So while I may be cynical, I respected Jeanie’s feelings. She loved me at that moment and yes, perhaps at that moment, I loved her.

~ ~ ~

It was now past sunset, and the Victorian-style street lighting shone through the lace curtains of my bedroom window and placed a soft diffused orange glow across my bedroom walls. Soon, all too soon, we would have to leave my bed and resume our daily lives.

I gingerly removed Jeanie’s right leg that was across my thighs and made movements to leave my bed.

“No … nooooo. Don’t leave.” Jeanie clutched at me, holding me.

I relented and lay back onto the bed and closed my eyes.

Through half-closed eyelids, I watched her. Her face was soft, and her hair in beautiful disarray. I watched as she kissed and nuzzled against me.

“Ah, Jeanie you little minx. You have to be heading home.”

Jeanie shifted slowly, moved closer and continued kissing her way across my body.

“I am home,” she murmured while kissing my neck and chest.

Jeanie made love as if she would never experience it again. It was not innocence lost, it was innocence set free to embrace universal sensuality. Regardless of the future, this memory would remain unique and indelible. Her newfound freedom served to rejuvenate my own. We laughed and cried, we made love both frantically and tenderly. We gave everything to each other that we could provide, then clung to each other and wept with emotion and exhaustion.

~ ~ ~

We showered separately, not entirely trusting each other to behave and then sat at the kitchen table. Jeanie with a large bath towel wrapped around herself and me in a flannel bathrobe.

We were both thirsty and dehydrated from our physical workout, so I fetched us two cans of ginger ale from the refrigerator. Jeanie greedily consumed one can and asked for another.

While sipping on her second can of ginger ale, she suddenly asked.

“Do I have to put my jeans back on?”

I was laughing. “Yes, you certainly do unless you want to travel home wearing just your panties.”

Her gentle smile filled my heart.

“Oh all right then . . . if I have to”

She didn’t say it coyly, or to tease. There was sadness in her voice, perhaps an acceptance that a moment had passed in both of our lives with neither of us quite knowing what the future might hold.

She suddenly stood, discarded her bath towel and without any sign of shame or embarrassment strolled through the house naked searching for her clothing. She eventually located her bra and panties underneath my bed and her jeans, top and sneakers on the library floor. She stepped into her jeans, tugged them up over her hips and slipped her feet into her sneakers.

She returned to the kitchen and stood in front of me. Her eyes had taken on a depth I had not noticed before.

“I do love you, Helen.”

~ ~ ~

All of that happened almost twenty years ago. I recently received a card from Jeanie. She lives out in Santa Barbara, California, and longtime married to a lecturing professor at Southern California University. The card was celebrating her son’s graduation from middle school.

As always, I am happy for her, and for a brief moment, I close my eyes, and once again, I can see her standing here in my living room wearing those low-slung jeans saying, “Take them off me, Helen. Take them off.”
 
~ ~ ~

 

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