"Does that bother you?" she asked.
"No, no...no!" I said, trying to sound cool. "Just thought Id mention it."
She reached down and put her hand on my leg. "Do you want to screw before we go out?"
She straightened up. "Let me get my jacket."
Okay, so I flubbed that one. The fact is Ive never been quick with words and usually go on the defensive until I can sort out the terrain. Being near a woman with whom Id like to mash-in creates a sort of verbal spandex on my tongue. It keeps the rougher edges from bulging out beyond what I should be saying. The fact that Elena was not so restricted didnt change my approach; as I see it, sex is an act where two fundamentally different beings come together with the same goal in mind, and thats a recipe for proceeding with caution.
I digress. We went to a Thai restaurant that I hadnt known existed, where I was delighted to learn that Elena was a woman after my own tastes; she liked spicy foods.
"I want to apologize for coming on to you at my apartment," she said, once we were seated. "I didnt mean to embarrass you."
"Thats okay," I replied, not even pretending that I hadnt been surprised. "I just assumed that you preferred the customary buildupdinner, conversation, a couple drinks." She didnt respond, causing me to dig myself a deeper hole. "Southern Mediterranean women are usually shy. I think it comes from over-protective fathers who know what men really want and try to protect their daughters from being victimized."
"Were in America," she replied, making me realize how stupid I sounded. I shrugged and concentrated on tearing apart the dumpling in front of me. She must have felt sorry for me because she added, "I dont like the tension of Is she or isnt she? in the air of first dates. I honestly thought having sex first would make dinner less awkward, easier to enjoy."
Elenas explanation of her pre-dinner offer led to an evening of lively, freewheeling discussion. The ice was broken and we talked on and on, about everything. Our conversation was so inspiring, in fact, that couples from other tables were listening. The meal acquired more flavor, too, which is always the case when an environment creates a mood that heightens the senses. We could have been in Bangkok or something, dining in some Hollywood inspired scene of international intrigue and romance. I didnt tell Elena this, though, it wouldnt have sounded very cool.
Dinner ended too soon and she suggested that we go out dancing. "As long as I get in by six," I replied, cursing myself the moment the words left my mouth.
"Is that when you turn into Cinderella?" she asked.
"I have to go to work at six," I replied. "I brew tomorrow."
We danced till latepoorly, I admitand on the way back to her apartment I swung by the brewpub and parked out front. "Why are you stopping?" she asked.
"I always go by the brewery to see that everything is locked up," I said. "Plus, I love to sit and look at the copper. Its nice from here, isnt it?" The gleaming copper kettles were nicely showcased from outside the brewpub, and served to pull people inside. The copper also reminded women why they were attracted to me, the brewer, something I didnt tell Elena.
"Why do you go in so early, to heat up the water?" she asked, ignoring my question.
"Theres a lot of prep work to do. I actually have the water heated the night before. The night manager switches it on before he leaves."
"Are you sure?" She sat silently, her eyes boring through my head in a way that should have warned me that she was up to something. "Should we go check?"
"The water. Do you have a key?"
"YeahnoI mean yes I have a key. Why do you want to see the water?"
I followed her to the back of the building and opened the door. Wondering if she knew something I didnt, I went to check the panel to make sure the heat was on. Once Id assured myself that everything was ready for an early start, I returned to look for Elena. Her clothes were strewn in a path leading to the mash tun. Like Hansel following Gretel (but with something different in mind), I followed the path of strewn clothes.
"Turn off the heat and join me!" she yelled. "Its just the right temperature!" Elena sat inside the mash tun, naked. Her arms were stretched apart, holding two of the prongs on the rake. Her breasts floated on top of the water like anchor buoys, nipples tilted upward, dark beacons of pleasure. Steam rose off the water. "And get me a beer," she added.
"An IPA!" I replied, and disappeared to do her bidding, tearing my clothes off while I ran. See what I mean when I tell you about interesting situations?
When I returned, I was wearing my goggles and ready for anything. She sat calmly, pouring water over her shoulders with a pint glass. I lowered myself into the water, which had reached just the right temperature to make things comfortable, and pushed my way over to her. I handed her the beer, said, "Im going under," and disappeared.
Once underwater, I searched for something to grasp so I could settle between her thighs, which waved about me like two pillars of soft yellow marble, fluted columns of an ancient Greek palace. She moved to make it easier, then held me down, and there, like an underwater Odysseus, I approached the labia majora, which beckoned like the Sirens toward their soft, seductive walls. I buried my head between her marble arches, blocking my ears from the wailing that had drawn so many mariners to their death, and began to seek passage. The light in the mash tun allowed me to see a divine sight--soft brown ridges rippling softly in the whirlpool current--and my mouth dropped open and I inhaled, necessitating an immediate surfacing. But like a schoolboy peeking through a bathroom keyhole at his friends naked sister, I returned for another look. Elena spread her legs wider and I moved closer. The walls began to blur and wobble as if I was looking at them through the rising heat of a campfire and I latched on like a remora, using my tongue to keep me from floating away. I reached under her, grabbed those long, smiling buns and pulled myself closer, a fish kiss on my lips. Water, womb and woman, it all seemed so primal. Elena provided the motion, rocking her pelvis up and down.
Okay, it wasnt the best head Id ever given, but the novelty of my attempt was enough to get her hot and after letting me flop around like a harpooned Moby Dick, she grabbed me by the ears and pulled me to the shores of safety. "Okay frog man, lets mash in." She leaned back, and grabbed the rakes.
At first I was a little surprised that shed used a brewhouse expression. Again, I should have seen the warning sign, but at that moment I was occupied by other thoughts. Im not much for boasting but that night I was a turnkey system with all the valves open. A supercharged, well lubed, steam powered brewkettle, reaching full boil in a frenzy of bubbles.
And sure enough, what she said before leaving convinced me that brewing is a blessed profession. We were sitting in the car in front of her house and she turned and touched my hand. "See you," she said.
"Youre not inviting me in?" I asked.
"You have work to do," she said.
"Yeah, I gotta clean out the mash tun. A dose of caustic will clean it out without a trace of our being in there."
"Why not leave it?" she replied, then smiled and got out of the car.
I leaned over and looked up at her. "Why did you pick me?"
"I like your beer," she responded.