A Tour of The House: Part Three
I wonder how many rooms there actually are…
If you’ll remember, in part one, I explained that I had traveled from my job in Saudi Arabia, visited family, and was now one day away from returning to work. Just before leaving I accepted the assistance of the hotel concierge to arrange for a therapeutic massage after dinner and a show. Somehow, thanks in no small part to language difficulties and the concierge having some ideas of his own, I ended up riding down a long dark road outside of Frankfurt, Germany in a limousine with several male strangers headed to, ostensibly, a massage and a show.
I ultimately ended up on a tour of a massive and beautiful Bavarian house while trying to avoid some of the steamier aspects of “the show”.
The hostess was a beautiful and demure woman who, after sensing my discomfort with the theatrics, led me into a hallway that was somewhat narrow but deep and painted in a lush and lavish dark oxblood hue. The ceiling was so high that I could feel my neck muscles straining as I looked up. I caught myself – not wanting to look like the unsophisticated small town girl that I was.
The ornately carved wainscoting on the walls was serving its purpose. There was no draft or dampness. However, if I am being honest, I couldn’t tell if it was the wainscoting or my personal furnace. I had begun to feel a bit feverish and I could not tell if it was the temperature of the building or my own frantic attempts to understand and rationalize what was going on around me.
Being as kind and attentive as ever, the hostess led me into the kitchen and offered me a glass of water. I hoped that my perspiration was not as noticeable as it seemed. However, I thought I could feel my bangs sticking to my forehead.
As she reached into the beautiful mahogany cabinet for the crystal tumbler, I took a moment to get my bearings. The kitchen, like the house, was massive. A fire warmed the room and provided a kaleidoscope of colors reflecting off the elegant crystal chandelier. The coolness of the marble-topped island was a welcome respite to the heat emanating from the palms of my hands. I waited for her to pour the water.
Everything was so impressive to my eyes. And I was once more back to feeling like a princess. The hostess selected a few cubes from the Georg Jensen silver ice bucket and placed them into the water. As she handed the glass to me I thanked her kindly and anticipated the feeling of the cold liquid traveling throughout my body. Once I finished, we stepped back into the hallway and started towards a door on the left.
Behind the door was a beautifully decorated office. There was a large and handsome mahogany and leather executive desk and everything else you would imagine in a corporate office. The hostess, still trying to relieve me of my anxiety, motioned for me to sit in the masculine looking emerald green tufted leather chair. I spun around slowly taking in the sights of the paneled room. The walls were covered with floor to ceiling bookcases completely filled with leather bound books. Many, she said, were first editions.
The smell of cedar from the desk drawers took me back to memories of my grandmother’s bedroom and the cedar chest that held so many precious family heirlooms. I felt myself begin to relax even more. I chided myself for letting my imagination run wild. Granted, there were some things that I did not expect but, really, there was apparently no reason for my apprehension. Here I sat, in a chair worth more than my annual earnings no doubt. What could go wrong? Maybe I was much more of a prude than I had imagined.
Several minutes later she asked if I would like to see more of the house. Curious to see just how the other half (well – maybe the one percent) live, I readily agreed. Having grown up in very modest circumstances, I was excited to see how the mistress of the house had decorated the other rooms.
I was quite aware that I was in my early twenties, from the southern region of the United States and somewhat naive. I was trying to look and act sophisticated but I was still just a little country girl at heart.
The next room was a bathroom that truly fit its name. The bath was Grecian style. It was more like a small pool than a tub but it was beautiful. The entire room was marble. The veins streaked through at random intervals. I ran my hands along the elegantly hollowed surface and wanted desperately to pick up the scented soaps lying in an ornate but delicately carved wooden dish but I restrained myself, to a certain extent. My hostess was obviously delighted in seeing me so excited. She waved me forward, giving me permission to roam the enormous space.
Amazingly, there was a sauna! The smell of cedar and eucalyptus wafted through the air. The hostess offered me slippers as I moved further in because the surface had become a bit slippery. The source of the moisture became evident after a moment as I could hear the gentle hiss of steam. At that very moment the door to the steam room opened and there stood, in all of her natural glory, a woman of my approximate age.
To say I was shocked and embarrassed, obviously in a private part of the house and even more obviously fully dressed and facing someone who was fully nude, is a total understatement. As I attempted to apologize the young woman simply smiled and continued to stand there. She did not seem to understand what I was saying. When she began to speak the German flowed from her mouth but I could not understand a word.
Finally, she slowed her speech and said the same word over and over. When I had caught my breath and stilled my rapidly beating heart I understood that she was saying “there”. When I turned “there” I noticed that the hostess was gone. But “there” was a robe and towels.
I moved to hand her the robe and as I turned back she had wordlessly appeared at my side, not even three feet separated us. I could hear the click of a door in the distance but I could not tell if someone was going out or coming in.
There were so many thoughts going through my mind but . . .
After what happened in there, I am totally confused. Is this some kind of convoluted dream. Should I leave. Should I stay. What is wrong with me. Am I who I thought I was. Has this side of me been in there all along. If so, why haven’t I known. Once again I’m walking down this long hallway on my way to another room. What will I do. At some point will I give in to my inner demons. Have I been drugged.
“Come this way,” she says as she opens another door into another room. And as I started to turn and run back down the hall, my eyes stopped me. I was looking at the most beautiful bedroom filled with the most sensually designed French furniture that I’d ever seen. There was this beautifully carved Bergere chair with a gold gilt frame upholstered in this cream and gold bargello patterned fabric. And draped on the arm of the chair was this magnificent chinchilla with golden brown stripes.
There was this creamy white painted Louis VI dresser with Ormolu openwork gold filigree decorated hardware. The dresser was outlined with 24 carat gold leaf. I may be a country girl from the southern region of the United States. But I know beautiful and expensive furniture. My grandmother worked for the Tomlinson family. They were considered furniture manufacturing royalty in my home town. My grandmother would meet me at the end of their long steep driveway once the school bus dropped me off after school. I remember walking around their home running my hands along the furniture and reading the tabletop design books. I would be in my own wonderful dream world until the door bell rang at 4:30 when mom came to pick me up.
Suddenly, I get snapped back into reality as I gaze in the gold leaf double beveled mirror at the bed behind me. It was the most exquisitely hand carved wooden frame with an eggshell colored velvet upholstered headboard and caned footboard. The bedspread was the most gorgeous pile of natural palomino cross mink hides! And as I turned around, from under the furs climbs the most handsome blonde and blue eyed devil that I’ve ever seen. He was absolutely delectable.
Friends, Romans and Countrymen…Send me your women!
The Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia from February 13-15. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain. They believed that this would make the women fertile.
Young women would voluntarily line up for this. The festival also included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then, celebrate the duration of the festival — or longer, if the match was right.
Emperor Claudius II executed two men, both named Valentine. One of them, a priest, was charged and convicted of marring young couples in love without the permission of the church. He was sent to prison, but in a twist of fate, when the emperor’s own daughter became ill, the Priest Valentine, a healer, was sent for and he healed her, but also fell in love with her. That inspired him to send her a love note signed from your Valentine.
On Feb. 14, in the 3rd century, the Catholic church – never one to miss a marketing opportunity – ordered martyrdom for St. Valentine with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day.
Later, Pope Gelasius I in the 5th century combined St. Valentine’s Day with Lupercalia to expel the pagan rituals. But the festival was more of a theatrical interpretation of what it had once been. The Pope was, understandably, less than thrilled with Lupercus custom. So he changed the lottery to have both young men and women draw the names of saints whom they would then emulate for the year (a change that no doubt disappointed a few young men). Instead of Lupercus, the patron of the feast became Valentine. For Roman men, the day continued to be an occasion to seek the affections of women, and it became a tradition to give out handwritten messages of admiration that included Valentine’s name.
As the years went on, the holiday grew sweeter. Chaucer and Shakespeare romanticized it in their work, and it gained popularity throughout Britain and the rest of Europe. Handmade paper cards became the tokens-du-jour in the Middle Ages.
There was also a conventional belief in Europe during the Middle Ages that birds chose their partners in the middle of February. Thus the day, February 14th, was dedicated to love, and people observed it by writing love letters and sending small gifts to their beloved. Legend has it that Charles, duke of Orleans, sent the first real Valentine card to his wife in 1415, when he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. (He, however, was not beheaded, and died a half-century later of old age.)
Eventually, the tradition made its way to the New World. The industrial revolution ushered in factory-made cards in the 19th century. And in 1913, Hallmark Cards of Kansas City, Mo., began mass producing valentines. February has not been the same since.
Over 40, single, not technologically savvy, but needs a date for Valentine’s Day? You just may be doomed if you haven’t heard about Tinder! According to ‘Tinder’, the latest matchmaking app craze, if you’re not connected – whether you’re 18 or 50 – you’re losing out!
What is Tinder and how does it work?
It’s an online dating app that uses your Facebook information – first name, age, photos (you get to choose which ones) and any of your ‘liked’ pages – to create your profile. It also uses GPS to zero in on your location for possible matches near you. All of this is mostly done via your smartphone. And most of us baby boomers can at least navigate around those now.
Don’t worry, it’s no longer used only as a hook-up app for casual sex. But if that’s all you’re interested in…ijs (I’m just saying…).
You can also take a photo (trying to display your personality) using the app. The photo is then sent to all of your ‘matches’. This getting to know you application is called ‘Moments’. Your matches have the ability to swipe left for ‘nope’ or to the right for ‘like’. You, in turn, can start chatting with all of your likes and possibly chat up on a date!
Is it worth trying?
Well, it’s quick and easy to use on the run, harmless, you get to see him or her before you meet them in person, there are no unsolicited emails, it’s less stressful than that first date conversation and you get to learn a little before-hand about your possib-blies!
Is it really all that great?
They say that there are still many men who use the app only for casual sex. So, you have to find a way to broach that subject up front. Also, a lot of guys (not just looking for a hook up) are still shy about starting a convo even after they’re matched with you. So you can be left with lots of matches only. Also, one can oft times get caught up in the game and forget about the match you moment-ed with just the day before. So you have to stay focused!
And last but not least, many have become addicted. So, limit yourself.
All-n-all, it can be a great way to flirt! And what girl doesn’t enjoy that…at any age!
It’s the beginning of a new year. And like so many of us, you’ve decided it’s time to push away from the kitchen table and to pull yourself out of your favorite chair into the gym. Don’t get me wrong. Working on the body is great. But have you thought about your mate? Have you ever considered making some New Year’s resolutions about your relationship?
There are problematic areas in the best of relationships. But what makes them better relationships is when both partners make a concerted effort to work on these areas.
- Focus on the positive, good things about your relationship. What things have made the relationship great? What is it about your mate that made you decide that he was the one? Was it because he made you feel good about yourself? Was he a good listener or talker? Does he contribute equally to the household, not just financially, but also with the chores? By concentrating of these things, you can then start to evaluate whether these areas, if left alone, can or have become problematic. You can assess whether they need a little or a lot of work to get them back to where you started.
- Learn and practice the art of negotiation. Take football for instance. It’s January…playoff season. You want nothing more than to kick back and watch the Saturday and Sunday games. But she wants to go shop the after Christmas sales. What do you do? You compromise. Decide which games are more important to you and then TiVo or set the DVR long enough to give her a couple of hours of your time to shop. And she should care enough about spending time with you by taking the time to learn the game of football and watch a game or two with you. She may not get all of the plays, or can keep up with what down it is, but you can help her learn. This way, you’re both getting the best of what you want…to spend time doing what you like with the one you love.
- Have frank, honest and transparent communication about your finances. Maybe she makes more money than you. She skimps off the grocery money and hides to buy a pair of shoes. Or he thinks that every dime you make has to go to take care of the household bills. The best way to handle finances is to put all of your income in one account. And once the bills are paid, you decide how much each of you can spend on what you need or want. However, if you did not start out that way, and you have two separate accounts, you need to decide, proportionately, how much each of you is going to contribute weekly or monthly to the bills. Then put those funds in a single account. Do not forget about emergencies. One of the cars needs a new set of tires or a battery. Or the hot water heater goes on the brink. Therefore, a portion of what you contribute to the single account should be allocated towards such emergencies.
- Proportionate distribution of chores. Decide who does what, when and you both follow through.
- Sustain the intimacy in your relationship. Continue to explore and keep the fire burning! And don’t forget that intimacy begins in the mind. Remember that intimacy does not have to be physical. You can undress someone with your eyes. Flirt, play hard to get, role play, go on dates…all the things you two once did to attract each other.
- Have sex. And for goodness sakes, spice things up…different places, spaces and positions. Know what you like and enjoy and communicate those things to your partner.Yes, you have to resolve yourself to work on your relationship at least annually. Both of you. Allow yourselves to be vulnerable. Some of the best relationships end because one partner or the other lets things go stale. But the two of you have to work as one. One love, one world. As Gladys Knight will attest, learn to live in each other’s world. Rather than to live without one of you in the others.
Valda Boyd Ford chats with Bonnie D. Graham, host of Read My Lips Radio to discuss why Sex Is Not for Sissies.
Sex Is Not for Sissies, a candid, tell-it-like-it-is seminar created by Valda Ford, is a guide to a fulfilling sex life based on the most frequently asked questions she received — especially from women over 40 — about sexual literacy and safer sexual practices. Valda has helped individuals and groups rediscover the flame they once had, understand their body changes due to perimenopause, and learn how to get their men to be less selfish as lovers. She has also helped many younger women who complained that their husbands or lovers were totally lacking in the romance department.