The Passions of Pretty Penny Protter
Short Story by Frank Zahn
The Yanks who were stationed in Sydney, Australia during the World War II excited most of the young women in the city. And Penny Protter was no exception. In fact, she got so excited when she passed a Yank of the street that she almost peed her panties.
Two weeks shy of her nineteenth birthday, she attracted the attention of one of the Yanks and fell in love with him on their first date. She referred to him as her soldier boy, and he referred to her Pretty Penny Protter.
After that first date, they got together and made love in a small and inexpensive hotel two blocks away from Manly Beach. The first time, as well as dozens of times after that, he kissed and caressed her while frantically removing her clothing and then his. Then he ravaged her like an animal in the wild—nothing abusive but undeniably assertive and animated. She loved it, and after the first time, she responded in kind.
When the war was over, and her soldier boy had returned home to Kansas City, he sent for her, and they got married. They rented a small yellow house with white trim in the working-class neighborhood of Waldo. He attended medical school on the GI Bill and worked part-time while she kept house and worked at odd jobs outside the home to help pay the bills and put food on the table.
Along the way, she and her soldier boy bought a home in the upper-middle-class neighborhood south of the Plaza and created three near-perfect delights. Linda was independent and feisty with a flair for raucous humor. Deana was her daddy’s girl, a beauty, cultured, and sweet. And Johnny, well Johnny was Johnny, an obstinate pain in the neck at times but handsome and popular with the girls.
Time passed quickly with the usual joys and sorrows of family life. One after the other, the three near-perfect delights graduated from Southwest High School and left home in pursuit of their notions of success and happiness. Penny missed all three of them underfoot. She stayed in close touch and delighted in spoiling all six of her grandchildren, who called her Mimi because she hated the old woman connotation of being called Grandma or Granny.
After forty-two years of marriage, her soldier boy, who had become a well-respected physician at the Kansas City Medical Center, passed away suddenly of a brain aneurysm. He fell over into her lap during a dinner in honor of local physicians at the Kansas City Country Club.
She was inconsolable for months. The only thing that sustained her, other than the support of her near-perfect delights and close friends, was her memories of the past when she and her soldier boy loved each other with great passion and built a life together that was admired by everyone who knew them. And although she would always find solace in those memories, she came to realize it was time to begin the process of getting on with her life.
She had always been a social person, so she decided that as a first step, she would again become involved socially with the married friends she and her soldier boy had enjoyed for so many years. But that didn’t turn out as well as she had hoped.
She was single, and a single woman was like a third wheel in the company of married couples. She simply didn’t belong in that social scene anymore. And besides, the married women did not want a single woman around that might tempt their husbands to take advantage of her loneliness and engage in an extra-marital affair.
A friend, who had been a widow for several years, understood the problem and suggested to Penny that she join a singles club so that she could meet and make new friends—people who were single again like her. After accompanying her friend to the get-togethers of several singles clubs, Penny joined Who’s Who. She chose it because it was an upscale club that catered to single people who were both older and younger than her, and it had chapters in several other cities, including Chicago, Washington D. C., London, Paris, and other cities she thought she might like to visit.
She attended every one of the club’s events. Her favorites were the cocktail hours, dinners, and dances. And at those events, it was no surprise that she continued in the mindset of her generation of women, a mindset that said a woman needed a man in her life if she was to achieve and maintained a sense of emotional, as well as physical, well being.
In her current circumstances, however, that mindset presented a problem. She didn’t care that the men her age and older were interested in women younger than her. She had no interest in them. Her interest was exclusively in men younger than her, even though she realized that corralling one of them would be difficult.
One reason for her exclusive interest in younger men was she wanted to minimize her chances of ending up in her dotage with a man she had to nurse or one who died before she did. More importantly, she wanted to increase her chances of getting a man with sufficient stamina to satisfy her still healthy sexual appetite. And she didn’t want a man who was so old he had to take a pill or needed fondling before becoming aroused enough to make love to her.
At sixty-two, she realized she was no longer Pretty Penny Protter, so she took steps to make herself look as young and as attractive as possible. She covered her face with lots of foundation and then applied eyeshadow, eyeliner, a touch of rouge, and her favorite shade of lipstick—hot peach. Her favorite beauty salon colored her graying hair blonde and puffed it up so that her prominent nose and jaw looked smaller.
She was paranoid about her narrow shoulders and slightly protruding stomach, so she wore shoulder pads and a midriff girdle to make her look more proportional and shapely. She was also paranoid about her large balloon-like breasts. They made her look top-heavy, so she corrected for it with a breast-reduction bra.
Her tastes in clothing were impeccable. Everything she wore was expensive and the latest fashion. And she loved costume jewelry and shoes. She called her favorite shoes her follow-me-home heels. They were usually some shade of bright red or purple, often accented with an ornament that sparkled.
She quickly learned that competition among the women in the club for men, especially the younger ones, was intense. So at every event, she glanced at the entrance frequently, even while chatting with other members of the club. And when a younger man appeared, and he was alone, her eyes lit up like she was about to devour a pork chop. And without hesitation, she rushed over to him and attempted to corral him before the other women beat her to it.
Unfortunately, her efforts failed to produce results. The younger men were polite and friendly but quickly moved on to greet and chat with other people, especially the younger women in the club. Each failure took a toll on her self-esteem, but she refused to give up, even though she cried herself to sleep many nights after a shot or two of Scotch.
One evening, however, she had reason to hope for a better outcome. While waiting—and praying—for a man to ask her to dance at the club’s Valentine’s Day party, which was held every year at the Highlands Country Club, she spotted a younger man alone at the bar. She hadn’t seen him before and guessed he was a new member. Without hesitation, she rushed over and asked him to dance.
While dancing to a slow dance tune, she and the younger man exchanged information about each other. And when the band finished the tune, it immediately began playing what he remarked was his favorite dance tune Scotch and Soda. Without asking, he took her in his arms for a second dance.
Penny liked him, and when the band finished playing the tune and announced an end to their last set, she asked if he would like to have lunch with her the following day at Indian Oven in Westport. She was pleased when he accepted the invitation.
At lunch the following day, which was a Saturday, and at get-togethers after that, it became clear they enjoyed each other's company. They had lengthy discussions about everything, including politics, religion, their children, the problems of single again life, and their travels abroad. She opened herself up to his earthy sense of humor, which she had as well but kept hidden from others because her British-proper mother had taught her that it was unladylike and C-O-double M-O-N.
He was much like her soldier boy, a down-to-earth Midwesterner with no pretensions, well educated with an avid interest in economics and politics, little tolerance for fascists on the right or the left of the political spectrum, and contempt for people with pretensions of superiority. And unlike her soldier boy, he shared her interest in dining out, theater, dancing, and travel abroad. She liked all that, but the thing she liked most about him was his sense of humor. Sometimes, they laughed so hard at a joke or a humorous incident, their faces turned red, and they had difficulty breathing.
And as often happens when a man and woman spend time together and like each other, they made love. The first time was in his cottage at the Miramar Hotel and Resort in Montecito, California, where they attended the Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference. When she came from her cottage to his one afternoon, she opened the door and found him lying on the bed asleep. Instead of calling out to him, she kicked off her shoes, climbed into bed, and snuggled up close to him. Then she kissed him, and when he awoke, they embraced.
In between tender caresses and kisses, they removed one item of each other’s clothing after another. When she became more assertive and animated during intercourse, as she had always done with her soldier boy, he whispered to her to take it easy, slow down, and savor each moment.
His tenderness and concern for her pleasure enthralled her. And as their passion intensified, peaked, and culminated in unbridled ecstasy, she pulled him to her and pressed her lips hard against his. It was a different way of making love for her, but she loved it.
In the days and months that followed, she fell in love with the prospect of marriage on the horizon. She wondered how he felt about their almost eleven-year age difference. But he never mentioned it, so she didn’t either. She would never forget the passion she had known with her soldier boy, but the passion she experienced with her newfound love, although different, was more than enough to compensate for her loss.
Copyright © 2017 Frank Zahn
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