History beats fiction. To wit, the 1975 country music line, "Look and see; you'll agree. He's got personality." If "Sears Catalog, page 602" means nothing to you, you weren't paying attention back then. If you weren't born yet, you missed some fun times. Of course Bobbi's story is fictional (who, me, draw from autobiography?), but these Author's Notes are dead true.
Page 602 advertised men's underwear with the model's you-know-what hanging out. The Sept. 21, 1975 Knoxville News-Sentinel headlined, "602 Sets Off Catalog Rush."
"A look at page 602 of the Sears, Roebuck & Co. Fall catalog has made some under shorts shoppers think the huge mail-order operation was striking up a rivalry with Playgirl magazine. Not so, a spokesman for Sears says. The picture on page 602 shows a handsome man modeling a T-shirt and high-waisted boxer shorts. Anyone who thinks they're seeing more than they should is mistaken, says Sears. 'The subject in question is actually a flaw which happened by water, grease or dirt being on the plate. It didn't pick up ink, ' a spokesperson said... She denied reports that Sears was facing unprecedented demands for the catalog."
News in Knoxville is music for Nashville. Written by Dallas Corey and recorded by the Grand Ole Opry's resonant Jack Barlow, "The Man on Page 602" soared into Country's Top 30. Rather than risking Barlow's stardom however, the 45 credits "Zoot Fenster" as the twangy vocalist. Add banjo and Nashville waitresses for backup and sing along!
"Look and see; you'll agree. He's got personality.
"Hey, have you heard the latest story that's bringing on the smiles?
"It has caused some blushing laughter and some anger for a while.
"For those who shop by mail for all their family clothes,
"In the Fall and Winter Catalog more than fashion is exposed.
"In the Fall and Winter Catalog on page six-hundred two,
"I see this advertisement that makes me come unglued.
"The picture's got me out of sorts 'causes I don't understand,
"Are they advertising boxer shorts or are they trying to sell them man? (I don't know.)
"You know, when these wish books are delivered, anxious people start to look.
"And what they find in them there boxer shorts, they suddenly get shook.
"Some say it's all in error. Some say, all in fun.
"He could be tarred and feathered, or maybe even hung.
"In the Fall and Winter Catalog or the wish book, so it's called,
"In my mind there's no question of what I'd like most of all.
"I'd send them all my money if it could make a wish come true.
"I just wish I was than man on page six-o-two."
Unfortunately for American music, Sears lawyers pulled the plug on Zoot's recording.
Songster Rick Dees wrote a competing "Page 602" that didn't get the airplay. But then Dees gave us "Disco Duck" which sold 4,000,000 and was number one, beating Paul McCartney and Chicago.
I've posted the graphic evidence on http://www.asstr.org/files/Authors/Holly_Rennick/Sears.jpg . There's no question that he's got personality.
So if history beats fiction, what beats history? People being together, of course. You've probably heard some songs about it.
"I'd almost given up trying to clasp my scantily-clothed body to the overturned lifeboat. Only when the swells lifted me to wave crest did I see the island, green against the blue of the sea. It was the vision of the island that kept my free hand holding my cello, the only other thing floating after the shipwreck. Cast upon the sand of this uncharted strand, like a leaf of seaweed lost in the vast expanse ocean, I was a castaway!"
Bobbi thought that this was a nice beginning. The really fun part would be how she encounters a Lieutenant from the HMS Conqueror. They'd be castaways together and make love under a coconut tree.
To write about finding breadfruit, etc., she'd need to go to the library to see if it resembled regular bread. Was it "coconut", or "cocoanut"? She'd given most of her thought to how the Lieutenant would feel her up. Her friend Betsy would want steamy allusions, how you said that he had a big cock without using certain words. Bobbi was toying with "ready manhood" or "unsatiated desire".
It was too bad that she had to write about less-engaging things for English, the plight of Central American immigrants, for example; her castaway story was so much more engaging. Bobbi's friends loved her plots when she read them at sleepovers and usually she'd end up with ten more ideas. Her girlfriends, for example, thought that rather than being a shipwreck, it should be more modern, a plane crash. Be a stewardess on a jet carrying the Beatles before they broke up and be castaway with Paul.
Actually, her friends voted, Paul should be in the surf and she'd drag him to safety. She'd have to tear off his trousers to bind the wound and use her blouse to make a bandage. Then they'd make a baby, get rescued and form a new band.
The girls left it to Bobbi to titillate the sequence. Next sleepover, Bobbi would have a spectrum of nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs. Not, for example, "They stripped naked", but something that spoke of shedding frayed underthings.
Though some of their classmates might have more personal tales to whisper, Bobbi's closer friends still found solace in speculation. Betsy once even announced how a particular scene got her sliding on the sheets. Bobbi, always on the lookout for word usage, figured there to be more phrases for self-satisfaction than for mutual gratification.
Despite setbacks, Bobbi's heroines persisted until willing surrender. Her women combined the attributes of resourcefulness and intelligence. Everybody thought Bobbi to be resourceful. She saw how to put odd things together, say chocolate and cherry pie recipes. Quite tasty. Bobbi's heroines tended to be smart, intellect being an attribute appreciated by the right sort of lovers. She used bimbos for literary contrast.
Bobbi liked climax. As her friends were infatuated with the term's common use, she had to explain that "climax" in fiction requires bringing events to a crucial point. Bobbi's heroines achieved climax by both definitions.
Modern maidens, unfortunately, had scant possibility of being castaway on a desert island with a Beatle. Girls that didn't read, Bobbi recognized, probably didn't know how such romance used to happen. So what's a 13-year-old to do? It's not like she had pimples or was six feet tall. There just wasn't the 13-year-old guy at her school that her heroines would go for.
SEARS FALL AND WINTER CATALOG
Bobbi's friends spirited the catalogs to their rooms before their folks sorted the mail. There it was, right on page 602, like everybody said -- two men in an underwear ad. The one on the left, anybody could see what's hanging out of his boxers! Telephones were busy, but girls in their early teens talk all the time anyway.
Bobbi didn't actually see the photo for several days. The catalog was too big to secrete to school and nobody dared tear out the page. Their folks would notice. Bobbi's first photo of a real penis was thus at Nancy's. What Nancy called his "ding dong", Bobbi just saw as something rounded below the model's boxers.
It was at Karen's sleepover that the girls voted 4-1 that it was the real thing. Sandra had seen one for real and she was in the 4. She'd not say whose real one against which she verified the advertisement, so it had to have been an accident, probably her father, Bobbi guessed. If Sandra had seen a boy their age, she'd have said who. If it were in Sandra's family, but not an accident, she'd have said nothing. So it must have been in her family, but just an accident. Maybe opening the bathroom door.
Actually Bobbi had almost seen her own dad's. She'd never walked in on him peeing, but she'd seen him in his underpants when he hadn't shut the door. Plus his baggy bathing trunks draped his front when he'd lie back on a pool chair.
So there on page 602, there one hung below the cuff. Pretty fat, unlike the pencils on little boys when they peed. The troubling thing, Bobbi's girlfriends realized, was that it wasn't even a boner. Then they stick straight out. In Health, the girls had learned about reproduction. Their book, which they had to leave in the classroom, had a diagram of male genitalia, but to no particular scale.
That Sears Fall and Winter Catalog raised consciousnesses, a stamp of that decade. Ninth-graders who studied page 602 knew that the times they were a-changin', to quote from a decade of better music. They might live far from Haight Ashbury where the hippies were, but things were going to change. Just at more of a staid Midwestern pace.
Bobbi figured that love stories might at least help a reader (well, maybe just the author) figure out something about the topic. "All you need is love," to quote the song. At sleepovers, her friends complimented her that the tales were sexy. But the fact of the matter was that they'd rather look at a model with his cock hanging out.
Bobbi studied her competition. "Shirts, Boxers and Briefs in a luxury blend of 50% Kodel polyester and 50% combed cotton. Assorted print PERMA-PREST Boxer Shorts: Full cut. No roll elastic waist... No ironing necessary if machine washed, warm; tumble dried... No color choice." The model had the right length of hair over his ears. His boxers were checkered with little designs but apparently you had to take the print and color Sears shipped. The no-ironing bit was pretty good. Bobbi pondered the "no roll elastic waist". What if you started to roll them down? That might be something good for a story if she knew enough not to sound stupid.
Of the boys in her class, Geoffrey's feature was that he fit in so well. Never the best or the worst, he'd just always be there. In style, just not the first with it. In the band, just not first chair trumpet. He too liked English, but didn't have what Bobbi considered her greatest asset, imagination. Not all writers could have that, she granted.
Geoffrey's best quality, in Bobbi's eyes, was that he didn't have a girlfriend. As she didn't have a boyfriend, their parallel lives sort of paired, she mused. "Well, then you make the move," suggested Nancy, but Bobbi didn't want to flub it up. It was better to navigate known terrain: the yearbook staff, drama, the poster for the school dance.
"Thing is," Geoffrey told Bobbi the next day, "I can make the poster kinda of psychedelic, but they might think it's about drugs or something."
"So we just say 'Disco Disco Disco' a bunch of times," her suggestion.
"I guess." Of course she was going, dummy! But you couldn't act too excited about a school dance where nobody asked you and the teachers would be trying to strike up lame conversations. "You?"
"Maybe I'll see you there," Geoffrey's closest approach to commitment. "Think I should start the D here?"
The question evoked Nancy's "ding dong" reference. A dare hit her, but not too much of one. "You know, I've got an idea, sort of one anyway." Did boys know about page 602 as well, she wondered? She couldn't ask, but maybe she could figure it out.
"Like putting something on the poster that might be a number, but might just be a design." She fidgeted with her glasses.
Geoffrey was concentrating on his D. "Why a number?"
"To see if we can, like how 'bout," she decided to say it, "six-o-two."
Geoffrey looked up from his felt pen. She knew that he caught it.
"You know about it?" Bobbi tried to sound unfazed, a penis being the subject.
"Who doesn't?" Geoffrey fidgeted.
"We thought maybe the boys didn't." Bobbi admitted.
"Like we're blind?"
"Like you're guys."
"Maybe down here inside the o?" Geoffrey pointed, as if art were the issue.
"We're fried if they find out," she backed off.
"The curly-cues just came out that way, we say," Geoffrey co-conspired.
"Maybe down in this corner," she suggested, bending over in case he might stare down her sweater, but he didn't.
Later, when Bobbi looked again at the catalog, she wondered if Geoffrey was looking too. It was just an advertisement, she knew, but it almost felt like they were looking together.
When she resurrected her castaway story, maybe Paul would be wearing something like those boxers when she pulled him to shore. That sort of fabric and cut. She'd know the size of his cock (better word to be found), but never reveal this as she nursed him back to health, maybe brushing it accidentally sometimes. She wouldn't let it hang out like a ding-dong, though. To help Paul sit up, he'd lean against her front.
The strobe flashed off the mirrored ball as the crowd discoed. Well not exactly a "crowd", decided Bobbi, in her black mini that necessitated leotards. A few couples were on the floor, the kids who'd learned the steps from American Bandstand.
Bobbi's girlfriends were clustered by the DJ. Most of the boys were standing hands-in-pockets. Geoffrey was in a polyester shirt with a wide collar, a Christmas present from a mom who knew that at the rate he was growing, it made sense to buy Sears specials.
She'd studied the posters taped to the wall and grinned back when the artist waved her a smile.
"You think there are maybe six teachers here?" asked Geoffrey, an odd question, especially how he emphasized the number.
Surprising herself, she caught it. "Oh! I just saw two," she coded. The two laughed, but brought it within the bounds of disco blare. If they admitted their coup to anyone, everyone would know before the 45 was done.
The DJ succumbed to the girls' clamor. "OK, OK, Disco Duck!" The tune blasted through the sound system.
"Went to a party the other night.
"All the ladies were treating me right.
"Moving my feet to the disco beat.
"How in the world could I keep my seat?"
"Come on Geoffrey, I know how," grinned Bobbi, beckoning him on to the gym floor. She didn't actually know all the Quack Quack, Flap Flap, Waddle Down, Waddle Up moves, but who cared? She put her hands under her armpits.
"The thing is..." countered Geoffrey, but she was flapping elbows with the beat.
"All of a sudden I began to change.
"I was on the dance floor acting strange.
"Flapping my arms I began to cluck.
"Look at me. I'm the disco duck..."
Bobbi sang along with the last line, something she'd not have done solo, but by now the floor was filling. Some of her friends seemed to have given up on the boys and were dancing together. The music pounded.
Backup Singers: "Disco disco duck."
Donald Duck voice: "Ah get down mama, oh mama shake your tail feather, ha ha ha ha ha..."
"You have to yell, 'Quack, quack'," ordered Bobbi, opening and closing her hands like a mouth.
"Like this? Quack! Quack!" Geoffrey successfully maneuvered himself in a circle.
"Plus this," throwing her thumb out, trying to catch a ride.
Backup Singers: "Disco."
Elvis voice: "Thank you duck."
Backup Singers: "Disco."
Elvis voice: "For gettin' down..."
Backup Singers: "Try your luck, don't be a cluck, disco, disco, disco..."
"Wow," offered Geoffrey when they'd exited the quacking mob. "That was so weird it was really fun!"
Geoffrey clarified, "I mean I don't really know how to dance or anything, but you just have to act like Donald Duck!"
"You're Donald and I'm Daffy," agreed Bobbi, but he missed the hint.
She had to do the asking for the slow dance, her quicker feet dodging his when she tried to let him lead. By no means did they dance close, but his hand on her back was pretty nice. Her hand perched on his shoulder, not cradled around, as were the more adventuresome girls, the skinny ones, high breasts dimpling their boyfriends' sports shirts, thighs exploring, explored. Though not nearly so engaged, Bobbi too hoped that the song wouldn't end.
But songs do end and kids go home when parents pick them up on the front steps.
Later that evening, Bobbi composed a story in which Donna Summer sang "Love to Love You Baby" and the heroine succumbed to passion beneath the twirling ball. Or maybe it should be to Abba's "Fernando".
Bobbi was the story's dancer. Together supine on the disco floor, the man on page 602 would be within her. She'd describe the throbs of fulfillment. She liked that phrase, but needed to decide whose fulfillment. Imagining the hardwood made her think that maybe the two of them should go some place softer, more secluded, and her story lost its focus. Sort of like her evening, she decided.
Bobbi's friend Karen invented the game, an idea to giggle about. A boy would take the Sears Catalog and have to match an underwear picture to what he thought a girl was wearing. Then the girl would do the same for him. You'd have to show enough to prove the guess wrong. If the guess were correct, you'd have to strip to it.
There'd be some sort of accuracy allowance, "Say if your bra is a little padded and he points to one that isn't, it's still OK," explained the inventor. The girls saw difficulties. If he pointed to a style that pushed up, but yours didn't, but the cups were more or less the same, how would you call it? It wouldn't be fair because you can't really hide your bra style anyway. How about panties? There weren't that many styles, but there were tons of colors. Would saying colored ones be enough? For a guy, what about boxers that had designs?
The girls decided that as long as everybody ended up in underwear, it would be fairest. Presumably after you played, you'd get dressed again. Nancy said it was like strip poker where you didn't strip all the way. Thus, "Catalog Poker".
Discussion turned to hippies who get naked at concerts. It was even on the news, but pretty far away. Sandra had a picture of a guy body painted, but the magazine had cropped it. She said that the way they do it was for a guy to paint a girl then have sex to get the paint on him too.
Bobbi composed a scenario. She and the man on page 602 had played Catalog Poker. She had on her best bra, the one that helped her side view. She looked at him in his boxers. Oh no, did he realize? Others were coming! They'd hide behind a wall and then make out. He'd unhook her bra, but she'd keep it on. Then he'd lay her back, always kissing her.
Bobbi and Geoffrey were doing algebra at her kitchen table when the subject of record players arose. Music was more fun than fence length around fields of given shape. She got the catalog. Geoffrey, who knew about Hi Fi's, showed her about woofers and tweeters. The ones that could drop an LP from the spindle were nice, how you could put on a stack of records and forget it.
Glad for the excuse to stop doing homework (they were almost done anyway), the two thumbed through the toy section, remembering what had been fun and when.
Bobbi was just goofing around, actually, when she wrote "602" on the top of her homework sheet where Geoffrey might see it.
His eyes followed her pencil. She'd thought that blushing was more of a girl's thing. Had she looked away more quickly, perhaps his response might have passed. Had he looked away more quickly, he might not have giggled back.
"Don't make me look," whispered Bobbi, "or I'll sing the song."
"You can't," Geoffrey replied. "It's a guy song." The two laughed at their daringness.
"You know what?" queried Bobbi. "Karen invented this game, just pretend." She hadn't intended to reveal the silliness, but when Geoffrey asked, she told him the essentials. Everybody ends up in just underwear! They laughed at the sight.
After they put away their math books and promised each other that they'd ace next week's quiz, Geoffrey grinned, "Wanna play?" Bobbi was still gulping as he pushed open the door, not waiting for dismissal.
No, of course she didn't want to be in her underwear where Geoffrey could see. She didn't want to see him in his, either. No way! Her nipples were hard, exactly the reason she wouldn't want to play such a game.
The story Bobbi made up that night involved Geoffrey as a Sears model and herself on the page facing. She remembered the story for little kids about teddy bears coming alive after lights-out. What if the Sears pictures came alive when the catalog was closed?
She played Catalog Poker with imaginary Geoffrey. She found her bra on page 423, the "baseball" for its seam up from the center front. If your breasts were round enough (which hers weren't) the correspondence was close. Imaginary Geoffrey's guessing was a giveaway because she had on her sheer blouse.
The model's panties were cut like Bobbi's, but hers were "misty lavender". A guess of "colored" would be close enough. The girl on page 432 seemed to be getting ready to go some place important in her underwear.
So she'd have to strip to those two things.
The boy on page 597 had on plain white briefs. Bobbi knew what to guess from when the back Geoffrey's shirt pulled up when he was bent over drawing. Unlike the man on page 602, this younger model revealed nothing. In fact, as best Bobbi could fathom, there was no suggestion of content.
She and Geoffrey would be in their underwear together!
She let the shower massage her neck, rivulets streaming over her breasts. She wished she were tall and thin, but it didn't matter. She sudsed her belly and let the foam flow between her legs. Her fingers glided with the bubbles. Emerging, she played the towel against her blush. Talcum mist enveloped her as she dashed back to her room, latching the door behind.
She drew back her blanket to leave a single sheet and pulled the linen taut between toes and nipples, then let the cool fabric settle over her belly. The cotton rose and fell with each breath until she felt her rhythm.
Only then did a hand release the corner of the cover and slip along her powder. One finger ascended to trace the frontier of hardening areola and a second finger joined to capture the nipple, waiting and tender. The two digits tantalized their captive brusque enough to cause flinch, but lightly enough to provoke its texture.
The palm sculpted Bobbi, and then passed to her stomach, resting there until she drew it in. Then it slid into her down, new hair sparse and resilient, where fingertips parted the flaxen wisps.
A fingerprint found the dip above her crease and pressed to the succulence until Bobbi's knees acquiesced to open the cleft, already moist to the front. The finger teased Bobbi's emerging pea-sized hardness and drew into her increasingly wet fold. Onward it slid.
When the digit at last arrived, it turned to penetrate, not pausing at the constricting muscles, though she tried to squeeze. Nor did it tarry to reciprocate against Bobbi's slipperiness, though she tried to drive herself against its inevitability. The finger came to rest at its fullest extension, its conquest complete. Bobbi, fucked and ready, waited with thighs again together, trapping the invader.
When she could refrain not a second more, she opened her legs. The finger retracted and came to rest against her own erection, coaxed from its remaining protection. As before with her nipple, a second fingertip encircled to counterbalance the stroke of the first. The pair brushed the sides of her nubbin, swelling and firming.
Bobbi's hips began her bolero. The fingers played her flesh, finding the key. The mattress swished in tempo as Bobbi pushed up the timbre. Touch spread the melody.
Her forehead glistened. The hand yet holding the sheet faltered, letting her cover slip aside. Her nipples, pinkenend, rose and fell erratically. The hand that fucked her so deliberately now writhed between her legs, the odor of woman on her palm. The bed frame slapped with intent.
Bobbi's orgasm was hard and protracted, a young woman's discovery, though from her perspective, nothing so describable. It was music, the way that notes together make something bigger under a ball of flashing lights.
The lanky, late-20's, hairline boding bald-by-40, Assistant Manager of Sears Home Furnishings, Mapletree Center, Lincoln NE, always carried a second business card, "Geoffrey Paulson, Guitar, The Bellicose Buzzards, Bluegrass without Saxophones." It wasn't as much to snag a paying gig as it was to evoke a reaction from people who knew him in his Sears shirts. The Buzzards were more fun than retail, he'd freely admit. He never met a manager that imagined differently.
Geoffrey had happily given up trumpet after high school and only later discovered his passion for rhythm. As good as he flat-picked, he earned his keep by his steady beat under a fiddle that sometimes dragged and a banjo that preferred acceleration. The Buzzards weren't destined for Nashville, of course, but Lincoln liked their enthusiasm. Country music has room for Sears managers. Country has room for saxophones too, of course, but not as bluegrass.
Not that Geoffrey paid that much attention to the broader field, but having the American Folk Music Association's 1990 Convention in Lincoln was a chance for the locals. Pickers in bands like the Buzzards could rub shoulders with players who'd actually quit their day jobs. Three strangers pass in the hotel hallway, eye one another's cases, and viola, an impromptu "Old Home Place". Geoffrey would be there every possible minute.
And then there was the Potluck Extravaganza. Sign up, indicate your instruments, pay $5 and the organizer randomly defines the bands. Forty-five minutes to introduce yourself and figure out two tunes. Then on stage. Winning band gets all the entry fees. Country simple.
The list put Geoffrey in Band 8. None of the other names looked familiar, but this was where an unknown 14-year-old banjo player could steal the show. 5:45, Warm-Up Room C. Geoffrey was tuned up.
The bass player was from Texas; the fiddler Geoffrey recognized from a band from out West, the very-thin banjo was from Florida and the mandolin was late. "Ya'll know Blackberry Blossom?" suggested the bass, shooting for a sure start. It was a good one for warm up, to feel the others' style.