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I’m instructed to remove my clothes and squeeze onto the king-sized bed between two naked women. I do. It’s exciting. I lay my head against a pillow, place my left hand on the woman’s hip in front of me and fold my right arm under my head. This is really exciting. The bed begins to wobble and a woman wearing a headset stands at my feet and then straddles her way between the bodies until she is standing over me and says, “Hi, I’m Candy.” She smells like sweet berries. She adjusts my hand and pushes it forward so it wraps around the woman’s hip. My middle finger brushes her pubic hair. This is even more exciting.

Candy instructs me to rest my cheek against the woman’s neck, just under her ear. I do. Candy takes my hand and moves it so it’s on the woman’s chest between her small breasts. My forearm brushes her nipple. I’m so excited I can barely contain myself.  She makes the same adjustments to the woman behind me. The woman’s forearm brushes my nipple. Candy tells us not to move and then disappears into the bright lights. The smell of sweet berries lingers.

For nearly a year, the only contact I’ve had with a naked woman has been watching a four hundred pound woman in the building across from mine.  On Wednesday nights right before Letterman, lit by nothing but the blue-green glow of her television, she pushes and pulls her vacuum across her apartment. She’s always naked, wipes the sweat off her brow with her forearm a million times, and her rolls of fat bounce. She reminds me of beautiful sea creature floating along the ocean floor. I know though that the illusion of her grace would be lost if I ever saw her anywhere else, at any other time. I can’t imagine her gracefully buying vacuum cleaner bags from CVS or a two-liter bottle of Sprite and a bag of Ruffles.

“Quiet on the set,” a raspy voice booms. I lean toward the sound trying to see out beyond the bed, but I am blinded by a thick heavy set of lights. A half dozen whispers erupt from the edge of the bed.

“No moving people,” a prissy male voice says.

Beads of sweat, the size of wasabi peas, form on my skin and trickle under me. My body begins to stick to the other bodies. I want to scratch my leg, but I can’t. My arm falls asleep and begins to tingle and just as I begin to raise it the prissy voice commands, “Candy, tell them not to move!”

“Sure thing, Kenny,” Candy says. “Talent, I need you to be still. You’re doing great. Thank you.”

Kenny is the director/writer/star. He’s dressed in a black latex body suit with a cape. I can’t see him, but I can sense him standing at the foot of the bed, looking over the cameraman’s shoulder. Thin and skinny with a receding widow’s peak and a pretentious little beard, he’s got none of the makings of a leading man.

I close my eyes and fight off a feeling that is a combination of claustrophobia, waiting at a bus stop for a job interview, and first date jitters.

“Rolling!” Kenny yells.

The woman behind me begins to gyrate which pushes me into the woman in front and I immediately gyrate back against her.

“Cut!” Kenny yells. I am aware that I was the last one to gyrate.

The gyrating proves harder than I imagined especially since the thin, flat mattress underneath us barely moves. It makes it difficult to get into any kind of rhythm going. We start and stop and roll and cut through a half dozen more gyrations, but I can’t seem to find the synchronization that satisfies Kenny. I always end up gyrating forward when the woman behind me is gyrating forward and we keep bumping ourselves out of synch.

“Cut,” Kenny yells. “Crew, take five. Candy, give the talent some suggestions, please.”

The bed begins to wobble and Candy straddles her way between us again.

“OK,” she says. “You guys know how to bake a cake right?”

We nod.

“So, each of you is an ingredient in this mixing bowl we are calling a bed. You need to let yourselves go, so we can fold the ingredients into our cake. We fold rather than stir because the folding technique is a way to gently combine light and airy mixtures, such as beaten egg whites, with a heavier mixture like the batter. We always fold gently but thoroughly. But, don’t over or under do it.”

We practice a few times and the difference is amazing. We are suddenly a gyrating harmony of cake ingredients. Filming resumes.

After ten minutes, Kenny decides to switch the shooting angle. We are told not to move. My ass is starting to feel raw from all the rubbing. I want to touch it, but I can’t. My nose itches. I want to touch it, but I can’t. I’m starting to feel hungry.

Roll ‘em. Cut. Switch positions. Roll ‘em. Cut. Switch positions. Cut.

There is now some issue with the lighting.

To combat the discomfort, I retreat deep inside myself.  I know that’s the real reason why I’m here. I need to retreat from my life.  I know if I can find the right kind of inspiration then things will change. I can find my way back to belonging. But chasing inspiration is like chasing a girlfriend; sometimes you chase away the thing you love in the process. I knew I needed to stop chasing things and when I did, that’s when I saw the flyer hanging on the board by the student coffee shop.

Student Film Seeks Male Actor with Healthy Sexual Attitudes

We are looking for an actor who can portray a modern man with a healthy sexual attitude/appetite without seeming sleazy or sexist AND can portray his “uptight” opposite: a square, boring guy who hasn’t yet realized that sex can be fun and respectful. Tasteful partial nudity possible.

Will consider: all ethnicities, buff to full-figured, guy next door to BDSM bad boy, bald okay. All applicants should be healthy looking, able to speak frankly about sexual situations, and comfortable in and out of a variety of wardrobe. Improv ability a plus. Impress us with your versatility. Non-union. Pays $100 per day and free vegetarian meals while working.

“Lunchtime!” a male voice yells from the kitchen.

Thank God, I think.

“Cut!” Kenny yells.

Candy stands off to one side of the bed with three flannel robes folded over her arm. She waits for us to unravel and stand, but unraveling for the first time in two and a half hours proves to be difficult. Our limbs are asleep and sore. Candy has to help. She pulls at our arms and legs, shakes them out and helps us up. I feel tingly all over. This porno is proving to be no fun at all.

The two girls slip on their robes and ignore me. I stare at their tits as they disappear under their robes.

Maybe they can sense my loneliness the way a dog can sense fear. Maybe they know I’m seeing a therapist and we sit in silence once a week for an hour while the clock tics away each dollar that I owe her. Maybe they know that I’ve written a letter to my family telling them that it’s not healthy for me to have contact with them. Maybe they recognize me from my regular Tuesday night appearances at the No Exit Café where I read my short stories and accompanying rejection letters. Maybe they know I’ve been conducting love spells in my apartment and that once a week I masturbate into an oatmeal container filled with a plastic bag and hand lotion basing the process on one I read about in a Bukowski book. Maybe they know how badly I want a girlfriend and how afraid I am again of getting hurt again. Maybe they know that I’m so desperate to find a girl again that I’ve lowered my standards to the waitress at Standees, a seventy-year-old Lithuanian immigrant named Vel.

I tie my robe and follow the girls into the dining room. There, the table is packed with vegetarian dishes, including a huge stack of Danish pastries from Ann Sather’s which include the fist-sized cinnamon rolls that I’m addicted to. I place a cinnamon roll on a napkin and walk into another room where four or five others surround Kenny. I stand on the outside of the circle and watch him. I feel awkward and dispensable. Then, I turn toward the window and push the entire roll into my mouth at once. The roll is huge. It’s like trying to fit my entire hand in my mouth. I attempt to chew and listen to Kenny.

“I remember I felt this great relief when I discovered that all my weaknesses, the ways that I kept myself small, my own dark and terrible secrets, were readily apparent to everyone and always had been.”

Saliva drips down the front of my robe. My cheeks are barely able to accommodate the roll. I put my hands against the window and breathe through my nose to keep myself from choking.

“But seeing myself and my weaknesses on film, reflected back to me,” he continues, “and owning up to them, a huge weight lifted. I could no longer use them to justify pushing love away and withholding my own love.”

I start to move my back molars up and down. I’m trying to chew with the right side of my mouth, but nothing is happening. The roll just sits in my mouth. I’m beginning to panic. I stare out the window to an industrial swatch of Lake Michigan. There is a tiny two-foot opening between two buildings five blocks away that reveals a rectangle of bright blue water. A sailboat with a rainbow colored sail glides past and that’s when I feel the roll begin to dissolve a little. Pastry juice begins to drip down my chin. It’s like I suddenly have a cinnamon roll faucet running out of my face.  Self conscious, I glance back into the room. When I look back to the swatch, the boat is gone.

“We all share a common experience of humanity that transcends our differences,” Kenny continues. “That’s why I think my movie “Batman in Robin,” is so important.”

The roll gets smaller and smaller. I swallow.

The new scene will be shot in the bathtub. I will be seated between the two girls. After two hours in the bathtub, I feel soggy and cold. I think back to the flyer for the movie and how different I felt when I tore off the contact phone number, stuck it in my pocket and went to eat at my favorite Cantonese Restaurant on Wabash. While I spooned Wanton into my mouth and listened to the train creak along the elevated tracks outside, I began to fantasize about how this story might be the one that would bring me back from the dark side and earn the respect of my graduate school colleagues. How, through this experience I might find myself.  How I was finally living a life worth writing about instead of writing about a life worth living.