Lox (a short appreciation of Nicholson Baker’s VOX)

“When I was in school I had a part-time job,” he said, “many, in fact, but of course most were tediously numbing and very unsexy. But this one — well, it was different.”

“Did it have to do with checking off lingerie items on a packing list? I suppose that you’d have considered that sexy, knowing you even the little bit I do.”

“No, those guys would have been buff male models, disinterested, yet popping boners anyway, and the sexy thing for me was the fact that each one had handled this pair of beige tights, or emerald green tap pants, and had made all these check marks, one over the other, and maybe, yes, I think you might be right, in some ways the Biff Beefcake warehouse scenario had elements of this other scenario, the one I want to tell you about, the part-time job. What was that noise?”

“I gulped my diet soda. Too much soda at once. There’s some spots on my top now.”

“Are you taking it off?”

“For practical reasons only, yes. I don’t want to be sitting here with this soda spatter all over me. It’s a nice blouse, silky black, and it feels good against my bare slippies.”

“Your slippies?”

“My nipples. I like the word nipple, but I get an extra kick when I think of them as slippies. If I’m dithering myself and decide that the little fantasy needs a kick, or if I’m on a tight schedule for some reason, I’ll pop a fran from my bra — which I’m not wearing right now, by the way — and admire my slippies which by that time should be quite, umm, prominent. It’s like activating a booster rocket.”

“Booster slippies can be good things to have around.”

“You bet. Can you hold on while I take off this blouse? I think I need another soda also. My mouth has suddenly gone dry.”

“I’ll wait.”


“No problem. I’ll be here.”

“Alright, I’m back. Stripped to the waist, and soda-ed.”

“Listen,” he began, “do you see dithering and strumming as the same thing?”

“You mean as words to use for taking my hands to myself? I think so. Maybe I’d use one at certain times and another at others.”

“Oh yeah? Like when?”

“Well, I think that if I were just beginning I’d think of it as dithering, but when it was going good, like when I realized that the fantasy was turning into a three-cock-blow-out and was proceeding nicely, I think I’d be strumming. Yes, it’d be strumming at that point for sure. I’d be strumming along till—”

“Till you blathered.”


“After we spoke the last time I popped in a triple-ex and blathered.”

“Okay, you’ll have to explain.”

“I don’t think that either dithering or strumming is the correct word to use after a certain point. I was watching this triple-ex, it was a spanking vid I’d brought home out of curiosity more than anything else, it was a compilation, a cheap four hour tape, fast forward city, but there was this one girl in it who was being spanked over this otherwise-ineffectual-looking guy’s knee, and she was thanking him, and smiling between blows, where she winched instead, and I was becoming — well, I was going into an extreme state of proing as she counted and thanked and — ”

“She counted too?”

“Yes, and—”


“Use your imagination. I became quite hard suddenly. I didn’t even realize what was happening at first. Proing.”

“Alright. So, when did you start blathering?”

“Actually, I didn’t really get into the blathering until I found that I had closed my eyes, that I wasn’t even watching the carousel of spank anymore, but rather that I was thinking of something from our last phone call. Then I really blathered.”

“And how do you blather?”

“I think I went from dithering, as you said, yes, I dithered until I finally put down the remote. You see, to get past dithering, and enter the strumming world, you have to sort of make a commitment to the fantasy before you, whether it’s on a screen or in your head. It seeps into you, and you start to strum.”

“Are you suggesting some sort of hierarchy here? The lowly dither beneath the steady strum and then Big Blather over all?”

“No, that’s silly. More of a progression, actually.”

“So then this blather. I’m thinking now that you shake and quiver and make these embarrassing little noises, and that’s blathering?”

“Astute observation. Throw in the struggle to maintain, er, the un-come state, and you have blathering.”

“Sounds like you might even foam at the mouth a bit.”

“It’s not really foam, but you get the idea.”

“So you blathered to me in some way, rather than this happy spankee who could count to ten?”


“She must have been really red down there. But did you come? I need to adjust my towel here, things are getting moist.”

“Yes! After I proinged, and I realized that I was moving from dither to strum, I thought of your towel. I saw this dark green towel, a little ratty, but very clean and clean-smelling when you brought it into the room. I imagined you testing the waters down there, and having this look on your face. It wasn’t a look of surprise, or happiness, or even concern. It was really a look of anticipation. Then you positioned — this was important to me — you positioned the towel very carefully on the chair—”

“The sofa. I was sitting on the sofa.”

“Alright, the sofa. You positioned — I can’t emphasize this enough, how important this concept was to the bringing-on of my eventual blathering — you positioned the towel on the sofa so, so carefully, so that your nancy-jo— ”

“My what?”

“Sorry. In this little pre-blathering madness I began thinking of your pussy as your nancy-jo.”

“Fair enough, considering you don’t really know my pussy anyway. Continue.”

“What are you doing right now? It sounds like you’re doing something.”

“You don’t want to know.”

“Sure I do. Tell me please.”

“You’ll start – well, alright. I’m, um, adjusting – aw hell: I’m positioning this ratty little blue towel under my rather moist nancy-jo. Are you getting ready to blather?”

“Well, far from it actually. Although a little while ago I began to proing picturing your exposed slippies. Are they prominent?”

“There’s probably a better word for what they are, but yes, you could say they were as prominent as they will ever be. But my positioning of the towel is not bothering you too much? I’d like to hear about your part-time job.”

“If I tell you maybe I’ll start to strum, but I’m sure I can keep myself from blathering, so it’ll be okay. Just — well, please: if you do any more positioning, please don’t mention it.”

“Alright, fair enough, she said. “The job.”

“The job, then. When I was in college I worked in the afternoons for a while at a cold storage warehouse. It was an old brick building in a seedy part of town, and when I left work each day it was always dark, and I can remember the feelings of paranoia I experienced, walking through those streets alone. I had the job from about October to just before Christmas. In the warehouse were these large rooms full of coats and other garments. It was a central location where all these coats and things were sent from all of the little dry cleaning places that advertise cold storage for furs. I was given a slip of paper — I think they called it a pull ticket, which I always found humorous — with a room number and a list of numbers, each one to be matched with a number on a ticket hanging from a coat in that room. I was the only one there, moving quietly with my rolling coat rack through these cool rooms, these rooms with their high ceilings and white noise and chill. At first it was a bit unnerving, because of the temperature and the aloneness and the muffling of every noise you made by these thousands and thousands of furs and winter coats. I overcame this quite quickly though, and after a week or two I looked forward to my afternoons alone. I used to find a spot where there were lots of furs, and take them down from the racks and — oh gee, I can’t believe this, now that I’m remembering — I used to undress down to my briefs and roll around on these coats which I had scattered all over the floor, dithering and strumming, and finally blathering all over them. Thinking of the women who owned them — older women, spoiled girls, the odd one who had no business owning a mink coat, but was given one as a present — oh, you could imagine what a gravy train of fantasy I had chugging there.”

“I’ve always liked the feel of mink. But — well, the PC considerations, and all.”

“What did I care? Do you think a nearly-naked college kid rolling around on women’s coats in a frosty, hushed room cared about any of that? Anyway, this went on for weeks — not every day mind you, but often enough. But I felt there had to be more. One day, after I fully blathered on a three-quarter length fur, I tool my nubby little pencil and a scrap of blank paper I had found in the office and I wrote a little note and left in the left side pocket of one of the coats.”

“A note, huh? What did it say?”

“I don’t remember exactly. It had something to do with the aftermath of blathering, something like I humped your coat and came on my hand but with the passage of time even significant details like that one become blurred.”

“I have to tell you. I, um, positioned the towel again.”


“I have to keep positioning it. It is becoming quite wet all over.”

“Comments like that make me want to blather.”

“Well, don’t until you finish.”

“Finish what?”

“Your story.”

“That’s about it. Well, then there’s the aftermath, the concluding summation, the musings. I have imagined the coat going back to a dozen different women, but there’s one woman I visit and revisit, strum and blather. She’s about 40, tall, reddish hair, full but not fat, not plump even — just full in a way that drives me crazy. She has her coat on; it’s the middle of winter, but not snowing, just windy so that once in a while the coat – which she has not buttoned — flips up in the wind, and exposes her legs, and sometimes her thighs, which are bare. Anyway, she enters this deli restaurant and sits in a booth for two. I’m watching this all from another booth. The waitress takes her order, without bringing her a menu. My full-figured bare-legged beauty takes off the coat and places it across her lap. She’s wearing a red dress, nothing fancy. While waiting for her food I see that she begins to stroke the fur in her lap. I’m sure that she doesn’t see me watching. She begins to stroke hard, but her strokes are very limited, and so go unnoticed by anyone else. She begins to press the fur of the coat into the region of her nancy-jo. It’s very rhythmical, and very assured. I proing at my table. When the waitress approaches, Ms. Fullness-In-Mink stops her strumming — I’m sure that’s what she was doing — and looks up smiling as the plate is put on the table before her. She’s ordered lox and bagel with cream cheese. I watch her begin to arrange the cream and the fish on the bagel. She does this awkwardly with one hand, as the other has gone back down to the fur and the fur and the nancy-jo. I can see now that her hand has gone below the fur, and most likely right up her dress. No, I’m sure it has gone up her dress. She’s mounded the cream cheese atop the bagel, and has started to playfully press it through the hole in the bread. She’s dithering, she’s strumming. She gingerly — shakingly – picks up two fat shiny wet slabs of salmon, tender and veined, and places one on either side of the cream-filled bagel hole, and presses into them with her long red fingernails so that they tear slightly — so that it appears they have opened. The dithering, strumming hand is moving in quick limited strokes underneath the table. She lowers her head to the table as she nearly approaches blathering. Her strokes slow down. I know she is inside her nancy-jo now. Deep inside, blathering. Her face moves to the bagel, and she licks the cream cheese filling the hole, and licks the edges of the strips of lox she has arranged around it. Still, in my fantasy, no one notices this except me. She licks and strokes, but it’s nearly unnoticeable. Finally, she removes her hand from below the soft fur, and — yes! she sticks it in the left pocket of the coat. She removes a wadded scrap of paper. This part excites me because I didn’t wad the paper into a ball like that when I stuck it in the pocket. I imagined that she had read it a first time, and possibly had become disgusted with it, and balled it up and threw it away, only later to retrieve it and place it back in its rightful spot, in the left pocket of her fur coat. And now, in this deli restaurant, with her face nearly smashed into the creamy white cheese and the fishy pink lox lips, she is removing it, and unwadding it, and as soon as it is unwadded, back goes her hand to her nancy-jo, deep and hard under the soft fur, and I watch her as her eyes move from the pink and white of the bagel to the over-creased paper, and she begins to mouth words – my words, from the note. She begins to shake then — blathering for sure. I can see her lips form the words ‘coat’ and ‘come’ and – this one gets me too — she makes special work out of the word ‘your’, as in your coat. I had written something about ‘coming on your coat’ or coming on my hand, like I said before, or something like that.

Anyway, she finally relaxes, looks over at me — never knowing of course — and she looks embarrassed, like she had just then realized I was watching her the whole time. So I smile at her. She nervously picks up the bagel, and bites into it. This is when I usually come, when I relive this story of my part-time job. Are you there?”

“Yes. I know I’ve been quiet. It’s the struggle to blather without – um, you know.”

“Yep. I know.”

© 2001 John E. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.

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