"This is not it," the soft but nagging voice kept saying.

It told me to leave California. I'd quit my restaurant job and was living easy between Marina del Rey and Venice with a young thong-loving Brazilian hottie who didn't want me to leave. Tears flowed, but it had to be. I had to leave to find someone, something, and as much as I loved this place, this time, I had to go. I could always come back.

A long, stoned, introspective cross-country trip followed. I landed another management job at the OG in Tallahassee. That's where I found her.

"Hello, I'm Carnie," she said, shaking my hand on my first day there. "I'm all the managers' favorite."

She had four braids woven with ribbon tied in loops upon her head, and her uniform did not fit her well. Though I rarely saw her, I could not shake her. Two weeks later, when she came in to pick up some donated salad, spag and breadsticks for a school at which she also worked, it struck me why.

She wore a blue and white sleeveless sundress which seemed to have been sewn around her, and I saw she was big, East German swimmer big. Big breasts, big hips, big legs. A narrow waist that would be oh so easy to put my arms around. Her hair now loose and sunstreaked and flowing, and I found myself forgetting to breathe. I carried the tubs of grub to her VW Fox and asked her if she would see a movie with me.

The movie made me bite. We held hands afterwards. Subsequent secret dinner dates and 2 a.m. adventures to the post office or apartment pool set the hook. One morning I called her in to the office.

"You're fired," I said.

"Oh goodie!!"

"Here's the key to my apartment."

When I came home, I found her in the kitchen, sectioning an orange, wearing a tie-dyed tank top of mine and nothing else. It was here that she became Supervixen.

I admit it. The proven theorems of her lush geometry vaporized me and as a mist in a vacuum, sucked me in. The designer responsible for her body used a french curve, drafting a lip-smacking gumbo of conic sections. I lingered, searching for new measurements of time, along her parabolae, hyperbola, wishing the seconds to slow.

Her tongue painted lovesong grafitti in my mouth, then she took me in to hers. " May I suck you?" she asked, multiplying exponentially the returns on my favors. Later she wrapped her cool, long legs around me and with grunts and pushing toes and pulling arms and lips and tongues and teeth sweat breath spit we devoured each other until ecstacy and exhaustion melted us together.

"You need more verve," she told me a few days later.

"What the hell does that mean?!"

"You're too uptight."

She would just pick me up and drive. To the beach. To a hidden pond guarded by ancient bearded live oaks, fat gators lying in a patch of sun. To a pancake dinner. A school play. A Tampa Bay Buccaneers game (way pre-Jon Gruden) where even though we sat ten rows up on the forty we could only watch every other play because she had lost her glasses, and I kept handing her mine.

"You still need more verve."

She left me notes in bed, on my front door, in the kitchen, all containing the words "my love." Because of her I discovered the joy of boxers. Thanks to her bright joy I slowly began seeing the world with new childlike wonder. I learned massage and shiatsu to please her. Roadside fried fish sandwiches and watermelon became summer staples.

"You're verveless. Let's go."

She got us airline tickets to fly out to LA to see a show. Lots of dancing. Plenty of acid. Crashing at her friend's apartment in Santa Monica. After a day to relax and recover and relive the show, we walked from the apartment, along the Venice boardwalk to Marina del Rey and back. That walk did it.

She had a rope of her hair wrapped and beaded. We snacked along the way. I bought a heavy warm poncho, and we walked the whole way arm in arm, leaning toward each other, savoring each syllable of the other like fresh berries.

Wet orange light from a clear dawn slowly drenched me, warming me as if I'd felt the sun for the first time. Celestial music enclosed us in a cocoon of prisms. As we walked the crowds parted to let us pass and then closed behind us. In a silent moment, stopping to watch a blues duo on slide guitar and harp, I looked to her and knew I could walk from the Yukon to Tierra del Fuego if she wanted to. I could have walked like this forever.

One morning after we returned home from where this journey for me began, we sat in my apartment reading the paper. Actually, I was hiding behind the sports section. I had just given her a new fluffy bathrobe which she wore loosely tied over shower-fresh skin. I put the paper down.

"Um, er, deary?"

"Yes?" She did not put the comics down.

"Will you marry me?"

She folded one corner of the paper so I could see just her face. At first she said nothing, expressionless. My intestines turned to ice. Then she softly grinned and nodded and then said, "Yes."

We went back to reading the paper. One part of my life had just quietly held hands with another, but it was like they had done so all along. I smiled all morning.

Two weeks later we moved all of our stuff in to an old sprawling apartment and began blending the primary colors of our life together.

Almost twelve years later, we stretched out on the couch, and I rubbed her shoulders, massaged her hands, face and eyebrows. The children are asleep in their rooms. Numerous pillows and low lights help us doze. As I drift to sleep, a soft but approving voice whispers, "This is it."

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