Posing Uncle Bob
Chapters : 1 | 2 | 3
A while back I read an unfinished work by an author who went by the pen
name "Carnal Quill." As sometimes happens, that work led me to
reflect on how I would tell that story. And this is how I'd do it.
Both are titles that don't mean all that much when they are first
awarded to you. In both cases, you have no experience at being
one, so you usually have few, if any preconceptions of what is
I suppose becoming a brother-in-law is the easier of the two, in the sense that you
understand romantic relationships, and you can be happy for your
brother when he finds a nice girl. Unless you wish you had the
nice girl and he had a wart on his nose. But if he met her at
college, while you were going to a trade school to become a computer
guru, then you never had the chance to lust after her while he was
dating her as, I am told, sometimes happens.
Now the uncle thing, if you have kids of your own, is probably no big
deal either. But if you don't have a wife and kids, and have been
a confirmed bachelor all your life, then being an uncle can be a wild
and crazy ride.
Of course, if your brother found himself a genuine 'keeper,' and she
bore him a daughter who was cute as a button, and who wrapped her uncle
around her little finger by the time she was five or six, all those
questions you had way back when it all first happened seem far away and
But they're not.
When my brother Kit died, it was hard on all of us. I suppose, as
his brother, the fact that he died serving his country made it a little
easier for me to deal with. By that I mean it was better than
some random, senseless thing like a drunk driver, or a tree falling on
him, or lightning striking.
Of course it wasn't that way for Beth, who had lost her partner, lover,
and life mate. They say there are five stages of grief, and she
did them all with a vengeance. Actually, her grief made mine a
little easier, because my motto was "Anything to help" and I was sort
of distracted a little bit by taking care of things while she fell
One of those things was Heather, my niece.
We lived next door to each other, and I'm self employed. So, when
we first got the word, it was relatively easy for me to just sort of
stay there for the first two weeks. Heather was six at the time,
and knew something bad had happened, but not what. I didn't feel
like it was my place to tell her, but I did feel like I should give
Beth time to get through what she was going through, so I just concentrated on that. Heather was scared, because her mom wasn't acting
right. So that first night, when she fell asleep on me where we
sat on the couch, that's where we both slept that night.
As it turned out, I did end up explaining to her why Daddy wasn't coming home, when Beth
asked me to. She didn't want to bawl in front of her little girl.
"Anything to help," I said.
So I cooked, and ran errands, and they eventually got through it. I
tagged along for that part, and sort of just stayed there. Well,
I was next door, but sometimes it was hard to tell who lived where. At
least when it came to Heather and me.
A few years went by, and Heather and I became buddies in a different
sense. She saw me so much that she got to know me inside and
out. It was the same for me. I knew Beth pretty well too,
but it was different, somehow, with her. Beth was gorgeous, and
blond, and built and sexy, even when she was trying not to be.
She called it her curse, because men who didn't know about her past
were always very interested in her, even though she still wore her
wedding ring. She worked, because she said she'd go stark raving
mad if she didn't. Kit's insurance would have let her stay home.
She wouldn't have lived like a queen or anything, but they could have
By the time Heather was eleven, I was her buddy, co-conspirator and
partner in crime whenever she wanted to spring a surprise, or play a
prank or whatever. She knew my motto, and she freely said "I need
your help with something." But I was also the peer pressure that kept
her on the straight and narrow. We could - and did - talk about
anything, which included how much she hated having her first period and
the pads she had to wear. I learned a lot about the problems
women have that night.
When she turned fourteen, I got her an artist set, with a couple of
hundred colored pencils in it, along with charcoal and who knows what
else. It was a fancy set, but I had seen her pencil sketches,
which were really doodles, and they showed significant promise. She
kissed me on the lips. It was the first time that had happened,
and it rocked my world. It was the first time I realized she was
more than a child now ... not quite a young woman ... but distinctly
desirable as a female of the species ... instead of just my buddy.
Her art got better and better. She went to the art institute in
town and took classes on weekends and the next thing I knew her pieces
were being included in shows. It was amazing, and yet, no more
than I expected. I'm not an art critic, though, and to me, her
pictures of apples in a bowl, or flowers in a vase, just looked like
... well ... apples in a bowl or flowers in a vase. It was a bit
like being best friends with somebody who would later win the Nobel
prize. To you, she was just your pal, while everybody else was in
awe of her.
Of course it wasn't that simple. Beth was a realtor, and often
worked late, so the general routine was for Heather to come to my house
after school. She would do her homework, or text her friends, or
fix herself a snack in my kitchen. If I was working in my
computer room, she never bothered me. But if I wasn't working,
she'd tell me how her day went, or ask me about something she'd heard
in the news. She was very comfortable and casual at my
house. She'd even brought clothes over and stashed them in the
spare bedroom so she could change after school.
And if school wasn't in session, she was usually in my back yard, where
I had an in-ground pool, either swimming or sunning herself in bikinis
that got increasingly smaller, while her girly parts got increasingly
bigger. In fact, it was one day last summer, when I stood staring
at her lithe, young ... and very sexy body, that I realized she spent
almost all her free time with me.
"How come you don't have a boyfriend?" I asked her.
She took off the sunglasses she was wearing and looked at me with her
wolf eyes. Did I tell you about her wolf eyes? She had her
mother's eyes, which were blue, except they were weird blue. The
outsides of the irises were blue, with yellow centers, in the middle of
which were her black pupils. When she was mad at you, those eyes
looked like she was thinking seriously about taking a bite out of
you. They reminded me of some of the wolves I'd seen on the
"Who says I don't?" she asked, staring at me. She was lying on a
chaise lounge, soaking in the sun, but somehow she also looked dangerous.
"I do," I said, confidently. "If you had a boyfriend I'd know about it. You tell me everything."
Her gaze didn't waver. "Do I?"
Now this was interesting. This was a side of Heather I didn't think I'd seen before, and it was fascinating. She sounded
like this threatened her, but very few things threatened this
girl. Or her mother, for that matter. The world had already
thrown the worst it could at them, and they'd survived.
"Of course you do," I said. "We have no secrets."
"Everybody has secrets," she said, quite seriously.
This was no little girl I was talking to. Suddenly she was
philosophical and wise beyond her years. I realized, suddenly,
that my question had struck something ... maybe something painful.
"Let me start that over again," I said. "As your friend, I'm
worried about you. You don't spend all that much time with girls
your age. You don't appear to have a boyfriend, or a romantic
life of any sort. Now the vast majority of girls your age do both
of those things. It's part of growing up, and I want you to
be as happy and healthy as possible."
I was proud of myself for presenting my concerns in such a succinct and caring manner.
"You're such a sweetie," she said, the serious side of her all gone.
I thought I was going to get some information from her, and that we'd
have a dialogue and growing and learning would happen. It turned
out I was wrong.
"So, how come you don't have a girlfriend?" she asked, instead of answering my question.
I thought I'd answer the question in a way that would encourage her to share in a similar fashion.
"Well, there are several reasons. For one thing, when I fall for
a woman I fall hard. That means I'm ready to commit pretty
quickly, and a lot of women need more time than my psyche wants to give
them. That makes it a relationship with sand in it, rather than
grease, if you get my meaning. For another thing, because I'm
committed in a very serious sense, I like to have dangerous sex."
I stopped, horrified that I'd let my mouth run on without thinking about what I was saying first. I thought frantically, trying to think of a way to minimize the damage.
"Having sex just for fun is great." I stopped again and
stared at her. "When you're an adult and understand the
Having brought up the C word, I was stuck. I had to go on.
"You see, part of sex is for the making of babies, and a lot
of women don't want to think about it that way. I just don't get
very turned on when I'm with a woman who knows she doesn't want
children and takes all the steps necessary not to have them. It's
like lighting a firecracker and seeing it fizzle instead of popping."
"I get it," she said, before I could go on. "The kind of women you like are few and far between."
"Exactly. So ...?"
Wolf eyes stared into mine. She took a breath. I wondered
when in hell her breasts had gotten that big. And those nipples,
poking through the top of her bikini. When had those gotten so
"Boys - whether they're my age or a few years older - are only
interested in the recreational sex thing. All they want to do is
play with my tits and try to get into my panties. And while I
haven't had any ... um ... relationships, to speak of, I suspect I'm
more interested in something that goes beyond the sex too."
I wondered how she'd picked up on the fact that I wanted much more than
sex from a woman. I hadn't said it. She'd cut me off, in
fact, as I'd been about to say it.
"And I do have girlfriends," she said. "We talk at school."
"How come you don't hang out with them after school?" I asked.
"What's with you?" she asked, sitting up. "Where is all this 'I
care about you, Heather' crap coming from? I like my life.
I'm happy. I'm well adjusted. What's your problem?"
"I just worry about you," I said, surprised at her vehemence.
"That's my mother's job," she said. "Your job is to be Uncle Bob."
"What the hell does that mean?" I asked.
"This is where I come to get away
from the world, not confront it," she said. "This is my safe
haven. This is where I feel relaxed. This is the only place
in the world where when a man puts suntan lotion on me, I don't have to
worry about what he'll try to get away with."
I was stunned. I had never seen her like this. It suddenly
popped into my mind that she was a teenager, and that her body was
probably flooded with hormones that were wreaking havoc with her
system. So what would her friend do in a situation like
that? I decided to tease her.
"I've never put suntan lotion on you," I pointed out, like I'd won an argument.
"Well it's about time you did!" she snapped.
Then she sat up, turned the chaise into a bed, and lay down on it on
her stomach. She crossed her forearms under her head and lay
her cheek on them. When I didn't immediately do anything, she lifted her
head, reached for the suntan lotion that was sitting on the cement, and
like she'd practiced it a hundred times, expertly flipped the tube
backwards, without looking ... right at me.
I still remember how soft her skin felt under my hands. It was
smooth and tight, with almost no fat under it. I could feel her
muscles and bones. In that impossible way that women have, and a
man couldn't do if his life depended on it, she reached behind her and
undid her bikini top, letting the straps drop to her sides. My
hands slid all over her back. She didn't move as I got to her
bottoms and skipped over them to do the back of her thighs and
calves. Then I went back up. I had to do something to put
myself back in control. We were buddies, but she had just run
roughshod over me.
So I slid my hands down her sides and pressed on the sides of her
breasts, going much farther than I should have. I mean my fingers
were pressing her breast flesh inward. I leaned down and
whispered in her ear.
"And they're breasts, not tits. Don't demean your breasts. They're going to be very important to you some day."
What I noticed while I did this was that she did not tense up. She did not complain or berate me.
All she did was say "Who says they're not already important to me."
That had been when she was sixteen. Now she was a junior, and
even more mature. Now, the bikini she wore in my pool was a
thong. I spoke to Beth about it. She told me girls will be
And she still didn't have a
boyfriend. Let me restate that. If she had a boyfriend, I
was sure glad I wasn't him, because she never talked about him, or
spent any time with him, or let him wine and dine her. Of course
kids these days seem to do the romance thing completely differently
than we did when I was a kid.
There were other things different these days too.
When I was in high school, you took a look at colleges in the second
semester of your senior year. Then, when you graduated, you
applied to the one you wanted. They sent out acceptance letters
in July, and in August you got ready to go. Somehow, over the
years, that got all fucked up. Now you have to apply when you're
a junior, before anybody knows what your grades will be like. And
now you have to jump through all these hoops, and beg and plead and
have this and that on your transcript, because colleges have "become
more selective." And that's great, except that what you end up
graduating from colleges is somebody who knows how to play the game ...
knows how to jump through hoops ... knows how to make themselves look
great. It does not mean
they're motivated to make the world a better place. It creates a
group of people without personal initiative, or adaptability to
changing situations. In fact, they demand that you provide for
them an environment in which they can clearly see the hoops they need
to jump through, and then fawn all over them for doing it.
All that is to say that it was time for Heather to apply to colleges, and, of course, she wanted my help.
"Of course," I said. "You know I'll do anything to help."
"I'm applying to the Virginia Institute of Art Studies," she said. "I have to send them my portfolio."
"I've seen your portfolio," I said. "It's impressive."
"Thanks," she said. "But it's not complete. I don't have
enough figure studies. Three are required and all I have are two."
"Okay. So what's a figure study?" I asked.
"Its human body stuff that you do with a model. I have one that I
did of my own hand." She opened a big folder she'd brought with
her and showed me a pen and ink drawing of a hand, resting on a
tabletop. It was incredibly detailed, with fine lines
representing all the creases that skin has in it, and which most people
don't notice. You could almost see the pores.
"It's beautiful," I said.
"Thanks," she said in an offhand sort of way. It's like when a
genius does something amazing and somebody points that out and he acts
like anybody could do it, so it's no big deal. She pulled
out another piece of paper, much larger and a rectangle, rather than a
square, which is what the hand had been done on. It was a chalk drawing
of a reclining nude woman.
I looked closer. The model had Heather's face. But it was
all wrong. Heather was built, but this model was
voluptuous. The body was older than Heather's. It looked
for all the world like I was looking at the future, the way Heather
might look in fifteen years.
And she was going to look good!
"Mom posed for this one," she said. "But she said I couldn't include it in my portfolio because it has her face."
I swallowed, staring at the drawing. The woman ... Beth ... was lying on her
right side, propped up on pillows with her left hand extended toward
the viewer, as if she were reaching for her lover. Her breasts
were represented as being heavy, meaning they sagged a little
bit. The nipples were done in incredible detail, and were
rendered erect, looking half an inch long. I licked my lips, just
looking at them. A drape covered all but a hint of pubic
hair. I had appreciated Beth before this, but my imagination
hadn't done her justice at all.
"Wow," I said.
"It's not that good," she said. "Even if she'd have let me use it, I'd still have to do another one to take with me to the interview. We didn't have enough time to do this one well."
"I'll be happy to be there, to watch, and tell her to stay still."
She looked at me. "You're a dirty old man, you know that?"
"I am nothing of the sort," I replied, trying to sound much more wounded than I really was. "Besides, she'd never let me."
"Right," said Heather, in a voice that was strangely neutral.
"Anyway, I have to have both male and female studies, so I need a male
I suddenly realized what she was actually talking about. Me. Naked.
"I'll check around and see if I know anybody who'd be willing to do it," I said.
"Don't be a dick. You know I want you," she said.
"It's not a dick, it's a penis," I said. Don't ask me why I said
it. I have no idea, other than the possible explanation that I
was about to panic.
"Then don't be a penis. You know I want you."
"Why?" I asked.
"Isn't it obvious?"
"Explain it to me. I am old, and have trouble understanding things sometimes."
"You're not old. But the reason I need you to be my model is that it won't be weird seeing you naked."
"Weird for you," I said.
"What about me?"
"I assume you've seen yourself naked lots of times," she said, with a perfectly straight face.
I decided not to play any stupid games today.
"Look, it would be decidedly uncomfortable for me to be naked in front of you."
"Why?" she asked. "You're handsome, and have a good build and are
in great shape. You're not ashamed to let women see you in a
Speedo. This is only a little bit less, and it would only be me
seeing you anyway. If you want, I can put a different face on
you, and nobody who ever sees the study will have any idea it is your
"I'm not ashamed of my body," I said tersely. "My reluctance has to do with not freaking you out."
"Why would I get freaked out?" She was perfectly serious, and for
the first time in a long time I realized I was talking to a teenager
who had no idea what the real world could be like, or that she caused
erections in men every day, just by being herself.
"I need to talk to your mother about this," I said.
"She already said it was a good idea," she argued.
"Of course. Well, to be exact, I said I should ask you to do it, and she said 'That's a good idea.'"
"I still need to talk to her," I insisted.
"You can't seriously think it's a good idea for me to get naked in front of my niece," I said.
Beth looked up from whatever she was working on. It was binder
she was going through and making notations in. She took off her
glasses and stared at me with her wolf eyes.
"Why is that such a preposterous idea?" she asked, her face perfectly straight.
"Because I'm a man?" I said. I admit I overdid the sarcasm a bit.
"Which is the whole point," she said calmly. "She has to do a male figure. Who else do you think I should have get naked in front of my seventeen-year-old daughter?"
"Don't you get it?" I said urgently. "It won't matter who you choose. The end result is going to be exactly the same!"
She stared at me and sighed. "So you're worried about getting an erection."
"Yes!" I shouted.
"And who else's erection do you think I should approve of my seventeen-year-old daughter seeing, Bob?" she asked.
"I don't know!" I moaned.
"What makes you think that will happen?" she asked.
I looked at her like she was crazy. "You are aware, of course
that men look at you and undress you in their minds," I said. She
nodded, like that was old news. "You are aware, of course, that
men look at your daughter and do the same thing," I said. She
nodded again and, for good measure, added "She knows that too."
I lifted my chin and struck a pose. I said "What you may have lost sight of, is that I, too, am a man."
Those wolf eyes suddenly looked me up and down, like I was a side of
beef, hanging there, curing, so she could come back at any time she
liked and take a bite. She finally spoke.
"Look, Bob, she's going to have to confront this sooner or later.
She feels safe with you. I can't think of anyone better than to
expose her, no pun intended, to this part of life. Just be honest
with her and she'll be fine. You will too."
"I can't be honest with her!" I barked. "That's the whole point! How would you feel if I told you I'd lusted after you for years?"
"Have you lusted after me for years?" she asked.
"I'm sorry," I said, holding up both of my hands. "I didn't mean to say that."
"So you haven't lusted after me for years," she said.
"That's not the point," I said, miserably. "The point is that I can't tell her that. It would ruin her life!"
"You seem to have an awfully inflated opinion on your effect on women," she said.
"I just care about you guys!" I groaned.
"And we know that," she said. "Just be yourself, Bob. She's
getting to be a big girl. I trust you not to do anything she
doesn't want, and the same thing goes for me. Just be yourself,
and everything will be fine. Now go away. I have things to
do, and she's behind the power curve on getting this project finished."
Then her wolf eyes went back to the binder, and she ignored me.
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