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The sister joins in.
Barry Unger is dead. Long live Harry A. Pitt.
I met Sheila at Max's, a bar where I used to sing on open-mike nights. I noticed her as soon as she walked in. I was sitting beside the stage, drinking a beer while waiting to go on, when she slid in the door; a tall, beautiful black woman in a red dress. The dress had a tank top and she wasn't wearing a jacket.
She had The Look about her. I can usually tell even before I see a woman's underarms if she shaves or not. The natural women always have something extra in their eyes, or maybe in the way they move, that always gives it away. I classified the situation as an Armpit Watch. Conditions were very good for a positive sighting.
I watched her, growing more and more deliciously frustrated by the second. She went to the bar, ordered a drink, walked across the room to talk to someone for a few seconds, and then found a seat at a table by herself in the center of the room. She refused to raise her arms. When she did raise them, she wasn't facing in my direction. It drove me crazy. She knew how to get my attention.
I was so entranced that I missed my introduction and did not step out onto the stage for a whole minute. Then I staggered around the tiny stage, drunk with thoughts of her, unable for several frantic seconds to find the microphone.
Once in the spotlight, though, I was fine. My eyes scanned the dark room and I found Her. I couldn't tell for sure, but I imagined that her eyes were now on me expectantly. I stared right at her, strummed my guitar, and sang: "This one's for the women out there . . ."
"Armpit Politics" by Harry A. Pitt
Armpit Politics, sweeping the land.
Armpit Politics, sisters hand in hand.
Armpit Politics, don't you understand,
That armpit politics will wait for no man?
Male tyranny surrounds you every day.
You can close your eyes, but it won't go away.
Male tyranny makes you shave every day.
Forget about that, and go the armpit way!
Men don't like to see that hair.
Men like to see no underwear.
C'mon, women, show that hairy pair.
Sing it with me, 'better dead than Nair!'
The men, they want you to behave,
And all the men, they like it when you shave.
C'mon, women, you got something to save!
We can all do the armpit wave!
It's the bra-burning of the nineties, don't you know.
You've got to let your armpits grow.
Then male tyranny will start to go,
Down where it belongs, far below.
(Chorus repeats; big finale)
That night they let me get all the way to the third verse. Sometimes I was booed off the stage before I could even get to the second. I sang there every week and had become a regular attraction. Come see the freak at Max's. I didn't care what they thought of me, though. If I could just reach one person and make them think . . .
To my indescribable joy, I did reach at least one person that night. The beautiful woman I had been watching sat calmly in the center of the hostile audience. All around her, people were standing up, booing, and shouting obscenities at me. Some were actually throwing fruit, which I thought only happened in cartoons. I saw none of them. I saw only Her.
Her left arm was raised straight up to the sky. She had a glorious mound, darker than her dark skin, thicker than any woman's underarm hair I'd ever seen. She ran the fingers of her right hand through the hair, playing it like a harp. Her sweat glistened in the red and blue stage lights, reflecting back the entire spectrum.
The crowd was growing more furious by the second, screaming at me to get off, but I was paralyzed with awe. My eyes popped out of my head in a desperate attempt to see more. My penis went erect like a balloon filled from a helium tank. My jaw dropped open and a pretzel, thrown by someone in the audience, landed squarely on my tongue. This cleared my head. I relinquished the stage and ran out the side door to avoid assault by the angry mob.
I sat down on the corner and tried to catch my b