Suzie just listened to the best song she ever heard. It made her take off her dress. It was embarrassing.
She placed the headphones back on the hook of the Virgin Megastore listening station, then pulled her dress back up from around her ankles and went to buy the album.
When she got home, she played the album on her CD player and again slipped out of her dress. Just like at the record store, it was like she'd come out of a blackout to find herself in her underwear. Her father was shocked to see his seventeen-year-old daughter in only a bra and panties in the middle of the living room. Shocked and frightened.
"Put some clothes on for God's sake!" He shielded his eyes with his newspaper.
"Sorry Daddy." She turned off the CD, slid back into her dress, and retired to the privacy of her bedroom to listen to her album and take off her clothes.
When Suzie heard the first chord of the first song for the very first time she knew immediately it would take months of tireless listening before she would be able to push this album aside. This being the case, if she was going to have to take off her dress every time the song played, her bedroom would have to be insulated. Her bedroom was very drafty.
After dancing around her room for seven hours wearing only a bra and panties and a blanket to keep warm, she decided to conduct an experiment. Maybe it was only dresses the song made her remove. Maybe a nice pair of pants or some coulotts would stay on better.
Suzie pushed stop on her CD player, pulled on a pair of pants, pushed play on the CD player, and took off her pants.
When she found herself in her underwear, the pants bunched around her ankles, it was a bit of a relief because Suzie hated wearing pants. Her wardrobe was a veritable encyclopedia of the modern American dress. In her high school, her enthusiasm for dresses earned her the nickname "Suzie Always Wears The Dresses".
Suzie loved a nice dress. She would marvel at how beautifully a dress could drape a woman's body and radically alter everything about her and the world surrounding her. Where the dress clings, where the dress flares, where it sways and where it pleats, and where it makes a boy forget every girl he's ever met before. All with the help of a little bit of gravity.
One day in late May, Suzie went to Cartwright's Apothecary to pick up her father's blood pressure prescription. Mr. Cartwright always greeted Suzie with the same enthusiasm. To him she seemed to embody all the vigor and curiosity which makes the American teenage girl such an erotic treasure.
"Looking forward to summer vacation Suzie?" he shouted as she walked down the aisle to his counter.
"Yes sir Mr. Cartwright. I can't wait."
Over the store's stereo system she heard do do do do - do do do do - do do do do - do do do-da da.
Mr. Cartwright covered Suzie's suddenly naked body with his white lab coat. She stepped out of the puddle of burgundy, rayon, knee-length, spaghetti-strap sun-dress that surrounded her on the floor and Mr. Cartwright led her to the storage room where he poured her a cup of iced tea.
"What happened out there Suzie?" Cartwright asked, leaning forward, searching her eyes.
Suzie sipped her iced tea. She asked what she already knew. "What was that song on the stereo?"
Mr. Cartwright responded, "A new song by some girl band. It's a big hit with the kids. One of them summertime anthems coming out of every car radio on the streets."
A big hit. She'd been upset by her favorite band hitting it big before, but never like this. Suzie was doomed to take off her dress every time she left her house that summer. "Do you sell earplugs Mr. Cartwright?"
Mr. Cartwright wanted to know more, but chose not to pry. "Sure thing Suzie, I'll go get them for you."
When Mr. Cartwright gave Suzie a comforting squeeze on the shoulder, his hand landed on her bra strap. He felt in his 57 year old hand the cotton of her baby blue bra and the unblemished purity of her seventeen year old skin. Mr. Cartwright had been silently orchestrating how to touch just that spot since Suzie first let her dress fall to the ground.
Mr. Cartwright needed just one brush, in one handful, both skin and fabric comprising the half naked teenage girl he was blessed with. He was an old man and he knew he would probably never again see a seventeen year old girl in her underwear before he dies. The touch of her shoulder, the cotton bathed in perfect flesh, was all he asked.
While the squeeze only lasted one innocent second, Suzie understood what it had meant to Mr. Cartwright, but she allowed the molestation to slide. She thought she owed him that much.
Suzie's extra strength ear plugs got her safely to and from her destinations on carefully mapped excursions from her bedroom. She avoided streets heavily populated with cars whose stereos might blare her song. She avoided stores which broadcasted anything but tape recorded muzak. It was turning out to be a long, lonely summer, her activities limited to sitting in her bedroom, listening to her album, and taking off her dress.
If she took risks, they were necessary and irresistible. Such as her first date with Milton Densch. Suzie thought Milton was a beautiful boy, and agreed with a quivering belly to join him for an evening at the movies. She secretly hoped she could avoid taking off her dress in front of him.
In the car with Milton, Suzie was tense with watchfulness. She kept her left ear unplugged to hear Milton's conversation. But her left hand held the plug at the ready, should they broach danger.
Suzie kept her attention on the background noise, listening for the faintest rhythms of the song that would be her doom. Until Milton broke her concentration when he said, "Gosh you're pretty Suzie."
She forgot all else and focused on this beautiful boy behind the steering wheel. "Do I say thank you?" she thought. "Do I tell him how beautiful he is?" She did not get a chance to respond before Milton turned on the radio and Suzie took off her dress.
When Milton saw Suzie in her blue and white striped, string-hipped panties and black, lace cupped underwire bra, he pulled his car over. He immediately pressed his open mouth against Suzie's clavicle. Suzie was angry that her attention was drawn away from the song on the radio.
"Goddammit Milton! Can't we just listen to the music without you attacking me just because I took off my dress?"
And so, for three and a half minutes, Milton sat next to Suzie while she listened to her favorite song in her underwear. When the song ended, Milton pulled back onto the road and continued to the movie theater.
Throughout the rest of the summer, Milton assailed Suzie with a barrage of phone calls asking for a second date. But Suzie always declined. She could not risk undressing in front of him again, and she did not want to torture Milton in such a manner. She knew Milton would spread the word of their encounter, and she would probably start her senior year of high school under the stigma of being a cock tease. But such was the price she was forced to pay. For the music.
Her solitary confinement often grew to proportions nearing suffocation. At bottom, she would force herself out, late at night, to an all night diner with nothing but Frank Sinatra on the juke box.
The waitress' questions were like a mother's comforting wisdom after so much time alone. Suzie would remove an earplug to hear, "Need a refill hon?" and she was given solace.
One night at the diner, fate struck again. Suzie had just finished hours of violent sobbing and dancing in her underwear. She was anxious for the waitress' voice. As the waitress approached her table, a checkpad in hand, Suzie quickly pulled out an earplug, not wanting to miss a word.
She pulled too early. The waitress said, "Lemme guess, a plate of fries and a big black and white shake. Right Suzie girl?" but the waitress was drowned out by the treble heavy bridge of Suzie's favorite song blasting from a passing car radio.
The next thing Suzie heard was hoots and clapping. She was standing in her underwear and the entire diner had erupted in strip club catcalls. Suzie clamored back into her dress, and realized that the only one staring at her was the waitress. Everyone else was looking in the opposite direction. Across the diner, in a booth by the window was a girl Suzie had never seen before, struggling to pull her dress back on.
Suzie ran across the diner, grabbed the girl by her hand and pulled her out into the parking lot.
Suzie looked into the girl's brown eyes, puffy with tears. The girl was catching her breath between sobs.
Suzie said, "You too?"
The girl sniffled. "I'm not a slut. I swear. I just can't help it."
"We're normal!" Suzie said. "What's your name?"
The girl's smile expressed her joy at talking to someone for the first time in God knew how long. She said, "I'm Amanda."
Suzie and Amanda bought guitars the next day. They practice every day, and sometimes they practice themselves into their underwear. But they are looking for a drummer.