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Seeing Red

by Dr. Barb DePree MD

Squeezies. The year was 1986, maybe. Or 1987. I’m not exactly sure, and precision is not important to this story. It matters only that it was the last day of the year. My sister and I were young, married, without our husbands, working hard, very tired, and feeling a little bit entitled to a good time, or as good as we could have without regrets.

I was visiting her in the college town where her husband was pursuing his graduate degree and where she was working a horrible job to keep them in their crappy apartment. He was off visiting family. And the apartment just wasn’t festive enough for a new year’s celebration.

We were confused about what to do. We didn’t want to foist ourselves onto other couples our age, bent on a romantic evening. We didn’t belong in a gang of single people, either. But we were so young, and wanted to feel pretty and desirable and giddy and all those things women of any age like to feel.

Precisely speaking, we wanted men to read our wedding bands and weep.

We had a standing joke all through those years when we were becoming less and less sure of our appeal. One of us would call, and the other would respond:

Caller: “Well it’s not as if I couldn’t get laid by another man if I wanted to.”

Response: “Of course you could.”

Caller: “I mean, I’ve still got it.”

Response: “Alway did. Always will.”

Caller: “For instance, I could walk into that truck stop there, right now, and I bet someone would do me.”

Response: “Absolutely. And it wouldn’t cost you that much either.”

Caller: “Not too much.”

And then we would laugh and wonder, really, would it cost so very much? But we were very good girls. Fidelity always mattered to us. But we wondered…

I mentioned my sister’s terrible job. I think it’s a job no longer held by anyone, actually. She was laying out ads in that city’s big daily newspaper. It was a transient’s job and one of her transient co-workers had shared her method for getting all the sexual attention a girl could ever want.

It seems beauty had nothing to do with it. What a woman needed to do was exude sexual power. And the way to do that, she said, is this: You walk into a room. You pause. You squeeze your vaginal muscles, very hard. And you think, “Red.”

That’s it.

That is, you envision that color. A vivid red. The color of blood, of passion. Bring it into your mind. Fill your awareness with Red. All while squeezing. Hard.


That New Year’s evening, armed with this information, our plan was clear. We would head downtown, find a hopping bar or club. Upscale. Nice. Walk in. Squeeze. Red.

Did I mention that we were in Virginia? Yes, well, that detail does matter. So when I say that a soft little puffy bit of snow had begun to fall as we left her little apartment, you have the right sort of unease taking root in your gut.

Virginia just does not do snow. We sisters are from northern Michigan, where an inch of snow means nothing. Two inches may bring a comment. But we need four to six inches at a single drop before we begin to wonder about the state of the roads. Virginia falls apart at the first flake. A half an inch will have Virginians filling their bathtubs with water, seeking out candles and flashlights.

And apparently that’s just what all the Virginians in this town were doing as we hit downtown, looking for a party, our hot-roller-set hair lacquered up, wearing our Calvin Klein jeans and high heels.

We were aware that there was very little traffic. Well, none. Anywhere. We noted that many restaurants, bars, and clubs were closed. But our heads were just too full of our plans and our youth to connect the dots, it seems.

We stopped for cigarettes, I remember, at a 7-11, where the counter lady said she hoped we would get home safely. That didn’t really register with us, though. On we went until we finally found an open bar. Cash and cigarettes in our cute little purses, we parked and slogged through slush into the bar.


Three steps in, we stopped for a half beat…

That moment wasn’t quite long enough to register that there were only three people in the place, two of them customers who were clearly the profit base for the bar—old, colorless men in colorless clothes sitting very still, drinking intently, not looking around, but straight ahead into their pasts.

We squeezed hard enough to wobble on our heels. We filled the bar with a steamy red awareness. And then…

Well, I seem to remember that I started things by snorting, and then choking, and maybe a little spittle landed on my sister’s chin. My sister’s runny nose released in that moment, and we both fell against one another and into empty chairs, unable to breathe for several long minutes while we laughed until tears rolled and mucus spewed and spit flew from our various orifices.

The men, indeed, all turned to stare. The bartender looking as if he wouldn’t serve us anyway, said the bar would be closing early because of the storm.

“Uh, what storm?” we wondered. And that sealed the deal. We would have to go.

Deflated, dragging our fingers through our wet, sticky curls, we slipped and slid back to our cars, realizing, finally, that this town had no plows. No salt. No infrastructure for snow. And home was all uphill.

Squeezies. Almost 30 years later, squeezies (Kegel exercises now) are no longer just an option for women our age. We do them to keep continent, to maintain the muscles that let us enjoy orgasms, to keep organs in their rightful places. No longer a scheme for attention-getting, we do them in check-out lines, at traffic lights, waiting for trains, for kids, for grandchildren.

But I can never do my squeezies without a smile. Or Seeing Red. Or remembering hot rollers and high heels and laughing until the snot ran free.

1 comment

  • Great post! This brings back many happy and silly memories with my sisters, and will bring a smile to the faces of many readers as they do their Kegels! Thanks for the laugh.

    AnneV on

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