Travel Thursday: A Night in Vienna

Watching a horse show, especially the most famous horse show in the world, was one thing, but watching their rehearsal wasn’t as big a deal, no matter how hard she sold it.
Everyone kept telling me how privileged I was to be able to watch this, so often that I had to struggle to keep from telling them to stuff a sock in it. Luckily the thought of dinner with the horse babe kept me quiet, knowing she’d blow me off if I caused a scene in this stuffiest of all stuffy places.
Finally it was over, and though she’d changed out of her jodhpurs she didn’t look any less hot for it. Dinner was quick and uneventful, and since it was spring it was not a very cold night, so she suggested we go for a walk downtown.
Though I’d been in Vienna many times–it was either my second or third favorite city in the world, depending on time of year–this was her town, so I allowed her to lead the way along the Ringstrasse, the large and long boulevard that circled the town under different guises. In front of us now was the Opera House, but we turned our backs to it and walked the other way, chuckling as I recalled the news story of marijuana growing in the street dividers. . .
Conversation was held to a minimum as we walked hand in hand, trying not to look out of place among the crowd, which was dressed a lot more formally, probably on the way to said opera house. When we did speak, it was the surroundings which dominated the topics; passing the statue of Goethe, for instance, got us into a light-hearted discussion about Faust and his improbable story, and of course I had to tell her how many ships her face had launched, even if that was by a different author. Seeing the Burg Garten led to commentary about the flowers we could see through the gates. Then the statue of Mozart came into view, and that dominated the talk for a while.
Around us the window-shopping crowds swarmed in all possible directions, with gypsy musicians, clowns, and other street performers here and there; I managed to guide her away from the flame-throwing jugglers, since I could see they weren’t very good. Eventually we were once again walking by the Imperial Palace, where the riding school was located, when we saw Mozart coming toward us. Considering all we’d seen as we strolled the streets, it wasn’t much of a surprise, but then he stopped to chat for a while, asking about our favorite songs of his. Buying into the premise that this really was Mozart, I had some fun making him both surprised and angry at some of my choices, saying that some of his best stuff was left out of my repertoire.
But finally I’d had enough of humoring this lunatic, so I told him that he could have done a much better job on both the opening of the third act in The Barber of Seville and the overture of The Magic Flute. Mozart was so aghast that we managed to escape before he recovered.
I found her giggling uncontrollably, allowing me to throw her a “What?” in an injured tone.
“You dare presume to tell the great Mozart how to write music?”
“Someone has to. I’ll bet I can beat him at billards too.”
From there we passed by the rest of the Palace, the Museums, Parliament, City Hall, and the National Theater until I suddenly stopped in my tracks at the sight in front of me. “That’s funny; I thought I was in Vienna, not Athens.”
She merely smirked as I looked around in every direction, feeling the cold and somewhat cleaner air of Vienna rather than Athens. But still, there was no denying there was a Greek temple in front of us.
Just to rub it in she walked up to it and read the inscription. “Temple of Theseus, built in 1823. Every detail exact as the original in Athens.”
Giving her the full ham, I let out a loud sigh of relief. “For a moment I thought we’d walked through a hole in time and space or something like that.”
Smile. “You’ve been watching too much Star Trek.”
I made her regret that by discussing every episode I could remember for the next hour. . .



Travel Thursday: Vienna, Land of Wine and Flamenco part 3

After my breakfast and her lunch–and her surprisingly huge chocolate dessert with tons of whipped cream which she only ate to surprise me–I asked what she wanted to see, but her only reply was that she trusted me to show her a good time wherever I wanted to go. Obviously that called for a witty reply, something about going back to the hotel room, but instead I remembered her love of art and quickly led her through the Albertina, the Art History museum, and the Academy of Fine Arts, where a painting by one of my favorite artists, Bosch, reposed. She always kidded me about Bosch, claiming he was a fad that teenagers outgrew.
“Then why did my very serious Humanities teacher always look so animated when she talked about him? If only you could have seen her usual hatchet face. . .”
Remembering the instructors at her finishing school, she quickly cut me off.
We ended up at the Shatzkammer, the imperial treasury, at the main palace, where she oohed and aahed as usual at the crown jewels, but soon after she told me she was suddenly tired of dark buildings and wanted to be outside for a while. The subway system here was so efficient it deposited us about ten minutes later outside the Prater, where Terry instantly craned her neck to gawk at the top of the big wheel, shading her eyes.
“You actually rode in that?” She sounded amused. “Did it cure your fear of heights?”
“No, I was otherwise engaged, far too busy to look out.”
“Then don’t tell me about it. Right now I’d only get jealous.”
I had no intention of telling her, of course, so instead I said we’d leave the giant wheel for last. I led her immediately to the shooting arcade, it being a bit of a tradition with us. “Your shooting’s improved,” I murmured in surprise as she grinned in triumph. “Of course, there’s still something you’re doing wrong. . .” I put my arms around her to show her, which of course made her grin, especially at the way the man in charge of the arcade was smirking too. No doubt feeling quite unlike herself, she turned her head and gave me a quick kiss, really smirking now at my surprised face, then turned back to the target. Just for that I gave her a little bit of a goose, causing her to squawk and jolting the rifle upward so that she shot a teddy bear right in the eye.
The arcade man was too busy laughing to tell us we’d have to pay for damages, as well as happy that the shot hadn’t come his way.
“And that was my last shot, too,” she grumbled, then laughed and kissed me again.
“My turn, then.” Quickly I aimed for the smallest moving target available and calmly brought the tiny thing down, then moved on to the next most difficult, and so forth, until I had nine.
I missed the tenth.
Stunned at the development, I straightened up, afraid to face the look of disappointment on Terry’s face. Instead, she seemed solicitous and quickly hugged me to tell me it was just fine with her. Then the arcade man, getting into the spirit of things, graciously allowed me a makeup shot.
I didn’t miss that one, and Terry cheered wildly as the man expanded his arms, signifying we could have anything in the store. Before Terry could verbalize a choice, I pointed at the one she had shot. “You owe it to him.”
Terry looked at the arcade manager. “What do I owe him?”
“Not him. . . the bear.”
She looked down at the stuffed animal with the missing eye, then smiled and hugged it to her. I laughed, put an arm around her shoulders, and led her toward the Reisenrad.
Unable to help myself, I motioned her attention toward the fountain in front of the giant wheel, where there was a statue of a small child pissing out the water that filled the fountain. She blushed as usual, then said out of the side of her mouth, “You would notice something like that.”
There was never much of a line during the day to board the giant wheel, so it wasn’t much of a wait. She was silent as the car moved up into the air, looking all around the city of Vienna. “Is that UN City?” she asked once, pointing into the distance, but for the most part she was quiet, holding my hand to let me know she appreciated my joining her despite my fear of heights.

Finally she asked me about the movies where the wheel had appeared.
“I know you don’t like the Bond movies, so I’ll skip that. I’ll tell you about the Third Man.” Quickly I recounted the story of an American going to post-war Vienna to visit his friend, only to find the man had died in an accident and was about to be buried. As usual, Terry listened attentively, giving me all her attention while continuing to stare at the sights of the city.
“At the funeral, he meets a few people. One is a policeman who says his friend was dirty, and another is the friend’s girl. Now he wants to clear the man’s name, and the girl tells him a few things that makes him think the death wasn’t an accident.”
I could see her grinning, picturing herself in the role of the girl devoted to her lover, even in death.
“Not so fast,” I murmured, “because the guy ain’t dead. He faked it so he could continue with his black market dealings.”
“What did he sell?” she asked quietly, wanting to get everything straight.
“What?” She turned to look at me for the first time since we’d gone up.
“It’s right after World War II. The city is devastated. There’s no food or medicine. This guy has it, but he’ll only give it to those who can afford it. A lot of kids die that he could’ve saved if he wasn’t so greedy.”
She nodded her understanding and went back to staring out the windows. I grinned as I continued. “When they finally meet, it’s right here, in the Prater, and they come up in the wheel to talk in private. The dealer, whose name is Harry Lime, tells his old friend that he could shoot him up here, dump his body out, and tell everyone he fell out.” She was about to protest, but I cut her off. “Nobody could have survived a fall like that, so they wouldn’t even bother checking for any other cause of death.” She nodded again. “So when his friend isn’t scared by this warning, Lime tells him they can make a lot of money together with the scam. When the friend refuses, Lime uses what is now one of the classic lines from any movie.”
Terry turned to look at me again, not wanting to miss my facial expressions, no doubt expecting me to mimic the actor perfectly.
“In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo daVinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love; they had five hundred years of democracy and peace—and what did it produce? The cuckoo clock!”
She chuckled and closed her eyes, tilting her head backward, the way she always did when she enjoyed a good joke. Something made me put my hand on her hip; she sighed in response.
“You’ll have to show me this movie when we get back,” she murmured, then begged me to go on.
“Well, Lime tries to run for it in the sewers–and don’t ask me to take you down there!-and all the cops are chasing him, so he figures he’ll go back up. He tries to push a manhole up, but there’s a car parked on it, so he loses time. Still running and wounded, he meets up with his old friend, who ends up shooting and killing him for all the kids he’s ever killed.”
“Sounds like you,” she murmured, meaning it as a compliment. “So who were the actors?”
“Joseph Cotton was the friend.” She nodded, being a fan of old movies. I took a deep breath before saying, “Orson Welles was Lime.”
“What?” she yelped. “Why didn’t you tell me that before?”
“Because I knew you’d picture him as the old fat guy he was at the end, and that wouldn’t have done justice to the character.”
She saw my point, but still felt it incumbent upon herself to mutter, “I saw Citizen Kane, you know. And why the hell is it called the Third Man?”
“You’ll have to watch the movie to figure that one out,” I tried smoothly, to cover up the fact that I’d forgotten, or had never known it. “But I know you already like the music.”
“I do?” She sounded nonplussed, which I always liked. “You’ve heard me sing it?”
“Nope, It’s instrumental. Remember that zither music that you said reminded you of Zorba, but you knew it wasn’t?”
“That was it? The one that you think is annoying because it repeats itself every ten seconds, and then grows on you?”
“That’s it.”
“I am definitely going to have to see this movie,” she sighed exactly as the car touched down.
After that she begged me to take her on the roller coaster, but I absolutely refused, something about wanting to keep the contents of my stomach exactly where they were. Seeing I was being inflexible on this point–and she damn well knew I got sick on those things, so she was playing me–she insisted on some others. I was enthusiastic about the bumper cars, and she immediately saw why as she watched me maneuver our car through all the traffic without being hit. Once we were about to be sandwiched, but my timing was impeccable as I waited for them to get close and then floored it, getting out of the way and letting the two crash together as she laughed gleefully.
After that I suggested the Ausgang–the haunted house–but she said she was too tired to continue, which surprised me; she’d shown so much energy all day I thought she’d never stop.
On the subway ride back to the hotel, she asked about other movies with the Reisenrad, and it took me the entire ride to describe Before Sunrise, which left its sequels Before Sunset and Before Midnight for another day. After saying she wanted to see those too, because it sounded like the complete opposite of Third Man, she murmured, “If Reise means trip, why is this thing called the Reisenrad?”
The last thing I wanted to do in some faraway exotic city was sleep in the afternoon, but there was still so much I wanted to show her, so I had to let her recharge, figuring it was the jet lag. . . though if it was, the last thing she should be doing was sleeping in the afternoon. Still, a few hours later she was refreshed and showing an interest in seeing more of the city, so I got us in a taxi and had him wait for us right where the forest began. “I know the Danube is no longer blue, but at least there’s still some Vienna Woods. Just don’t ask me to waltz here by the road.”
“The infamous Vienna Woods,” she sighed, getting into the mood quickly, placing her head on my shoulder as we walked. “Tell me a story.”
Knowing her well, I’d prepared for this. “Once Beethoven was walking through the woods and got lost. Finally the cops found him, and when he said he was Beethoven, he was arrested for impersonating a famous person.”
“No way!” she squealed delightedly, as she always did; it served in lieu of applause.
After a bunch more sightseeing and a Mozart concert that night, we had time for one quick trip before heading off to the airport the next morning. Terry chose to be taken to the imperial apartments of Emperor Franz Josef and Empress Elisabeth, where she was particularly entranced by the exercise gear used by the beautiful empress, whom everyone said had looked just like her. She was not expecting, however, to see the dress the Empress had been wearing when she’d been stabbed to death on the shores of Lake Geneva. Suddenly she seemed a bit faint and asked me to get her out of there, which was fine because it was time to get to the airport anyway.
But not wanting her to leave the city on a sour note, I made sure to walk her through all the beautiful and priceless antiques, until something really caught her eye: a bed. . . no ordinary bed this, but a magnificent example of what a bed could aspire to be. Its canopy was attached to the lofty ceiling and cascaded down almost forty feet to end in a cloud of spun gold around the bedhead.
“Like it?” I murmured into her ear, and she could only nod dumbly. The flight home was going to be so much fun, I thought. . .


Travel Thursday: Vienna, Land of Wine and Flamenco, Part 2

One of the many things I liked about Terry was her not being a typical woman clotheswise; with most women who told me she’d be dressed and ready in ten minutes, I knew I could lounge for at least a half hour at a leisurely pace, but not her. If anything, she was ready before me. I didn’t travel with much clothes, but I knew Terry wouldn’t mind my wardrobe, since at heart she was a simple girl despite her minor pretenses with hair.
I looked at Terry‘s trenchcoat where it was belted around her very slim waist, looking very sensual, I thought. “Might as well use a bracelet there,” I murmured, making her flush with pride, which quite a few people in the lobby noticed, but assigned to the wrong reason. Getting into a seductive pose as we waited in line, she ran her hand through my hair and murmured into my ear, though from the distance to the door it could easily be taken for a nibble. I would not have thought she had it in her, but she was full of surprises tonight. I stayed silent, though with a foolish grin as she continued to tickle my ear with her breath until we got to the door to the hall. The girl who took us to our seat looked very much like a local blonde despite the orange and polka-dot flamenco dress, which inspired Terry to airily ask, “How do you think I would look in a dress like that, darling?”
Despite misgivings, I told the truth. “You know damned well you would look good in anything, you silly little hussy.”
“I am not little!” she complained, hurt, loudly enough so that a few men turned and couldn’t help but notice she was telling the truth as they looked UP to see her beautiful face. “Still, orange doesn’t seem like my color.”
“Green all the way, as long as it matches your eyes.”
“Somehow I knew, even before seeing that dress, that you were taking me to flamenco,” she continued as she sat in the chair I offered her and crossed her legs demurely. I had turned the chair out from the table so she could face the stage, and as a consequence I was now seated behind her, though of course that didn’t bother me for a moment. It was almost as if the back of her chair didn’t exist as I put my arms around her and brought her so close the front legs of the chair tipped up. She didn’t seem to notice the precarious position, positive that I would never let her come to any harm.
The music and dancing started, but I was aware that my beautiful companion was drawing attention away from the stage. Instinctively I tightened my grip on the lovely woman before me and took in the dancing ladies setting up on the stage, which instantly downed my mood. “Not good. I prefer flamenco when it’s done in a synchronized group, not solos.”
“I prefer solos. I’m sure it’s an ego thing, but I would want all eyes on me.”
“But you’re watching, not performing.”
“True, but this’ll make it easier for me to steal some moves.”
Laugh. “I can’t imagine what a mishmash your dances must be.”
Luckily the show kicked into gear. Unluckily, it was geared more toward her tastes, there being only five female dancers and one male, two guitarists, and a singer. I sighed, which only brought a laugh from her. Sensitive female my ass, I grumped.
As expected, after an intro with all six dancers, they settled down to solos and duets. The other ladies sat in the background, fanning themselves and clapping when appropriate. It was easy to see the first soloist was the prima dona of the group, dressed all in white and looking a little thicker than the others. If I hadn’t been watching with one of the most beautiful woman I’d ever shot, I would have been looking at the dancers for something other than their moving abilities. I especially liked to do that when flamenco was concerned, because the gals dressed up to look alike. Hair and makeup were all done the same, and the only difference was in the colors of the dress. My theory was that this was done so that if the viewer chose a favorite, it would be strictly on dancing ability, and the dresses would allow the viewer to say his favorite was “yellow dress” or “pink polka-dots.”
Whatever. Right now the older lady was doing more spinning than dancing, the beat speeding up, both music and clapping, turning her faster and faster. To the amazement of the crowd, the lady’s hem, long enough to qualify as a train at a wedding, slowly crept higher and higher, spinning alongside her as she continued gyrating on one foot with the other providing an occasional push off the floor.
“Cool!” Terry laughed. “Let’s see how shy she is!”
But there was no way to find out, since the dress was too tight up top to go much higher. Instead I pointed to the woman’s legs. “See that? Those aren’t calves, those are cattle!”
Since it was dark, I couldn’t quite time it right, but it was okay because we were at the front of the table and no one got doused by her spit take.
The singer and band were making a wonderful effort not to appear bored, but luckily no one was looking at them. One of the other dancers moved to the center of the stage to replace the diva, using the quick, darting motions associated with the dance. The other four were standing by their stools sideways, back arms raised over their heads in classic position. As if on cue–which I was sure there was, but I missed it–all the ladies reached down by their stools to pick up a basket of cut flowers. “Flower dance,” I stated the obvious, though I was surprised they would do it with just five dancers. I’d never seen it done with less than nine, but apparently these ladies thought they were good enough not to care about something as piddling as numbers. Obviously the small stage dictated the smaller group, but it prevented them from doing the more complicated passing of baskets and flowers that were the trademark of the dance.
“I can do that,” Terry sniffed.
“How, if you only dance solo?”
The music kicked up, preventing me from hearing her response, which was probably for the best. Now the three ladies who had yet to go solo moved stage front, their back hands still over their heads as they did the torso-twisting steps so familiar to this style of dance. I knew it was as easy as skipping one foot in front of the other without actually changing ground, but I had to admit they did make it look as if you had to be quite experienced to accomplish the move. Besides, I’d never tried it in heels and a long dress {and if I had, I would never admit it}. The three ladies twirled and danced their way to the foot-stomping crescendo, perfectly synchronized with the music and each other, causing the lights hanging from the ceiling to rattle in unison with the stamp of their heels and the clap of the audience.
The last stomp of the song came as I saw one of the young dancers right on the edge of the stage, no more than ten feet away from me and a foot above my head. I saw that her tap shoe was right on the precipice; if she had landed one inch farther, she would have fallen into my lap. . . or more likely Terry’s. I looked up to her face and saw her grinning, so I figured she’d calculated it that way, thinking she couldn’t lose even if she fell, since she would be caught by a–presumably–rich tourist. I smiled back at her, not only making the dancer grin all the more but also eliciting a laugh from the woman sitting in front of me.
The other two ladies sat down on their stools while my new girlfriend–as Terry was already referring to her–took out her fan–from her cleavage, of all things–to cool down quickly before starting her solo. She also began by clapping and stomping one foot, the other dancers backing her up but staying out of the spotlight. But no, she was just teasing. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the other two dancers reaching for water bottles; not very traditional, I thought. Once they had recuperated a bit, they came forward to replace the soloist, who then sat down and reached for her own water bottle. She must be lowest on the totem pole, or else she was so pretty compared to the others that they had all conspired against her. I happen to notice, through the camera, how dainty and regal she took sips from the bottle, as if she knew no other way. The other two had grabbed and swilled as if dying of thirst, but the way this lady acted, I would be surprised to learn she sweated.
The two ladies now dancing made a big production out of hiking their dresses and swinging the loose skirts as they danced, but I didn’t see it. Through the camera I saw my vision, and I could tell she was looking back, exaggerating her movements as she slowly drank. When I dropped the camera, our eyes met, and suddenly I felt like a cliché; all I needed was a cigarette, though that would of course screw everything up.
“Watch carefully,” I told Terry.
“Oh, I am, I am,” she assured me, still grinning.
“Watch her, I mean. She’s a born actress.”
She wasn’t sure how to take that, but said loudly that I would be shooting at least twenty rolls of her in the next few days. . .
Finally it was my girl’s turn to dance alone. Again she started with the fan, this time dancing with it over her head rather than using it to cool herself. I noticed that she had put a black mantilla over her head, making her previously shiny-black hair look light-brown in comparison. She was also wearing some purple piece of cloth on her front, wrapping around her neck and coming down to tuck itself in her belt before hanging down further. Strangely enough, the thing actually enhanced the look of her curves hidden by the dress, making other parts besides my eyes itchy for more.
She began spinning, holding the fan over her head and continuing to wave it back and forth as she turned. Having been an ice skater, I knew it was much more difficult, or at least required more strength, to spin with the arm up instead of against the body. Considering the speed at which she was twirling, I knew she had to have powerful muscles in her skinny-looking arms as well as everywhere else, yet that in no way detracted from her feminine beauty. She was so slim, yet curvy, that–damn, she was staring at me again! She must not have seen Terry very well in the subdued light, to look so confident. Her eyes seemed to focus on me every split second she was facing me during her spins, almost as if playing a game, and I couldn’t help but grin when I realized I was doing the exact same thing, trying to fix on the exact spot when her face would swing around to face me. . .
I didn’t notice when Terry stopped grinning. . .
Finally the girl stopped spinning and put away the fan, then put her hands on her hips to begin the rapid-fire stomping routine, as it trying to break through the wood floor (“Killing cockroaches,” I called it). With a sly grin shooting straight at me, she gently moved her elbows and shoulders forward to tighten her upper body, not so accidentally thrusting her breasts further into the small tunnel of vision that was meant for me. This time I couldn’t help laughing at just how blatant she could be when she was trying not to be blatant. She caught the laugh and gave him a sly wink.
Blatant was also the buzzword in Terry’s head as she fumed with jealousy. This girl is practically shoving her wares down his throat. . . and he’s playing along! She knew she’d helped that, but never imagined I’d take the bitch up on it. Right now she couldn’t remember one single good thought about why she wanted to take this trip. . .

And then I reached out my hand to join with hers.
The now-familiar shiver ran through her, easy to see, as well as her relaxation. Everything had been a product of her imagination; oh, I might be flirting with the gal, but she had no doubt where I would be spending the night, and there wouldn’t be three people in the hotel bed.
Not tonight, anyway. . .
Glad to have that out of the way, she settled down to watch the rest of the show, giving my hand a little squeeze before disengaging. Perhaps she’d even do a little flirting of her own, though she hadn’t seen enough of the male dancer to say whether he qualified to receive her charms, if only from a distance. She knew I wouldn’t get jealous, but right now her ego needed some major stroking. . .
Picking my camera up again, I zoomed in on my chosen one. She had moved to the right of the stage, and from my angle she was between the two guitarists, in front of some cardboard balcony backdrop where some maiden might have reclined while her Romeo or Don Juan serenaded her. She was heavy into her solo now, both her arms and hips swinging in seemingly every direction at once, yet never looking anything but flamenco. Instinctively my telephoto lens telescoped out to settle on her chest, where even from the front view it was easy to detect how much the dress was struggling to contain her impatient orbs, even though they moved very little with her gyrations. It was probably from her heaving breaths, though to the camera the reason didn’t matter.
A sudden inspiration hit me. “I’m pretending that’s you up there.”
Terry instantly became excited. “I’ll learn this so you can shoot me like that,” she promised.
Putting her hands on the front of her hips now, the dancer raised the level of her moves another notch, in both difficulty and energy, drawing gasps from the few in the crowd knowledgeable enough to know the difference. My camera work rose to match, now that I had the added inspiration of Terry’s face on that lovely gyrating body. At this point the singer, who hadn’t done much of anything so far–luckily–got up from his chair and joined her in the dance. She stopped and faced him, though sneaking one last glance at her target in the audience. That message got through loud and clear, even to Terry, who was able to enjoy it again, now that she knew I was watching her up there instead of the dancer.
Too bad for the dancer that she didn’t know it, Terry thought, but with little sympathy.
Her hands still on her hips, the dancer turned sideways, giving an amazing view of her curves as the guy placed his hand on the side of her face the crowd could see. Either it was a large hand or a small face, for it reached all the way across her cheek and from her neck to her ear and the flower of her hair. Her own right hand, the one not very visible to the onlookers, mirrored his, and they slowly caressed each other like lovers in private.
With a sudden flourish, she raised her hands straight above her head and turned around, her body completely thrusting out in just the right places. She danced in place while the guy sang and ran his hands up and down her body from behind; I could hear moans coming from the audience, and laughed at their weakness. Not that I was feeling any different, but I had the sense to hold it in. . . so to speak. Placing my chin on Terry’s shoulder, I saw even her eyes were glazing, but was also managing to keep quiet.
The audience could hardly fail to notice the guy’s hands and voice shaking, plus the fact the girl’s eyes were closed and her chest heaving again, even though she wasn’t moving all that much. I wondered if that grimace of pleasure was actually from the singer’s hands or her own fevered imagination; it seemed like the music wasn’t the only thing building to a climax.
The clapping and stomping did indeed grow to a crescendo, and right before everyone’s eyes, the guy drew his hands across her breasts, making both her eyes and her mouth fly open as her knees buckled. He caught her and slowly let her collapse to the floor, a death scene any prima donna playing Carmen would have been proud of, as he turned to bow to the audience, basking in the ovation he thought he was receiving for his masculine prowess when the crowd was actually applauding her fine acting and imagination.

The lights came down, plunging the stage into darkness for the intermission while the seating lights came on, too brightly of course. I blinked a few times over at Terry, noticing she was doing the same thing, and smiled, “Are you as sweaty as I am?”
“I could use another shower, yeah,” she sighed, chest heaving a bit. “You were right about dark alleys on the way here, though!”
“Yeah,” I laughed. “You wouldn’t get to see any of Vienna for your three days here!”
“I almost feel sorry for your dancer chick. . .”
“She’ll just have to make do with second best. . .”
Terry giggled as she motioned for the waiter to refill her wine glass.

The rest of the show proved to be anti-climatic, which could not be much of a surprise, all things considered. Finally the show itself was over, but then came the surprise. The male dancer, who appeared to be the only one who spoke English, announced that anyone who wanted to come up and give it a try was welcome to get a quick lesson. He said this staring at a girl on the side, big grin and all that, then blanched and moved toward the back when Terry slipped from my arms and announced that I’d better get my camera ready.
“You’re kidding.”
Giggling, she turned to face me, then placed a foot on the chair between my thighs, letting the flap of her skirt fall off to the side. “Check out these calves.”
I did, with my hand as well as my eyes, and had to admit they weren’t nearly as skinny as the last time I’d seen them. I wondered just how much of her had puffed up as I murmured, “Cattle. . .”
Her foot moved a little forward, very dangerously, as she coolly intoned, “They’re not THAT big, you mean thing. Now watch the rest of me, and tell me if it turns you on.”
My eyebrows went up. “You know you turn me on all the time, just letting me look at you. Nothing else is needed, you beautiful, lustful wench, you.”
She just grinned. “Then this will just drive you even harder into your continuous state of lust, you animal.”
“At least you’ve got the boots for it,” I laughed as I watched her leap onto the stage, thinking this would look better if she was in her jeans but not about to question my luck. From the first I’d been wanting to see those beautiful legs in action. . .


Travel Thursday: Vienna, Land of Wine and Flamenco

Since I had nothing in particular to do this day, I was walking around Vienna, looking in at places I’d seen before but hardly remembered, as well as locating others I’d been told about, trying to decide where to take the lady who’d be arriving tomorrow.
I was pretty sure I’d never go back to places like the Elektropathological museum, or the two museums with wax replicas of body parts and diseases–the locals seemed to be obsessed by death–but this was the last thing I wanted to take a date.
The museum devoted entirely to funerals was no better, but at least the cemeteries, of which there were plenty in this town, were a good place for strolling, hanging out, any euphemism you’d like to use for mating. I guess it’s understandable, since the young ones can’t afford a place of their own, and if you’ve got a classical music buff, she’s likely to swoon at the famous musicians’ area, but somehow I was sure I’d have to come up with something more romantic.
Much to my surprise, my wanderings eventually left me in the Gurtel, in itself not a bad place to be, but it did get tiring saying no to all the hookers. They hastened to assure me that they were licensed and had regular checkups, and didn’t understand why I kept refusing them, even when I said I would never pay for it. They would frown and ask if I only looked like an American, or if I was in some kind of rigid religious order, or. . .
When I saw a redhead that made others things rigid, I decided it was time to clear out, quickly. I wanted to be fresh for what would no doubt be a very long day with a very energetic traveler. . .

The lady who sold roses at Vienna’s Flugplatz Aspern could not remember witnessing a more beautiful reunion, especially when it was punctuated by some of her wares. Terry was smiling at said lady as she placed her new rose behind her ear, which made me notice her hair. I’d often told her that the ponytail was her best do, making her face and especially her green eyes stand out more, but right now it was done up in some fancy style that would have cost her hundreds if I hadn’t known she’d done it herself in the plane’s laboratory.
Deciding to be extravagant, at least for us, we took a taxi; with the airport being basically over the river and through the woods, it would be silly to subject both her and her luggage–of which there was mercifully little–to public transportation. So once her things were in the trunk and we’d settled into the back seat, I leaned over to undo her hair. She looked startled for an instant, then remembered who she was with and blushed in her endearing way as she sat there and took it. Once it was loose all over I took the scrunchie that she always wore like a bracelet, then figured it would be much more effective to let her do it. Smirking at me for forgetting that, she took less than three seconds to ponytail. {Can that be used as a verb? Apparently.}
With that business concluded, she stared out the window with her usual sense of fascination. Even though we were heading for the center of the city, known of course in a German-speaking place as the Zentrum, I’d told the driver to take a more scenic route. We headed north until we hit Wagramer Strasse, then went approximately southwest along that wide street through the eastern suburbs until we came to the old Danube, the original channel of the river. It was nice to look at, and it got an “Ah!” of loveliness from her, but there was much better to come.
I had to grin when she suddenly exclaimed, “I want to see the Spanish riding school!”
I was just about to open my mouth to answer when her finger in front of it distracted me, and she was too quick when I tried to bite it. “I know there’s a long waiting list and you have to buy tickets long in advance, but I also know that you can do anything, so I don’t want to hear any excuses.”
Waiting until I was sure she was through, I finally tried, “It would be easy to call Jolanda and get some passes, even though she might get jealous–”
Her eyes narrowed. “Another of your conquests? I swear, I can’t let you out of my sight for a minute!”
I found it easy to ignore her as I added, “Had she and the rest of the riders been in town, of course. Since they’re away on tour, you can’t hold it against me, no matter how hard you try.”
She looked absolutely crushed for a few moments, but as we continued on through the island, she saw something interesting to her right and sat up in her seat again. “What’s that?” she asked with the excitement and wonder of a child.
I chuckled as we tootled along the major strasse right past it. “That’s where I used to work, United Nations City.”
She kept gawking at the unusual architecture as long as she could while the taxi continued on toward the Zentrum, crossing the New Danube, the long strip of land known as Donauinsel–Danube Island–and finally the main stream of the Danube river. It did get confusing without a map, all these Danubes, and we still had to cross the Danube canal. Begging for a walk along the river, and getting the promise from me, Terry giggled as she saw the little plaza to the right immediately after crossing. “Is this place actually called Mexikoplatz? Why?”
I could only shrug. “They must have run out of names.” That was easier than a long explanation that might not be true, involving Napoleon’s ill-fated attempt to take over Mexico by installing a puppet king from the local ruling family, which included the famous Cinco de Mayo battle, which she definitely would not want to hear.
After that it was an easy ride to the hotel, since the train station to the right didn’t interest her much. I knew she’d perk up when we passed the huge Ferris Wheel known as the Reisenrad at the Prater amusement park. Of course she said she wanted to ride it, but surprised me by saying she wouldn’t mind if I didn’t want to go on it, since she knew of my fear of heights. That saved me from having to mention that I’d already ridden it, for that would have brought up the subject of Jolanda again, plus it would allow me to earn some points by reluctantly agreeing to go up with her. . .
Now the driver took a circular route so she could see as much of the inner ring as possible as we made our way toward the hotel. I tried not to grin as we passed by the Hall where the Flamenco Festival was being held, hoping she didn’t see it or me; she did claim to love surprises. . .
Vienna teddys
Stopping at the hotel only long enough to unload her luggage–I knew she’d be too excited for jetlag–we found another taxi and kept going west toward the address Terry had of a wine garden in the famous, or infamous, Vienna Woods. I instinctively wrinkled my nose but didn’t say anything, preparing to be bored for a few more hours.
The instructions by the friend, who had obviously not driven there, turned out to be wrong, so the taxi had to go back to the nearest northbound road to get back on track to Grinning, which was quite a distance from where the original directions had said. I hoped this wouldn’t become a trend as we passed Turkenschanzpark and Terry commented that the scenery made the detour worthwhile. But then I knew that she was the world’s most eternal optimist, and she would start to cry and make me feel guilty if I said anything otherwise, so I wisely kept my mouth shut.
When we finally got to the area we needed, we were startled to see a large number of tourist buses, most of them discharging hordes of tired-looking visitors who seemed in need of a good drink. Getting yet another bad feeling, I listened to the driver enquire as to where our particular Heurigen–places devoted to sampling the young wines–was located, obviously not asking from the competition. Luckily it turned out to be well-hidden and too small to accept busloads, so we were welcomed graciously and led to a communal bench as a band played unknown songs while everyone drank their wine slowly.
The man who greeted us turned out to be the owner of the place, as well as the waiter, so when he brought our glasses he was much puzzled and almost insulted when I held up my hand, signifying I wanted nothing to do with the wine. “Then why are you here?” he asked in English, taking in our appearance at a glance.
I turned to Terry, who was already sipping. “She wanted to.”
“Ahh!” He nodded his head in understanding. “I see it now. Young love is fantastic to see.” He turned to Terry. “You have a good man here; don’t let him get away.” Then he moved on to the next table.
She turned to look at me, so I had to say, “Don’t you ever forget it.”
She laughed even more as she saw me examining the bread and crackers on the table, covered with something orange that I could only guess was cheese. The orange stuff was covered itself by paprika, cucumbers, anchovies, onions, and mustard. Everything I hate, seems like.
Turning to her, I very sternly voiced, “I have tickets for a special place tonight. You are going, and I am not going to tell you where, and there will be no argument.”
Remembering her own tone when she’d told me she wanted to see the Spanish Riding School, she didn’t protest, instead lowering her face, especially her eyes, demurely. Before we’d met, it was an instinctive reaction, but now she did it more because she knew–or thought–I loved it. Unable to help herself, she whispered, “Anything you say, my masterful. . . um, master.”
I turned away from her in mock disgust, making some of the people who’d been shamelessly eavesdropping laugh and then hide their faces behind napkins.

{To be continued. . . especially the flamenco bit}