Erotic Notion #14: The Ice Cube
By Hapax Legomenon

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Passion is not hot; it is cold. In the languorous summer heat I sit caressing my limbs with lotion as bright bikinis run past and dive into the water. Sunglasses reflect the light but not the heat; I take a sip of iced tea and try holding a book above my head to block the sun's glare. My arm quickly tires. I put down the book, close my eyes and inhale the chlorinated odors of the swimming pool. My consciousness swims in a bright orange darkness and relaxes to swimming pool sounds: bouncy diving boards, screaming children and swimsuits dripping on the way to towels. Sweaty moisture glazes my chest and drips into folded crevices of skin. I reach for the suntan lotion, but before I open it, footsteps run by and dive into the water, raining a giant splash upon me. I awake and spy the culprit – a short freckle-faced kid who by now was at the other side of the pool. I dry myself and see climbing out of the water a tall dark-skinned girl whose small teenage breasts jut unashamedly out of her water-shrunken bikini. She returns to her towel, dons sunglasses and walks to the water fountain while I stare at her spongy buttocks knocking against one another. Without embarrassment the girl pulls up the bottom half of her bathing suit, covering the pale strip of skin made accidentally visible. I turn over on my stomach and massage my back with lotion. Now a group of adolescents are jeering at another girl for not jumping into the water. "Come in," one boy yells. "It's not cold!" The others start splashing wildly at the girl, causing her to scoot a safe distance away. Eventually the teens forget about her, and the girl removes her T-shirt, glancing about to make sure no one was watching. She approaches the water and samples it with her toe. "It's cold," she says. Still wary of being splashed, she goes to the shallow water and descends the first step. Moments later she steps down to where the water reaches her upper thighs. She shivers and hops around with hands high in air, as if groping for a life preserver dangling from the sky. Adjusting to the temperature (but determined to keep her blonde hair dry), she descends to the bottom step, bringing the water level to her small bosom. But it is too much; she hastily retreats to the top step, watching the swimmers half-enviously. Go ahead, I think to myself, do it. But she just stands there, gliding her hands over the water. Then, with sudden bravery, she steps down, all the way down, to the bottom step, biting her lip as she endures waves of cold flowing about her. The only dry part remaining is her lovely blonde hair, still neatly combed behind her ears. But even that does not stay dry for long; with a single jerky bob, she disappears under the water, finally succumbing to the aquatic rape that was all the time inevitable. Immediately she shoots out of the water, breathing heavily, her hair tangled around her face like seaweed. I take a sip of iced tea, tilting the glass so the ice cubes can fall one by one into my mouth. But the melted cubes are melded together; they stay at the bottom of my glass until I give it a few hard shakes.

For years I've performed a ritual with every woman I've made love to. With Cynthia, as with the rest, I did it unthinkingly, almost religiously, while never sure of its meaning. Cynthia was the love of my life in senior year at Emory. She had stellar SAT scores ("Tests – they're so inconsequential!") and was captain of the school's fencing team ("Sometimes a foil is just a foil," she used to say). The first time I saw her, she was dueling an invisible opponent in the library parking lot, gracefully twirling her foil and lunging ahead like a crazed ballerina. A few weeks later, we were naked in bed, legs brushing idly against one another. Passion was three hours over – or was it about to begin? Kissing her lips lightly, I nudge her to lie on her stomach, which she does without opening her eyes. I want her; I savor her beauty as the tips of my fingers graze over her soft back. Cynthia sighs, and I rest my head against her shoulder, feeling the rise and fall of her respirations. Even in the dark I could see her lazy nipple, relaxed but alert to the possibility of arousal. Her eyes were closed: not asleep, but lulled into erotic repose. When she was like this, I would take out an ice cube – smuggled from the freezer – and bring it to the base of her spine. When she felt it, she would wriggle out of position and issue a panicky laugh. An instant later, I had already removed the ice cube and was guiding her head to the pillow. Her naked body lay before me, presenting an almost infinite surface for the ice cube to explore. Slowly, so slowly, I touch her ankle with the ice cube, holding her legs to keep her from pushing away. Again she laughs, and the ice cube inches up her thigh to the borders of her pubic hair. I stop, take the ice cube away and stare at the smiling face of the woman I adore. Cynthia giggles, bracing for the next icy touch; for 20 whole seconds I sit beside her, watching her tense expectation. Next, her elbow; the ice cube skates up and down her arm, leaving a cold trail of tears. "Eyes closed," I whisper, lifting the ice cube to the other side of her body, catching the drips with my hand to disguise my next move. The ice cube flits against her fidgety breasts, electrifying points of contact, inching towards her pubis, encircling it like an inward-moving spiral, while she lies there, absorbing these sensations with pleasurable impatience. As the ice cube begins its final descent – can I confess this? – I feel less like a giver of pleasure than a torturer, a man extracting confessions of pleasure to gain a vital piece of information. But even torturers can be artists; their brushstrokes are careful and controlled; their motions enhance the helpless yearnings of the human figure in all its beauty. The key to the ice cube was movement – staying too long in a single place would numb instead of excite; I had to keep it moving, making sure not to miss a square inch of skin. I brought the ice cube over her furry pubic jungle, providing not merely precipitation – she was already damp with anticipation – but a sudden frost. Her body recoils, and she warns with her hands not to remain long. But the ice cube remains, searing all sensation and wresting a hollow sigh from her lips. Finally, sensing victory (or was it defeat?), I lift the ice cube, (now a third of its original size) to her lips, which she accepts like a gumdrop. Looking into my eyes, Cynthia wraps her arms about me to offer a weary, grateful kiss. But instead of kissing me – and here's where Cynthia is different – she keeps the ice cube between her teeth and moves her mouth over my shoulders and chest. A cold tingle moves over my body as I try not to flinch. But that's what she wants, and that's what I do when she locates a tender patch on my side. She moves to my face and deposits the well-traveled but ever-diminishing ice cube into my mouth. The gesture catches me off-guard; it fills me with repulsion and excitement. Cynthia just grins. I bend over her lips to give the ice cube back. Her tongue accepts the gift but pushes it back to my mouth. Laughing, I try to kiss her, but Cynthia playfully pulls her head away. I hold her head so I can kiss her once again, pushing the ice cube back into her mouth. Cynthia accepts, and our tongues wrestle with each other, trying to present the other with the ice cube. Cynthia tickles my back, and in an instant, I let down my guard and allow her to push the ice cube into my mouth. Betrayed, I try spitting it out, but she covers my mouth with her icy cold hand. Unable to resist, unable to open my mouth, I feel Cynthia's lips move down my stomach and the ice cube underneath my tongue dissolving.

Written, Summer, 1990, Revised 2004.

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As the ice cube begins its final descent – can I confess this? – I feel less like a giver of pleasure than a torturer...
Paul  Peel, The Little Sheperdess, 1892
In the Water, 1914 Eugene De Blaas
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